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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.