So, you’re a franchise. You’ve signed on to create a business under the ever watchful and cosy arm of a larger corporation in your town, or somewhere nearby. The foundations have been built, the contracts signed, and the doors on the verge of opening up to the public, the gentle waft of whatever-you-sell billowing from within to tempt those happy or hungry shoppers into your warm embrace with open arms.
However, the usual grassroots marketing methods aren’t going to make you shine amongst other businesses these days. No matter what large neon brand you have flashing above the building, you’re going to need to do more to pry your soon-to-be customers’ eyes away from catching wild Pokémon and walking into incoming traffic. You can have the shiniest building with the sweetest of deals, but a long-standing local business may have a larger pull of the public than you do. You need to find new and modern methods of making the most noise.
Billboards, posters or flyers can be ignored and avoided with ease, and their production alone can run up costs that vastly outweigh the potential gain they can get you. This is where social media can be a powerful tool for your franchise. However, it’s worth noting that simply setting up a Facebook page and talking about yourself isn’t going to cut it.
Given that this a new franchise in a different town, you need to establish yourself as part of that community. Learn about your competitors, the people, the most common kinds of jobs around that these people may be working. Advertising before opening is a good way to generate interest, so a unique Facebook page for your business in that location is a good way for your community to find you and speak to you.
Here you can showcase deals and discounts, instigate competitions, and engage with people. It’s a great look to have your own voice and care enough to really talk to the public. The personal touch that is unique to your location that reflects on the local attitude makes the public view you as a more understanding franchise that takes into account their likes and dislikes.
Paying attention to them counts, and before long you will pick up on your busiest hours, and in turn figure out when it is best to engage your following. Finding that sweet spot just before lunch to hit them with some discount vouchers on Facebook for a hot meal? Or showcasing some deals on clothes before they go shopping on a Saturday? The opportunities are endless.
Keep It Simple
Now, we enter the realms of quantity vs quality. And, honestly, the latter is the most important for a franchise. People generally don’t like sales-driven, aggressive marketing online, and will move on to other businesses if they get the tiniest whiff of it. The same can be applied to discounts and deals. The more they see, the more confusing it can get for the customer, and it severs that brand loyalty you want to build with them if the prices are constantly bouncing up and down for different products. The rule of thirds is important here: a post online should be: promote, add value and encourage engagement.
Now, it’s worth noting that when you begin your online campaign, the goals you aim for will change over time. These plans can go on for months, so don’t reach for the stars before you can jump. Start off slow, and aim to build interest online. Aim at showcasing the brand first, before you showcase the industry. From there, you can start to promote the service. Logos and catchphrases are easier to market, and stand out more than what you will have on the shelves.
Let’s talk about that branding. It should be visible across all your platforms that you are part of the larger corporation. The same logos and ethos should shine through. Many years and millions have been spent on building that brand and image to be recognisable. Now, think about what part you are playing in that brand. Think of yourself as a local spokesperson on their behalf. You have your own identity, but how you present yourself reflects on the brand as a whole. So, engage people online as you would in the community: respond to their complaints, answer their concerns. Show them you care.
This kind of personal communication and giving a voice to others leads me to my final point: media. Customers can be a huge generator of great content that shows you in a great light, and the more imaginative, the better. Starbucks got great engagement with their “My Starbucks Idea” that culminated in a popular snack (almond croissant) being added back to the menu. This kind of engagement can reap so many rewards for your businesses, and the ways you can do it are limitless. Offer prizes for people who tweet a picture of them with your products and a relevant hashtag, ask people what their best imaginary flavour of ice cream is on a Facebook post. But, whatever it is, make it unique to you, and your voice.