Let’s face it – traditional outbound, or “Push” marketing tactics (TV, Radio, Outdoor, and Print ads; Direct Mail; Telemarketing) are pricey for franchises, and more importantly these old-fashioned approaches of attracting customers are steadily becoming less effective. Moreover, franchisees are demanding their franchisors provide the most effective marketing tools available, and more and more they’re looking to the Web. Before I continue…Yes – traditional advertising/marketing does have an impact on brand awareness, it will net you a small (difficult to measure) percentage of sales, and it’ll never completely disappear.
But for the sake of your franchise’s unit-level profitability, your franchisees’ satisfaction (and sanity), your end-customers’ attention span, and the good standing of your own job, it’s critical to understand the paradigm shift in consumer behavior that continues to rapidly proliferate: consumers are increasingly ignoring Push marketing, and embracing inbound, or “Pull” marketing.
What is “Pull” Marketing?
Pull Marketing (also known as “Inbound” or “New Media”) focuses on understanding the underlying interests and needs of a target market, and distributing value-driven content (such as articles, videos, and expert advice) through selective channels to only attract qualified, interested customers. Social Media, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM or PPC), Blogs, and Email are the typical vehicles of Pull Marketing.
The audience is much more concentrated, ignoring the masses who are not immediately interested, and the messaging is anything but a sales pitch. Rather, the messages address issues that are top of mind for consumers at that moment, giving them genuine value, and a reason to share your content with their networks and contact you to learn more.
With an ever increasing number of ways for consumers to easily ignore advertising and find the information they want quickly online, Pull Marketing is consistently increasing in effectiveness and ROI.
What Caused the Shift From Push to Pull
In a word, the Internet. Until the early 2000’s when the Internet exploded into mass popularization in consumer and B2B markets, the tried-and-true methods for businesses to market to consumers was through traditional advertising and PR – after all, aside from a phone call, in-person store visit, or an event, these were the only real channels of communicating to customers. And for a long time, this worked just fine. Consumers received ads without a big fuss, and they were fairly effective at generating sales, albeit nearly impossible to accurately track.
But as advertising messages became more and more prevalent in virtually every aspect of daily life (even at urinals in some cases), we as consumers became immune to them, and started to subconsciously filter and tune out anything that smelled of advertising or sales. Then TiVO, DVRs, satellite radio, email, and countless other filtering mechanisms empowered us to ignore advertising even more easily.
More than anything, the Internet is what has had the greatest effect. Through search engines and social networks, consumers have all of the information they need right at their fingertips, and no longer want or need unwanted ads to tell them about products or services – they find out about them on their own terms.
Integrated Marketing is the Key – Engage Customers, Don’t Sell Them
So should you completely cut your traditional marketing budget, and tell franchisees to only focus on online marketing? No! What’s important is that you take the time to truly understand your customers interests, needs, likes, dislikes, and how, when and where they like to gather information.
Then you can develop a strategy for creating ongoing value-driven content that will directly align with these elements, and selectively choose the channels that will most effectively reach your target audience. Once this strategy is defined and tested, it’s time to empower franchisees with the tools and training they need to effectively market to, and connect with, their local customer base.
Still seem confusing, and unsure how to take the next step? Give us a call or email (877.803.4213 – firstname.lastname@example.org) – we eat, sleep, and breath this stuff every day, and would be more than happy to offer advice and point you in the right direction.