The Silver Bullet for Local Store Marketing

The Silver Bullet for Local Store Marketing

When I look back at the years that I’ve spent helping local franchisees build their sales, they all seem to face the same challenges.  They are running multi-million dollar businesses that require intense coordination of many disciplines—hiring, staff management, training, equipment acquisition, equipment maintenance, inventory management, customer service, accounting and of course, customer acquisition and marketing.  While all franchisees have a strong interest in driving sales and transactions, many don’t have the resources, bandwidth or expertise to effectively develop local marketing strategies.  It’s easy to rely upon national marketing initiatives to drive sales at the local level—and often times these efforts simply trickle down to the individual franchise locations.  I believe that these incredible business owners deserve more.  That’s why I have developed HubKonnect, what I consider to be the silver bullet for Local Store Marketing.

It’s clear that local franchisees have hundreds of opportunities within their local trading areas and it’s time for them to have the ability to advance their business within their specific communities.  HubKonnect is a software platform that utilizes AI continuous learning to create customized Local Store Marketing plans.  Franchisees have immediate access to the customer demographics for each of their locations; as well a complete listing of traffic generators, competition and more.  HubKonnect’s AI brain, Kirby, scours the internet gathering thousands of data points, analyzing and determining the optimal LSM plan for a specific location.  Re-Grand Opening or location anniversary?  No problem, HubKonnect provides the guidance for how to market and showcase your location.  Launching a new product, simply ask Kirby to create a plan to support and extend the impact of a new product launch at your specific location.  Facing a new competitor, HubKonnect will not only create a Local Store Marketing plan for you, but it will provide you with an implementation checklist and a communications plan that will help you get the message out to your local customer base.

I’ve very proud of HubKonnect.  It is the culmination of my lifetime of passion for Local Store Marketing and for helping franchisees really bring their local marketing efforts to fruition at each individual location.  To bring this vision to life, we’ve brought together an amazing team of tech experts with experience with companies like Amazon, IBM and Google.  Collectively, we have harnessed LSM expertise and Silicon Valley technology to create leading learning algorithms and solve business problems for the local franchise level.

I invite you to check out our website, HubKonnect.com, to learn more about this great new product.  I’d love to personally tell you more about it and help change your local store marketing world forever.

Who is Your Marketing Target?  I Bet You Don’t Really Know!

Who is Your Marketing Target? I Bet You Don’t Really Know!

Local Store Marketing 101:  The first question we all learn is “Who is Your Target?”.  Initially, we want to understand basic demographics:  age, sex, ethnicity.  Those are the easy data points that we can learn from any US Census.  Today’s CRM and big data strategies allow companies Continue reading “Who is Your Marketing Target? I Bet You Don’t Really Know!”

Thank You to the Houston Community

Thank You to the Houston Community

Community connection plays a pivotal role in Local Customer Engagement and my blog this week simply can’t ignore the impact that Hurricane Harvey has had on the Houston community.  The devastation in Houston, due to Harvey, brings to light the true importance of community connections.  What has struck a real chord with me, is the authenticity and genuine relationships that have been demonstrated over and over again by local (and national) businesses during this time of need.  These are relationships that are real—not just parts of a marketing plan.

One of my favorite Houston community connection tales is the story of the two grandparents, who are Chick-fil-A regulars, and who were trapped in their home just north of Houston.  They called Chick-fil-A to order two grilled chicken burritos, with extra egg and a boat.  The Chick-fil-A Manager called her husband, who has a boat, and the rescue was set in motion.

Local McDonald’s restaurants offered free coffee, to first responders in uniform, and donated bottled water to relief efforts.  Even My Pillow, the national late-night infomercial king, donated 60,000 pillows to emergency housing facilities.  I’m sure there are hundreds, even thousands of these stories.

This is a time when the true and authentic meaning of community connections comes to life.  When local residents know they can count on their local businesses—-so much so that they call to ask someone to help save their lives.

Digital and social media have played a critical role in connecting individuals that needed assistance from rescuers—a way more important role than traditional media could ever dream of playing.  Again, this is the authentic part of social media—not the formulaic calculations of marketing efforts, based on the websites you visited and the products you purchased.  This is social media brought to life by community need and community relationships.

I’m so proud of these local (and national businesses), who are such a part of the fabric of the local community.  I’m touched that people knew and trusted that these businesses could be counted upon for assistance.  I know they will continue to support Houston for years to come with fundraisers and other community programs.  Local Customer Engagement carries a strong responsibility and accountability—and now, we’ve all seen first-hand why it’s incredibly important.  All I can say is “Thank you, you are amazing”.

#LocalCustomerEngagement #CommunityConnections #LoveUHouston

MINE! MINE! MINE!  Six Keys to Earning Customer Loyalty

MINE! MINE! MINE!  Six Keys to Earning Customer Loyalty

We all say it.   I have My Dry Cleaners, My Grocery Store, My Gas Station, My Pharmacy.  They are all MINE.  Of course, I don’t own any of these businesses—but, I am a loyal customer of the locations that I fondly refer to as “mine”.   The value of them making me one of their “My’s” is huge.  I am a repeat customer and probably a heavy user from their perspective.

But, I didn’t become one of their loyal customers easily.  Continue reading “MINE! MINE! MINE!  Six Keys to Earning Customer Loyalty”

Why Don Draper Doesn’t Fit Your Business Needs

Why Don Draper Doesn’t Fit Your Business Needs

I spent the majority of my career either working for advertising and marketing agencies or as the client of an advertising or marketing agency.  These agencies were top-notch and among the elite marketers in the U.S.  As a client, they did a great job of meeting my needs at the national and even local market levels.  However, when it came to knowing the needs for an individual franchise location—they just didn’t get it. Continue reading “Why Don Draper Doesn’t Fit Your Business Needs”

Why Doesn’t this Local Store Marketing Idea Work for Your Local Business?

Why Doesn’t this Local Store Marketing Idea Work for Your Local Business?

One of the things I love most about my job is sitting down with a group of franchisees and having them share the ideas that are working to build sales in their locations.  Inevitably though, someone brings up an idea that’s working great for them and another franchisee says “I tried that and it didn’t do anything for me”.  Why does that happen?  Why doesn’t that great idea work in your location too? Continue reading “Why Doesn’t this Local Store Marketing Idea Work for Your Local Business?”

5 Key Ways to Win with Local Customer Engagement:  Differentiating Yourself from the Competition

5 Key Ways to Win with Local Customer Engagement: Differentiating Yourself from the Competition

It’s a hard, competitive marketplace and the social media world hasn’t made it any easier.  You used to be able to offer your customers an incredible LSM value and it might take a week for the competition to learn about it, much less match it.  But today, social media makes your offer known in a matter of minutes.  Obviously, this can help your business, but it also makes it really easy for your competition to take the wind out of your Local Store Marketing sails and “better the offer”.

In order to brunt competitive pressures, you are going to have to rely on Local Customer Engagement that truly connects with your customers.  Something that makes a difference to your customers personally.  Here are five key ways to win on the competitive front.

Amputee earns his wings

#1  Put Your Best Foot Forward and Keep It!

Your employees are your best product ambassadors.  They represent your brand in the local community.  Train them.  Teach them your “business story”.  Motivate them.  Offer them discounts and free items.  And make sure you pay your best employees more than what the competition is offering.  If you don’t, you might soon see them working at the competitor’s location.

#2  Have Fun!

Show that you love what you do and that you enjoy coming to work.  Encourage your managers to do the same.  Have some fun and let your employees put a smile on their customers’ faces.  I remember managing a team during a particularly stressful period—we were incredibly busy and it was tough to have fun enjoying what we did.  We decided to lighten up the mood a bit with a “Crazy Hat Day”.  Well, the hats that appeared rivalled the Kentucky Derby… on its worst day—-they were hilarious!  Everyone had fun and it helped make our business the most fun place to work.  Our customers loved it too—some even came back with friends, just to see the crazy hats.

#3 Use Loyalty Offers

Give your customers a reason to come back to you again and again.  It might be a loyalty offer on your mobile app, a punch card that tracks purchases or Buy a Certain Number and Get One Free—whatever you can think of that will keep your customers coming back. When you are facing tough competition, you’ll want to encourage customer loyalty and rewarding customers for that loyalty is key.

be kind

#4 Empower Random Acts of Kindness

A few weeks ago, I heard a story about a McDonald’s drive-thru that maintained a “Pay it forward” chain of good deeds for 167 cars.  At one point, one of the customers was going to break the chain, so the employees chipped in to pay for the next order and kept the chain going.  These random acts of kindness motivated the employees and I’m sure the customers felt that McDonald’s was just a little more special because their customers and their employees are obviously special if they are going to do something like that.   Empower your managers to convey random acts of kindness, when the opportunity presents itself.  Whether it’s to start a “Pay it Forward” chain of good deeds.  Buy flowers to give your customers. Or help a customer to their car when they have a child and a full shopping cart.  These acts will help your business stand out to your customers.

#5 Support Your Community

It takes a village….and your business is part of that village.  Show your support of the community by offering your meeting room as a place that organizations can meet.  Sponsor the local little team.  Host a fundraiser for the local elementary school computer lab.  Let the high school cheerleaders hold a car wash in your parking lot.  Pay your employees to volunteer during the local clean-up the environment event.  Make sure that your customers know that this is your community, as well as theirs, and that you are proud to be a part of it.

Interested in learning more about creating LSM plans for your franchise or multi-unit business?  Check out Steps to Creating a Local Store Marketing Plan.  #LSM #LocalCustomerEngagement #SalesBuildingIdeas

 

 

The Million Dollar Question:  How Much Should You Spend on Local Customer Engagement?

The Million Dollar Question: How Much Should You Spend on Local Customer Engagement?

One of the questions that I am often asked is what is the right amount to spend on Local Customer Engagement (LCE), which is the new digital-world terminology for what many of us have known for years as Local Store Marketing.  Now, if I told you that “if you spend a million dollars on local marketing and you’ll reap two million in return” —I imagine you’d think the right answer to the question is a million dollars.  Continue reading “The Million Dollar Question: How Much Should You Spend on Local Customer Engagement?”

5 Reasons Why Local Customer Engagement is Critical to Your Business

5 Reasons Why Local Customer Engagement is Critical to Your Business

Do you ever find yourself a little freaked out by the ads and products that are being suggested to you when you open a mobile shopping app or look at a product suggested via email?  How did they know you were considering that backpack for your upcoming camping trip? Continue reading “5 Reasons Why Local Customer Engagement is Critical to Your Business”

Why It’s Important to Deliver on Your Marketing Promises

Why It’s Important to Deliver on Your Marketing Promises

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about the Steps to Creating a Local Store Marketing Plan.  These are the steps that I’ve trained thousands of local franchise marketers to take when they are developing a customer focused marketing plan targeted at building sales for their specific location.  There’s an easy acronym for this process:  G.A.M.E.  Gather, Analyze, Make a Plan and Execute.  Today I want to talk a bit about the last step:  Execute.

Importance of Executional Excellence

The easiest way to discuss the importance of execution is by example.  A large well-known franchise company rushed to launch its mobile app with promotional tactics, which included a free item with download of the app.  Here’s what happened.  Some of the locations didn’t have the equipment to redeem the app offers.  Some had the equipment, but their staff wasn’t trained in using the equipment.  Some had the equipment and had trained their staff—but, they didn’t train the staff in what to do if the equipment didn’t work.  Some had the equipment, had trained their staff, knew what to do if the equipment didn’t work, but didn’t know what the offers on the app were or what customers needed to do in order to get the app.  Some locations had the equipment and had trained their staff well, but had failed to download the POS keys needed for the offers.  You can imagine the impression that customers had at each of those locations when they tried to use the app.

There were of course, some locations that had paid attention to executional details.  Their locations were successful and customers had a great experience.  BUT, because the other locations had dropped the ball, the initial launch definitely left a lot of bad customer impressions that unfortunately outweighed the positives.  Those negative impressions bled across the system and all locations were tainted by the bad customer and staff experiences.  The initial app launch was scoffed at by the digital world and customers were left unimpressed.

But, all was not lost…all locations evaluated their efforts.  They took note of what had worked and what didn’t.  They spoke with their staff about how to improve on implementation when the next “push” for the mobile app came.   They ordered the equipment they needed to get.  They talked about what training was necessary and who would be responsible for each step of the program.

And, the corporate offices of the franchise company took a step back and decided they too could improve on their support of mobile app efforts.  Corporate realized that they could have provided more training and support for their franchise locations.  They realized that they needed more tests of the app before the next national push.  In short, everyone took a deep breath and said, “let’s try this again in a few months”.  And they did.  Today, that mobile app is gaining in popularity and is contributing to the company becoming a leader in the use of app technology at their locations.  But, they learned the hard way.  You don’t need to learn from bad experience.  Ensure the success of your marketing efforts and follow these steps to executional excellence.

keys to success

Keys to Executional Excellence

The key to impactful execution is attention to detail.  From having enough packaging, to scheduling an extra employee or two, it’s working out the nuts and bolts of each plan and following through on execution that determines your plan’s success.

Here are the things to consider when planning precise execution of your local store marketing plan:

  • Look carefully at your executional needs (staffing, supplies, packaging, flyers, etc.) and assign someone to be in charge of each detail.
  • Acquire special equipment that might be needed for your plan and test the equipment in advance of starting the program.
  • Conduct training so that employees know exactly how to implement any necessary procedures. Cover “what if” scenarios to ensure that you have a Plan B in place, in the event that something doesn’t work as planned.
  • Make a plan for communicating your marketing plan. Be sure to start communications early enough to allow enough time to reach your customers and build awareness of your programs.
  • Remember to communicate your plan to your employees, so that they are prepared to answer any questions regarding the plan.
  • Make certain that you have requested and deployed any necessary POS changes to manage your tactics.
  • While your plan is in progress, regularly check to see that everything is functioning smoothly. Make adjustments when and where necessary.

Evaluating Your Success

Evaluating the success of your LSM plans can be complicated, as many different variables can impact sales and transactions for your location (i.e. national advertising, weather, competition, etc.).  It’s best to look at a number of different indicators and weigh them together to determine if the plan has met your measurable goals.

Here are a few indicators to review when evaluating your plan:

  • Did you achieve the measurable goals that you set? (increase in units sold per week, increase in average check, increase in comp sales, etc.)
  • If this plan involved coupons, how was the redemption rate?
  • Did the plan break-even or achieve your projected return on investment?
  • Does this plan have the potential to generate repeat business?
  • Did this plan help build relationships within your community by showing your support for the community?
  • Did this plan improve your customers’ perceptions of your business?
  • Is your location a more desirable place to work because of this plan?
  • Did this effort help to improve customer awareness of your products, events or sponsorships?

key learning

Key Learnings for the Future

Once you’ve reviewed the results of your plan, you can identify its strengths and weaknesses, and use these learnings as you develop and execute future plans.  Make notes on the plan for future reference and file the notes and plans so that you can easily find them.  Ask yourself the following:

  • What would have made your plan run more smoothly?
  • Were there any unexpected obstacles to its success?
  • Were there any operational issues?
  • Were employees informed and enthusiastic? Why? Why not?
  • Was the timing of this plan successful? Should you consider a different time of year or different daypart?
  • Were the communications and merchandising methods you used successful in creating awareness for the program?
  • Is there any customer or employee feedback that could help you for the future?

Moving Forward

Remember, smart marketing is a long-term process.  And by completing this G.A.M.E. process, you’ve gotten yourself off to a great start. You’ve defined an area of opportunity and a goal, picked a target, developed tactics and made a plan.  You’ve implemented the plan with executional excellence and you’ve finished by evaluating the plan’s performance.  By going through these steps, you’ve covered everything that can help ensure your plan’s success. And this preparation is the best way to get the most from your local marketing investment.

Want to learn more about the G.A.M.E. method?  Check out Getting Deeper into the G.A.M.E.; Don’t Start and the End and Move Backwards.  Always Move Forwards! and Step 3:  It’s Time to Make a Plan

Step 3 in Creating an LSM Plan:  It’s Time to Make a Plan

Step 3 in Creating an LSM Plan: It’s Time to Make a Plan

Step One:  Gather Your Information.  Step Two:  Analyze Your Data.  Step Three:  Make a Plan.

Sounds simple, but, unless you take a well-thought-out approach to achieving the goals you’ve identified for your Local Store Marketing Plan Continue reading “Step 3 in Creating an LSM Plan: It’s Time to Make a Plan”

Don’t Start at the End and Move Backwards—-Always Move Forward!

Don’t Start at the End and Move Backwards—-Always Move Forward!

Step Two in Developing an LSM Plan

I can’t tell you how many people start to create their Local Store Marketing plan with a list of ideas already in mind.  There’s nothing wrong with having ideas, of course, but it’s important to make sure Continue reading “Don’t Start at the End and Move Backwards—-Always Move Forward!”

Is Your Marketing Plan on Auto Pilot?       6 Reasons Your Plan Needs to Shift Gears

Is Your Marketing Plan on Auto Pilot? 6 Reasons Your Plan Needs to Shift Gears

As a local retail business, it’s very easy to put your marketing on auto pilot—putting all of your efforts in the hands of the national marketing gurus.  After all, as a local business you are often contributing two to four percent of your sales to national marketing initiatives.  National plans have worked before, so why should you bother Continue reading “Is Your Marketing Plan on Auto Pilot? 6 Reasons Your Plan Needs to Shift Gears”

Ya Talkin’ to Me?  5 Ways to Build Customer Relationships

Ya Talkin’ to Me? 5 Ways to Build Customer Relationships

Let me ask you something.  If you’re like me, every day you get a number of e-mail offers and text messages asking you to visit a local business and make a purchase.  Some are even addressed to me personally, “Kathy, we have this special offer just for you.” Continue reading “Ya Talkin’ to Me? 5 Ways to Build Customer Relationships”

How is a Local Business’ Trading Area Impacted by CRM?

How is a Local Business’ Trading Area Impacted by CRM?

You might say this is a bit of a trick question.  By nature, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) would be all of the customers in your trade area, wouldn’t it? Continue reading “How is a Local Business’ Trading Area Impacted by CRM?”

7 Questions to Ask When Building a Local Store Marketing Plan

7 Questions to Ask When Building a Local Store Marketing Plan

Start on shaky ground and you’re sure to collapse!

What is the biggest mistake local businesses make when creating a Local Store Marketing plan?  It’s driving customers to their location and delivering Continue reading “7 Questions to Ask When Building a Local Store Marketing Plan”

Are Nielsen Local Markets Dead?

Are Nielsen Local Markets Dead?

CRM, big data and digital/social marketing efforts have begun to blur the lines regarding what a market is or isn’t.  For many years, DMA’s (Designated Marketing Areas) were the only game in town—clearly identifying advertising markets based upon television and radio markets.  But CRM and big data analysis Continue reading “Are Nielsen Local Markets Dead?”

Can You Rely on Corporate Marketing to Drive Sales to Your Local Franchise Location?

Can You Rely on Corporate Marketing to Drive Sales to Your Local Franchise Location?

Every franchise and multi-unit retailer faces this question all the time.  Many franchise organizations require a contribution to a national marketing fund and when Continue reading “Can You Rely on Corporate Marketing to Drive Sales to Your Local Franchise Location?”