10 Tips on How to Market Your Locations Effectively on a Lower Budget
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10 Tips on How to Market Your Locations Effectively on a Lower Budget

10 Tips on How to Market Your Locations Effectively on a Lower Budget

What should franchise systems or multi-location companies do when the national ad budget and local store marketing funds decrease during a recessionary period? How can they thrive, yet alone survive marketing on a lower budget? Franchise brands are grappling with this issue more than ever during Covid-19. The successful brands will increase communication and engagement with franchisees, work through any tension in a collaborative way, and help their company pivot forward.

Here are 10 tips to help guide your franchise brand (franchisor and franchisees alike) on how to market smarter and get the most out of limited marketing dollars during these turbulent times.

1) Late to the party? Time to start using technology and local data

Executing cost-effective marketing strategies for hundreds or thousands of multi-location campaigns begins and ends with technology and local data. You can use past data to predict future outcomes of your campaigns. Have certain campaigns or customer segments historically provided the most incremental revenue or highest ROI? If so, focus your limited budget on those four to five campaigns or audience profiles and put the others on hold. Leverage both offline and online data sets: historical performance, in-market signals, past purchase behaviors, best customer profiles, media preference, and demographics.

The sweet spot is to drive relevant marketing messages to engage the right consumers, at the right time, on the right channels, with the right offer – cost-effectively. Despite the cost savings and efficiencies, technology is limited unless you have the ability to store local first-party data and quickly bring actionable insights to the surface. Being agile and optimizing campaigns to ensure you’re generating revenue from the first dollar spent has never been more critical.

2) No more silos – national and local marketing must be mutually beneficial

You ultimately want to apply what you’ve learned from the national to local level and vice versa using both macro- and micro-level data, connecting upper and lower funnel tactics. Precious and limited national ad funds and individual local marketing budgets can then be spent with greater efficacy and are no longer wasted, leaving potential revenue on the table. Only spend money where ads are having an impact.

Converting national ad copy, top-performing keywords, and best ad group structures can be applied across all individual locations, but with a hyperlocal twist that is more relevant to local consumers. Machine learning can be applied to every community to create the optimal local consumer engagement. Setting up individual budgets for each location while leveraging the buying power of the brand’s national marketing fund will ensure all locations benefit and that franchisees see an ROI commensurate with their individual contributions. Locations flourish and help build the national brand from the community up, the best of both worlds.

3) Google My Business

You can’t beat free. If you’re cutting spending on paid search, display, or other digital marketing, it’s essential that your brand and franchise locations at least have a Google My Business (GMB) listing to generate sales. The most important thing you can do to increase your local search results is to optimize your GMB accounts, keeping the information on each page accurate, up-to-date and consistent across the brand. If your stores are changing or reducing hours during the pandemic, make sure this is updated on GMB.

If you’re a franchisee without a local website, Google My Business is, in effect, your free website. Use it! You can post mini-blogs, special offers, events, and products – all of which encourage interaction and increase your chances of showing up in local consumer search results. Be sure to get positive local customer reviews to help your locations show up higher in search rankings as well.

4) Repurpose what works: leverage retargeting and lookalike audiences

Track the types of visitors who come to your websites, purchase online, or who buy from your local stores using POS data; are loyal users of your mobile app; and those who engage with your emails. Build personas around these “best” and historically most valuable customers and remarket to them on your website or other sites they visit to incentivize them to make a purchase. 

From an acquisition standpoint, you can build lookalike or similar audience profiles based on your best or most engaged customers to target ideal prospects and potential new customers across Google, Bing, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, and more. The best part? Gone are the days of having to rely on overly broad national data. You can now build local lookalike audiences using hyperlocal first-party data to accurately target these potential valuable new customers based on preferences, buying habits, demographics, and location.

5) Don’t cannibalize efforts and waste budget

When dollars are limited you can’t afford to waste them. One of the worst things that can happen is when national brand campaigns and local franchisee campaigns compete with or cannibalize each other. If your campaigns are not structured and managed correctly, and franchisees are using several ad agencies for their local campaigns, PPC cannibalization can be a huge problem for franchise brands. Ensure this isn’t happening within your brand. Campaigns should be brand directed and executed in-house through one agency or by using a centralized, technology-driven multi-location marketing platform.

6) Trim the fat from your marketing plan

If you’re executing marketing tactics and can’t track attribution, conversions, revenue, and ROI, stop. Billboards anyone? You can’t afford to play a guessing game when precious and fewer national ad funds and local franchisee marketing dollars are at stake. ROI not positive? Then make that campaign a negative. Put experimental marketing tactics and testing on hold. Stick with what you’re doing best.

7) Use automation to increase efficiencies with fewer resources

Executing sophisticated marketing campaigns for hundreds or thousands of locations with individual budgets, optimizations, and reporting has resulted in brand marketing teams needing more FTEs in-house or paying an agency a hefty monthly fee. When franchisees attempt to buy media on their own with small local budgets, it’s too expensive, data is fragmented, and ROI often is negative.

If you’ve had to recently lay off employees or reduce agency fees, all is not lost. By using cost-effective technology and a centralized multi-location marketing platform, you can automate the creation of sophisticated national and local digital marketing campaigns. Each location can tap into the brand’s national buying power, thereby stretching everyone’s marketing dollars further.

8) Use your secret weapon – your franchisees and store managers

Your franchisees can help boost and optimize marketing campaigns in a way no algorithm or corporate marketing team can. Their interaction with customers on a daily basis can mine insights that sometimes even data can’t provide. In fact, some of the best products, services, operations, promotional, and marketing ideas come from franchisees. McDonald’s signature and iconic sandwich, the Big Mac, was born from an idea of a McDonald’s franchisee. Leverage them.

9) CRM marketing

When marketing dollars are limited, don’t spend 5 times more attracting new customers. Focus on nurturing and retaining your existing ones. This is the essence of CRM marketing. Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%, according to research by Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company. To execute this tactic you’ll want to use your customer database and CRM automation software.

When strategizing and budgeting how much to spend to create new customers versus retain current customers, it’s important to consider your customer’s lifetime value, or CLV, when measuring ROI. The most successful franchises will find an ideal balance between the costs of acquisition and retention. The focus should be on delivering both immediate and long-term value to customers so they become lifelong advocates of your brand.

10) CRM retention tactics to focus on

Email marketing is the channel 60% of marketers agree delivers the biggest ROI, and in my opinion it should be your biggest priority. The goal is to deliver automated, personal, and relevant messages to a variety of personas and audience segments across different stages of the customer lifecycle and buyer’s journey. While it will take time and resources to set up a strategy, content, and campaigns on the front end, it will become a marketing machine in the long run. Other favorable channels and tactics for CRM marketing are mobile messages (SMS/text), mobile apps, website and push notifications, social media, website retargeting, content marketing, and even direct mail in certain industries like automotive services.


These 10 tips aren’t a magic cure-all, but they can serve as a solid starting point for a redefined marketing strategy that factors in national ad fund or local store budget constraints. Every franchise business and multi-location brand is unique and serves unique customers, but by leveraging technology and data you can focus on your best customers and highest ROI marketing tactics. Building a plan around some certainties will allow you to take a giant leap in helping your franchise locations cost-effectively survive and even thrive in the uncertain times ahead.

Jeffrey Lentz is a Hyperlocologist and Owner & CEO of Elevated Franchise Marketing, which provides consulting and marketing services to franchisees, franchisors, and franchise suppliers. A franchise marketing executive, consultant, and business owner with 20 years of experience across retail, QSR, fintech, and automotive industries, he has held marketing leadership roles across 5 franchise organizations with a focus on franchise development, consumer, B2B, product, field, CRM, and local store marketing. Connect with him on LinkedIn or reach him at info@elevatedfranchise.com or 888-383-8352.
Published: July 30th, 2020

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