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03/01/2016:  Top Lessons from the 2016 IFA Convention


The 2016 IFA Convention has quickly come and gone. After a weekend full of relationship building and knowledge sharing, the Bluewater team has come home with a much deeper insight into the franchise industry. 

2016 IFAThis being my first year in attendance at the 2016 IFA (International Franchise Association) Convention, I was unsure of what to expect. I hoped I would learn a thing-or-two, meet a few individuals in the franchise space and come back energized. In fact, I learned more than any blog post could ever encompass. Fortunately enough, I had two Bluewater veterans with me in San Antonio, Derek Kropp and Craig Boyte. With their years of experience attending the convention, they suggested we divide-and-conquer to learn as much as we could.

Check out the Bluewater team’s highlights from the 2016 IFA!

Derek Kropp - Headshot - Partner / President - Bluewater“Field Marketing Support is Needed
Derek Kropp | CEO
One of my highlights from the 2016 IFA was facilitating a round table discussion titled “Help! The Truth About Marketing Support to Franchisees!” 

What I learned from listening to this group is that for many brands there is a necessity for field marketing support and service. Brands main objectives are to sell more units. Business development is fantastic but you can’t forget about the existing franchisees. Our round table attendees were marketing team individuals who are tasked with strengthening the brand while supporting the needs of the existing franchisees. The common issue we found is they have a lack of resources to do both. From not being staffed to handle franchisee customer service while trying to growing the brand, they do not have the bandwidth. There is a need is for a call center to answer questions, co-build marketing strategies to add franchises and help with the brand with struggling units. In addition, brands are looking for a toolbox for do-it yourself franchisees. They are looking for training of new methods and technologies to drive individual success.

Chelsea“The Power of Social Influence is Undeniable
Chelsea Duke Miller | Director of New Business Development
At the “Adjusting for Millennial Customers” session, we heard from big brands like Massage Envy and Pie Five Pizza about their successes connecting with millennial customers.

Millennials are changing consumer behavior. Ranging in age from 18 to 34, millennials are conscientious consumers who have high expectations for brands. In addition to high standards, digital presence and experience is a must. Millennials are “highly educated, career-driven, politically progressive and develop strong brand loyalty when presented with quality products and actively engaged by brands” says David Arabov, CEO of Elite Daily. Relationship-based, millennials take time to research products and services before investing. Millennials are loyal consumers but they will tell you if they are unhappy. How your brand responds to negative reviews will determine millennial loyalty.

In Craig Guillot’s “Millennial Moment” article, he makes six key points toward understanding the millennial consumer:

1. Millennials are larger than the baby boomers. Brands cannot speak to them the same way. 
2. Millennials are unified by digital. Brands need to have up-to-date technology. 
3. Millennials are conscientious consumers believing in social responsibility and gender equality. 
4. Millennials have high expectations. Brands must focus on the mobile experience. 
5. Millennials embrace change. They understand lifelong careers are unrealistic. 
6. Millennials are not all broke, spending far more than previous generations did on items.

The biggest takeaway is that millennials want to be heard. Whether it’s responding to a positive review with a simple ‘thank you’ or reacting to a negative review with a solution, relationships are everything for millennials.

Craig Boyte - Headshot - VP of Digital Strategy - Bluewater

“Mobile Marketing is Taking Over”
Craig Boyte | VP of Digital
One of the best sessions I attended at the 2016 IFA was the “Get Your Mobile On: Best Practices and Key Trends for Today’s Marketplace.”

Mobile marketing is taking over the world and franchise systems can’t fall behind. As more and more consumers move to mobile, we must focus on making their experience enjoyable. Brands should focus on UI/UX to make consumers interactions as easy as possible.

Every brand should own their own branded terms for mobile. Search ad dollars for mobile search is expected to reach $12.85 billion compared to $12.82 billion for desktop search. This means 2016 will be the first year mobile search ad spend is higher than desktop search. Owning your own brand terms is inexpensive, easy and essential. In addition, always try to have clickable mobile numbers in both search and mobile banner campaigns.

Did you attend any of the above sessions? What was your favorite part or top lesson from 2016 IFA? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or you can tweet us at @Bluewaterbrand!


About Chelsea Duke Miller
Chelsea Duke Miller

Chelsea is the Director of Marketing & Sales at Bluewater. Whether coordinating tradeshows or managing various projects, Chelsea plays a key role in a wide range of Bluewater initiatives. Outside of Bluewater, Chelsea loves walking her dog, Wrigley, cooking and spending summers on Lake Minnetonka.

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