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5 Ways Franchisees Boost Brand Marketing Like No Algorithm Can

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Michael Morris

Franchisees want to have a voice when it comes to their franchise brand’s marketing strategies, especially when it concerns how their national marketing fund, co-op and local marketing contributions are being spent. 

The initial reaction from the franchisor’s corporate marketing team is often to roll their eyes. As it turns out, while local franchisees may not be marketing experts they actually provide value and insights that a corporate marketing team thousands of miles away simply cannot. Today, franchise marketers are beginning to solve their main marketing problem by utilizing technology-based SaaS solutions to improve overly broad programmatic advertising that doesn’t address the needs of every unique location and benefit them all equally. In franchise and multi-location systems, brands are at their best when marketing is a true partnership. Applying the expertise of a corporate marketing team and integrating it with the local community and customer knowledge gained by franchise owners can be a powerful combination. Local franchisee input can have a huge impact on their small business digital marketing results and tip the scales in ways that an ad serving algorithm simply cannot. 

Here are 5 ways our QSR brand partners have boosted marketing campaigns with input from their franchisees.

Side, Side, Everywhere a Side

You’ve seen the maps of favorite Thanksgiving side dishes by state. Regional and local community food preferences are real even across the most established national brands. Try to recall the last ad you’ve seen from your favorite QSR brand. Ever wonder how the side item image is chosen to accompany the main entrée offer? In the past, it’s typically been predetermined on a regional or DMA level. Unfortunately, all locations had to simply live with whatever was broadly selected for them. Until now. One of the biggest drivers of local success for a national $5.99 sandwich promo has been to allow every location to determine which side dish is shown on the ads being served in their community. In California, where healthier eating is the norm, a healthy side salad resonates most with customers. However, in Wisconsin the preferred choice might be beer-battered cheese curds while other markets may prefer fries, jalapeno chips or oatmeal raisin cookies.  Local restaurant owners know their community best when it comes to their preferences and should be given the power to make data-driven decisions based on their local side item sales. Thanks to sophisticated marketing platform technologies, it’s now easier than ever for franchisees to incorporate preferred side item choices into their local ads.

The Psychology of Color

There is something to be said about the psychology of color in marketing. Perhaps no choice is as vital to marketing success as the colors you use. Whether selecting the color for a specific product or background in a digital marketing ad, there is no doubt that color has a significant effect on all of us subconsciously. Color can often be the sole reason someone purchases a product. This was the opinion of one of our brand’s franchise owners. He wanted to alter the brand creative for his community, which originally had a very “blue-heavy” image. He wanted red, not blue. Why? Because the local high school colors are red while the hated rivals across town were blue.

To be able to leverage his local insights based on knowing his customers preferences, the franchisee was able to have a voice in his local marketing campaign. Customizing an ad color that would resonate more with his community would help influence their purchase behavior and drive more revenue to his local franchise business. A good idea turned into a great idea once backed by results, causing the brand to offer this option to all of their locations moving forward.  

To Serve & Protect

With varying local regulations dictating how restaurants can re-open post COVID-19, the need for flexibility in advertising has never been more necessary. Moreover, many franchise brands are leaving decisions about dining room access, delivery and pick-up options to the local store owners. Utilizing our platform, corporate marketing teams are setting marketing program rules at the national level and then allowing each store to select which type of service they want to promote in their localized creative: Curbside Pickup or Zero Contact Delivery? Do the stores provide standard drive thru ordering or have they pivoted to now set up a makeshift drive thru in their parking lot allowing for cash-free payments via a tablet. Getting the message just right in every community is extremely nuanced and important. Although it’s too soon to learn from the results in each community, the ability to be agile to meet franchisees’ unique advertising needs and operational challenges during this time period has been critical.

Nothing Beats Late Night Pizza 

When some of us are turning in for the night, there’s a whole other segment of the population just getting their night started. For some, a night out isn’t complete until their late night cravings are satisfied. When there’s a demand to be met, savvy QSR owners need to be ready to capitalize. Some stores in certain markets are allowed to be “open late” with extended hours of operation. This has worked well in college towns…where it’s pretty much a proven fact that college kids are the top consumers of late night pizza. Giving stores the ability to select whether or not to serve creative ads specifically promoting “open late” hours in their community during specific promotions has proven to be successful in many markets. Think back to when you may have been in college, hungry while staying up late cramming for exams during finals week. Brands that can reach that audience with the right offer and right message at the right time on the right channel, can feed and win a customer for life. Well, for 4 years at least. This is a great example of allowing owners to support their local business priorities as they see fit in their unique markets.

The Perfect Marriage: Local Budgets Tying the Knot with the Brand’s National Buying Power

One of the most basic needs for national digital marketing programs to work in every community is for each location to have their own local budget. Why, you may ask? This configuration ensures algorithms work hard to deliver on individual unit KPIs as opposed to overly broad programmatic setups that only drive spends towards top performing locations. After all, not every location is within the tri-state area! Simply allowing local owners to select local budget levels for their location(s) within pre-set brand parameters – and make the decision as to which of their many locations to steer money towards – has been a huge win for our QSR brands. Certain stores bring in more revenue that they can reinvest back into marketing, while other stores may be struggling and could use a budget infusion to kick-start their marketing efforts to drive traffic. Needs and goals vary, which is why individual marketing budgets that can still leverage the national buying power of the brand will help stretch a local franchisee’s marketing dollar further while delivering a positive ROI. 

We’re excited to see the creative ways brands are empowering local owners with increased access and options when it comes to building their local marketing campaigns. The ability to personalize and customize a message that’s more relevant to local customers ultimately benefits the customer. It solves their problem and gets them the product they need. In turn, franchisees and the brand will profit as a result. If you’re looking for ways to support local owners with brand-directed marketing that they can customize for their locations, we can help.


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