A few weeks ago, we traveled to Atlanta for the Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead. Created by Franchise Update Media, the Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference is a two day event focusing on all aspects of franchise marketing. Many of the industry’s top experts are brought together to discuss everything from how to utilize new technology to enhancing franchisee participation. LSM engaged in several interesting workshops addressing the changes and challenges facing franchise marketers today. LSM’s Chief Marketing Officer, Matthew Job, moderated the session voted best of the conference: ‘Local Marketing – Imperative For Location, Market and Brand Growth,’ which we thought was pretty cool! Needless to say we look forward to attending again in 2017!

Below are four key takeaways from the conference:

  1. Your brand promise is one of the most important components of your business to communicate to your consumers. It’s vital to the long-term health of your business, and it’s an element that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your brand promise extends to every part of your organization – from sales to customer service. Your brand positioning can drive innovation and even change the course of R&D based on customer feedback. Terri Snyder, CMO/EVP of the Checkers/Rally’s restaurant franchise system, described her experience of identifying the brand promise after she started with the organization, and encouraged us to go back to the foundation of the brand for inspiration.
  2. Local marketing is imperative for location, market and brand growth. This was a terrific presentation by Nancy Bigley, CEO at Bottles & Bottega, Ali Rauch, Director of Marketing at Chicken Salad Chick and Angela Paules, VP of Marketing at Mosquito Joe. In a nutshell, having an effective local marketing strategy is paramount to the success of many franchise brands. The first step is laying the foundation, which includes finding passionate franchisees who aren’t afraid to be true brand ambassadors, and helping them understand the importance of local marketing prior to them even becoming franchisees. Next is providing franchisees with turn-key marketing resources that make it easy for them to participate and understand the results of their spend: customizable marketing materials, checklists, lead tracking and online reporting dashboards for example. Working with vendor partners that specialize in different aspects of local marketing can be a great resource for brands that don’t have the internal resources to complete all the work needed to create and maintain an excellent local marketing strategy. Showing franchisees examples of successful marketing plans or initiatives will improve their likelihood of participation moving forward; testimonials from their peers can sometimes mean more than recommendations from HQ. They emphasized the importance of collaborating with others on a regular basis to unearth fresh ideas and solutions.
  3. Meet your customers where they are. Allow your advocates to interact with your brand where they are online. This is especially true with respect to reviews and reputation management. Get your dissenters offline immediately, and work with them to resolve issues as quickly as possible. Most importantly, make your responses geared towards the general public, not just towards the customer who left a negative review. Dave Randall, Sr Manager of Marketing Strategy at Great Clips, said it brilliantly: “Never get in a pissing match with a skunk – you’ll both end up stinking.” A potential customer’s opinion of your business is largely based on what people say about your business online; when responding to reviews, write with this potential customer in mind.
  4. Programmatic advertising is no longer “the future” – it’s now. Programmatic advertising is a way to purchase highly-targeted impression inventory (like banner ads and sponsored content) on the websites of your choosing. The goal is to serve the right ad to the right visitor at the right time. On programmatic advertising networks, you can target website visitors based on things like cookies and device ID’s (especially critical to mobile implementations) as well as contextual topics. Location targeting on these networks, in many cases, is also much more robust, factoring in GPS data of mobile website visitors. Darryl Singer, National Director at Centro, explained that the value exchange between privacy and relevancy is becoming more equal; if ads are inevitable, we probably want to be served ads we actually care about, and this is made possible by the advanced targeting options in programmatic technology.

These are only a handful of takeaways from the sessions that we were fortunate enough to attend. We’re positive that several more nuggets of valuable information were discussed during the conference.

For more information about the Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference, you can click here.

It was a terrific event and Local Search Masters looks forward to attending in 2017 and beyond!