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President and Owner at McKay Advertising + Activation, Florida’s First Digital Media Agency
Multi-location and franchise marketing seems like a daunting task. That’s why when agencies take on the challenge, it’s not uncommon that they give every location a one-size-fits-all approach. Although this might work for some franchises, many locations have varying needs, teeming with untapped revenue potential. According to an older study, after four years, only 65% of the 20,500 franchises survived.
This article is meant to give you three things to consider when you tackle the giant of multi-location marketing. If you want to improve your franchise marketing efforts, or you just stepped into the ring, you should be able to implement these tactics instantaneously.
The Bottom-Up Approach
Marketing has evolved and sprouted out new branches of possibility. Just 24 months ago, the majority of franchise marketing utilized a top-down approach: Brands spray out TV, radio and maybe outdoor advertising into the market and wait for the strength of the brand’s campaign to trickle down to the location level and impact consumer growth at the store level. This is a tried-and-tested formula that has worked for decades. Our operation is slightly different. We are huge believers in a bottom-up approach. We know that TV and radio can be effective, but we also realize that the real connection with the brand won’t happen until the consumer experiences the location for themselves.
Utilizing digital channels like Yelp allows brands to catch consumers while they’re in the middle-funnel stage. Working with Fantastic Sams, for example, we know that we need to reach people who are searching for things like: “color and cut near me.” Instead of just telling the consumer who we are, we’re interfacing with them and driving them to the store level.
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These types of interactions allow consumers to make contact with brands for themselves instead of being told what the brand is. With this method, we’re starting to see that per-location clients are acquiring a lot more in first-time revenue than they’re spending on marketing.
By helping consumers make a decision on their next purchase, you can help drive them to a specific location.
Implement a Location-Based Strategy
In order to effectively evaluate your client’s needs and reach the desired goals, it is important to understand how each location may differ from the other. Your Florida suburban-based locations are most likely vastly different from the location in rural Ohio, for example. Segmented campaigns can produce a 760% increase in revenue, according to research.
We have developed a 4-point evaluation to analyze each location for our clients in the franchise space. We look at:
• Scale: How many people do you want to reach? This is important to consider when providing the client with the ad budget for each location.
• Product Uniqueness vs. Competitors: Which offerings can we push an advantage on? Think about each franchise location’s unique selling proposition (USP).
• Population Demographics: Consider age, gender, ethnicity and income.
• Product Preferences: Do they like your “Product A” more than your “Product B” in a certain location?
Maintain Brand Consistency
It’s important to ensure your brand’s values and initiatives stay consistent, while still catering to local audiences. Every franchise has its own unique demographics, psychographics and local competitors.
We came across this when working with a restaurant franchise client. This client has core brand identities of comfort, welcoming and hominess. These are reflected in its emphasis on homestyle-cooked meals, world-famous pies and its logo and colors featuring a warm orange similar to a cozy fireplace. But all markets and communities are different, so we needed to somehow reflect those identities in a way that’s still relevant to the communities around each specific location.
One effective tactic we’ve used to achieve that is through the use of community micro-influencers and downscaled creativity. The same influencer that is effective in Florida might not be as effective in Colorado, and nationally known influencers can be overinflated in cost and feel less relevant to each market. So we talk on the ground level with employees, managers and patrons of each individual store and identify some local heroes. In our case, many times they are managers beloved by their communities, which has prompted many comments and social reactions from their favorite customers. The algorithm recognizes these as highly engaging ads and gets prioritized in delivery.
The creatives we used were simple photos of the managers in front of pie display cases exhibiting a warm smile. Carol from Fayetteville, Arkansas, means much more to that community than Kim Kardashian, so featuring her as an example that speaks to that localized audience specifically while also embodying the national brand values accomplished success in two ways:
• Qualitative, high-quality engagement with consumers: These types of ads prompted by far the most amount of comments, all saying hi to the influencer and reminiscing about their memories.
• Quantitative, ROI-driven results: When comparing these ads to their broader counterparts depicting popular dishes, their cost per navigation went from $10.01 to $1.91 and their click-through rate went from 1.96% to 8.42%. We consistently saw improvements in key metrics by around 400%!
So, what advice can we give to those wanting to enhance their multi-location marketing efforts? Check-in with your client and align goals, recruit the bottom-up approach, and maintain brand consistency while catering to local audiences. Prepare for tedious but satisfying work. Consider outsourcing or hiring staff to ensure you have the right infrastructure. Employ your email marketing and digital channels and confirm that all your data is attributable. Digital marketing is all about getting results and adjusting so that you can come back better the next day.
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Author: Bob McKay, Forbes Councils Member