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It is no secret that Franchising is about selling more franchises as a way to increase the distribution of your distinct brand offerings. The question is how do you effectively introduce your Brand to markets that have no context or relationship to it. More aptly put, how do you start building that Brand relationship with strangers. Unless your Ad Fund or Franchise Development Budget can handle a massive diversion of funds into traditional media spends and brilliant creative marketing campaigns over and over again, you’ll probably need to review smarter options that are more effective and leverage investments you make. It is not able spending less as much as what you do spend brings you the results you want – qualified leads and new brand exposure.
STEP ONE: As the Franchise Company take a moment to reflection and review upon your key Brand Principles and Values. If you have invested time, effort and energy into clarifying and understanding the Brand, constructing your blueprint for expansion into new markets will flow much more intuitively and have a greater chance for success. In a nutshell the Brand will be-able to act appropriately on first encounters to attract and build instant rapport with a new loyal audience if positioned properly in new environments.
STEP TWO: Use some non-conventional and innovative approaches to build communities of influencers that can express and share the Brand experience before they learn about your company or the business opportunity. Digital can certainly be the amplifier in this area, however you’ll need to clearly define how you’ll be using it, why you are using and what you want to measure in terms of lead generation and new customers.
STEP THREE: Find strategic partners that already ready have influence in your identified area and ask them what they are struggling with in terms of their business growth goals. Approach them in a win-win proposal that allows them to confidentially offer their database of influencers to lend creditability to your efforts. Third party referrals are always extremely valuable in bumping up your new business presences as well as getting qualified lead generation for your future area development marketing efforts.
With the above as a high-level roadmap or starting point, planning tactical execution into new markets will need a robust path of implementation:
TACTIC A - E-Commerce & Branded Product Extensions Whether you decide that building your own E-Com strategy is appropriate or you want to investigate the myriad of options that currently exist from both bricks & mortar retailers or on-line E-tail giants such as Amazon, getting a retail product version of your Brand available for purchase is a great way to introduce it to new regions and demographic groups.
With the world of e-commerce off-the-shelf-platform solutions exploding (www.shopify.ca or www.magentocommerce.com), most savvy brands are exploring retail brand extensions. Its benefits include the rich ability to track data on new markets like who is purchasing your product, their frequency and their location. Additionally you can directly target locations where you would like to develop Brand influence. What you develop in terms of a product will depend on what key brand messages you would like to amplify. If you are a QSR maybe a product the represents the colourful flavour of your recipes, if you are a Café concept perhaps you review a single service product line that people can brew daily in their work or home.
TACTIC B - Sponsorship & Brand Experience Brands that are service based or would do well in aligning themselves to regional events. Things such as a regional motorsports, charity events, or local community event sponsorships do well to create loyalty to an already dedicated fans base. As an example, Brands running regional NASCAR sponsorships, can expect to access a male to female ratio of 60/40. Out of that demographic the Companies sponsoring teams in local or regional NASCAR series can also expect anywhere from a 50-84% loyalty factor to their brand. The beauty of motorsports sponsors is you get a 2 for 1 deal in that you can run consumer promotions along side Franchise lead generation!
TACTIC C - Local Area Promotions & Brand Loyalty Finally running key promotions in the digital space that target the areas and demographics you would like to open is a third way to gain lift for your Brand. Through this you’ll find ‘Influencers’ or ‘Mavens’ – people who will advocate and recommend your Brand to others.
You can be extremely specific to the groups and regions you would like to introduce your Brand and business opportunities to, by using the power of social media sharing through these regional Influencers. By developing signature promotions that encourage users to “share and win” you can start down the path to acquiring leads that want to hear from you to on an on-going basis – marketing gold 101. In this way you now have an extend time period to tell a great story about your Brand, track dialogue about what that region’s database is responding to and what you should do next as a Franchise Company in terms of developing out a region.