Local marketing is one of the most important parts of owning a franchise. Knowing your numbers, having great tools and systems, and a wonderful customer experience… are all incredibly important. But the thing that will continue to get people in the doors of a local business is the time and attention you put into local marketing.
Home offices of franchise brands can be amazing at brand awareness, franchise development marketing, and even support franchisees with digital marketing. These can be a big supporter in the growth of the local franchise businesses but they are distinct from the organic marketing that franchisees do in their local communities.
If you’re looking for the ultimate guide for boots-on-the-ground marketing for your franchisees – look no further.
I’ve been a successful multi-unit franchisee, a field coach, and now a coach for franchise brands across the globe, and my team and I have put together a go-to guide for local marketing!
Read on for step-by-step instructions and a list of local marketing ideas.
1) Set the Right Expectations
As part of the franchise model, having a local owner out in their own community building relationships is a crucial part of business success. If a local franchisee is not building their business, building up their name, and leveraging their relationships, they’re missing out!
But if a franchisee is not out in their community, it may not be their fault. I believe there is a responsibility on the franchisor to be upfront about this in the onboarding and training process.
Review your vetting, onboarding, and training processes and ensure the importance of local marketing for small business growth is crystal clear.
Properly explaining the difference between brand awareness marketing (or any other marketing your home office helps with) and local marketing will help provide clarity as well.
2) Balance Paid and Organic Marketing
When you’re talking to franchisees about marketing, be sure to explain that there is paid marketing and organic marketing. Both of these must work together to achieve the kind of success and growth a local business is looking for.
You can’t rely on paid advertising exclusively because marketing is not an exact science (although with AI and Machine Learning we are getting closer). This is why it’s valuable to have a balance between the two types of marketing.
Your franchisee may wonder where to focus their dollars and time, and how to balance the two kinds of marketing. This is a fantastic opportunity for the home office to provide support and training! Look at what has worked for your other owners or territories.
Does your brand fare well at industry trade shows? Local school events? Flyers? Radio ads? Support your franchise owners by providing training and ideas for what has worked for this brand in other communities and teach them how to leverage those activities for their location.
3) Get Creative!
When it comes to local marketing, it’s all about creativity! I often see franchisees get blinders on and overlook the opportunities to get creative and have fun with their marketing.
I grew up as the daughter of the founder of the iconic Canadian franchise brand, M&M Food Markets so I got to see local marketing up close and personal from a very young age.
Growing up, my family’s locations were always doing fun and creative things to bring more people in the door. These activities also kept costs down as they were mostly guerilla marketing or low-cost efforts.
Once, my dad sourced the fattiest bacon ends he could find and put them on the barbecue in front of his store. People would come in and say, “Hey! Did you know your barbecue is on fire outside?” The staff would say, “Actually yes we do! We wanted you to come into the store to share some of the meal options we have on sale this week!”
This story is an example of what doing organic, low-cost, creative marketing activities can do to bring people into the doors of a local business. I highly recommend encouraging your franchisees to get creative with their marketing initiatives like this!
To ensure the initiatives stay on-brand, get a review process in place so your owners can submit ideas to your field support or operations team for support and approval.
4) Local Marketing Ideas
Feeling aligned with the steps above? Not 100% sure what to suggest to your owners? Want some ideas for local marketing? Take a look at the ideas below!
- Take on speaking initiatives (community events, schools, conferences)
- Create a referral program
- Create content that promotes word of mouth referrals
- Film videos with weekly educational content
- Create a rewards program
- Host a giveaway
- Partner with other local businesses
- Sponsor local events
- Align with a charitable organization
To come up with ideas that will get everyone excited and motivated to try some new marketing initiatives, try brainstorming with your franchisees, employees, or other business owners on different ways to get people in the door. Choose the ideas that are the most exciting and have the least amount of potential roadblocks.
Have more questions about supporting your franchisees with local marketing? We discuss this and more in our free virtual AC Roundtables where emerging and established franchisors gather on zoom to collaborate and problem-solve.
The AC Roundtables are a free resource we offer franchisors who are seeking collaboration and peer-to-peer learning. We’ve been running these virtual roundtables since 2020 and we always love to have new franchisors join us!