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?
The answer requires you to look at six key aspects of your marketing ideas:
- What is your objective? If you are trying to drive awareness and trial of your location, but the idea is best suited to drive repeat business—it simply won’t work to accomplish your objective. I once had a franchisee say that they were distributing frequency cards in their location…you know the ones… cards that say “Buy Five and Get the Sixth One Free”. The franchisee said that they weren’t seeing any new customers come in! “Of course not, you are distributing them to existing customers that visit your location! They will be great to drive repeat business, but you have to go outside of your location to drive in new customers”. They were using a tactic that wasn’t designed to achieve their objective. Make certain that you have clearly identified what you are trying to achieve and select an idea that aligns with your goals. Don’t just use a random idea because it worked for someone else.
- Who are your customers? One of the key elements to review as you are selecting an idea is a profile of your customer base and your specific trading area. For example, McDonald’s restaurants are located in many, many different types of trading areas…. everything from downtown/urban locations to small town/rural locations to Military bases and even hospitals. Ideas that are overwhelmingly successful in a small town/rural location may fall flat on their face at a hospital location. You have to look at the specific demographics of your customer base. Ask yourself, “Will the program that works great for late night college students, work great for urban commuters”? Spend time really looking at who your customers are, when they visit, what interests them, where they are coming from before their visit…all of this data will help you better understand your customers and their motivations for visiting and purchasing at your location.
- What time of year are you running the program? Just because a program worked great for your friend during the Summer, does not mean it will work for you in the Spring. Many ideas are seasonal. And seasonality depends on a lot of things including who your customers are, what the weather is like, even product supply. If your idea involves a sandwich with tomatoes for example, even the taste of the product can vary— depending on whether you are using tomatoes grown in June vs. December. If you are running a program that requires more staff to implement, and most of your staff is comprised of high school students, then you might want to run that program during Summer break and not in October when school is back in session and staffing is leaner. So, if someone suggests an idea that worked great in their location, make sure you know what time of year they used the idea and consider any seasonal factors that could impact your results.
- How are your operations? What’s the old saying? You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? I always, always tell my clients to start with a solid foundation of quality and service. No matter how good the idea, if your team can’t deliver a good experience, then you shouldn’t be using any ideas—-you will just drive customers in for a bad experience and you may never get those customers back in your door.
- How did your team execute the idea? Hand in hand with good operations—-how your team executes the idea is just as important as the idea itself. You’ll want to make sure you prep for excellent execution. This includes ordering the supplies that you need, scheduling staff, training your team on how to implement, setting up your POS keys and communicating the offer to your customers, to name a few. Make sure that you “practice” execution of the idea with your team—you will see things a little differently if you’re looking at execution through the eyes of a customer.
- Is the idea fresh? Customers get bored easily. Variety will keep them interested in stopping by to see what’s new. If you use the same types of ideas over and over again, or repeat the same idea too many times in a row, customers will “tune it out”. It won’t be fresh and interesting to them. Ask your team what they think of the idea and if they think it will work. If your staff is tired of implementing an idea, your customers are probably tired of it as well.
Sharing ideas and trying new things to build sales and transactions at your specific location is what Local Customer Engagement and LSM are all about. Some of the best LSM ideas come from other franchisees in your system. There definitely is no need to recreate the wheel to build business. Even national promotions have roots in ideas that started as local promotions in one location. But, you will want to review these six key aspects of an idea before you commit to including it in your LSM plan, because there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to engaging with customers at the local level. Every location is different and you need to leverage those differences to your advantage to truly maximize your sales and transactions.
Interested in learning more about creating LSM plans for your franchise or multi-unit business? Check out Is Your Marketing Plan on Auto Pilot? 6 Reasons Your Plan Needs to Shift Gears #LSM #LocalCustomerEngagement #LocalStoreMarketing