Franchise Marketing: Sell with Meaningful Encounters

Posted on December 16, 2013

Balancing Sales Drivers with Meaningful Encounters

Because of national acclaim, large franchises enjoy rapid brand recognition. But national acclaim says nothing about local praise. You may serve Starbucks coffee, but if your staff takes ten minutes to make a cappuccino, nothing—not even your siren—is going to bring customers back. Franchise marketing must localize, and it must localize in a positive direction.

But localizing takes time, requiring constant good performances to multiple customers. Because of this, franchises often forget about their local responsibilities. They want to see sales. They want to see numbers. They want to see profit. And they want to see it now.

Both localizing and sales are fundamental components of any good franchise. Knowing how to balance present sales with local foresight, then, is a challenge  for local franchise marketing. So, if you want to balance your vision and yours sales, try this: reach customers with sales drivers but reinforce those drivers with meaningful encounters.

Sales Drivers bring in Cash

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Sales drivers are touchpoints that create immediate sales, bringing short-term gains. They come in the form of coupons, seasonal specials, celebrity endorsements, customer discounts. They can be anything from “Kids Eat Free Monday Nights,” to “Half-off Appetizers Half-past Ten,” to “Buy One Brew Get One Free During Football Season.” No matter what, their purpose is simple: bring in cash and bring it fast.

Sales Drivers are Lifeless without Meaningful Encounters

If franchises just focus on sales, they become impersonal and static. They become just another franchise selling just another product that can be found anywhere else. Thus, every franchise must create meaningful encounters with its customers.

Meaningful encounters are memorable touchpoints. Their premise is simple: customers remember that which is meaningful. They can be anything from keeping the bathrooms clean, to pardoning that 47 cents your customer can’t seem to find in her purse, to refunding your customer’s dropped hamburger. At the core, these encounters say one thing: we actually care.

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Meaningful encounters do not bring immediate gain—not many people buy three more subs because the cashier said have a good day—but franchise marketing will benefit from an abundance of meaningful encounters.

Consider an example from Satisfaction by J.D. Power IV. An AVIS bus driver passed a man at an airport. Then he passed him again. Then he did it again. Then again, all at the same spot. The bus driver stopped to ask which bus the man was waiting for. Frustrated, the man told him Hertz. The AVIS bus driver offered to take him to the Hertz check-in even though the man was not a AVIS customer. The bus driver’s kindness was significant for the man, and the next time the man rented a car, he picked AVIS.

This is the power of meaningful encounters: they impress positive images of your franchise onto the customer’s mind.

A Franchise Marketing Caveat: You Must Balance the Two

If sales drivers and meaningful encounters are not balanced, the one can harm the other. Imagine understocking beer during football season for Buy One Brew Get One Free. That would be a disaster. Or imagine giving out coupons that increase demand, but then having less staff to serve all the demanding customers. Your service is slow, your staff is overworked, your atmosphere is tainted with chaos.

Remember: you don’t want to create a traumatizing encounter, that is, an experience that impresses bad memories on customers’ minds. You want a personal contact, an intimate meeting of the other, an engagement with real people. You want to drive sales, sure, but you don’t want to drive customers away.

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