Not every innovative campaign has to break the bank. Three brands weigh in on how to shake up franchise marketing through thoughtful, innovative approaches.
When you think of disruptive marketing campaigns, you most likely think of a recent few that have gone viral—for good, controversial or eerily jarring reasons. Even if your company’s marketing budget hasn’t reached Big Ben-level proportions quite yet, there are plenty of opportunities for franchise brands of all sizes to shake up traditional marketing.
Just ask Sky Zone, Teriyaki Madness and Buzz Franchise Brands.
“It's extremely difficult to reach audiences these days, and increasingly so,” Josh Cole, CMO of Sky Zone Franchise Group, wrote in an email. “Between media fragmentation and the sheer volume of information flying at consumers at all times, it becomes that much harder for any one marketing tactic to capture attention in a meaningful way. Marketing campaigns need to be that much more uniquely engaging—and relevant to the target—to break through all the surrounding noise.”
Indeed, digital consumers have learned to simply swipe right past content that is not explicitly tailored to their tastes and interest. But even big fans could miss your messaging in the scrolling shuffle if you’re not placing your brand’s uniqueness front and center.
“Our name is Teriyaki Madness, so we feel we have leeway to be a little crazy. Our brand voice is irreverent and makes people look twice,” Jodi Boyce, VP of Marketing at Teriyaki Madness, explained in an email. “This has allowed us to stretch our dollar by getting customers who follow us on social media or who receive our emails to engage with our brand much more than if we were more vanilla, like everyone else.”
Teriyaki Madness has debuted highly entertaining messaging in several of its campaigns, such as “Order in your underwear. (But pick it up in pants.)”; “Want to lose 50 lbs? Try our delicious teriyaki bowls with all protein and veggies… oh, and cut off your left leg”; and even edgy copy like their “Size matters!” ads and one reading “Do it as a group. At the office. We won’t tell.” Saucey.
This standout approach has even served as a call to action to Teriyaki Madness’s targeted playful-leaning fanbase. “We get a lot of people sharing our content and tagging their friends because they read something funny or saw an ad they couldn’t believe a restaurant brand would put out there,” said Boyce. The brand has watched its email and text database grow by 600% over the past two years—and says its same-store year-over-year sales are up 10%, much higher than the industry average of 1 to 2%.
The first step to disrupting your audience’s attention is knowing what makes them tick. For example, when the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament rolled around this year, the team at Sky Zone had their shoes tied tight and were ready to play with one of their key demographics: basketball lovers on spring break.
“Basketball is a natural thematic fit for us since SkySlam basketball hoops have always been a well-loved feature of our parks,” said Cole. “Our thinking was: how can we build on the excitement and energy of the NCAA tournament to generate more guest visits to our parks?”
Sky Zone cleverly folded the annual cultural phenomenon with a timely call to action for young sports enthusiasts to take part in its March Mania Shot Contest campaign while on vacation from school. The franchise then identified and enlisted the help of relevant and well-known social media influencers to help spread the word.
“It was a perfect fit for reaching the right-aged audience who would be excited by a basketball-themed event,” explained Cole. “The influencers were engaged to create multiple Instagram posts, Instagram stories, and YouTube videos. They created fantastic, authentic content that was not only fun to watch, but also promoted that viewers could go to Sky Zone on March 15th and 16th to enter the shot contest for a chance to win a 30-day Jump Pass.”
Not only was this incentivized promotion perfectly timed, but thanks to the nature of influencer fandom and the online content realm, the posts continue to generate upbeat impressions for the brand even months later. Sky Zone estimates that the influencer content received nearly 7 million total views and generated 165,000 user engagements. “One of the videos even reached YouTube's highlighted list of Top 50 Trending Videos, which was awesome to see,” said Cole.
Speaking of which: Franchisees are the influencers of franchise sales.
“The more we involve franchisees in our content, in more ways than just photos and testimonials, and give prospects the opportunity to be engaged with them, the more success we have,” said Angela Paules, CMO of Buzz Franchise Brands. “For example, we host webinars featuring franchisees. They are able to share more about the day in the life of the franchisee in a personal, real way. It’s also a great opportunity to engage leads in the pipeline who want to speak with someone instead of reading another brochure or talking to another salesperson.”
In fact, Buzz Franchise Brands sees 75 to 100 registrants for each webinar, gaining around 50 new leads per session into its development pipeline in addition to reengaging with existing leads.
This is why messaging personalization is key for franchise marketing. In reality, your brand’s unique audience could yawn at a disruptive approach that another brand’s audience still reels from days later, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s about finding the right disruptive approach for you.
“There’s a bit of a misconception that disruptive marketing means using emerging technology, or the newest craziest thing, but that’s not all that it is,” explained Paules. “I think you have to really think not just outside the box—but especially about how you can personalize that experience and deliver the most customized message for the consumer."