The holidays are approaching quickly, and consumer spending is expected to rise to $678.75 billion . These spending predictions come from a combination of factors including a healthy economy and continued job growth.
However, companies in the franchise industry still face many challenges even as consumer confidence rebounds. Aside from a growing preference for last-minute, online purchases, customers are also gravitating towards more unique, meaningful shopping experiences this holiday season.
To counter these consumer trends, many brands are focused on providing their franchisees with more tools and resources to fulfill customers’ needs this holiday season. If meaningful shopping experiences are what consumers are looking for, one of the best ways brands can compete is by creating an even better customer experience across their franchise network.
But marketers know that if they're going to get their brands to a new level this year, they'll need their local marketers to be ready to deliver. That's why to capitalize on increased consumer confidence and spending during the busy holiday season, the brands that outperform their competition know that they need to get their franchisees to follow a few key tips.
5 Holiday Marketing Ideas to Share with Your Franchisees
Tip #1: Start Planning Early
With the holiday season accounting for 30 percent of retailers' total revenue , businesses must get started with planning their holiday marketing strategies as soon as they can. Aside from the benefits of getting promotions in front of consumers sooner, franchise brands have to factor in the time it takes to distribute and coordinate their campaigns with franchisees.
To ensure that the corporate marketing team is prepared to support local affiliates during the holiday season, it's recommended that brands start strategizing as early as late spring with execution starting in the fall. The reality is, however, that no two organizations are identical. Each brand will have their own unique timeline and schedule. However, all organizations should follow this basic approach:
- Planning: May-August
- Execution: September-November
- Launch: November-January
Taking the time to properly coordinate with franchisees is crucial to running a successful holiday campaign. A brand might plan something awesome, totally world-class and unique. However, if the local affiliate doesn't know what's expected of them and can't deliver what they need to as part of the experience, then the brand has wasted all that time, energy and money.
As a brand manager or marketer, think about the campaigns you'll put in place to excite consumers around the holidays. How will you equip the franchisees and their teams to pull off those campaigns? Plan around your answer to that question and make sure you start early enough that you actually follow through with giving the franchisees what they need.
Tip #2: Personalize the Experience for Local Holiday Shoppers
The most successful enterprise brands know how important it is to deliver highly personalized holiday marketing campaigns. As 94 percent of businesses  now tie personalization to sales success, it’s crucial to tailor messages and marketing actions to a customer's buying habits. Not only that, consumers are expecting it nowadays. 73 percent  actually prefer doing business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant. Consumers look for and find more value when marketing has a personal touch. Emails with personalized subject lines, for example, are 26 percent more likely to be opened. 
So how can brands deliver personalized marketing experiences to consumers during the holidays? And more importantly, how can they get their franchisees to do that too? Start by properly researching, understanding and tracking consumer purchase habits. Proactive brands use this data to create effective holiday marketing campaigns and find creative opportunities to add a touch of personalization based on what customers like to buy or are more likely to buy.
To illustrate this concept, let's consider the following example. A franchisee that wants to improve sales around the holidays gets data from their PoS system or the brand's CRM on customers who have made purchases recently. Knowing what things those customers tend to buy during the year, the franchisee then separates them out based on preferences so she can send the right messages to the right customer.
Then she can use this information to start a special holiday offer, promotion, or coupon for that individual customer which gives them discounts on their frequently purchased items. Personalization like this, especially during peak-buying times like the holidays, boosts customer confidence in the brand and helps establish trust with the local franchise.
Tip #3: Offer Special Holiday Promotions and Giveaways
To prepare for holiday demand as the season approaches, franchise brands should focus on developing highly-competitive promotions, incentives and special offers that will get customers in the holiday spirit and sideline the competition. More importantly, they need to empower their franchisees to actually deliver on those offers. Some popular ways to guide franchisees to run good holiday promotions include:
- Give great discounts on excess inventory.
- Craft social media posts to feature in-store discounts.
- Include discount codes in email offers.
- Give a little back to your repeat customers. Add special coupons into campaigns that you send out to your loyal customers to prompt them to visit you again during the holidays and get an even better deal.
It’s important to also expand your brand's promos beyond just Christmas. Customers are accustomed to savings beginning around Thanksgiving, with sales extending through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas Sales and New Year's Clearance. Consumers know about and expect these sales, so have your franchisees take advantage of that cultural awareness.
However, before you start promoting holiday discounts and specials at a national level, evaluate how much you might be asking of your franchisees. Are you asking them to discount items that are crucial to their margins? How will these discounts affect profitability? Having a clear understanding on how these promotions will influence the business side of things for the franchisees helps corporate teams build truly impactful holiday sales campaigns that franchisees are excited to use.
Tip #4: Combine Print and Digital Marketing During the Holidays
Despite the trend of consumers moving online to shop for the holidays, printed marketing collateral such as catalogs can still make a big impact. When it comes to direct mail, 92 percent  of shoppers say that they prefer direct mail for making purchasing decisions.
The most successful franchises combine print and digital marketing tactics at the local level. This provides consumers with various ways to buy and save. For instance, to engage consumers at a local level, Snap Fitness provides their franchisees with templates for printed offer cards. Featuring promotions such as seven free workout days, or a $10 membership sign-up fee during the holidays, the ads require recipients to physically stop by their nearest location to redeem.
The brand's ads also prompt customers to engage online with each location’s individual website, and there's even a branded hashtag that franchisees can use to go with it: #SnapNation.
Tip #5: Consider Local Marketing Automation
Top-performing multi-location brands give their franchisees every tool they need to succeed at running a good holiday campaign. Most of the top performing ones (more than 60% in fact) are using specialized software known as Local Marketing Automation to give their franchisee partners' marketing pieces that bring in customers during this "most wonderful time of the year." With SaaS LMA, brands can deliver personalized holiday local marketing collateral to their franchisees. With these resources, franchisees are empowered to work independently and create campaigns that align with the core messaging, aesthetic and holiday offers of the national brand. Some features of the LMA software include:
- Customizable creative that enforces brand standards. Local Marketing Automation tools that typically let brands create their own marketing templates for franchisees to use.
- Tactics for effective campaign distribution and compliance. Keeps brands aligned with local affiliates, enabling them to create and manage their own campaigns while remaining brand compliant.
The Importance of Holiday Marketing Campaigns
For any franchise brand, the holidays are one of the most important times of the year. Franchises deal with numerous marketing challenges during the busy holiday season. Top brands start planning for the holidays early, personalize the holiday shopping experience for local consumers, offer special discounts and promotions to get customers excited, combine print and digital channels to engage shoppers and adopt LMA to deliver some "holiday magic."
By implementing a SaaS LMA solution for creative versioning, brands and their local affiliates can work together to create a unique and consistent experience for consumers this holiday season.
Empower local marketers to boost brand equity by delivering consistent and compliant marketing material. Download The Local Marketing Playbook: The Templates, Campaigns and Tools That Help Multi-Location Brands Become Local Marketing Champions.