Community Marketing is a Mindset, Not a Department
Community Marketing is the one thing you want to get right for your franchisees. While you may have a Marketing team, branding agency or even a vendor that updates your social media, you can never outsource it completely.
For the 12 years that I have worked as a Franchise Marketing professional, I have seen dozens of vendors try to sell the “magic bullet” of marketing. And, just like a sales professional trying to sell an “easy” weight loss program, or a “fast” way to make money, they position it as a cake-walk once you make a hefty investment.
The truth is, Marketing IS just like getting to a healthier weight or making a more satisfying income; it is a step-by-step journey, where you learn along the way with true rewards at the end. But, it is certainly not a cake-walk – no matter how many people try to sell it that way. Take a look at the tips below, on how you can build community marketing into your franchisee’s day-to-day.
Build Meaningful Connections
“Within a 3-5 mile radius of every store or restaurant there are dozens of other businesses, hundred of homes and thousands of potential new customers,” said Jim Sullivan, in helpful his book Multi Unit Leadership. “Connect with community ‘influentials’. One American in every ten tells the other nine where to eat, what to buy and how to vote.”
Connecting with the movers and shakers of your community whether they are in local government, businesses, schools or community organizations can make a huge difference. And – you don’t always have to go straight to the top. Think of people who talk to others on a regular basis, Sullivan suggests: “hairdressers, hotel bartenders, receptionists, concierges, religious and civic leaders.”
Sometimes, the best opportunities are right before your eyes, and you can’t even see them. Every week, you have dozens of “invisible” customers walking through your doors – Amazon delivery people, wine merchants and event promoters to name a few. Do they get hungry or thirsty? Do they have any friends or family with upcoming events? Thinking of your own team can also be a potential revenue generator. The mean person had 200 Facebook friends. If they just recommend 5, that can have a meaningful impact on your business.
Always Be Marketing
Marketing is something that you want to have as part of every person’s day-to-day whether they are servers, managers, trainers or hosts. Jay Conrad Levinson, author of Guerilla Marketing said “Marketing is not an event, but a process. It has a beginning, a middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it. But you never stop it completely.” Every business is sales-controlled, but few have a true sales culture which plants marketing as the first step. Event-based “big deal” marketing programs still have a place, but they are nestled within regular, consistent programs.
Training Solidifies Marketing
According to Sullivan, “the more that you invest in training, the less that you spend on Marketing.” If your team provides superior service, the customer will come back, an even better, they will leave a positive review which has more credibility among customers than any marketing piece you have. Additionally, you want training to enhance your marketing campaigns. The old advertising saying of “there is nothing that will kill a bad product like good marketing,” comes to mind. Now, more than ever, you want to make sure you follow through on the promises that marketing makes. With the speed of information, if you fall short, it may end up as a Twitter or Instagram #fail damaging the franchisees, their region and even the system as a whole.
Manage Moments of Truth
Jan Carlzon, in his game changing book Moments of Truth defined the term “as anytime that a customer comes in contact with a company’s brand, people, or services and forms an impression of the quality of service that they provide.” So take a step back and ask yourself, “what is marketing”? More and more, Brand is a verb, not a noun, so marketing is cleanliness, service and teamwork. It is every single touchpoint. As you are doing a Field Audit, see the store from the customer’s standpoint and think about what their impression would be. If you are looking for field audit questions, check out our popular eBook.
The truth is, Marketing is a core part of any successful team’s DNA. Never outsource it, thinking of it as someone else’s job. It is a mindset that can change your business and life.