During these difficult economic times, franchisors should take a hard look at their existing marketing plans and make the necessary adjustments to generate an up-to-date, impactful, and cost-effective strategy that benefits the brand, both locally and nationally.
If a franchisor provides franchisees with the tools to implement a sound marketing plan it will, not only create a positive image for the franchise system, but lead to the overall growth and success of the brand.
Promotional marketing can be divided into ‘push’ and ‘pull’ strategies. Push strategies create consumer demand as the marketing team ‘pushes’ the message out to the target audience. With this strategy the marketing team is in control of the message including its content, how it is perceived, as well as when and where it will be seen.
These marketing strategies include loyalty programmes, mobile media campaigns, social media and direct mail.
Pull strategies, on the other hand, are created through consumer demand, and are aimed at enticing the target audience to voluntarily request your product or service and ‘pull it through’ the delivery channel.
A franchise system’s marketing plan should encompass a balance of push and pull marketing strategies to expand the brand’s reach and attract new consumers, while maintaining lasting relationships with existing consumers, and meet sales goals by creating demand and satisfying existing market needs.
It is important to note that certain marketing strategies may be more effective for some franchise systems than others, due to specific characteristics of the business (size, industry and consumer demographic). Therefore, when considering marketing strategies, you have to realise that whatever campaigns you create will have to fit your specific business goals.
Securing consumer loyalty
A direct marketing campaign places the brand right in front of consumers and reminds them of the company’s presence. Offering incentives and loyalty programmes through direct mailing will encourage more frequent visits and is a proven, affordable and customised marketing technique.
Sending coupons or special offers via mobile media is becoming a popular trend. Introducing a mobile strategy can also include developing a mobile App, which can be as simple as a search function to help users find the nearest outlet or an e-commerce App that allows users to make purchases from their phones. When determining which service the App will provide to users, you have to ensure that the experience is as rewarding as possible.
Social media sites are low-cost tools that can strengthen a franchise system’s marketing plan and have proven to be more than just a passing fad. Franchise systems should take full advantage of social media as a platform to reflect the brand’s personality.
It is, however, imperative to understand that social media involves long-term interaction and building of relationships by keeping in touch on a regular basis.
A vital component of any marketing strategy is measuring and tracking your campaigns to determine the most effective strategies for your specific business. It is imperative to be able to determine whether the results are meeting the goals initially set out. If they are not, the campaign can be adjusted. In addition, any demographic data collected can be used to help identify new potential markets. Tracking can be as simple as keeping count of how many coupons are redeemed, or you can invest in electronic marketing systems and data-analysis resources.
Implementation is the most important stage in your marketing strategy and is one of the biggest challenges faced by many smaller businesses. It is suggested that franchisees do three to five things related to marketing every day until marketing becomes a habit. A good marketing ‘habit’ will solve the implementation challenge most businesses face.
Effective implementation of a marketing strategy starts with the efficient managing of your marketing activities. Using a simple chart to monitor your initiatives will increase your implementation effectiveness. You can also use the marketing plan itself as a review mechanism, or develop a marketing management accountability checklist.
At the heart of implementing a marketing plan lies the execution, the actual ‘doing’ of the planned marketing activities.
Successful marketing implementation requires:
- Effective and efficient coordination of activities – who is doing what and by when.
- Carefully focusing on the tasks at hand and determining where your time is best spent.
- Close attention to detail.
- Staying on top of ‘who is doing what’. Never assuming someone else is doing something,
- Not procrastinating. If it’s good enough to do later, it’s good enough to do now.
- Over-delivery and under-promising. Delighting your customers will turn your marketing efforts into sales.
- Doing what you do best, while outsourcing or delegating the rest. You can’t do it all and you certainly can’t do it all well.
Accountability is also a good marketing habit. Plans often fail because those responsible for getting things done aren’t held accountable for their assigned tasks. You must, therefore, monitor the specific responsibilities for the specific tasks related to every component of the marketing plan. This includes following-up and checking completion and due dates on a regular basis.
One of franchisees’ greatest frustrations is local marketing and the struggle to obtain marketing materials targeted to their particular location and demographics. Too often, operators are provided with little or no local marketing support or options that are ineffective. However, if companies can embrace local marketing as a viable strategy that’s beneficial not only to the corporate brand, but also to the local operators, this dilemma can be resolved.
Generic marketing material
The effectiveness of generic marketing material for an entire brand has often been questioned. For example, does it make sense for a Johannesburg franchisee to receive the same materials as a Cape Town franchisee? Will the same graphic image of a group of people appeal to a Bloemfontein operator, as it will for a Soweto franchisee? Different geographic areas demand targeted messaging, and different images appeal to varying demographics.
Availability of materials
An operator must also have a convenient source of marketing materials, if he/she is to implement any local marketing initiatives. When operators need local marketing elements, it would be ideal to obtain all marketing materials from one place, instead of gathering various materials from multiple, locations.
Receiving materials timeously
The ability to react immediately to changes in the marketplace is crucial. Yet, the inability to implement real-time, effective changes is an ongoing source of frustration for many franchisees. If operators are forced to wait before receiving new marketing material for new prices, promotional themes, etc., they could completely miss their window of opportunity.
Comparing the cost of a marketing campaign to the revenue generated can help franchisors evaluate the effectiveness of a specific marketing strategy. Before determining the cost-effectiveness of a marketing campaign, it is important to set clear goals. Franchisors should, therefore, conduct ongoing evaluations to determine the effectiveness of their marketing campaign. This will help them contain costs and decide whether to continue with a specific advertisement and marketing campaign, or develop a new brand new strategy.