Since you own a franchise with a strong brand, you don’t have to worry about local marketing, right?
According to the U.S. State Department, American businesses lose $50 billion annually in potential sales because of problems with localization.
When a franchise doesn’t engage local audiences, there’s usually an attitude behind it.
Off the top of my head, I can name four.
Attitude #1: Apathy
The Problem: Ignoring Local Marketing
Apathy, as a lack of enthusiasm or interest, often causes our most deepest problems, and local marketing is no different. Here’s the attitude: “I manage a few Burger Kings. I’ve got employees. I’ve got revenue. Why should I care?”
This indifference, this pseudo-nonchalant posture, this overconfidence stifles local perception of the business and, in consequence, affects the parent brand’s image, too.
Local marketing is not just about driving sales: it’s about engaging customers and strengthening the brand you represent.
If you stay apathetic about your local marketing endeavors, someone will fill the vacuum.
And when your customers view Chick-fi-la as the neighborhood franchise, don’t think the BK king will help your image.
Solution: Change your Perspective
The Greeks built the word “apathy” from two words, meaning “without feeling.” Apathy, then, is a lack of emotion. It is an attitude, and as such, it involves a frame of mind. Indeed, apathetic thinking occurs when the object of that thinking is deemed unimportant. That’s why there’s no feelings toward it: it’s not important enough.
Because of this, combat apathy with a change in perspective. Think about your customers, your community, your franchise. Think about the faces of real individuals who choose your franchise over another. Think about their importance. Instead of asking “why should I care?” ask “how can I care.”
Remember: apathy is contagious. Your apathy toward local marketing could easily discourage customers (and employees) from returning to your business. So care, listen, and hustle.
Attitude #2: Overdependence
The Problem: The Death of Local Marketing: Brand Reliance
Franchise brands are strong. Like, Death Wish coffee strong. But they will not sustain a franchise’s local image. The minute a franchise substitutes its brand for local marketing is the minute it risks becoming stiff, detached, and static. The brand may be hip, dynamic, and personable. But unless it engages the locals, don’t expect a response.
Don’t get me wrong: brands are important. But here’s the problematic attitude: using the brand as a crutch instead of a threshold.
Solution: Unleash the Crackin’
Relying on the brand can easily hamper creativity. Thus, instead of depending on the brand, strengthen it through creative local marketing. Use your brand to help narrow how you do local marketing, and then put your local spin on it.
Consider Applebee’s brand: neighborhood grill. When you walk into Applebee’s, then, you should expect to see props from the neighborhood: photos of the city’s football team championship game, banners of the sports team, photos of excelling students, trophies from the county science fair. Applebee’s should engage its community; in response, the community will respond: the football team will come after practice, the teams come after games, the students bring their parents.
So remember: brands help create local marketing, but local marketing is not replaced by the brand.
Attitude #3: Thinking Independently
The Problem: Local Marketing in Solitude
Usually, thinking independently is critical and often necessary. But that’s not the kind of independent thinking I’m talking about. For the franchisee, independent thinking is thinking alone. It’s thinking done away from the customers, away from the employees, away from the community. In this sense, independent thinking leads to ignorance: with no knowledge of the customers, local marketing suffers.
Solution: Search for Feedback
As cited in Forbes’s article, ”Customer Experience: Is it the Chicken or the Egg,” a CEI survey claims that 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. Improving the customer experience, however, implies knowing the customers who come into your franchised business. Thus, the best solution is to gain feedback, whether verbal or written.
There are many ways of gaining feedback—Surveymonkey, Google forms, feedback boxes. No matter what form you decide, you must listen. The only way to adequately learn about your customers is to actually listen to them. Listen to them in your business, enter conversations online, and find out who follows your business. Use Google Plus, add customers to circles, ask them what they would like to see different.
Remember: do not let that feedback box build up: take out the suggestions, organize them, implement them. Customer experience increases when customers believe they contribute to the experience. If a customer suggests rearranging the tables in the eating area, try it. At best, you satisfy the customer. About 13 percent of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. Don’t let your independence affect your customers.
Attitude #4: Busyness
The Problem: Back-burning Local Marketing
In college, the expression, “I’m too busy,” is universal and acceptable. But this excuse can only go so far. Several writers claim that we often think we are more busy than we actually are. We overestimate how much time we spend on projects and underestimate the time we waste.
In her book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, journalist and author Laura Vanderkam points out that “people are so bad at estimating how much time they spend doing things…. their overestimates can lead them to say that their weeks add up to 180 hours–or even more than 200 hours.
Solution: Look in every nook, cranny, and crack
Look for opportunities to market in unusual places. Every phone call, invoice, and drive-thru customer is an opportunity to make a small impression, tell a story, or up-sell. It doesn’t have to be complicated; just improve each touchpoint, one by one.
You’re not safe without Local Marketing
The poet W.H. Auden once said “A false enchantment can all too easily last a lifetime.” In all four attitudes, the enchantment is clear: I am safe without local marketing. The reality, however, is much different: franchises need local marketing. Break the enchantment, combat these attitudes, and engage your customers.