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What is the difference between Public Relations and Marketing?

Marketing is investing in paid advertisements such as press, radio, out of home, or any of the pillars of local area marketing to promote and sell products or services to a specific audience.

Public relations (PR) activities engage a third party to drive positive reputation management, typically through unpaid media opportunities, and target a wider range of people as opposed to a specific target audience. Different media opportunities include:

  • Earned media – coverage in local publications, radio, tv etc.
  • Shared media – collaborate with influential stakeholders to generate positive word of mouth
  • Owned media – unpaid media such as social media/website on your own channels

However, marketing and PR complement each other extremely well – after all, any marketing campaign could benefit from a little PR, and any PR campaign would thrive backed by a solid marketing strategy.

 

How can PR compliment my marketing?

Public relations can be a great way to build your credibility through trusted sources and to further compliment your local area marketing activities. Community engagement activities such as sponsoring a local football club, and hosting local activations, such as coffee giveaways or free events, provide a great opportunity to utilise PR. You could invite local influencers, notify journalists and encourage them to share information about your brand and actions to the wider public, and you could also live stream, share photos and videos on your own social media channels.

 

How does PR work for a franchise?

Managing public relations for franchises can be complex.  One of the big advantages of owning a franchise is having a recognisable brand name behind you, so as with any marketing activity, it is important to balance helping franchisees achieve their goals whilst still aligning with the values of head office and remaining brand compliant.

Generating publicity for individual franchisees and their stores at a local level helps differentiate your store from not only from your local competitors, but also from stores from the same franchise brand in your area. A key way to do this through telling your unique brand story.

 

How can The Marketing Lab help?

At The Marketing Lab, we recognise there is a story to tell about your franchise, underpinned by the messages and collateral from head office. We also understand that franchisees want efficient and effective campaigns that showcase their business, not just the parent brand. We take the time to understand you and your business, so we can help share your story and help build a positive reputation within your local community.  Highlighting your involvement, presence and support of your local area is key in helping you differentiate from competitors.

We’ve helped hundreds of businesses tell their unique brand story, and achieved media coverage in publications in all states across Australia. From a Golf Day in Darwin to Telstra Community donation programs in QLD, NSW, and WA, to a local movie night with an attendance of over 300 here in QLD, we understand how to establish positive relationships between our franchisee and their local community. If you want some PR help, get in touch with us today us on 07 3088 3021!

Check out some of our PR work below:

Telstra Connected Community – Telstra Store Lake Haven, Telstra Store Robina & Telstra Store Warnbro

Lake Haven      Robina

Warnbro

Free Outdoor Movie Nights – Aussie Tweed Heads,  Aussie Chermside & Aussie Taigum

Chermside       Chermside      Tweed

 

Local Coffee Activations – Aussie Chermside, Aussie Taigum, Aussie VIC

Vic       Chermside

 

Golf Day – Telstra Store Casuarina

Casuarina

IMG     IMG

 

This article was written by Hayley Goodlich.

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As a franchise business owner, you understand the importance of being known in the market and having a steady stream of enquiries and leads that convert to paying clients. Fellow business owners can often take time to research, process and evaluate alternatives before making a decision. This is why consistent B2B local area marketing is so important.

You may already use a ‘funnel’ diagram to track where clients are on their customer journey. As a B2B business, decision makers are more likely to search when they identify a need. This makes ‘Findability’ and ‘Reputation’ so important in your marketing strategy, supported by your overarching advertising to help generate enquiry. At all of these points you want to ensure you communicate own brand story.

Findability is how easy it is for potential clients to find you when searching for a solution your franchise offers. Being visible during this search phase is vital to generating quality leads. Digital marketing plays a significant role in your findability. The main platforms for this are Google (organic and paid), online listings and your website. Your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for the decision maker to find you and learn about your brand.

Once decision makers have found your franchise, they want to verify the quality of your business. Depending on your offering and competitors, this could take a few minutes – or a few weeks. Similar to the ‘Search’ stage, this is much easier online where they look at your website, online reviews, testimonials, social media and your engagement with customers and the community. You should aim to be present on the right platforms.

So how do you increase your findability and reputation as a local B2B business?

Offline Activities

Offline marketing is important in building awareness. However, depending on your message and the needs of the client, offline marketing can also be lead generating. The key with B2B marketing offline is consistency and you should aim to have your message in front of customers as often as possible. Depending on your budget there are a range of ways to do this. One of easiest and most cost-effective options is B2B letterbox drops or addressed mail direct to the businesses. You could also combine this with outdoor, press and radio all sharing the same message at the same time. Although these target the client outside of the search phase, these are quite effective in keeping your business top of mind for future needs.

Additionally, as a B2B business, you should consider engaging in local business networks and sponsor local events. This can give you an opportunity to have conversations and build relationships with business owners or decision makers which can quickly and effectively strengthen your credibility. This may not necessarily be a lead generating activity initially, but word-of mouth from engaging these can lead to better quality, long-term clients.

Online Acvitities:

Having an online presence is almost essential to be found by your clients and considered. You should take advantage of free online listings such as Google My Business, social media relevant to your industry and EDMs.

Google My Business is the most visible listing platform as Google is often the first-place decision makers look for a solution. It has a huge impact on local searches and can even rank you higher in certain Google search results. This is based on your star rating, number of reviews, activity on the platform, clicks and information consistency across different sites.

Posting regular local content on your social media gives you another platform for potential clients to verify your business and to keep you top of mind with your followers. Posts should be engaging, informative and relevant. Reviews and testimonials are probably one of the best ways to give your business credibility online. You should monitor and engage with these on all your digital platforms.

Regular emails to existing, potential and previous clients can be an effective way to keep your brand top of mind. This allows you to keep decision makers updated and promote any offers you may have which may encourage them to engage, reengage or increase their existing spend.

You could also consider Google paid ads. These are the ads shown at the top of the Google search results. As a pay-per-click marketing tool, this can be especially effective in the search phase.

What we suggest

Some of most effective B2B franchise marketing campaigns use a layered marketing approach. This means engaging a range of online and offline strategies at the same. This increases the how often business owners see your message, keeping you top of mind at all times for the solutions you offer.

We understand you can be time poor, or just might not have the capability to activate an effective B2B marketing campaign. If you would like more support, The Marketing Lab has the ability to research and structure single campaigns through to 90 day plans to help you reach your marketing goals.

For more info, please contact us on 07 3088 3021.

Out of Home Billboard Advertising for Franchises

Outdoor marketing, also referred to as Out of Home (OOH) advertising, is a valuable tool to help you share your message with a large number of potential customers. Outdoor advertising is everywhere. Billboards, posters, digital screens, bus stops, train stations – the list goes on. The buses and trains themselves can even be moving ads!

Commonly-used OOH media

Some examples of out of home advertising include:

  • Billboards
  • Scrolling posters
  • Telephone booth posters
  • Community maps
  • Bus stops
  • Train / tram station advertising
  • Transit advertising – buses, trains, trams, taxis
  • Shopping centre carpark advertising
  • Fuel station advertising
  • Street signpost advertising
  • Rubbish bin surrounds
  • Human billboards
  • Water-pressure stenciling

Static vs Digital

OOH media is available in either static or digital form and it’s the digital form that is driving some exciting new marketing opportunities. Digital not only offers speed and flexibility in getting artwork into market, it has the ability to allow for a more diverse messaging with hyper-localised customization, integration of live and real time content or the ability to use multiple messages in your share of voice to tell a story or take a client on a journey.

Out of Home Advertising and Your Franchise

Out of home advertising is a great way to extend your national franchise message to a local level. Not only does OOH offer direct benefits in terms of reach and frequency in its own right, but research shows that Out Of Home works exceptionally well as an extension to another local area marketing activity such as direct mail or radio.

Utilising OOH media

Outdoor marketing has many great features and can be used to help achieve your advertising goals. From generating awareness of your franchise to highlighting your location, OOH media is well-suited to deliver a simple, short, sharp message. Out of home advertising is also a good way to convey specific messages, such as promotions and offers, to your franchise territory.

Large target audience

OOH marketing is ideal at reaching a large audience and a wide range of customers and multi-location campaigns can have huge impact across your franchise territory, driving curiosity and interest. Strategically placed outdoor advertising can lift engagement in your campaign particularly if the call to action is simple.

Big budget vs affordability

The world of out of home advertising is a vast space and there are choices to cater for a large range of budgets. Massive supersite billboards on major city arterials can command hundreds of thousands of dollars a month but you can get your message out to the community at a fraction of the cost by choosing other formats. Bus stop and telephone booth advertising can act as mini-billboards on major roads and can be an effective alternative for your franchise.

Distress rates

Advertising on billboards does not have to be pipedream. Distress rates are discounts offered by billboard companies to fill vacancies. Each month, discounted rates often become available across the network. These cheaper advertising fees can make this OOH option very attractive. Just make sure you have artwork ready to go.

Need help?

With so many outdoor marketing options available, we know it can be difficult to decide which out of home approach is right for your franchise. If you’d like some guidance, or would like to be put on our distress rate notification list, please contact us at The Marketing Lab.

For more info, please contact us on 07 3088 3021.

 

This article was written by Gregg Lee.

people standing expo promotional stands

An activation is all about driving customer action and bringing a brand to life. Unlike traditional marketing, an activation is about an experience and has been shown to help form long-term emotional connections with customers. Getting out in the world and interacting with your customers face-to-face, helps connect the dots between your franchise business and your consumer and enables a two-way dialogue. It is an opportunity for your customer to feel heard and an opportunity to really listen and help.

What does an activation look like?

Activations can take form in different ways. Some examples are:

• Consumer promotions
• Experiential Marketing
• Shopper Marketing
• Product Sampling
• Sponsorship Extension
• Competitions & Lead Gen

How do activations help my franchise business?

Activations engage the market

Consumer activation is about engaging the customer and urging them to take action, through positive experiences and connections with your brand. An activation is more than an advertisement campaign on TV, or a billboard on the side of the road. It’s a positive emotional experience that is relatable and engaging to an audience. It’s the difference between simply a purchaser, and a loyal customer or brand enthusiast.

Check out our previous blog post on community engagement to gain a bit of background on why this is so important!

Activations increase brand awareness and generate high brand recall

Acitvations can help to reinforce your brand’s positioning in the minds of your customer. If we look at this in terms of a franchises business – where there is a heavy focus on local area marketing – what better way to build brand awareness in the local community than to get out there and interact with your market at a ground level? If you are a franchisee, your customers already know your brand, and brand activation can help tell your story.

In order to reach your customers on a more personal level, the key is to engage with them in more meaningful ways. By being out in the market and connecting with new customers in different ways, you are increasing your brand awareness. When you introduce yourself and your brand, the customers’ brand recognition and brand recall increase. The more you get out and about, the more widespread this will become.

Activations create a ripple effect

What will give you an edge over your competitors? It is the ability for your customers to personally recognise and identify with you. If your customers have had a positive experience with your brand, they are more likely to tell their friends and family, and word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool. This creates a ripple effect, whereby a few positive personal interactions ripple outward to the larger community in which you and your customers are active.

Need help?
The Marketing Lab has our very own activations team in house. We know it can be difficult to determine where to start when planning an activation, and sometimes you just don’t have the time to sit down and think about it! We take care of the process, from initial research of activation opportunities in your area, right through to sourcing promo staff and ensuring a smooth-run on activation day.

For more info, please contact us on 07 3088 3021.

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The Pillars of Franchise Local Area Marketing

When planned, executed and evaluated correctly, Local Area Marketing is a tool than can help your business generate more leads, improve your store awareness and keep your franchise top of mind during a customer’s decision-making process.

Once you have set your local area marketing objectives and finalised your budget, you need to decide two things:

  1. What is your message?
  2. How will you share your message?

Your message should always leverage your unique story and your franchise brand, in addition to promoting your goods or services.

When it comes to how you share your message, The Marketing Lab has identified a number of activities that we refer to as the pillars of Local Area Marketing. These pillars are the are the foundation marketing channels that a franchise can use to promote their business to their local audience.

 

What are the pillars of Local Area Marketing?

Local Area Marketing requires strategic planning, controlled execution and careful analysis to be most effective. Choosing the right “pillars” depends on your message, your target market and the marketing infrastructure of your territory.

So, what are these pillars and how do you choose the ones that will help your store the most?

Direct Mail

Direct mail lets you connect with thousands of potential clients in a single campaign. We recommend using engaging collateral and messaging that gives you cut through in the letterbox and encourages the recipient to keep your offering for longer. Using a strong call to action message is vital. Direct mail has strong appeal in Local Area Marketing as it can be targeted easily to a suburb, address or even an individual, giving you flexibility in your message. If you want to thank a current customer for their business, or tell the whole town about your latest offer, direct mail might be the answer.

Outdoor (Billboards and OOH)

Outdoor advertising is a great way to target a market that is on the move, offering high frequency and a wide reach to residents and visitors in your area. Whether it’s emphasising your location, spreading awareness or promoting an offer, this medium is effective at sharing simple, short and sharp messages. Outdoor has shown to enhance recognition and recall when used in addition to other channels and as many media companies offer a digital format, installation and production costs are reduced.

In-Centre

In-centre advertising allows your store to tap into the concentrated foot traffic of a retail environment. Whether your advertising emphasises the convenience and close proximity of your store or setting up a causal leasing space to start a conversation, this can be a great space to get attention and prompt immediate action.

If you’re located inside a shopping centre, there may be a number of complimentary options for marketing opportunities the centre provides at no cost. These should be used where appropriate and even though they are free to access, you should still make sure that the message is strategic, high quality and on brand in order to achieve the best result.

Press

Some local papers have a loyal and supportive readership and could be the perfect vehicle to run editorial style adverts. Local newspapers can create a tie between the community and your store, and with many papers offering long-term booking discounts, you can development a consistency within the publication. Tapping into your local knowledge of the area and the papers you know and love can help you identify if press is likely to be effective and drive an ROI.

Radio

Radio and similar digital on-demand listening services are present in most people’s day-to-day activities and targets commuters and people at work or home. With ads often played multiple times in a day and across weeks or months, radio can help your audience feel familiar with your store and learn your store’s message. It is a wide-reaching medium which makes it ideal for franchisees with larger territories or perhaps you can work with your neighbouring franchisees to share the cost.

Cinema and TV

Cinema and TV provide access to an audience of consumers that are relaxed and comfortable. These short messages can provide a lot of information through effective visuals and are typically repeated granting a wide exposure to the message. TV and Cinema can have immense reach, but production costs can be high, so understanding your message and intent is vital.

Digital

Digital is arguably the most targetable form of marketing outside of personal selling.  In many cases digital marketing provides the ability to target particular demographics, modify your campaign as it runs and test and measure actual leads and conversion. There are many options with digital marketing, but you need to be careful not to fall into the trap of a “set and forget” process. With great responsiveness comes great time-consumption. Setting up systems to allow easy feedback and responsiveness is the key to manage leads and push them through your sales funnel. And if you aren’t using Google My Business to drive your digital LAM, you need to start today!

Community Engagement (Networks and Sponsorship)

The strength in Local Area Marketing is the ability to position your business as an integral and committed part of your local community. Getting involved in sponsorship or undertaking networking encourages brand recognition that is not directly tied to selling your products and services while still providing an opportunity for you to connect with potential customers. Sponsorships work best when you leverage your own marketing channels to spread the word about how you are supporting your neighbourhood. Where possible find a way to leverage your sponsorship or networking engagement to extend your presence past just that activity.

Retention

Letting your clients know that you’re there, even when there isn’t a direct sales opportunity, can help build a personal relationship and long-term trust. Retention can be done en-masse (but targeted!) to your client base through activities like EDM’s or via a loyalty program or can be a more personal interaction, like hand written birthday cards or customer anniversary gifts.

We often use these as a starting point for our clients to build out tactical campaigns with specific messages. When pulling together your Local Area Marketing plan, it is important to consider which pillars are the best channel to share your message with your local area. Remember, a single pillar can’t hold up a whole building, so keeping a holistic mindset will help you build the foundation of successful ongoing franchise marketing.

 

Need Help?
With so many Local Area Marketing options available, we know it can be hard to know which foundation pillars are right for your business objectives. If you prefer more support, The Marketing Lab has the ability to prepare a customised market research report that identifies all the marketing opportunities in your area, allowing you to make an informed decision.

For more info, please contact us on 07 3088 3021.

 

This article was written by Tabitha Robinson.

1810 Community Engagement Sign WEB

As a local franchise owner, you have the benefits of a strong, recognisable brand name behind you. Depending on your business, this could enhance credibility, awareness, company sourced leads, above the line marketing spend (or even a combination of all of these!) but as a local business, community engagement can really help take your business to the next level. It can help you build more meaningful relationships with potential customers and allows you to share your own personal business story that underpins your franchise.

But how does community engagement work? And how do you make the most of it?

Why would I?

Some local franchises use community engagement purely as a way to give back, with associated promotional branding being a secondary focus. This approach is more like a donation, with the added bonus of a little bit of exposure and the objective is really to give back in a more philanthropic and charitable way.

Other franchises have a more direct approach to community engagement, using it primarily as a selling or marketing tool. They do this to generate leads, increase sales, launch new products or services, or target new customers. Their sponsorship of the community group or event is designed to drive a return on investment just like any other marketing activity.

Both these strategies help the local community and both can be extremely beneficial for your franchise. They establish trust, help you to understand your local market and showcase that you are a local advocate of your community.

So, which is better?

If you are really passionate about a local cause and your objective is to give back, then there is nothing wrong with a donation. It can help boost your internal culture and let’s face it, there are so many causes that deserve our support.

But if you are responding to requests from community groups that you don’t have a particularly strong or authentic connection with and you think a donation is part of your marketing efforts, then we’d encourage you to take a more strategic approach.

Community Engagement as Local Area Marketing

Sponsorships are marketing activities and are quite different to donations. They are a commercial arrangement, and each party is responsible for their part. Often the community group is run by volunteers who are grateful and more than happy to help optimise your sponsorship, but they need some clear guidelines on what they should do. This should all be documented in your contact.  From there you should be looking for ways you can connect with their membership base. Some ideas that you should be considering:

  • Inclusion of a story in their newsletter
  • Sharing of your social media posts
  • Promoting you on their social media
  • Advertising around the club or other location
  • Placement on their website
  • Sales material kept on site

 

Having tangible collateral such as promo items, flyers, or business cards that members can take home with them is an extremely effective way to further engage with members beyond the club, school or group. This keeps your franchise top of mind – and that is the goal.

Depending on your business type and the nature of your sponsorship, finding ways to extend the sponsorship to include face to face contact with members is recommended. We call this leveraging the sponsorship, and where possible, you should allocate a budget to these activities. This may include days where you can sample products with members, could be a referral style program where funds go back to the club if a member buys from you, or could just be extra presence on a particular day where you and your staff can meet members personally.

Finally, make sure you are sharing and promoting the activities of the community group you sponsor. Promotion is a two-way street, and most groups would love extra exposure to attract new members or promote their cause. You also get to showcase your support as you do this.

Need Help?
We know that planning and activating community engagement events or sponsorships can be complex, but that doesn’t change how valuable they can be. The Marketing Lab has a series of tools that can help you select and plan your community engagement activities yourself, including contract templates and suggested ideas to maximise your exposure and ROI from the event.

If you prefer more support, our team of marketing specialists can help you manage the entire process from end to end.  We’ve managed hundreds of local community engagement pieces and are perfectly placed and experienced to help you identify the right club or community group for your business.  We can also source promotional products and source staff for you event. Our national buying power with our media partners means we can help you strategically advertise your involvement in the local community.

For more info, please contact us on 07 3088 3021.

This article was written by TJ McKenzie.

1811 Foot Traffic WEB

If you were to ask Google for ideas on driving foot traffic to your business, you’d be flooded with suggestions like “run a massive sale” or “hold a VIP event”. Then there’s advice to do a letterbox drop or boost a Facebook post to spread the word.

Sure, from time to time there might be an unexpected change in your business that prompts a more reactive approach to attracting customers. If you have seasonal demands in your business, your franchisor might organise something specific for your brand to drive an increase in foot traffic, but as a whole, getting customers through the door is no longer a discrete or standalone activity.

Customers today are overwhelmed with choice so getting a potential customer through your door is no longer the end game: ensuring they buy from you is. Customers travel through a series of steps before they even set foot inside a local business and every step further defines their buying experience with you. Each part of the journey has a different objective, requires a different message, and uses different marketing channels. If you are focusing your marketing efforts solely on driving foot traffic, you are missing out on opportunities to engage and connect with your customer.

The Marketing Lab segments this customer journey into 5 stages.

Stimulus

This is about advertising and helping a potential customer identify their need for your product or service. This covers the brand campaigns that your franchisor is doing on your behalf, it’s the social media paid ads you run, and it’s the bus stop signage and the letterbox drops you do. All of these things contribute to helping a customer realise they have a need and that your business can meet those needs.

Search

Once a customer has recognised they have a need, the next step is to look for a business to fulfil that need. This may come days, weeks or months after they’ve seen your (or your competitors!) ad, so your business must be easy to find. The physical location of your business, signage and in centre directories, and your online presence all matter here.

Reputation

Once a customer has found you, they are likely to try to validate if you are the best choice for them. We’ve known for a long time that referrals are powerful, but now public consensus can sway a purchase decision and impact your brand. Now, more than ever your online reputation is vital. Supporting and engaging with your local community, keeping your social channels fresh and on brand and acknowledging positive and negative reviews are all ways you can improve your potential customer’s opinion of you.

Conversion

This is the magic that happens at point of purchase. Being a part of a franchise brand, you already have a big head start in this space over non-franchise businesses. Your product and services have been refined and your systems and process facilitate a great transaction. Customer service and how your staff interact with your customers is where you should focus your attention.

Experience

The experience your customer has with your business continues after the purchase itself and the fact is, it costs less to connect with an existing customer than it does to find a new one. Loyalty programs, NPS, VIP Events and nurture programs all encourage your customers to come back.

A significant advantage to owning a franchise is you have a powerful brand behind you that immediately builds credibility for your business. Your franchisor is also likely to be taking care of some of your marketing initiatives at each stage of the customer journey which is fantastic. As you get closer to the customer purchase point, local area marketing becomes more and more about your story, and this is where you can really drive results for your business!

Build out a marketing plan, align it to your franchisor marketing activities, and start with small steps to improve how you connect with your customers at each stage of their journey.  Focusing on each step in the customer journey will build stronger relationships and there’s a good chance that you’ll have more than strong foot traffic, you’ll have a strong bottom line.

 

This article was written by Kelli Ponting and published in Issue 31 VOL6 of Inside Franchise Business.

LOP

One of the big advantages of owning a Franchise is having a recognisable brand name behind you to support your marketing. Big brands are powerful and immediately build credibility for your business. Successful franchisees understand that it is the ability to extend that brand into their local market that really helps drive more enquiry and opportunity specifically to their store. But what is the best way to do this successfully?

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Google Business

As a Franchisee your parent Franchise is likely to be investing heavily in Google AdWords to drive leads and traffic to your business. With the recent revamp of Google My Business you can make sure that locally, your business is at the top of the organic (unpaid) results.  This is because recently the Google algorithm has changed and local relevance is king!

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