MarketingBench™ Webinar Recap

July 15, 2011

Over the past few weeks, we have been pointing out some of the problems unique to marketing in the franchise industry. Some of the worst of these are:

  • Little to no control over corporate brand
  • No central database for franchisees to access marketing collateral as a ‘self service’ tool
  • Level of knowledge on the franchisee side of how to execute a integrated direct mail campaign
  • Tracking capabilities and ROI measurement to the franchisee level
  • Marketing vs. Customer Service – little time to market
  • Consistency & Repeatability vs. Localization & Customization
  • Marketing comes in many shapes & forms

These problems are all compounded by the fact that any marketing for a franchise is divided into three conflicting groups of problems.

Three Factors of Franchise Marketing

So how do you resolve this conflict?

WebbMason MarketingBench™

Marketing technology is designed to meet a specific set of needs. This technology automates and organizes the system, offers opportunity for self service, allows for collection of information, allows marketing process to be done online, allows for control of access, speeds time to market of your message, and allows for targeted communication and better execution. WebbMason’s MarketingBench™ is a proprietary single-source marketing platform to manage all aspects of your marketing strategy online. It adapts to any sales channel model, and gives you more control over your inventory and brand.

WebbMason MarketingBench™

For more information on MarketingBench™, click here.

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Founded in 1989, WebbMason is one of the fastest-growing print and brand management service companies in the United States, helping marketing departments and their internal and external partners save money and streamline processes through a winning combination of industry expertise, exceptional print supply chain partners and technological innovation. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, WebbMason has 20 sales offices throughout the United States.

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Franchise Marketing Wrap-Up

July 8, 2011

WebbMason will be hosting a FREE Webinar on Franchise Marketing Automation on July 12th. To register, click here.

Leading up to our Franchise Marketing Webinar on Tuesday, we’ve been writing about some of the most basic concepts in the field. This entry will summarize that knowledge, and provide a good primer before the official webinar.

We began by describing some of the perks and benefits that franchisees can take advantage of when launching a new store in a corporate chain. The large corporate advertising budgets and existing brand awareness can be blessings for a store in a new area, even if that structure can limit a store’s individuality.

The following week, we explained how you can take advantage of social media, the new word of mouth, to build a local following. Sites like Facebook, Foursquare, and SCVNGR can establish corporate chains, individual stores, and brand new franchises. We also described how the concept of word-of-mouth-marketing has transitioned into these new tech platforms, and how the prevalence of smartphones can impact sales. We ended the week by pointing out the fact that extracting an individual store from the chain may not be the best move.

Maintaining a conceptual image of the industry as a whole is crucial for any business. We helped build that image last week, with a retrospective on the Top 500 Franchise Restaurants. These can be beneficial examples of what works – and what doesn’t work – in the restaurant industry.

Finally, we suggested that trendy marketing strategies like social media, QR codes, and mobile blasts can be very effective in the right hands, but aren’t the best choice for every business. We also addressed the controversy surrounding Groupon and other similar coupon sites. It is up to each owner to decide whether or not risky coupon ventures are worthwhile, but the payoffs can be big under perfect circumstances.

Our free webinar on franchise marketing automation takes place on Tuesday, July 12th. There is still time to register, and with nothing to lose, there is no reason to miss it. Click here to register, and join us on Tuesday for more information!

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Founded in 1989, WebbMason is one of the fastest-growing print and brand management service companies in the United States, helping marketing departments and their internal and external partners save money and streamline processes through a winning combination of industry expertise, exceptional print supply chain partners and technological innovation. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, WebbMason has 20 sales offices throughout the United States.


Franchise Marketing: Social Solutions

July 6, 2011

WebbMason will be hosting a FREE Webinar on Franchise Marketing Automation on July 12th. To register, click here.

Last time, we mentioned that in franchise marketing, you are sometimes better off gravitating toward less mainstream social media solutions. Now we are going to explain why.

Quantity vs Quality:

It is not difficult to find companies that can sell you Facebook fans, or Twitter followers. For many businesses, the appeal of instantly gaining three thousand fans overnight is tempting. What these owners forget is that a fan count is a meaningless number.

We will grant that a high fan count is one way to improve your search results within Facebook, but it is a marginal boost. What you will really be gaining is a very full, but very boring fan page. What you really want in social media is conversation, and if people are only on your page because they are being paid to be there, conversation is unlikely. As we have said before, social media is the new avenue for word-of-mouth marketing, and nothing is going to give a bad impression faster than a group of 3,000 people that have nothing good to say about your business.

Try to find a niche that compliments your business. Franchise restaurants can gain a lot of traction with social review sites like UrbanSpoon and Yelp!, both of which we have written about with some frequency. These sites have smaller fanbases, but they are populated by foodies and townies, the people that you want to be talking about your restaurant.

Weighing Pros and Cons:

A major trend for franchises and small businesses alike is making deals on coupon sites. Groupon, and its less-hipster-friendly counterpart LivingSocial, both promise heavy returns for sites that participate. Like a Vegas Casino, most of those guarantees are so much neon and marketing. Your odds of saving a faltering business with Groupon are slim-to-none. In fact, many experts now warn that signing a Groupon contract could easily be the last decision your business ever makes.

“Businesses are being sold incredibly expensive advertising campaigns that are disguised as “no risk” ways to acquire new customers. In reality, there’s a lot of risk. With a newspaper ad, the maximum you can lose is the amount you paid for the ad. With Groupon, your potential losses can increase with every Groupon customer who walks through the door and puts the existence of your business at risk.”

There are plenty of alternative options that will allow you to capitalize on the popularity of couponing without risking a five-figure marketing disaster. Local newspapers, fliers, and magazines like Money Pages are excellent examples. Online, look for smaller, more locally-focused websites, ideally, something that functions more like a community bulletin board. Of course, you also have to consider the fact that giving out coupons cheapens your brand’s image to consumers. Is a possible increase in walk-in sales worth risking your existing following? Maybe it is. These questions are going to have different answers for every franchise.

Marketing a franchise will always have different challenges than other businesses, but there are ways to make it easier.

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Founded in 1989, WebbMason is one of the fastest-growing print and brand management service companies in the United States, helping marketing departments and their internal and external partners save money and streamline processes through a winning combination of industry expertise, exceptional print supply chain partners and technological innovation. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, WebbMason has 20 sales offices throughout the United States.


Social Marketing and Franchises Are Not Always Friends.

June 29, 2011

WebbMason will be hosting a FREE Webinar on Franchise Marketing Automation on July 12th. To register, click here.

Contrary to what the hype implies, Social Media is not a magic profit button. Like any marketing campaign, social requires thought, planning, consistency, and strategy. In addition, it also requires speed, wit, and the ability to react and adapt. There are many so-called social media experts who will happily throw your company’s logo up on Twitter or Facebook and call it a day. In some cases, that is enough. Franchises, unfortunately, often require a bit more effort.

Despite the increased activity and budget allocation focused on social media, only a small percentage of franchisors who utilize social media to attract franchise buyers can actually attribute franchise sales directly back to their social media efforts.

The key, according to iFranchise Group executives, is knowing how to best implement and use social media across multiple platforms for multiple audiences, and ensuring that proper policies and monitoring functions are in place.

That bombshell, from a June 20th PR newswire article, sums up the whole problem. When people think of social media, Facebook and Twitter are likely the first – if not only – examples that come to mind. Franchises may find that these two options are not the best choices for their business. Alternative social platforms, like Foursquare, Google Maps, Yelp!, and Urban Spoon may be far more successful, even if they have smaller user bases.

As franchise operators know, getting customers isn’t always the hard part. Recruiting new franchisees can be a much larger challenge, and a week’s worth of Groupon offers isn’t going to do you any good there. PR Newswire provides a few more suggestions for recruiting on social media, but you can see all of our ideas in our next blog.

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Founded in 1989, WebbMason is one of the fastest-growing print and brand management service companies in the United States, helping marketing departments and their internal and external partners save money and streamline processes through a winning combination of industry expertise, exceptional print supply chain partners and technological innovation. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, WebbMason has 20 sales offices throughout the United States.


Franchise Marketing: The Top 500 Fast Food Restaurants

June 24, 2011

2010 was a good year for fast food restaurants. The top 500 restaurants in this category surpassed 2009’s $230 Billion landmark by 1.8%, achieving $234 Billion in sales.

  • Starbucks , Dunkin’ Donuts and Pizza Hut posted an estimated 2010 sales growth of 8.7, 6.1 and 7.8 percent, respectively.
  • McDonald’s , the largest U.S. restaurant chain, grew 4.4 percent with sales of $32.4 billion.
  • Subway continues as the nation’s second-largest restaurant chain, followed by Starbucks, Miami-based Burger King and Wendy’s.

All in all, the ten fastest-growing restaurants saw an 18% increase over 2009, with sales over $200 million. Predominantly franchises, these fast food restaurants are quickly attaining an untouchable distance in the race for profits.

In the press release, Technomic president Ron Paul states, “The industry has a lot of ground to recover and still faces many challenges, but our latest findings on 2010 chain performance are certainly encouraging.”

The released information does not specify any specific strategy responsible for this growth, but it isn’t hard to jump to certain conclusions. McDonald’s, long held as the best-case ideal of franchise growth, has had a steady and consistent marketing strategy for decades. The fact that their sales have only seen a 4.4% increase is not so much a sign of faltering growth as much as it is a sign that there isn’t much more room in which to grow. When one business is making almost 14% of their 500 competitors’ total income, they must be doing something correctly.

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Founded in 1989, WebbMason is one of the fastest-growing print and brand management service companies in the United States, helping marketing departments and their internal and external partners save money and streamline processes through a winning combination of industry expertise, exceptional print supply chain partners and technological innovation. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, WebbMason has 20 sales offices throughout the United States.


Improve Your Local Marketing

June 17, 2011

Up to this point, we have largely been strategizing ways to start up a local marketing campaign for a franchise or small business. However, that really only applies to the small number of new businesses just opening their doors. What about those of us that have been around for a while? What if you’ve been marketing yourself for years, and things just aren’t working? There are plenty of ways to revive a dying local campaign, and ways to scrap the project in favor of a fresh start. Here are a few.

Revisit Old Ideas

Most business owners will try almost anything once, and if your company has been around for a while, there is probably a significant pile of ideas that didn’t work, or were too much hassle at the time. Now is the time to shed some light on those shelved projects. Promoting your local business online has never been easier. The popularity of mobile apps like Foursquare and Places are always good for brand awareness, and Google Maps has just improved their entire system. The new Maps allows for business descriptions, and broader SEO improvement tactics.

Identify Bad Strategies

One of the hardest things for many owners to do is admit that they’ve made a mistake that might be harming the business. Is your marketing only driving traffic at a specific time, or only to specific people? A weekend sale is a great idea, but if it evaporates all of your weekday traffic, it may not be worthwhile. It is never a bad idea to sit down and do a marketing audit. What is working? What isn’t? Try sending out a flyer to whomever you think your biggest local supporters are. How many actually respond? Perhaps it is time to rethink who you are targeting.

Don’t Abandon What Works

People are constantly changing, and towns and cities change with them. It is important to keep a consistent brand and image, but that doesn’t mean you should stick to the same marketing messages you used last year unless there is a good reason for it. Is your business famous for your annual Holiday Letter? Is your restaurant’s Memorial Day Crab Bake the talk of the town? Keeping well-loved traditions is a fantastic idea; just make sure that it is your customers that love them, not your own sentimentality.

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Founded in 1989, WebbMason is one of the fastest-growing print and brand management service companies in the United States, helping marketing departments and their internal and external partners save money and streamline processes through a winning combination of industry expertise, exceptional print supply chain partners and technological innovation. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, WebbMason has 20 sales offices throughout the United States.


Franchise Marketing: The New Word of Mouth

June 15, 2011

Image from Mashable.com http://bit.ly/mHfxmwPossibly the most effective way to market an established franchise is to rely on local support. A local following is usually spread through word of mouth, and these days that only means one thing: Social Media. Some of the most useful social platforms for franchises and other small businesses are those that utilize mobile and GPS technology. Common platforms like Google Maps and Facebook Places function like souped-up phone books, providing contact info, coupons, directions, business hours, and more to any potential customer that looks.

Similar to these, but more complex are check-in apps and local deal sites. Though there is a significant amount of controversy surrounding it at the moment, some businesses are claiming a lot of success through local coupon site, Groupon. SignPost is another similar site that we have talked about in the past. Check-in apps are typically handled on a much smaller scale, and include things like Foursquare, Ditto, and SCVNGR.

Foursquare and Ditto both benefit small businesses and franchises in similar ways. Once a location is added to the database, any visitors can “check in,” on their mobile phones, either to gain access to special offers, or simply to brag to their friends. Other users see those check-ins, and the word of mouth spreads.

SCVNGR is even a bit deeper. This application allows business owners to set up challenges at their locations, offering rewards in whatever form the store owner desires. Challenges can be as simple as “eat three hotdogs in one sitting,” to more complex “treks,” such as visiting four or more locations of a single franchise in one week. Mashable has an in-depth guide to this program, which might be worth reading, but SCVNGR’s userbase is still fairly low, so franchise operators shouldn’t expect a huge boost in visits immediately, but the right combination of social media buzz and industry expertise could make this concept the next big thing.

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Founded in 1989, WebbMason is one of the fastest-growing print and brand management service companies in the United States, helping marketing departments and their internal and external partners save money and streamline processes through a winning combination of industry expertise, exceptional print supply chain partners and technological innovation. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, WebbMason has 20 sales offices throughout the United States.


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