Trendspotting at FCXC: The Latest in Local Marketing
The all-new Franchise Customer Experience Conference (FCXC) provided a place for marketing, operations, and technology professionals to gather in person and share the latest trends in their area of franchising.
I spent most of my time at FCXC in the marketing sessions and spoke with many franchisor attendees, as well as with event sponsors about what’s happening in local marketing within their systems or with their partners. Here are some of my favorite industry pros comparing notes on trends they’re spotting out in the field.
Carly Selak, Field Marketing Manager, and Michelle Chirco, Marketing Lead at Ziebart found that several people discussed “understanding who your customers are not. We often focus on local marketing tactics using our core target audience, but we do not typically ever go back to a franchisee and explain who we shouldn’t be targeting.” They also heard conversations indicating “that if you have a tactic that has great performance, don’t feel the need to change it just because it’s been running for a while. Find out ways to optimize a program that is working locally rather than scrapping it because of age and testing new tactics that aren’t necessarily needed. Adding more tactics doesn’t always equal success. Take a step back and think first about how it will affect the brand locally.”
Meg Brodeck, VP of Marketing at Authority Brands, says, “At FCXC, there was a recurring theme: the importance of defining customer personas and mapping the customer journey. While these weren’t new concepts by any means, the conversations focused on how to provide flexible personas that can be adapted at the local level to not only better understand who you are marketing to, but also to ensure that persona resonates with your market. Your brand’s persona doesn’t need to be so rigid that ‘Super Mom Sue’ has the exact same interests, attitudes, and values in each and every location!”
Brittany Graff, Senior Director of Marketing at Painting with a Twist, sees the growing importance of making marketing easier for franchisees. “We know they wear a ton of hats running a business, so we’ve partnered with several vendors (many of which were at FCXC!) to help streamline. We have a one-stop-shop digital media partner that helps push ads in several digital channels so franchisees don’t have to be digital experts to effectively advertise. It gives studios the control they want with super-easy execution, which is a win-win for everyone.”
Martha France, Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Vya, says, “From a local marketing standpoint, the pandemic really amplified the need to be able to customize at the local level. For example, franchisors found that some regions needed images with masks and some needed images without masks. And now, product offerings vary by location: some may still have virtual offering options, some may be 100% in-person, curbside/no curbside, etc. There is really a heightened need for simplified local customization at scale.”
Julie Samuels, VP at Eulerity, noted that franchise clients, like most businesses, are focusing much of their marketing resources on staff recruitment. “Gone are the days of just putting up a job posting and throwing some money behind it. In an employee market, brands have to do more than just offer a job with competitive pay – they have to build employee branding and become an employer of choice. Digital marketing and deploying budget on top-of- funnel brand awareness is necessary to show your candidates who you are, what you stand for, and how you show up in the world. Once a prospective employee sees your job posting, you want them to already want to work for you.”
Recruitment is also top of mind for clients of Consumer Fusion. CEO Brynn Gibbs and COO Mark Spencer say they have seen “a big demand from franchisors focusing more on their Glassdoor, Indeed, and Google My Business [now Business Profile] pages as they are struggling to fill positions. Potential employees are really taking their time to look into the reputations on these review sites before committing to a brand. Now more than ever, reputation is everything for hiring for a position."
Thomas Scott, COO and Co-Founder at Home Based Franchise Group, said, “One of the biggest trends I’ve seen is the decrease in digital spending, mostly a pull away from traditional, search-based AdWords [now Google Ads]. The money has migrated to social ad spending, in particular, conversational marketing integrated with Meta Messenger for business. Brands are realizing that websites, web forms, and phone numbers – the traditional tools of business for communicating with customers – are becoming obsolete. They are rapidly being replaced with real-time communication between a customer and a business through tools like Meta Messenger. Companies that adapt to this are seeing huge gains in customer acquisition.”
Mike Ackley, COO at Brand Journalists, sees that “franchise development marketing is only getting more expensive, and at a time where every dollar counts, making sure you have the fundamentals right is so important. The franchise brands who invest in a website that is designed to convert and tells an emotionally powerful story that resonates with buyers will fare the best no matter what happens to the economy.”
What local marketing trends are you spotting lately? Did you hear more at FCXC or other franchise gatherings so far this year? I would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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