In our recent article about social media reviews, we noted that comments from one market can affect traffic and sales in other parts of your organization. This is an example of ways that the connected world can disrupt the goals of a restaurant brand. For this reason and more, it’s important to consider the ways in which local store marketing can shape brand perception.
True, your brand might exist across a city, a market, a region, a country or beyond. But this doesn’t take the focus off the need to win at the location level. Each location has to appeal to the consumers nearby who compare to other options. The whole shooting match. Whether you have 5 stores or 500, losing to local competitors means losing system-wide.
In your neighborhood, think about the independent restaurant that always has a wait. It certainly isn’t out-marketing the global brand across the street, yet there’s no line at Olive Garden. In fact, it may not be doing any local store marketing at all. Except it is. By having staff who care about the place, and the customers. By hosting meals for local groups. Even offering discounts through their neighborhood commerce association or those amateurish flyers on the cork board at the dry cleaner. By serving good food people like, and treating them nicely without having to explain that something is the way it is because of ‘corporate.’
But let’s redefine ‘local store marketing.’ It’s not marketing. It’s just caring. The difference between a conference call about store #1189 and this store on Franklin Avenue. Near Willow Road Elementary. With Cub Scout Pack 362. Next to a Dunkin’ Donuts, a Friendly’s, a Chase bank branch, a PathMark and two independent garden centers. Knowing that level of nuance helps the operator better prepare their staff for the daily visitors.
Having a plan to execute at a neighborhood level can help overcome flaws in the brand level marketing. Failing to execute on local store marketing even once can undo the best loved brand work. It’s not about getting everything right. It’s more about limiting what goes wrong, or more importantly owning it when something does go wrong. Because it certainly will.
Local store marketing is less a function of marketing than it is of operations. Because the best local store marketing that is done is good execution at the location level. From a tactical perspective, sophisticated campaigns and materials delivered to franchisees or to regional managers are a helpful way to drive the brand message into communities. What happens if that works and the store experience falls flat?
But when a customer walks in without seeing any marketing and has a great experience, another outcome can be predicted. That customer becomes an advocate. They make connections. They look for ways to tell people or bring people in.
When beginning planning for local store marketing campaigns, where do you start? With the marketing objectives? Instead, consider the community objectives that match your brand. Typically, marketing starts with the brand but the best always starts with the customer. In this case, the customer is the entire community. Create a program for managers to think about the neighborhood and choose ways to fit the brand into the community. Do it right, and the locals will find ways to fit themselves into the brand.