Three Smart Marketing Strategies to get more with less.
>>Don’t cut that marketing budget
>>Tighten up your brand
>>Create happier franchisees
PAPER INTENDED FOR:
AUDIENCE: Those responsible for national or local branding, and channel marketing
FOCUS: The importance of becoming more savvy and cost effective about marketing investments, best practices on how to do so, and how to improve franchisor/franchisee relationships in the process.
Under normal conditions, when a pilot wants an airplane to gain altitude, they pull back on the controls. However, a pilot’s instinct to pull back in stall conditions or bad weather can actually make the situation worse and can have fatal consequences.
The stakes aren’t quite as high as your own life or death when it comes to running your business. Still, your instinct to cut back on your marketing budget during times when the economy isn’t providing much lift can be a business killer. The truth is, you can’t save your way into growing a business. It becomes the impulse of many business owners to make drastic cuts to marketing budgets, because it’s often one of the larger expenses.
You can’t save your way into growing a business.
The real, but not always obvious answer is to simply become more creative about how a marketing investment is utilized; not marketing less, but marketing smarter.
Now, in fact, is an especially good time to get your message out to the market, as there is less noise. Many competitors have, by the same impulse, cut back on marketing efforts. It is at times like these that accelerating your marketing can make a real difference, and though it may be hard to believe, ROI can increase.
Here are some strategic, more impactful methods that can be used:
>Infuse Direct Response Marketing Into The Mix
Direct response marketing, or crafting a specific message that asks targets to reply, is typically defined by four elements:
1. A Strong Offer
This may take some research. The strength of an offer lies in it’s perceived value by the recipient.
2. Call to Action
This is definitive of direct response marketing. Be sure the desired method of reply and offer expiration dates are clear.
3. Enough Information to Interpret Value
Provide details. If you’re offering a free service or item, including it’s retail value will increase a campaign’s success.
4. A Means of Response
It’s important to specify how respondents should contact you so you know it’s a result of your campaign. Use a specific toll-free number, web page address, landing page or mailing address.
Direct response marketing has captured large shares of marketing budgets for years due to some simple reasons:
The main advantage to direct response is knowing that your campaign worked. Whether the recipient told you themselves, of they hit the custom landing page, you know about it.
It’s Cost Effective.
Direct response campaigns are one to one and can be more personalized. The more personalized, the higher ROI.
You Can Test and Learn From It.
Testing the response rates of messages allows you to learn from them and adjust future campaigns to be even more effective.
Traditionally, one of the more popular ways to use direct response marketing is through one to one direct mail campaigns. In fact, it is so popular that mail is often automatically assumed as the primary, or only direct response channel. However, there are many ways beyond mail that can deliver a personalized message to a prospect or customer. This includes mobile SMS campaigns, email, direct messages on Twitter or Facebook, just to name a few.
Using direct mail and infusing other powerful one to one response methods into your overall marketing mix can deliver big advantages. This way you can send your message specifically to highly targeted prospects through mail, and supplement those messages with other mobile or social direct response tactics. These combinations send more messages to perfect customers on a targeted level, meaning that ROI is much higher than mass media investments. This is a perfect example of smart marketing during tough times.
Pinpointed Audiences = Highest Conversion Rates!
To cite one example, the Illinois-based automotive franchise Car-X invests in current customer retention through the use of targeted, direct response campaigns. Local Car-X stores participating in these specific service reminders and time sensitive offers are seeing unheard of ROI rates – averaging around 2800%, and going as high as over 7500%.
“Focus on brand integrity.” What does that mean exactly?
In broad strokes, it means defining your brand, and your brand promise. It means aligning and engaging employees, all the way down to the front lines at the local level. It means creating a culture of greater accountability so that you deliver consistently positive customer experiences.
Gregg Lederman, the founder of Brand Integrity, Inc., a strategy practice group specializing in employee performance, says “a brand strategy closes the gaps between what we say, what we do and what we think.”
“Effective organizational leaders share a common perspective on branding,” says Lederman, “viewing it not as a marketing discipline but as a culture management discipline.” These leaders understand and support the Four Realities of Branding.
Four Realities of Branding:
1. The brand is not part of the business, it is the business.
2. A brand is about experience, not logos and taglines.
3. The little things a company does consistently are much more important than the BIG things it says.
4. A well-executed brand strategy is the single most important differentiator between a good company and a great company.
The good news is that many of those things don’t take lots of money to achieve, it just takes awareness, diligence and deliberation. Here are some ways to ensure your brand is aligned all the way down to the local level…
Take a Hard Look at Your Brand
A great starting point is an audit. Not a financial one, but rather an evaluation of what employees and customers think of your brand. Ask what people think about your attributes, competitive strengths and weaknesses and your culture. This will determine your starting point.
Putting out a survey to current customers you have a relationship is a great way to start this process, but sometimes you’ll gain the most honest feedback from just listening, without first asking for the opinion. Though the “exact ROI” is still controversial at this point, the benefits of Social Media monitoring are indisputable.
The most beneficial tool will vary depending upon the industry of your franchise.
Social media tools where people do a lot of chatting, such as Twitter and Facebook, help brands realize where their name could be mentioned without even knowing. Channels for public reviews, such as Google and Yelp! are especially advantageous for brands to respond, thanking patrons for positive comments, and demonstrating a desire to repair any less than ideal experiences.
Explore New Opportunities
There are always new opportunities to be pursued, new ways to improve brand integrity and market more effectively.
Take a look at the digital space with mobile, email and the web – this is today’s fastest growing trend. Marketing to the digital world in a one to one manner is continuing to become an important part of a smart, integrated marketing mix. Now is the time to begin experimenting in this realm, if you aren’t already.
For example, take a look at one to one web retargeting:
Ever see a web ad repeatedly and think, “Man, these guys must be everywhere!” That may not necessarily be true. Web retargeting is a process in which a tracking cookie is implemented when a person searches a term or visits a company’s website. Since they’ve shown particular interest in that topic or company, ads targeting that individual will continue to follow them as they browse the web. Web advertising used to be much like putting up a billboard, just hoping the right prospect sees it, but no more. This tactic can even be targeted to the local level, using zip codes and other demographics.
As long as you’re thinking web, don’t forget social media. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, reviews on Yelp! and Google are only part of what’s possible in the growing social media space. Getting started can seem daunting, so start small with the channels your customers use most and then expand. Here are some fast facts about some of the most popular social media methods in today’s market:
• More than 1.4 million new posts are added every day, and over 57 million Americans read blogs
• 22 of the 100 of the world’s most popular web sites are blogs (Blog World)
• Bloggers help brands
• 180 million unique visits are generated each month
• More than 600 million searches occur every day
• A third of all users access Twitter through mobile devices
• 1 in every 13 people on Earth are registered
• 71% of all American Internet users are here
• More than 30 billion pieces of content are shared very month
• A video in Google’s index is 53 times more likely to appear on the first page search results (Forrester Research)
• Viewer response rates are 4-7 times higher with video (Doubleclick)
• Viewers spend 8X more time on video (1.5 min) than on static emails (10 sec) (Marketing Sherpa)
Is this the year brand marketers divert much of their budgets from traditional media to the web and mobile? There is definitely evidence to support it.
A new report from the advertising-focused website Digiday finds that marketers will spend some 60% of their online budgets on brand ads this year, “potentially more than direct-response ads for the first time in memory,” according to Forbes magazine.
Here are some of the highlights from the Digiday report:
•64% of marketers say they’ll up their online brand advertising budgets in 2012
•56% of marketers plan to raise online direct response advertising
•60% of marketers say they will move money from direct response to brand advertising
Forbes says the study is particularly interesting because it’s one more indication that online advertising has become much more mainstream due to the success of new online ad channels such as Facebook, YouTube, and mobile. Not everyone is happy with the current state of affairs online though. According to the survey here’s what marketers really want from their online spend:
• 68% said, “Improved clarity around the actual return on brand advertising investment.”
•56% also cited the “Ability to verify my brand advertising created the desired result (e.g. increased awareness of my product).”
•53% indicated the “Ability to use the same metrics to evaluate brand advertising effectiveness online as are used offline.”
Online spending is predicted to hit $39.5 billion this year, surpassing newspaper and magazine ad revenue for the first time, according to eMarketer. Still, experts say, it’s early, which is why many companies continue to build their digital marketing foundation on measurable tactics like email.
The Minneapolis-based franchise Great Clips got a great start on building email files to expand the marketing mix for over 3,000 salons in the United States and Canada. They began organically growing an extremely engaged client email list that in less than a year grew to over 330,000 contacts with delivery rates of over 99%. On average over 40,000 people interact with their monthly sweepstakes and other promotions, growing business substantially for local salons as well as the franchise as a whole.
>Prove Your Investment
In addition to other responsibilities, such as quality lists, creative assets, and channel integration, you must also consider metrics. Determine how response data will be captured and incorporated into CRM and/or POS systems. This data can come from many response methods, from toll free phone numbers, email click-through rates, PURLs, campaign codes, mobile responses, and much more.
As a franchisor, this is where doing the legwork for franchisees by researching a tool or system for local tracking is the most beneficial. Franchisees are given the resources they need, while marketing efforts are tracked at the local level in a way that provides total visibility to the corporate level.
One of the biggest benefits of direct response marketing is the fact that you can view hard numbers on campaign performance, allowing you to make better decisions. No guessing, no hunches, no assumptions.
It’s also likely you will be using multiple sources to track your results – email management, web analytics, affiliate management – all of these will come into play when measuring and analyzing a campaign’s effectiveness.
Tuffy, one of the largest full-service automotive repair franchises in the country, was already utilizing an effective, automated marketing system. But when they introduced better analytics in combination with their POS they began to see even more powerful results.
Now local Tuffy stores can run reports on each individual campaign and store, drilling down to the ROI on each customer or service — even on past campaigns that were run before analytics were used, so they can learn from them.
Tracking allows you to optimize campaigns, by increasing response volume, reducing cost per response and generating better ROI.
It’s an easy concept to tout to prospective franchisees, but it can be quite challenging to keep that focus while trying to strengthen and grow your brand.
Your franchisees are what make your organization. Keep them successful and happy, and the rewards will be shared throughout the whole franchise. Provide franchisees with the tools to be successful — research solutions that fit the business model and make it easy for them to adopt.
Improve “Zee” Communications and Education
How do your franchisees know about the different ways you’re trying to empower them if you don’t shout it from the rooftops? Marketing your brand is not just a brand-to-consumer concept. Market your brand, and the resources you’re using to make it great, straight to your franchisees so they know what kind of efforts are being made and can appreciate them.
Then, educating franchisees on the tools you’re providing, so they can use them. Giving someone a tool, then simply instructing them to use it can have disastrous side effects, not to mention leaving that individual feeling lost. For the exact same reason you have a new franchisee training program in place, you should have a continuing education program for even the most seasoned franchisees so they can continue to adapt, evolve, and do business better.
Measure Unit Performance
Back to tracking marketing efforts, make sure any marketing partners you use have a way to track results so franchisees are provided with ultimate clarity on their successes, as well as their shortcomings. This is where using a singular marketing platform that integrates both traditional and digital marketing channels can be extremely beneficial. Executing on multiple marketing tactics can be simple, but getting them to work together and receiving consistent, accurate results, is the real hinge on success, both locally and nationally.
Invest in Local Marketing and Provide Incentives
Ask nearly any franchisee about their biggest expense or headache, and marketing will be it. Smart franchisors are doling out co-op funds to invest in their brand at the local level, because they know that’s where the business is; success at the local level means success for the whole brand. Start sourcing co-op dollars, reallocate the budget to invest in local marketing so franchisees have a reason to match that investment—not just financially, but emotionally as well.
By investing locally, not only are you keeping your current franchisees happy. This will help create a culture of trust with franchisees that will become part of your brand’s DNA and will only strengthen it. More franchisees sign on, more locations are opened, and your brand grows.
The above strategies are extremely effective, but require resources to orchestrate.
How are the most successful franchisors handling all of these supposedly ‘simple’ moving parts? They’ve outsourced them to the experts. It takes a great man, woman, or brand to realize they can’t do everything. Your brand—that’s your area of expertise. Making it work on multiple levels is the sweet spot of a good marketing services firm. Find a marketing partner with the capabilities to handle all facets from communication, to local marketing through co-op funding, to measuring the results.
Anyone can be profitable and grow a business in a thriving economy, but growing a business during challenging cycles in the economy is a more difficult – but certainly not impossible – task.
In fact, many entrepreneurs will tell you they achieved their periods of greatest growth during the down times. That’s because you can better differentiate yourself from the competition more easily if you are out telling your story while the competition in hiding, “waiting for things to get better.”
So strengthen your brand, look ahead for new opportunities, track your investments, and always be working to improve the franchisee and customer experiences.
Also, keep in mind that the growth tactics that you work so hard on in a down economy will continue to produce sales as conditions improve. The effort you make to turn your business around today will continue to generate a return for years to come.
1. Invest in Smarter, More Focused Marketing.
Instead of cutting your marketing budget, use smarter, more focused and personalized campaigns across multiple marketing channels (including emerging channels) and ensure their measurement.
2. Tighten Up Your Brand.
Evaluate your brand, your brand promise, and it’s supporting elements. Aligning your brand with franchisees, employees and customers down to the local level will be key to delivering consistent, positive customer experiences.
3. Create Happier Customers.
By making your franchises happy, you make your customers happy. And that means more franchises, locations and more business. That means a win-win for everyone.
Bluewater is the leading one to one marketing services firm that empowers brands to grow by getting the right message to the right person at the right time.
What makes Bluewater different from local marketing automation companies or agencies is the focus on the bigger picture. Bluewater combines marketing strategy with smart technology to grow leading brands at the national and local levels. Bluewater goes far beyond local marketing automation to ensure their clients have the insights and the tools to stay relevant today… and tomorrow.
Leading brands trust Bluewater to help them drive more revenue and increase loyalty. Working with Bluewater means partnering with authentic, experienced people who understand brands, and can deliver solutions tailored to their needs.