(Ambrosio’s note: This is a guest blog post by MaKenzie Birchell, Client Marketing Representative for Bluewater Direct. For those of you who are still in the process of researching various franchise opportunities, your grand opening is probably many months away. But it’s never too early to start learning best practices — so that by the time you’re ready to open your doors for business, you’ll be hitting the ground running. Thank you, MaKenzie, for sharing so many great ideas on this guest blog post!)
If you’ve just invested in your first franchise, knowing how to market your new location can be one of the trickiest, yet most essential parts of making your investment a success. If you’re new to the franchise world and want your new location to rock, here’s a quick 5-step guide to becoming and staying successful.
1. Corporate Consultation
Owning your own business does provide a coveted level of independence, but it’s imperative to work closely with your corporate office during the inception of your location. No one wants surprises during this crucial time, so be sure to communicate with your corporate franchise consultant or marketing manager on a frequent basis to ensure a smooth opening process. Most franchisors have a step-by-step plan that may even include a pre-approved, proven marketing package to get you started.
2. Press Releases
As a general rule of thumb, you should have two separate press releases ready to provide to your local media. The first is your “Coming Soon” announcement, which is typically released once your location’s real estate is secured and you have a projected opening date. You may even receive an interview request, so have a few key points prepared that include your franchise’s brand messaging. The second release should go out immediately before you open. It’s best to wait and use a “Now Open” message, versus promising your future customers a date that might not pan out.
3. Local Listings
As soon as your real estate is determined, and you have an address, be sure to nab it through your local online listings! Even if your bricks and mortar don’t yet exist, you can create a buzz of excitement through your location’s community by appearing in local search results. Some great online directories to start with are Google Places, Bing Business Portal, Yelp, and Facebook Places. (Don’t forget to start your Facebook page right away to give updates on your construction progress and projected opening date!) Write a quick paragraph for the “about” section on these sites with your “coming soon” message.
4. Grand Opening
Because of the many steps involved, your official opening date can change. Sure, you might open a few weeks later than expected — but don’t underestimate opening earlier either. For large events like an opening, integrated campaigns with both online and traditional marketing are very powerful. You might use direct mail, flyers, and a newspaper ad, in addition to e-mail and social media. If you have an “opening” day and a separate “Grand Opening” event later, be sure to solidify plans for both events.
5. More Corporate Consultation/Continuous Marketing
Using corporate resources shouldn’t stop at your opening. Once the craziness of getting your doors open has quieted, start working with your corporate contacts to formulate your marketing plan and budget for the rest of the year. Use a calendar, or an online project and task management tool like OnePlace to keep your to-do’s in check. Continuous marketing is the most effective, not to mention that planning ahead saves you time and money!
MaKenzie Birchell is a blogger, community manager, and the Client Marketing Representative for Bluewater Direct, a leading provider of software and services for national brands with local direct marketing needs. Bluewater creates solutions that make direct marketing for franchises easy and effective. MaKenzie has extensive experience in the creation, implementation, and execution of direct marketing campaigns for franchise locations. For more marketing tips and tricks, check out MaKenzie’s work on the Bluewater Blog.