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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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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Blog, Meet the Staff

The Content and Creative Director of iluma Agency, Sarah Rosenblum, has been with our company for more than 2 years and plays an important role in our LocalLight marketing program for franchisees and multi-unit businesses, including Orangetheory Fitness, Aveda, Massage Envy, and Tapout Fitness.

From social media and blog articles that drive engagement, traffic, and brand awareness to e-blasts and ads that generate clicks and leads, she manages the creative strategy and production of influential digital marketing assets that serve as a perpetual source of growth for the franchise brands we work with. She also develops and hosts a webinar series we developed for Orangetheory Fitness to help local studio owners learn the latest marketing techniques and trends, including “Snapchat & Video Marketing Techniques to Amplify Studio Growth” and “Studio Event Marketing to Increase Growth & Retention.”

Sarah was born in the northeast, moving from Arlington, Virginia, to Dublin, Ohio; Doylestown, Pennsylvania; and Columbia, Maryland before residing in South Florida. She studied sociology at Flagler College and pursued her graduate degree in writing from Nova Southeastern University. Passionate about traveling, some of Sarah’s favorite adventures include hikes in the Faroe Islands and Peru. She also taught English in Nagoya, Japan.

Recently, some of her favorite stories to share with her colleagues are about joining Orangetheory Fitness as a member of their Miami Lakes studio. She is excited to be participating in a workout program that’s efficient, fun, and helping her live a better, healthier life. She completed Orangetheory’s Hell Week fitness challenge in October and is getting ready to experience their 8-week transformation challenge.

Sarah also enjoys circulating her workout summaries around the office for everyone to see. Orangetheory Fitness is a high-tech, heart rate monitored workout that shows results in real-time on screens throughout the class and tracks cumulative performance over time.

From a marketing perspective, Sarah says she gains additional insight by experiencing a brand the way a customer does. Whether it’s working out at Orangetheory or getting a haircut at Aveda, “it helps me connect with prospective new members and clients on an emotional level,” she says. “And I love knowing that I’m not only helping brands find new customers—but that I’m helping people find service or brand they’ll love.”

Sarah and the content, social media, and creative team at iluma Agency are part of our company’s integrated digital marketing approach designed to maximize reach, engagement, leads, conversion, and growth. To learn more about iluma Agency’s LocalLight digital marketing program for franchise brands and multi-unit businesses, please call 786-703-3083, email sales@ilumaAgency.com, or contact us here.

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Blog, Meet the Staff

Samantha LeWinter, Digital Strategy Manager, joined iluma Agency in April 2017. She brings a wealth of expertise and talent to our team, the value of which can be seen every day as we continue to drive better and better results for our clients. Equipped with bright ideas and strong opinions as she lights the way to successful digital marketing campaigns, Samantha truly does what it takes to help brands shine. She’s also a pleasure to work with and simply to know.

Samantha grew up in Weston, Florida, but has also lived in DC and New York, where she gained experience in her roles as Digital Advertising Consultant, Key Account Manager, and Marketing Director. A graduate of Florida State University and jack of all trades, her major in interdisciplinary studies included a focus on public health and administration. Samantha is now a certified HIV counselor who has a passion for helping others and making the world a better place.

Her acts of good will extend to the animal world as well. With a self-professed “rescue problem,” Samantha sometimes tries to find homes for animals she can’t adopt herself. Even when she was little, she cared for injured turtles she found, then released them once they were better. Her current fur family includes a hound mix named Penelope and a shepherd mix named Tela.

One of Samantha’s recent hobbies is renovating the new house she shares with her husband, Eric. Eric is also a graduate of Florida State University. He and Samantha met each other 8 years ago, started dating 5 years ago, and have been married for 2 years. A rainy day, complete with a tornado, wasn’t enough to stop their wedding at the Stranahan House in the New River area of Fort Lauderdale. For their honeymoon, they enjoyed island hopping in the Southern Caribbean.

Traveling is another passion Samantha shares with our team. Her travel bug has taken her spelunking through rainforest caves in Belize as well as off-roading to a beach in St. Lucia surrounded by gorgeous mountains. She likes trying food from around the world, too, with a special love for Thai, Indian, and Korean food. Whether traveling the world or keeping it local, Samantha has an appreciation for the outdoors and any outdoor activities, recounting learning to sail with her dad in the Keys and expressing interest in hiking Kilimanjaro.

One more fun fact about Samantha is that she loves music and going to concerts—especially small music festivals. A fan of Lollapalooza, she also attended the first ever Hangout Festival.

iluma Agency Digital Strategy Manager Samantha LeWinter looks forward to continuing to drive results for your marketing campaign or beginning to work with you in the near future. If you have any questions for her, don’t hesitate to ask.

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Blog

Referrals are one of the best ways to get new customers fast. Existing and new customers who love your business are excited to share it with the people they love.

An integrated digital marketing strategy can take your referrals to the next level for uncharted growth. By integrated, we mean optimizing and coordinating across platforms (like ads, social media, email marketing, and blog) for greater success across the board.

Here are 3 tactics you can use to generate more referrals for your business:

1. Consistent and on-brand referral message, creative, and incentive.

Let’s say you’re promoting a referral incentive, like giving someone a $25 gift card for each of their referrals who signs up or buys. When promoting, be sure to use the same image, message, and offer on every channel—and do use every channel.

It might seem like overkill to show the same thing on an ads, organic social media, and email, but repetition strengthens memory and keeps the promotion top of mind, ensuring that interested customers do take that next step to refer a friend.

Data from our marketing experience has shown that this approach leads to greater success across the board. Businesses and brands promoting a referral consistently across channels like social media and email get better results on each of those platforms than if they just used one or the other.

2. Make it easy for current customers to share your business with their family and friends.

What’s your current referral process? If a customer wants to refer a friend, do they have to tell you in the store? Fill out a form? Call in?

We build referral lead-capture pages into our digital marketing program. These pages can be linked to from ads, emails, social media posts, your website, and more. When you prompt a customer to help spread the word about your business, all they have to do is push a button, enter a few names and email addresses in a matter of seconds, and they’re all set.

The easier you make it, the less excuses your customers will make to procrastinate.

3. Consistently respond and engage with online comments and reviews.

No marketing platform is isolated—and new potential customers will investigate your brand across most if not all of those platforms. Before giving your business a chance, the first thing a referred customer will do is look you up on platforms like Yelp and Google and check out your social media pages.

Don’t let any comment or review, positive or negative, go unanswered. Show referrals that your business is listening, involved, friendly, and engaged. Your online reputation matters.

These are just 3 things to keep in mind for your next referral promotion—but our ideas don’t end here. In a webinar we recently hosted for one of our fitness franchise clients, we shared referral marketing strategies and demos specifically designed for their brand.

If you’re interested in exploring additional ways to promote referral marketing for your brand or business to drive growth, we’d love to hear from you.

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Blog, Orangetheory
A blog that promotes your franchise location should focus on consumer readability in order to boost search engine optimization and enhance overall digital marketing success. Your brand’s complete digital marketing campaign should include a blogging and content marketing component for your individual franchise location. One of the biggest boosts blogs can have on brand growth is that they help maximize SEO, or search engine optimization, meaning that the brand’s website and your individual franchise location’s microsite appear higher in Google’s search results. This is vital when you take into account the statistic that most consumers will never even click or tap past the first results page. dreamstime_81959858-01 These are two common tricks utilized for blog SEO:
  • Keywords likely to be searched in Google by target consumers
  • More than 300 words in length
While these techniques are useful, they aren’t and shouldn’t be the only ones used or you’ll end up with a blog post that people don’t want to read. Your franchise’s blog needs to focus on more than just keyword density. Search engine optimization involves factors beyond simply keywords and word count. Google and other search engines have evolved to a complex algorithm that assesses a number of components in order to determine SEO and page rankings. dreamstime_49367645-01 Your blog’s SEO depends on readability. Keep these tips in mind when writing a blog:
  • Grammar and spelling should be flawless.
  • For ease of reading, use short words, sentences, and paragraphs. Try to write in a conversational tone. Consider testing for a Flesch-Kincaid readability score.
  • The design, format, and typography (font, size, spacing, header structure, bullets, etc.) of your page can increase readability.
  • Break up text with interesting images for content that is readable and shareable.
  • Be interesting and relevant to your target consumers.
Search engines take the length of time spent on a blog page into consideration when assessing readability and determining whether people actually want to read your blog and are easily able to do so. Someone who is frustrated by a hard-to-read font, overly complex sentences full of typos and grammatical errors, and keyword-heavy content that’s not interesting to read will likely leave your page pretty quickly. In addition to improving your franchise’s search ranking results, you really do want consumers and prospects to read your blog. Position your franchise as the leader in your market by providing interesting, relevant, readable content. Appeal to your target audience on a human level and they’ll be more receptive to become loyal, long-term customers or members. Written right, a good blog will ultimately increase your sales.
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Blog, Orangetheory, Uncategorized
Don’t ignore this powerful marketing tool to reach current members and prospects. Your goal is to grow your studio. You want to strengthen your existing member base and convert new members. This requires a multifaceted marketing approach. You’ll need to use a variety of techniques in an integrated strategy, as each component works to enhance the results of every other piece. Some of the big ones you’re probably already using are digital ads, social media posts, and ‘grass roots’ marketing (flyer distribution, local event sponsorships, etc). But one component is often overlooked and can have a tremendous impact on the success of your overall campaign: email marketing. As an Orangetheory Fitness franchisee, you have access to an email marketing platform called EMMA. Corporate email templates are populated into the platform every month, sometimes with features like a healthy recipe or information about a national promotion. There are empty spaces for you to fill in information pertinent to your studio. The OTF corporate marketing team urges all studios to take advantage of this marketing device. Here are a few pieces of content that can be incorporated in your newsletters:
  • Engaging social media content or a blog teaser (that links to your social media pages or studio webpage)
  • A positive review your studio has recently received (from Yelp, Facebook, Google, Listen360, etc.)
  • Current promotions, including the national promotional offer and your member referral campaign
  • Upcoming events, including corporate-approved fitness challenges (Peak Performance, Dri Tri, Hell Week, etc.)
  • Trainer tips
  • Member testimonials or transformation stories
  • Member accomplishments outside the studio (e.g., running a marathon)
  • Weight Loss Challenge winners—and other achievements in the studio
  • Your studio in the community
What is the optimum blend of content?
  • Include one social media story, blog article, and review each month, because these will boost your organic reach on social media, improve search engine rankings of your studio’s webpage, and reduce fear of new members trying the workout.
  • Include the latest promotion and upcoming special workout dates (for awareness and conversions).
  • Highlight up to two studio stories per email. These trainer tips, member stories, challenge winners and other spotlights help build a sense of community—which is appealing to both current members and prospects. Any more than two of these will devalue them and reduce click-through.
Quick Tip: Adhere to branding guidelines to make sure you’re getting the most out of being part of the Orangetheory Fitness franchise. Images and text should be consistent with brand messaging and tone. Avoid deviating from the default formatting and colors in the templates from OTF corporate, and avoid superimposing text over photos. What is the ideal emailing frequency? We recommend one to two emails per month. If sending two emails, one of these should contain much less content and draw attention to one content piece that is geared toward action, such as referrals (Refer and Receive), purchases (the latest OT Beat or OTF Gear), conversions (sign up today and be entered to win a 10-pack), or signing up for an upcoming event at your studio. Why is email marketing so useful?
  • It targets those who are interested in you, resulting in a higher conversion rate.
  • It increases brand awareness and keeps your studio top of mind.
  • Content is easily shareable, which means it may reach additional viewers. If a member was featured in a story in the newsletter and wants to share it with family and friends, all it takes is one click of the forward button.
  • Success is easy to track. The EMMA platform shows open and click-through rates.
  • It provides measurable insights about customers. The EMMA platform provides a map that shows which stories were clicked on, meaning you learn what content to focus on in the future to increase your conversions.
  • It’s affordable and efficient—especially compared to direct mail, which requires printing and mailing fees and is sent to a large number of people who are not potential Orangetheory members.
  • It allows for segmentation of your mailing list to send certain content only to active members or only to leads.
  • Calls to action, such as linking to a lead-generating landing page, are easy to integrate.
  • You can immediately start seeing results as soon as an email is sent.
Where to start? Email marketing is crucial to studio growth but can be too time-consuming when you’re focused on studio-level operations and sales calls. Illuminati Studios provides email marketing management as part of its LocalLight Digital Marketing program. For more information, contact rich@illuminatistudios.com.
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Blog, Orangetheory
The holiday season is a beautiful time of year—for getting new members! New Year’s Resolutions can be the perfect motivator to bring new faces into your Orangetheory Fitness studio. And thanks to the Holiday CORE 4 Gift Pack, current members can give their friends and family access to your studio as a gift for Christmas or Hanukkah.

With the potential for new membership so high, this is an especially crucial time to make sure your online reputation and social media community strategies are optimized. When resolution-makers search for a new fitness regime, what will they learn about your studio? Even before trying a free session, prospects gather information about your studio from multiple sources, two of the top contenders being Facebook and Yelp. Both of these platforms showcase reviews, including star ratings, detailed feedback, and your responses to that feedback.

A prospective member who sees a low star rating, negative feedback, and/or complaints that have not been responded to properly (or at all) will likely never step foot in your studio. More than just a review platform, your studio’s Facebook should also serve as an online extension of your studio’s community. This publicly visible page allows prospective members to get a feel for the environment and culture of your studio before ever stepping through the door. Orangetheory Fitness produces the real results people want—but it’s also a place for bonding, friendship, and fun. It’s a tight-knit fitness family made up of people who are excited to be there and who have fun while supporting each other’s goals and reaching their own.

Engaging posts and campaigns that encourage interaction among you and your members can show a prospect the additional perks of joining Orangetheory Nation. The Holiday CORE 4 Gift Pack is a powerful word-of-mouth referral backed by four free sessions and a heart-rate monitor for the recipient. Even referrals who learned about the studio from a friend will collect additional information from multiple sources. Overly negative reviews on Yelp will lead them to trying the workout with an already negative preconception, possibly having a negative impact on their actual workout experience.

Positive reviews and a fun, engaged online community can help prepare them to see your studio as a place they want to be—and ultimately make them want to sign up for more than just the four sessions they received as a gift. Ask yourself these questions as you begin to consider whether your online reputation and social media engagement are optimized for the holiday season:
  • Where are people leaving reviews about my studio?
  • How many of these reviews are positive/negative?
  • Have I responded to all of these reviews?
  • How many reviews have been left?
  • Am I doing anything to encourage more reviews to be left?
  • Am I doing anything to increase exposure of positive reviews?
  • Do my social media posts show what’s special about my studio?
  • Are my social media posts eliciting any response from members?
  • Am I responding to all members’ comments on Facebook and Instagram?
  • Am I monitoring analytics for insights about social media engagement?

Building your online reputation and strengthening your social engagement can be a time-consuming endeavor but when executed properly can have a significant impact on your studio’s leads and conversions. LocalLight Digital Marketing social media plans include options to fully manage your studio’s online reputation and social engagement. For more information, please contact Rich Feinberg at rich@illuminatistudios.com or 786-360-0350.
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