Blog, Franchise Development
When a franchisee begins presales or signs a new location, they’re faced with a tough question: How do they quickly and efficiently raise enough local awareness that they’ll be flooded with business starting Day 1 of Grand Opening? The most successful marketing campaigns start well before a business actually opens.

Here are a few ways a strategic agency partner can help your franchise maximize this crucial stage of franchise business growth.

1. Announce your presence—and leverage your brand identity

A direct mail campaign can be considered when initially announcing that you’ll be joining the neighborhood, but for many markets, a digital campaign will provide the most trackable and budget-conscious results. Through paid social media and geo-fence ads, we can target select ages with specific interests in a local radius or even a precise location or event at a certain time. By using “coming soon” messaging that targets only those people who are likely to be interested in your business, your announcement will be heard loud and clear when and where it matters most—and you can start to build a loyal following.

As a franchisee who has bought into a national or possibly global brand, you fortunately won’t be starting from scratch. By using the brand guidelines, assets, and tools, available to you, you can reach local leads who already know, trust, and are excited about the brand. A franchise-focused agency partner will use those assets in a way that maximizes digital ad spend efficiency and success.

2. Engage your local community—and maximize visibility through digital

Now that you’ve started to make your digital footprint and your audience knows your business is on its way, it’s time to show them all you have to offer the community. Whether it’s a 5K for charity, campus activity, or sports game, actively getting involved by sponsoring and supporting local events can send a message that you’re joining the community—not taking advantage of it. And of course, these events will all serve as opportunities to interact with potential prospects and start building relationships with people who could end of being long-term members or customers.

You can also host your own events in the community before you have a brick-and-mortar location—such as a party to kick off membership presales, or an event where the community can sample products and services coming soon.

Be sure to take lots of pictures, videos, and boomerangs with prospects at all of these events so you can share them on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Encourage leads to follow you on social media so they can see (and share) the pictures they’re in. Taking the buzz from a physical event onto social media extends visibility and promotes viral exposure among your leads’ own networks of family and friends.

Ask your agency for best practices and to help you integrate that valuable content into your organic social media publishing schedule.

3. Create a sense of urgency

Do you know who your customers will be on Day 1? Pre-open lead capture and sign-ups can seem difficult when Grand Opening is more than a couple months out, but the right messaging and offer can help you lock in business well before Opening Day. Your agency partner will combine efficient ad targeting with “last chance,” “before we open only,” and countdown messaging about your pre-sales promotion, using click-worth calls to action to drive prospects to a lead-capture landing page focused on collecting the contact information of your future customers.

4. Don’t just generate leads—stay connected with them 

Once you’ve created an initial sense of urgency and excitement, your agency partner can help you keep your leads engaged in the months leading up to Grand Opening.

Email marketing has proven to be a cost-efficient, fast, and effective way to communicate with leads to stay top of mind, educate them about the brand, and to keep them in the loop about your opening dates and any events along the way. Because leads have already expressed interest and opted in to receive email updates, they are highly likely to open and engage with your email marketing campaign.

Social media is also an effective platform to connect with the audience you’ve built through digital advertising and local marketing efforts. In addition to consistently publishing informative and promotional branded content, your agency can help you leverage content that sparks engagement and conversation. Every comment on your social posts should be liked and/or responded to. In the long run, your engagement will catch the eye of prospects as well as their social networks, showing your franchise favorably as one that listens and cares.

Maximize your pre-open marketing

Pre-open marketing is an opportunity for business growth that deserves attention and expertise. To learn how your brand can optimize its hyperlocal marketing during the pre-open phase and all stages of growth, schedule a call with iluma Agency today.

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Blog, Franchise Development

Long popular within the fitness industry, membership-based businesses have expanded to additional verticals, with some of the fastest-growing franchises receiving revenue from membership dues.

The membership business model asks customers to “join” instead of “purchase.” Joining means submitting regular payments to continue receiving a product or service. For a business, this holds the promise of sustained retention and profitability.

While not all franchise companies can operate on a membership premise, every brand can learn from the best practice digital marketing tactics used to target, acquire, and keep new members.

  1. Build a Community—Locally and Worldwide

Successful membership-based franchises don’t just have regularly paying customers; they have members who are part of their brand’s community. Members are comfortable visiting their fitness studio or spa because they feel welcomed and valued, with a deep sense of belonging. The staff at these franchise locations demonstrate a genuine care for their members’ lives.

Membership-based franchises showcase members on social media and continuously publish engaging posts that foster member and staff interaction with the brand and with each other. This sense of connection helps solidify the brand as a community they would never want to leave.

Often, membership-based franchises are also deeply involved in their local communities—and leverage their contribution across digital channels. When participating in a nearby college’s homecoming parade or sponsoring a 5K run for charity, they promote the action on Facebook Live, create slideshows on Instagram using location-specific hashtags, and show the best photos in an email blast. More than just a business vying for customers, they are truly part of their members’ community and life.

  1. More than a Brand, Be a Lifestyle

Membership marketing taps into a prospective customer’s emotional need to feel good about his or her life. Rather than focusing solely on a product or service, messaging across digital ads and social media focuses on the life their customers live thanks to being a member and long-time consumer of their product or service.

Lifestyle-focused digital campaigns encourage members to share their own social media content showing them engaging with a product or reaping the benefits of their membership in their daily life. These satisfied members act as brand ambassadors, providing additional business visibility while reminding everyone in their social network to become a member, too.

When a strong correlation is made between your brand and a better lifestyle—whether it’s better health, luxury, confidence, or fun—member retention skyrockets. Customers would do anything to maintain that feeling.

  1. Roll Out the Red Carpet

Members have VIP status. They receive access to services and products no one else receives. They’re treated with special attention from staff, are eligible for members-only discounted pricing, and are invited to member appreciation events.

Despite their exclusivity, members-only products, services, events, and promotions are meant for the world to see. Roll out the red carpet to treat your customers like royalty, and use social media, email marketing, and digital advertising to show everyone else what they’re missing.

Digital communication also supplements staff efforts to let members know about these promotions and exclusive events available to them. Using e-blasts to reward return customers and Facebook events to invite them to special events can help increase purchases, satisfaction, and retention.

Best in Class

Orangetheory Fitness is an example of a membership-based franchise getting it right on every level.

Community: The “Orange Nation” includes all members, coaches, and staff who belong to Orangetheory’s network of more than 1,000 studios worldwide. When members join Orangetheory, it’s more than a workout—they’ve joined a family. From buzzing about favorite coaches and playlists to celebrating post-workout triumph, studio-driven social media conversations at the local level keep that sense of community alive and strong.

Lifestyle: Orangetheory’s recent More Life campaign focuses on their members getting more out of life the more they workout at Orangetheory. In addition to national promotions including a call for members to submit their own More Life stories, local franchisees highlight their members’ personal records, number of classes attended, participation in local races, wedding transformations and more across social media and in email newsletters.

Exclusive Experience: Special members-only events, ranging from studio anniversary and member appreciation parties to a triathlon-inspired “Dri-Tri,” remind the Orangetheory community about the extra perks of being a member. Local studios promote attendance through Facebook event pages and ads, and they share exciting event footage across their digital channels for all to see.

Applying the Membership Marketing Model

Your brand doesn’t need a membership model to market like one—or to grow like one.

Shape each prospect and customer into the equivalent of a lifetime member by equipping your franchisees to promote a sense of community, showcase the brand as a lifestyle, and highlight an enviable customer experience across digital platforms. Implementing these tactics  leads to increased frequency of visits, better retention, and happier clients.

To learn how your brand’s marketing can be executed locally across all your unique markets to accomplish these goals, schedule a free brand health consultation.
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Blog, Franchise Development

Fixated on growth, international franchise brands understandably focus on the big picture—quickly attracting franchisees, expanding into new markets, and improving profitability. While these benchmarks are essential indicators of brand health, this global success is critically dependent on local achievement. A multi-unit brand is as strong as its individual units.

Ensuring franchisee success requires local marketing support tailored not only to each individual market—but also to the lifecycle of each unit: pre-open, grand opening, and mature/established. Marketing strategy should also evolve as a franchisee begins opening additional locations keep reading

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Case Studies, Franchise Development

The client

Aveda, owned by Estee Lauder, is a leading botanical hair and skin brand with more than 9,000 salons and spas worldwide.

A distinct challenge and opportunity

Aveda faced increasing pressure from salon and spa owners to provide greater marketing support and help drive new business to their individual business locations. With strict brand identity standards to uphold, it was crucial for Aveda to gain a thorough understanding of proposed marketing solutions prior to rolling out any new strategy on a large scale.

Aveda business units vary in focus: some cater only to salon or spa services, while others include both. Thousands of individual business owners bring their own visions and demands to the table. All of them in different markets and at different stages in their business growth, their needs ranged from getting as many people in the door as possible to attracting only a very specific type and quality of client.

An innovative, data-driven solution

iluma Agency developed a four-phase marketing test for Aveda. Each phase included a Facebook advertising campaign, display advertising campaign, and pay-per-click ad campaign rolled out to a small group of salons and spas. These campaigns included full integration with a lead-capture landing page, call tracking, email follow-up automation, and a referral page. All marketing strategies and creative assets were presented to Aveda prior to execution to ensure their understanding and approval.

Within each campaign, iluma performed A/B testing to determine which creative images, videos, messaging, promotional offer, and call to action drove the best results—while also thoroughly tracking demographics and platform-specific performance data to optimize targeting.

In addition to quantitative data collected from campaign performance, iluma maintained a close working relationship and communication with each of the salons and spas in the test to gather insight about changes in business, conversions of leads into long-term repeat clients, and the business owners’ level of satisfaction with their results.

Each subsequent test phase was developed based on the results of the previous phase, with additional layers of testing added. Goals were updated to reflect the diverse and complex needs of Aveda’s business owners.

In addition to thorough internal tracking, all results and findings were shared and discussed with Aveda throughout the duration of the marketing test.

The results

iluma Agency developed successful digital marketing campaigns that yielded unprecedented business growth for Aveda salon and spa owners.

Phase 1 alone generated more than 6.5 million impressions and 30,000 clicks, with a click-through rate of 6.2%.

At multiple points in each testing phase, business owners requested to pause the campaign so they could handle the overwhelming amount of leads and new salon guests.

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Blog, Franchise Development, Uncategorized

Your franchise brand is growing, opening more operating units exponentially each year. You’re executing a successful marketing campaign at the national brand level, profits are steady, and you’ve got your eye on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list—but you know you could grow faster if your franchisees were doing more at the local level. Your franchise location owners need to generate more leads, convert them into paying customers, and increase retention by maximizing engagement with current clientele.

Leveraging events through strategic digital and social media marketing tactics is crucial to boost local success across all markets and can elevate your brand’s growth from “good” to “great.”

Every business has marketable events, starting even before the business opens. Think pre-sales events, a “sneak peek” or open house sign-up event, and grand opening. Once open, a fitness franchise might host an annual weight loss challenge, and a salon might have a recurring makeover tutorial led by a popular stylist.

Powerful events do more than get customers in the door; they build awareness and excitement for your brand.

Many of these events can and should be planned and guided at the corporate brand level, but smart execution at the local level—including local digital marketing—is critical for success.

Think of local event marketing like a web. A single unit hosting a local event could garner a few thousand impressions, but a brand planning a nationwide event marketed through a multi-faceted digital approach could achieve exponentially more reach. If the event is promoted consistently, the same brand message will be delivered to hundreds of thousands of people, covering much more ground. With proper marketing before, during, and after the event, your customers and targeted leads are likely to share the event with their friends, creating viral visibility at no additional cost.

BEFORE THE EVENT

The success of an event depends on local marketing executed well before the event begins.

Franchisees can encourage a sense of urgency by creating a Facebook event page and scheduling social media posts counting down to the event. Local e-blasts can include messaging about the event and drive traffic to an RSVP page or lead-capture landing page designed specifically for an event.

Digital ads as well as boosted, sponsored, or pinned posts on social media can generate a high level of buzz about an upcoming event while simultaneously boosting brand awareness. Strategic targeting and ad spend deliver an event to current and prospective customers who are a fit for your brand in a specific local market.

Consistent use of on-brand event assets throughout integrated marketing activities across all locations drives a unified, recognizable message that showcases what’s unique and special about your brand. Typos, improper logo use, and clip-art at the local level can dilute the brand, show it in a negative light, and fail to attract new customers.

DURING THE EVENT

While marketing prior to an event is key to participation, keeping the momentum going throughout the event’s duration is equally important for engagement and retention. Whether an event is a few hours or a few weeks long, thoughtful digital marketing tactics can foster a sense of community that increases brand loyalty and referrals.

With attention to brand messaging and consistency, franchisees can employ these digital marketing activities to maximize event engagement online:

  • Set up a branded Snapchat geofilter to make it fun for customers to share pictures of the event with their friends
  • Upload videos from the event to Youtube and share them across multiple channels
  • Share fun event pictures and videos during the event via Instagram Stories
  • Communicate with event participants in a Facebook Group, where members of the group, including customers and staff, can all post to and interact with each other

AFTER THE EVENT

When an event ends, it’s instinctive to move right into what’s coming up next. But the best event marketing continues to keep up the buzz of an event well after it’s over.

Through email newsletters, social media, and blog content, franchisees can showcase an event’s best moments, promoting a sense of pride in attendees and a strong push for others to join in next time.

This is an ideal time to curate user-generated content by searching for event- and location-specific hashtags. Incorporating user-generated content shows customers your brand is listening and engaging—and encourages other customers to share their own content about your brand in the future.

MANAGING EVENT MARKETING ACROSS 100s OF LOCATIONS

Brands can encourage all open and pre-open franchise locations to follow these simple, replicable event marketing strategies. Before the event, develop cohesive brand assets to increase awareness across all units. During, build a sense of community by encouraging discussion and user-generated content through social media. At the event’s end, recap and repurpose content from their location for future events.

While important, managing hundreds of individual franchise locations’ events isn’t the best use of time for your corporate marketing team. Working with a franchise-focused digital agency partner for localized marketing support can help streamline event marketing success across all markets while protecting the brand. A branded event, promoted properly in all markets throughout its life cycle, earns interest from new clients, loyalty from current customers, and engagement from all—for growth at the local and brand level.

To learn more about how iluma Agency can make your brand shine with frictionless franchise digital marketing, contact us today.

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Case Studies, Franchise Development

The client 

Massage Envy is the first and largest massage and spa franchise in the market, with more than 1,000 locations and 1.5 million members nationally.

A distinct challenge and opportunity

Massage Envy’s individual franchise locations are grouped into regional co-ops. Spanning a large geographical area with diverse target client demographics, Massage Envy South Florida needed to provide their spa owners with individually focused marketing and increase return on regional marketing to justify pooled spend. National campaigns, branding, and promotions would also have to be adhered to, leveraged, and maximized at the local keep reading

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