Today's local franchise managers have a lot on their plates: overseeing daily operations, managing employees and getting customers in the door. It goes without saying that your typical franchisee or store manager hasn't got time to figure out how to be a world-class marketer on top of it all. However, with the SaaS tools available, local marketing is a barrier that even the busiest franchise managers can overcome with relative ease.
Due to the increasing complexity of franchise marketing and limited bandwidth of franchise owners and operators, Local Marketing Automation (LMA) is one of the most effective software solutions brands employ to help local affiliates deliver exceptional marketing results. In fact, according to the 2017 Distributed Marketing Benchmark Report, 91 percent of mid-to-large-sized enterprise brands currently use some flavor of LMA or plan to invest in a technology with local marketing capabilities in the next year.
Could an LMA system help your franchisees achieve excellent local marketing results? It helps to take a closer look at the roles and responsibilities your franchisees handle on a daily basis and just how LMA can plug in to alleviate some of the stress they're probably feeling.
How Local Marketing Automation Helps Franchisees
Depending on the structure of your brand, franchisees could either function as on-the-job store operators or they might be more like landlords who check in on their managers from time to time. At the very least, no matter if your actual franchisees are handling the daily operations or not, someone at the local storefront has responsibilities like:
- Management: Handles managerial tasks including payroll, billing, human resources and more.
- Marketing: Runs and manages local marketing campaigns to try and get new customers in the door.
- Operations: Does operational tasks such as coordinating with corporate, running the register, cleaning the store, restocking, inventory ordering and more.
- Service: Most great store operators know that doing hands-on work to serve the customer is the best way to set an example for their employees and make customers really happy, all at the same time.
For franchisees that are owner-operators, it's a 24/7 job that requires intense effort and a relentless pursuit of business success. Here, franchisees are responsible for the growth of their own business and often lean on corporate marketing teams to give them the collateral needed to achieve that growth.
Conversely, multi-unit franchise owners tend to be a little bit more behind-the-scenes. They may pay attention to the books, but most of the time they're not a part of the day-to-day operations. Sometimes, they might even have an entire franchise management group at their disposal to make sure things are running smoothly at all of their locations. Often it's actually the store or general manager on-location who's responsible for running the business on the franchisee's behalf.
Despite the different levels of direct involvement by the franchisee, both types of franchisees require ongoing marketing support from the parent brand pretty much continuously. These local operators face significant pressure from their corporate marketing teams to produce more customized, authentic and relevant marketing materials all the time. Unfortunately, without the tools and resources needed to deliver on those expectations, franchisees are bound to run into their share of marketing challenges.
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Biggest Local Marketing Challenges Franchisees Face
The truth is, local marketing has become increasingly complex in recent years. Today, there are well over a dozen different online and offline marketing channels that can drive or influence sales. While corporate and local marketers largely agree on the channels they should invest in, there is some discrepancy around which channels drive the largest amount of engagement for franchisees as opposed to the brand. Additionally, depending on the amount of marketing control given to the local affiliate, they may have to generate their own marketing activity and collateral including social media posts, email marketing campaigns, direct mailers and any other kind of local advertising they might want to do.
But the explosion of channels and complexity is just one of the many difficulties that any franchisee is bound to encounter when they start doing marketing. Needless to say, out in the field, many of the great marketing ideas that are dreamt up at HQ can run into problems.
Other local marketing challenges franchisees face include:
- Time Allocation: Unfortunately, local affiliates often spend as much time on developing advertising as they do on securing media placements. This has a detrimental impact on efficiency and production.
- Inefficiency: When you're running a small business (even a franchised one) you need to squeeze as much as you can out of each and every marketing effort. That's why it's especially tough for franchisees when they end up spending much of their budgets, and a lot of time to boot, producing new advertising creative instead of investing in the media placements that can generate big returns.
- Uneven Marketing Coverage: At the local level, franchisees have some difficulty adopting a multi-channel approach to marketing. They may be more familiar with one marketing channel, and invest a lot of their budget with it. But if they do, it means they'll miss out on another one. Additionally, any marketing materials provided by corporate may not give the franchisee the full coverage they expect.
- Slow Response From Corporate: A common fix-all for franchisees who are having trouble with marketing is to get in touch with the marketing team at HQ. But if all the franchisees are sending in requests for this or that new marketing piece, things can get bottlenecked. When corporate marketing support is inconsistent or slow, local partners will be delayed and many even miss campaign deadlines as a result.
- Lack of Customization: When corporate marketing teams provide marketing pieces that don't leave room for each franchisee's unique offers, promotions, or other marketing priorities built-in, it's a real barrier to those local marketers. Often, if faced with this situation, they'll take it upon themselves to create their own marketing materials. As you can imagine, with this situation non-compliant marketing can become a major issue.
- No Marketing Staff: When owner-operators don't have someone to handle marketing exclusively, it falls back on them to fill in the gaps. This can take away from other major operational functions, and sometimes it means your franchisees are spending their weekends and off-hours cobbling together new marketing pieces. Not a good position for them to be in!
It's important to remember that these affiliates, while not exceptionally savvy marketers, are incredibly resilient and entrepreneurial. When given a choice to either invest in a franchise or start their own business, they made the careful choice to work with an established brand. Why? Backed by the parent brand, these franchise owners expect to be given the insight and support needed to create and manage a successful operation. One major part of that is having the help they need in the marketing realm.
Are you thinking about investing in an LMA solution? Check out 7 Signs Your Brand is Ready for Local Marketing Automation Software.
What Franchisees Love About Local Marketing Automation
To address these local marketing challenges and provide local affiliates with that mission-critical support, the world's leading distributed brands have invested in Local Marketing Automation. Franchisees love LMA because it helps them to use all the key marketing and branding content that the brand has to offer. They feel like they're actually getting value out of the brand, and they can see it and control their collateral themselves.
With LMA, local affiliates can overcome the major burdens that make marketing difficult for so many franchisees: resourcing, creative and compliance challenges. With on-demand access to branded marketing materials, they don't have to spend extra time or money just to get the assets the brand has already developed. With access to easy-to-use templates, the local affiliate can customize assets to fit their unique location, marketing objectives and more.
Even better, great LMA tools help them increase their sales since they can put out more marketing pieces with even better, more targeted messaging. Many marketers are wowed by the branding benefits of LMA tools, but for franchisees nothing's music to their ears like the sound of cash registers ringing.
Remember, your local affiliates are not marketing professionals nor do they have the extra bandwidth needed to create and deploy creative. With LMA, they get to spend more time and money where it counts: running their business well and outpacing the competition.
Take Your Franchisees' Marketing to the Next Level
Are you ready to take your brand's local marketing to the next level? By leveraging the power of LMA, corporate brand managers can support the unique marketing goals and objectives of their local partners and empower them to deliver more compliant marketing activity and exceptional customer experiences.
The best distributed brands have invested in these scalable solutions to help franchisees deliver the right message, in the right channel, at the right time. While systems like these can't solve every challenge your local partners face, your franchisees will certainly thank you for the extra marketing support.
Take your local marketing to the next level with exclusive access to templates, tips, and more. Check out The Local Marketing Playbook for even more great insight.