With COVID-19 causing havoc for many franchise owners and managers, your local marketing is essential to your location’s survival. While you may not be able to do anything about how your franchise spends its marketing dollar, you can control how you spend your local ones.
Find or Create Good Stories
The first thing that you should do is to find good local stories that you can help with or create one of your own. For example, if you are in the fast-food industry, and the local school district is giving away free meals, then see if you can provide part of the food for those meals or if you can use your commercial kitchen to help with food preparation. Then, market these stories to the local networks and on your social media so that your customers become aware of what you are doing.
Rethink Your Business Model
Many franchises are giving franchisees a break with being in complete compliance with franchise rules during the coronavirus epidemic, so think if there is an unusual way that your location can meet the needs of your local region. For example, if you own a hotel near an interstate, can you offer hot showers to truckers who do not need to rent a room or if your hotel’s location is near a hospital, can you give nurses and doctors a place to shower and change clothes before they go home safely. Once you have created a plan, tell others about what you are doing on your social media feed. You may earn your business some attention online, and the goodwill that you are generating will last long after the pandemic is over.
In terms of actually implementing these ideas, look through franchising resources to see what is possible.
This is a scary time for everyone. Therefore, you need to be calm during the storm. If you need to make changes to your business, such as limiting the number of people in your grocery franchise at one time, explain those changes on your website and your social media feed. People are much more likely to cooperate if they understand that you are complying with the law or following the advice of the CDC. While it may be tempting to strike out at political leaders during this time, keep those opinions to yourself so that you do not upset customers who may not share your point of view.
Build on Your Local Connections
People want to support local businesses during this time because they fear that those entities may not survive. Therefore, you need to find ways to show potential customers that you care about the community where your franchise is located. If you are a local franchise owner, explain how you live in their city, go to the same events frequently that they attend and support their children’s activities. You may want to do interviews with the media about this subject, share it on your social media accounts, and have your employees talk about how they love working there on their feeds.
Build on the Experience of Your Customers
When you are interacting with your customers on review sites, watch for customers who are using your products in unique ways, especially if those novel ways allow families to use your products at home or use them while social distancing. While many people are trapped at home, this is a great time to record marketing interviews where your customers are using your products. You can use Skype, Zoom, or some other format to record these interviews so that people do not have to leave their homes. Then, share these videos.
Think Outside the Box
Spend some time thinking about how you can reposition your products that can aid people during the coronavirus pandemic. For example, if you own a fabric store that is still open, can you give away fabric so that your customers can make masks or headbands to donate to local hospitals? If you own a distillery, is it possible that you can start making hand sanitizer? While you will probably need permission from the franchise, they may go along with you as it will generate good news for your location and the franchise.
This time will pass, but until it does, see what you can do to generate good news about your location. Then, use digital marketing to spread that good news. Your franchise will come out better now and in the long run.