Local stores and franchisees are running their own online marketing efforts. We see it every day. These are often non-sanctioned marketing efforts. Even if they are allowed, they aren’t up to the standards of the parent company. The store could have created a rogue Facebook account, website, print campaign, or even television commercials.
But, why does the local store or franchisee do it? Why do they use their valuable time to run their own campaigns when they could just rely on the corporate campaigns and spending time running their business? There are several reasons for it, but they all stem from one thing. They aren’t satisfied with the help they are getting from corporate in driving business growth for their own store. And they are getting great results by doing it on their own.
So why aren’t they satisfied with the corporate marketing efforts? Because:
- Corporate is focused on the whole nation and not the intricacies of their market.
- Corporate efforts are not getting enough business out the gate for a newly established market.
- Corporate search efforts are mainly on broad national search terms and not localized search terms.
- They like to do things their own way.
National Campaigns Not Relevant
The franchise or corporate entity has limited resources and wants to use those the best they can. This often leads to nationally focused marketing campaigns that don’t take into account local variance. When you are selling HVAC services in Detroit and Miami, the message and concerns of the customer are different. You have to approach them differently. The Detroit customers have to worry about efficiently heating and cooling their home, while the Miami customers primarily worries about cooling their home and ensuring the comfortable existence in a high humidity area. The systems you install are different and the questions the customer has are different. Approaching them differently leads to a better buying experience where both parties are more likely to buy.
Nationally focused ad campaigns make it hard to accomplish this. Many national brands are doing a better job of this in their offline channels, ensuring that different areas are mentioned or that the pictures of the homes in their ads match the area. Likely because they have learned a lot about variable printing over the years. But, most are not doing the best when it comes to applying this strategy to the web, where more and more marketing dollars are being allocated every year as customers spend more time looking at computer screens and mobile devices.
One franchisee that we talked to did his own marketing and mentioned that the reason he did it is because people in his market didn’t understand the product as well. He said that in the hot markets for the company, customers only cared about how much, how fast, and what the quality was. Those markets didn’t need product category education. But, in his market, what customers cared about was knowing if the product would work in their home? What are the benefits? Does it fit with my home style?
Another thing about national only campaign strategies is that customers often want to work with a small business. While it is hard to consider many franchises as small businesses, locally based marketing strategies make franchises appear more local to the customer. They let the local business not only tell the national brand’s story, but the individual owner’s story as well. This ties the brand to the local community, making the business appear smaller to the customer as they feel they could actually talk to the person in charge.
From the chart above, it shows that there is a 50 point spread between how much confidence a person in America has in small business versus their confidence in big business. With multi-location businesses then, you need to emphasize what is local about you, and that contributes to the desire of the location to wanting to do their own marketing.
Newly established market
When you are a new market for an existing franchise the marketing rules for your existing stores do not apply. Existing stores often need to do less education for current customers. But, a new store with a new product that the area hasn’t seen or completely grasped yet needs more dollars thrown towards education. Often, franchises approach the rollout of a new store with the same effort as they do for every other store. When in reality new stores need more money and need to hit more avenues for opening up business. This is partly because this new store does not have an existing book of business.
So when a new store launches they are often grasping for anything that can help them get off the ground, which makes them look for cost effective marketing solutions to help them in their market. This means, they start their own social media accounts and start posting. And since website costs have gone down, they may start a new website, but it often doesn’t meet corporate standards or corporate strategy. Maybe the corporate standards should change online then. And it is getting easier than ever for them to do this.
Power Of Local Search
I am going to put this out there and it will be surprising for most of you. Local small businesses can dominate the searches in their local market, and beat out large corporations. A well-run marketing campaign by the local business in a given market is almost always going to out-perform the national chain in the search engines, particularly Google. I see it every day. Just look at the following searches to see local companies organically ranking higher in organic results and even maps listings:
A few things to notice as you check out geo-targeted search terms in these markets. In all these cases the top or near the top searches are local businesses with a strong web presence. Sometimes they directly link of many local businesses such as a Yellow pages and other local directories. But, you will notice that the large national chain sites are hard to see. In fact, the best ranked national brands have local websites of their own as well. Over time this will become more and more commonplace. You will see more businesses and corporations using local websites to compete in search.
The calculation is simple. In Google’s and the customers’ opinion, what is more relevant: a corporate site with one page about that product or service in your area, or an entire website about that product or service in your area? This is especially true when it comes to more locally relevant content that refers to needs in that specific market. But, beware, there are right ways and wrong ways to do this. And unless you have the right website solution, the undertaking will be huge or the results will be poor due to the sites not being unique enough. So, seek out the right solution to make this work for your locations.
Any store that has started their own website has seen the benefits of having their own website. And it isn’t just increased traffic, it is increased conversion rates as well.
Doing Things Their Own Way
Many executives view stores that do their own marketing as owners or managers who just like to do their own thing, in their own way. They think that they simply want more control. And because they want to do things their own way, they aren’t being a team player, and they should stop their efforts. They also then devalue the work and insights that the local store came up with. The problem with that thinking is that if they are spending their own time and money on those efforts, then they likely have a very good reason for doing so.
It also means it might be time to learn from their efforts as they are a great experiment for you. While they might have done a poor job on their marketing or might have done marketing they shouldn’t have, they likely know have a lot of knowledge that can be applied to their specific business. And if you want to investigate doing your own local online marketing programs, these stores are a good place to start. Bottom line, no stores are really doing this, simply because they like to do things their own way. They are doing it because it works for them.
By combining their knowledge with corporate resources you can create a great program for every store.If you are ready to start talking to these stores and begin creating more localized marketing programs, give us a call.