Franchisees discuss which of their advertising efforts were most successful this year.
Of all the advantages franchising offers over independent business ownership, one of the most profound is the ability to operate as a local business with the support of a national chain. Franchise owners get all the brand recognition and national marketing that their franchisor provides while remaining focused on their local community.
The savviest franchisees take advantage of that position by investing in strategic local marketing campaigns. But what works for one business in one community may not work elsewhere. Some businesses get a lot of mileage out of traditional television and print campaigns, while others need to get a little more creative.
Brandon Allen, a Mosquito Hunters franchisee in Tampa Florida, said he saw the biggest return on investment from event-marketing.
“By far the best ROI we got was marketing at events, like our farmers market,” he said. “If you can find an event with the right location and stand out from other companies with a killer special, it’s a great way to put yourself in front of people and explain what you do.”
Allen said he had a presence at one to two events a month between April and August, and each event resulted in $2,000–$3,000 in sales, and that’s just for initial services; the majority of his clients sign on for additional services.
Not all of Allen’s marketing efforts in 2018 were successful. “I wouldn’t advertise on buses again. It was a failure,” he said. “But if you haven’t failed in advertising, you haven’t tried.”
In 2019, Allen is planning on going to even more events and stepping up his direct-mail efforts, focusing on areas within his territory that he feels are underserved.
Like Allen, Champs Chicken franchisee Joe Faretta said he counts on local events to get his name out to the community.
“We do a lot with the local library,” he said. “They’ll have events for kids and we’ll bring hot dogs and drinks.”
Faretta has also built partnerships with other local businesses, selling their products to help establish his store as a fixture of the community.
“We also work very closely with a number of local business,” he said. “There is a cotton candy company and a pizza company whose products we sell, both retail and fresh. It helps us bring in the local flavor.”
Faretta is currently working on having a food trailer built so he can take his business mobile next year. “The more you can do locally, the more you are going to win,” he said.
Susan Maranhao owns a Wild Birds Unlimited store in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Maranhao said the core of her store’s marketing strategy is relationship building with customers.
“We pride ourselves on maintaining really good communications with our customers, whether in person at the store or through emails, postcards, Facebook posts and website articles,” she said.
By maintaining those close relationships, Maranhao said she knows exactly what her customers are interested in, and she regularly leverages strategic sponsorships and in-store events to bring her customers to her store.
“We try to keep things interesting by featuring promotions that we know our customers will love, but we also engage them with timely educational discussions about birds and nature,” she said.
Maranhao’s strategy for next year is to double down on that strategy. “As we move into 2019, we look forward to growing our customer base by continuing to utilize those communications strategies in new and exciting ways,” she said.
However franchisees choose to market their businesses, creativity is key, and that will continue to be the case in 2019, especially if a long-predicted economic correction arrives next year. But regardless of the economic conditions, successful franchisees will find ways of establishing themselves as pillars of their community.