I have to start with a quick story… I use to work for a corporation with over 10,000 locations world wide. Some of the locations were corporate owned, some were owned by franchisees. My role was in corporate marketing and my responsibilities included franchise marketing. The member of our creative services team who was responsible for reviewing and approving the franchises’ self-created marketing materials sat adjacent to my office.
I still giggle every time I think about the “creative” language she utilized many times a day to describe what she received to review: distorted logos, misspellings, horrendous color combinations, and my all-time favorite offer: “Free puppy with every purchase!”
Technology has advanced rapidly to make the management of marketing materials faster, easier and more controlled for companies with distributed locations, marketing staff and field sales. The solution that is central to improving the quality of branded communications comes in many shapes and sizes and has many names like: marketing asset management, communications portal, print on-demand, web-to-print, and digital asset management.
For organizations that are still concerned that a marketing communications portal will be destructive instead of constructive, let’s look at some of the biggest fears:
Big Fear 1: My brand and brand message will be distorted.
All good communications portals come with the power to give you the brand control you need, while making the user feel like they have great customization abilities.
Big Fear 2: There’s a lack of quality data and mailing lists at a local level.
This may be true, but you can help them obtain new lists. Even better, hook-up the data and list service you want them to use. You can even program in targeted tools that enforce best practices.
Big Fear 3: They (the field, location, and marketing managers) will spend too much.
If budget isn’t controlled by the franchisee, or location level budgets are not in place, expenses can be monitored and limited through your marketing portal. Spending limits may be set by order, user or location within the communications portal.
Big Fear 4: After investing in a communications portal, it is not utilized and doesn’t produce a positive ROI.
This is the opposite problem to number three above, and the problem most likely encountered when implementing localized marketing. This problem has to be addressed before you implement a communication portal. Conduct user testing with the proposed tool before buying. Make sure your users can easily understand how to navigate the system and know exactly what to do. Next, plan out an implementation and user adoption program to encourage interaction with the communications portal or asset management system. And although this is common sense, after you implement the communications portal, the old way of doing things has to be eliminated. Aberdeen Group recently released research on Print On-Demand that proves the positive impact it has on ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment.
Big Fear 5: They aren’t savvy enough to know what to do.
Even an easy-to-use system doesn’t make up for the lack of marketing expertise required to conduct local marketing initiatives. Or does it? If the system can be set up to support best practices and be specific enough that the localized marketer or franchisee knows exactly what to do, even lack of marketing know-how can be overcome.
Empowering Your Most Devoted Marketers: Your Local Representatives
Up to this point, this entire article has studied negative things that can happen when marketing is conducted at a local level. I have also worked for a franchise owner and seen thousands of franchisees and location managers in action. Who takes on the most responsibility for each location to be successful? It’s the local manager, sales person, franchise owner, and each and every employee associated with that location. Sorry corporate, it is not you.
The unfaltering commitment that these individuals possess to make their business a success is enormous. For companies to not take advantage of that from a marketing perspective is a detriment to the success of the company and franchise owner.
If you don’t give marketing control, you don’t get motivation for success by the very people who interact with the customer each and every day. Individual locations always feel their market situation is different, their competition is different, their employee base is different, and so they need to feel that they can control the marketing and sales approach to be different, even if it is not.
With the right tools, a communications portal being the main one, you can give your locations and franchisee all they need to conduct relevant, localized marketing, while keeping the control you need to build a consistent national or world-wide brand. So what’s holding you back?