For any national campaign, we must keep in mind that the need for our services can vary on the regional and hyper-local level depending on climate and extreme weather. If a lawn care mailer gets buried under a pile of snow that is a wasted effort. So while we continue to fund national advertising campaigns and initiatives, we have to be careful that they don't fall on deaf ears when funneled down to the local level. We try to focus our local marketing initiatives on moving the needle and meeting specific benchmarks for improvement from the previous year. Before rolling out a new national campaign, we test it in our flagship operations and look to our leading franchisees to report back and give us measureable feedback. If it's not measurable, it's not worth doing.
While a franchisee may say they want to increase their revenue by 15 percent over the previous year, we work with them to create a business plan that can be measured in more nuanced ways, say for example increasing contact rates, closing rates, etc. For it to work, there must be consistent and thorough tracking of results. I have found that the franchisees who have the most success in executing a local marketing initiative are thorough and consistent with their statistical analysis. That real-time feedback allows us to work together to make any necessary adjustments.
Finally, the best way for our company to balance national brand initiatives and local marketing has been an optional marketing program with a comprehensive reporting structure that really focuses in on the process. The success of having the opt-in program has corralled the most growth-oriented franchisees in our system to serve as the example. Their commitment has been the most influential aspect of testing the effectiveness of our campaigns and how they contribute to an overall business plan. The program has been wildly successful, creating double-digit revenue growth of overall revenue in the U.S. and propelled us from $8 million in annual revenue to nearly $100 million in the past decade.
One of the greatest challenges for any franchisor marketing department is not just getting your franchisees to understand the importance in spending on their advertising, but to inspire them to invest energy into their advertising and not make it another "to-do" item on their master checklist: "Order direct mail. Check! Approve Pandora script. Check!..."
I see our corporate marketing role as our franchisees' coach, cheerleader, and even water boy. We will play whatever role is needed to ensure our team on the field is winning.
As our franchisees' marketing coach, I believe in investing ad fund dollars in professional equipment and tools to ensure my players are fierce and polished when they walk onto the field. We support 100 percent of our franchisees' artwork needs, so each piece of marketing they do on their own looks like a Madison Avenue agency produced it. We invest in communication, platforms, and tools to ensure we are a team and on the same page, always. As their coach, we ensure they are strong in the basics and following the play cards we practice every day.
As the marketing cheerleader, we know the importance of having high energy, and that nothing makes a player more excited to be playing their best game than when they see their "name in lights." We believe that investing in national (and sometimes regional) advertising is like chanting "Go Retro Fitness!" in our franchisees' ears as they are driving to their gym, watching TV, or searching the web. It is a constant reminder that we have their back and are excited to have them on our team.
The marketing water boy is not the most glamorous job, but we know how very important it is. There are times when a franchisee takes a knee and needs some specialized help to get rehabilitated and back in the game. We know how important every single player is to our network and we do invest, as needed, in markets where we know the fight is going to be harder, the odds are going to be greater, and we know our franchisee is the sure bet to break all records and win the game for us.
We are a team. We spend the ad fund dollars intelligently based on what is best for the whole in this ever-changing game we call franchising.
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