Solving The Execution Gap In Local Restaurant Marketing
Build a system to help franchisees execute marketing plans to increase sales, make more money, and open more units.
Do you want to increase same store sales, have profitable (& happy) franchisees, and accelerated new store openings?
Same store sales growth, happy franchisees, and new unit growth. For many restaurant brands, the lack of execution of local marketing is a big barrier to making that happen. When franchisees execute smart marketing plans aligned with the brand strategy, everyone wins.
The reality is most franchise systems struggle with consistent franchisee marketing execution despite a mandatory requirement to invest 1-4% of sales in local marketing. And keeping local/regional marketing programs on strategy and aligned with the brand can also be a challenge. Please raise your hand if that sounds familiar?
But the payoff of getting it right is big:
- More effective marketing = more sales.
- When existing stores are more profitable, franchisees will have cash and motivation build more.
- The faster those new stores generate positive cash flow, the sooner franchisees can build more.
Good execution = more sales and profit for everyone.
It’s a no-brainer, right? End of blog. Well, not really…
The Challenge for Restaurant CMOs
When I was leading national marketing for Pizza Hut and Wingstop, local marketing execution was consistently a challenge. We had a national calendar, local marketing programs, monthly promotions, and lots of brand assets. But we had no way to be hands-on to really partnering with franchisee to execute store level marketing.
Most corporate marketing teams deal with the local marketing execution one of 3 ways: the carrot, the stick, or avoidance.
- The Carrot: Create local programs, ask nicely & hope franchisees use them
- The Stick: Mandate local spending in the FDD, tax franchisees, and audit spending
- Avoidance: Ignore local and pretend national marketing works for everyone
Most corporate marketers will admit that none of these strategies actually work. They don’t address the root problem. Franchisees WANT to have effective local marketing programs. They know it grows their sales and leads to faster profitable openings. The issue is they don’t have the time and expertise to get it done.
The Real Issue – Lack of Resources
The problem is a lack of dedicated resources for localized marketing plans and execution – especially for franchisees with less than 20 locations:
- Corporate does not have the overhead to support a marketing team large enough to work with every location.
- Most franchisees don’t have enough revenue to support a dedicated team of experienced marketing experts.
- Advertising agencies aren’t set up to handle individual restaurants and small clients cost effectively.
At this point, you might be wondering if it’s worth it after all. It would certainly be easier to shift to a national or system-wide marketing plan and call it a day.
Does Local Marketing Really Matter?
Only if you want new customers.
Better local marketing means more sales and profit for franchisees and corporate. “One size fits all” national marketing programs can be good to support a brand. But the foundation of effective marketing is local. Consider that the main points in the customer decision funnel are all local driven:
- Local awareness
- Customers need to know your brand and what you do
- Brands struggle in new markets because they lack brand awareness
- Local visibility
- Even with great awareness, guests need to be able to find you when they search on mobile
- Are you visible on Google maps or review sites like Yelp?
- Local Reputation
- Your reviews and reputation are critically important. Those are all localized to your restaurant? Do you have a program?
- Trade Area Marketing
- Effective marketing programs are tailored to the dynamics of the trade area and customer demographics
- Community and local engagement creates trial and loyalty
- Local Activation
- System-wide programs are most effective when activated locally and in restaurant
- You best brand marketing assets are your restaurant interior and staff. How are you using them to improve your guest experience and drive loyalty?
Relevant Localized Marketing Wins
The good news is that local marketing is now more effective than ever.
A decade ago, many of the big national brands rushed to shift their marketing from local to national so they could get better TV advertising rates. And they stripped everything local to the bare bone and reduced marketing teams.
But because of rising importance of digital and social media, most are now scrambling to figure out how to be locally relevant to individuals and create relationships – which is what local marketing does.
Due to shifting consumer preferences, we are seeing the sales momentum swing back to the authentic local brand that connects while the big “national brands” and their TV promotions are seeing declining sales and closing stores.
The Solution? Invest In Customized Local Marketing
The solution is to provide resources to create customized local marketing plans for every location based on:
- Business objectives
- What are the 2-3 key levers for each location
- Trade Area opportunities and challenges
- Brand strength and competitive dynamics can vary widely
- Every trade area presents unique opportunities based on competitive dynamics and makeup of the trade area
- Location guest dynamics
- Guest dynamics and daypart mix can vary significantly between locations
- Life stage challenges
- A new location in the first year needs different marketing and promotional support than a mature location
AND to providing foundational support in brand regard, local search and digital footprint:
- Review and Social media monitoring and response
- Local directories and local search and maps optimization
- Robust individual location pages and social media footprints
Overhead constraints can make resourcing true local plans difficult. But the payoff in same store and unit sales growth provides a healthy return on investment.
About Restaurant Performance Marketing
At Restaurant RPM, our mission is to provide a cost-effective solution to create and execute local marketing plans that align with and build upon brand strategies. We exclusively serve the restaurant industry.
RPM provides a virtual marketing team to franchisees and emerging restaurant brands that provides:
- A Dedicated Marketing Manager
- Custom Marketing Plans
- A Team of Restaurant Marketing Experts
- Cost Effective Solutions