5 Mistakes Brands Make in Local Marketing - and How To Fix Them

5 Mistakes Brands Make in Local Marketing - and How To Fix Them

If your local marketing efforts have fallen flat, chances are that your franchisees aren't happy, and neither are you. It's not uncommon for brands to run into problems engaging with their franchisees and directing them toward a common marketing vision. The good news is that there are solutions to these challenges. Understanding some of the common mistakes brands make in local marketing can help revitalize a sagging program and re-engage disconnected franchisees. Here are some of the most common local marketing mistakes brands make - and tips on how to fix them.

1) Providing marketing funds to franchisees with too many or too few restrictions

Investing in the local marketing efforts of your franchisees can go a long way in strengthening your relationship and encouraging winning behavior. If you award marketing funds without restrictions or guidelines, don't be surprised when your franchisees use those funds to pay for rent, or an 1/8th-page ad in a bulletin. Conversely, marketing funds that come with too many strings attached - like a stack of paperwork and lengthy approval and reimbursement processes - will deter franchisees from taking advantage of important local marketing opportunities. And this doesn't mean they'll spend their own money on marketing campaigns. More often, they'll forgo executing marketing initiatives that could have brought in sales and increased revenue. Allowing franchisees to have easy access to funds for clearly specified marketing purposes with streamlined approval and reimbursement processes will ensure your marketing dollars are being spent wisely. Review your funding guidelines at least once a year and make adjustments to provide incentives to franchisees and reward the right outcomes.

2) Stretching marketing resources too thin

Brands with the most successful local marketing programs have a marketing manager (or team) at corporate who believes in, champions, and supports the efforts of franchisees. If this individual is pulled in too many directions, they may not have the time or resources required to build and sustain a successful local marketing program. Provide your marketing manager with the time, tools, and resources required to effectively guide and support franchise marketing efforts.

3) Trying to be an expert in everything

The rapidly changing digital landscape can leave many marketers feeling overwhelmed and can sometimes results in poor decision-making. Today's marketers are required to wear many hats, especially those who work in smaller organizations. Learn to recognize your limitations and when to seek the advice of experts, especially when it comes to digital marketing and social media. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to agency partners and peers who can advise you on best practices for using digital and social at the local level, and keep an open mind. You just might learn something. For example, you might learn about new SEO techniques that work best on the local level. Or, that Facebook advertising is one of the most affordable ways to get very granular in local marketing because it's measurable and precise, even though many marketers tend to not capitalize on it.

4) Not listening to franchisees and failing to include them in the planning process

Want to know what's working and what's not? Ask your franchisees. Having a mechanism in place to foster open communication and idea sharing with franchisees will increase engagement and confidence in the marketing team. This can have a major impact on the success of your local marketing program. Bring your best franchisees into the fold when planning big initiatives that will affect them. By including them in the planning process they'll feel empowered and invested in the brand and your program. Listen and respond to your franchisees. While not every recommendation or idea shared will make the cut, letting them know that you appreciate their feedback - and why - will keep the lines of communication open. When you do implement a program or initiative that was recommended by a franchisee, make sure everyone knows it.

5) Not getting out into the field enough

When is the last time you visited one of your franchise locations or walked into their competitor's store across the street? Store visits are a great way to connect and learn. Doing this will better prepare you to evaluate your franchisees' local marketing needs and facilitate the change required to make it happen.

In the end, brands and franchisees are on the same team. Working together on local marketing efforts benefits everybody.

Lori Alba, marketing director at Brandmuscle, has spent nearly two decades in distributed marketing roles as a national, regional, and local marketer for B2B and consumer brands. In her 5 years at Brandmuscle, she has helped notable national brands identify and execute local marketing automation programs across networks of thousands of dealers, agents, and franchisees operating in multiple industries. Contact her at lalba@brandmuscle.com or 216-454-2047.

Published: December 11th, 2014

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