Creating an effective marketing strategy is difficult under the best circumstances. The number of variables and options are seemingly endless. When you are working with multiple locations the difficulty is compounded. Add to that multiple locations with multiple owners – franchise or jobber groups – and the difficulty is not just compounded but exponentially more complicated!
Having worked with multi-unit business models for over fifteen years we have identified best practices that should be included in every multi-location marketing strategy. These best practices can be applied to every industry across any geographic location.
Keep It Simple
Whenever dealing with multiple locations it is best to keep your programs simple and easy to implement. When marketing programs become too complicated, they lose the support of the individual units and become ineffective. This is especially true when running price/product promotions or other promotions where rebates may be involved. The more moving pieces a program has and the more you require the individual units to do, the less likely successful implementation becomes.
Communication is Key
When developing multi-location strategies communication is the key to successful outcomes. Communicating program and marketing details well ahead of time is essential. We have seen many great programs fail simply because not enough notice was given. The communication timeframe should allow locations to prepare to implement the programs. In many cases this should be a minimum of four to six weeks before a program is to go live.
The content of the communication and distribution methods are also important. Making sure there is an explanation of WHY a program is being run, expected outcomes, and clearly defining the individual location’s action items enhance the likelihood of effective implementation. When individual locations understand why a program is being run their overall outcomes improve by a factor of more than 50%.
The communication delivery method is just as important as the content of the communication. Just as you would not utilize only one platform to market to potential customers, you cannot utilize only one platform to communicate with individual locations. We often hear from individual locations that they were not aware of programs because an email went unopened. Leverage the plethora communication methods to ensure locations are aware and ready to execute. This includes electronic mail (email), automated calls, text messages, intranet sites/portals, social media groups, and many other communication platforms.
Don’t Become Stagnant
When working with new multi-unit clients we often hear comments from individual locations like “we just keep doing the same thing” and “why aren’t we doing something different?” The easy answer is to simply say what we’ve always done works. There may be truth in that statement; however, individual locations are often aware of new technologies, social platforms, and other marketing trends. When the overall strategy stagnates, the future effectiveness is diminished often due to a lack of buy-in and execution at the local level. Keeping abreast of the marketing landscape and implementing strategy enhancements will demonstrate to individual locations that their marketing plan is current and proactive.
Not every program or promotion is applicable everywhere. When designing your multi-unit strategy consider how applicable the strategy and specific programs are across your network. If it isn’t applicable in most locations, don’t run the program at all locations. This may seem like a “no-duh” statement but we often work with businesses that have implemented organization-wide programs because of single unit success. This can have disastrous effects if the program isn’t thoroughly vetted with an eye towards applicability.
This is often the most overlooked best practice when dealing with multi-unit marketing. The need to have “boots on the ground” ensuring the proper implementation of your marketing strategy is essential. Relying on District Management teams with little or no actual marketing experience can do more harm than good. Having dedicated marketing experts assisting your locations with their local execution of the marketing strategy will take your marketing effectiveness to the next level. These marketing experts become investments directly linked to an actual return on investment.
The complexity of creating effective multi-unit marketing strategies can be daunting. These best practices will give you a solid foundation to build your strategy on. If you are looking to make your multi-unit marketing more effective Arthur Elliott Marketing Group has the experience to help. We have worked with multi-unit businesses of every size, from a few locations to multi-billion-dollar corporations with multi-locations. Contact us today to see how we can help your organization!
Martin Valenti, the Vice President of Arthur Elliott, is the industry leader for creating, implementing and measuring the success of comprehensive marketing campaigns across multiple platforms that drive and leverage national brand and actionable customer campaigns. His strategic vision has been adopted by all 30 regions of a Fortune 200 retail franchise client.