Community outreach and cross promotions are a fantastic way for local franchises to bring in a whole bunch of new customers at once. They typically involve an exclusive offer for members of a certain local community or workplace, and are a proven way to meaningfully increase franchise sales.
While profit is usually the ultimate objective, community-based promotions can also be used to build goodwill or form part of your corporate social responsibility policy. Beyond that, they are a great way for national franchised brands to become relevant at the local level.
Successful examples of community outreach and promotions:
- 30% off membership fees for all employees of the local hospital.
- Pay half price on groups of 10 when you join our March corporate fitness challenge.
- Free upgrade to Express delivery for all packages sent to the UK this week.
- Ambulance officers eat free (as part of a social responsibility initiative).
- 15% off for local junior sports club members.
Which communities should you target?
It pays to have a reasonably deep understanding of the local organizations you are looking to target. To successfully execute of a community outreach promotion, there are several things you’ll want to know:
- How many of them are there and what is the expected offer take-up? Are some existing customers already that I would have to extend the offer to?
- When and where do they gather?
- What is the best communication method to talk to them?
- Which offer would resonate with them?
- What emotional response are we trying to get?
- Do you have any useful contacts there already?
Thinking through these will help craft a proposition that really resonates with the community in question. Nail that and you are well on your way to increase franchise sales. Let’s look at some real-world examples.
- When targeting local companies, competitions often work a treat – even light-hearted ones. Example community promotion: group weight-loss challenges at a gym for employees at a company or business park.
- For special interest groups, the seasonality of their interest often provides the best ammunition for a strong call to action. For example, a club discount on riding gear for a motorcycle-owners club will prove popular as Spring breaks and they dust off their bikes.
- If you’re chasing sports clubs, food franchises offering club discounts for meals after the Saturday game is a sure-fire hit (especially with a free meal for the day’s MVP).
Target shift workers to fill quiet times
For many franchises, there’s value in identifying the poor performing times for your business and working backwards to find the right target groups. What if you could increase franchise sales by 20, 30 or 50 percent during your quiet times?
Not everyone works 9-5 Monday to Friday. Shift workers operate on a different, variable rhythm that can be very advantageous to service-providing franchises. While everyone wants to hit the gym at dawn or after knock-off, the gym sits barely used all day. The same can be said for meal times in chain restaurants.
Why not offer exclusive deals to shift workers such as nurses and factory employees if they visit between 9 and 5? They’ll love you for the exclusive offer, and you’ll have additional revenue rather than an idle gym.
Hire staff from target communities
One proven way to get great traction in local cultural communities is to hire staff from them, then offer staff ‘friends and family’ discounts.
Often recent migrants and cultural groups live in enclaves around our big cities. Amongst them, word-of-mouth is strong, and if you can successfully tap that network, you stand to win big.
Hiring from these communities provides several benefits for your business. Firstly, it gets you direct access to their community. Secondly, you’ll have an in-house consultant to advise the best events and forums to communicate on. And thirdly, you’ll have a translator if you need to produce brochures or handouts in other languages.
And it’s a win-win situation. You’ll increase franchise sales while the groups feel included and rewarded; your offer can even enhance their sense of community.
Making word-of-mouth work for you
Targeting the communities in your franchise catchment can provide a real multiplier effect to any new customer acquisition activities. In competitive market places, communities like to be recognized and rewarded. By providing exclusive offers and leveraging word-of-mouth and referrals, franchises have the opportunity to drive significant incremental income.