The Evolving State of Franchise Marketing: Three Pillars to Live By — Part 3

Marketing

Pillar #3: Technology Integrations — The Marriage of Marketing & Operations

In part one of this series, we dove into the importance of identifying, communicating, and living a brand soul and ethos — the warm, beating heart of your franchise.  Part two delved into the nitty-gritty of deploying technology to drive efficient marketing execution at scale — the equivalent of your marketing organization’s central nervous system.

In this third and final part of our series, we’ll take a look at how the integration of digital marketing and operations technologies drive efficiencies, improve the franchisee and customer experience, and optimize marketing results. These harmonious integrations are the brains of your outfit, coordinating the business’ moving parts and pieces to ensure they all work together in perfect symbiosis.

The Marketing and Operations Divide

Marketers, are you in the room with your Operations team when they make decisions about new operational platforms?  Is your Ops team in the room with you when your team is selecting marketing technology solutions?  You may be saying to yourself, “Ops does their thing, we do ours.”  In years past, viewing the world with functional blinders on made sense.  Disconnected tech platforms operated in functional silos, and there was little that business leaders could do to improve upon these fundamental limitations.

In today’s world, Marketing and Operations are quickly moving past casual dating and entering into a committed, long-term relationship.  Still, too often they remain living in separate apartments and have yet to meet the parents.  When two different teams make decisions in a vacuum, removed from the downstream impact that those choices will have on the “other” functions of the business, unintended outcomes can occur.  Systems fail to talk to each other, resulting in a clunky and disjointed customer and franchisee experience.

Perhaps most importantly, marketing attribution runs into a brick wall at the “lead” stage of the customer journey. 

The ROI Dilemma

The marketing attribution problem is especially acute for franchises, particularly in their efforts to calculate return on investment (ROI) from their marketing campaigns. 

When reporting stops short of true performance, brand teams — who are recommending or even mandating solutions (sometimes paying for them out of a Brand Fund) — are placed in a compromising position.  Without acquisition data and the clear performance story that data tells, corporate teams can’t offer rock-solid proof of performance or confidently provide recommendations to franchisees based upon truly bottom-of-the-funnel results.

With these reporting limitations, franchisees are also placed in a vulnerable position.  Vendors can manipulate the data to put a happy spin on performance, tabulating duplicate leads (for example, multiple phone calls that come from the same number) and even spam or junk “leads”, and highlighting so-called improvements in lead generation.

How Tech Brings Marketing and Operations Together for Optimal Results

In earlier times, bumping up against these challenges was a cost of doing business.  Technology had not yet advanced to the point where a seamless connection of cross-functional platforms was an achievable goal.  But the times, they are a-changin’.

Today, every software provider worth their salt has created and opened up an application programming interface (API) to third-party platforms.  This enables, for example, your website to provide a smooth and consistent brand experience that allows visitors to engage, research, and convert into a customer all on a single, branded web property.

APIs also create data superhighways, sending lead information straight into databases that then track acquisition and customer value. This direct communication between marketing and ops systems then feeds that customer data back into the same lead gen platforms that initially generated the lead.

With that bottom-of-the-funnel data, marketing platforms can then optimize customer acquisition strategies and tactics based on what is really working to drive the highest ROI.  Performance conversations now can move from leads, to acquisition, to the highest value acquisitions.  Ultimately, the automation and optimization of customer experience and data takes the onus off of brand teams — both in terms of manual data compilation AND in telling a performance story to franchisees — and it helps to guard against subjective interpretations of marketing reporting.

When it all works as intended, a complex technology environment of multiple marketing and operations systems all look and feel like one unified whole. In other words, they work “automagically” to provide awesome customer experiences and to simplify and streamline the lives of your franchisees and brand teams.

In Conclusion: The Three Pillars

The franchise industry, and all of humanity for that matter, has entered into a new world.  Despite the many problems we personally and collectively face, this is a time of enormous opportunity.  We’ve all taken stock on a personal level, recalibrating our lives to focus on the things that truly matter: family, health, the simple joys of being alive.  Business leaders who similarly assess priorities and then reconfigure their businesses around their most essential functions will position their brands for success.

Defining and living the brand, leveraging powerful new technologies to automate and scale marketing programs, and connecting marketing and operations platforms via the wizardry of integrations — these three pillars equal more than the sum of their parts.  They will stand up your entire business, supporting healthy growth and even market dominance for years to come.

 

Justin Mink, CFE, is the SVP of Franchise Growth at Scorpion. His passions for branding and digital marketing has guided a career that includes owning an events company in Washington, D.C., brand marketing for USATODAY.com, leading the franchise team at digital marketing firm ReachLocal, cofounding the marketing technology start-up Music Audience Exchange, and serving as Chief Marketing Office as New Frontier Data. Mink has been with Scorpion for over four years. Most importantly, he is Kate’s husband, Jude’s dad, and best friends with Titan the mystery mutt. For more information about International Franchise Association (IFA) supplier member Scorpion, click here.