Key Initiatives for IFA's Marketing and Innovation Committee | International Franchise Association

Key Initiatives for IFA's Marketing and Innovation Committee



A new team of all-stars rebuilds FranTech and brings higher-quality, innovation-focused educational opportunities to franchise development, marketing and operations professionals.


By Sherri Fishman, CFE


Previously called the Marketing and Technology Committee, IFA’s Marketing and Innovation Committee is a working committee consisting of franchisors, suppliers and franchisees who are marketing, digital marketing, operations and PR professionals who serve as an extension of IFA’s Marketing and Communications Department. Together, the purpose is to contribute to the success of two main IFA events: FranTech and the Digital Marketing Summit.


With its 20-plus year history, this committee has helped IFA’s marketing team move the needle on new social and digital strategies. This past year, though, has experienced some of the most exciting developments since the committee’s inception.


Elevating the committee


With the appointment of BrightStar Care CEO and Founder Shelly Sun, CFE, to IFA Chair for the 2017-2018 term, a renewed energy was brought to the committee due to her dedicated focus on building stronger marketing initiatives. For starters, she renamed the committee to encompass the broader function both marketing and new technologies play in franchising.


To make sure the committee receives the attention needed to drive positive results, an IFA board member was named to lead the committee as chair for the first time in its history. And, a new mission for the committee was created to keep the newly assembled team focused: To educate IFA members on best practices in marketing, technology and innovation to drive member company performance and efficiency by leveraging digital platforms and other innovative tools to promote franchising and the IFA to internal and external audiences. 


Sun also needed a high-caliber marketing professional to drive her vision and was part of the committee that recruited Beth Dailey to lead the IFA’s Marketing and Communications Department as Vice President of Marketing. With Sun, Dailey and an all-star team of committee members, the Marketing and Innovation Committee has been working feverishly to “shake things up” and make strategic improvements.


A new FranTech, the Franchise Innovation Conference


For those who attended the 2017 FranTech conference in October, you likely noticed some of the changes the committee has already implemented. The conference itself was completely restructured and rebranded as “FranTech: The Franchise Innovation Conference,” with three tracks: franchise development, franchise operations and marketing. The continued goal is to increase value for IFA members, and the new programming allows the opportunity for three different sets of franchisor roles to experience educational sessions geared directly toward their core duties, but all under the same theme: innovation. In fact, this year’s FranTech was the first conference outside the annual IFA Convention that caters directly to franchise professionals in operational roles.


A special taskforce within the Marketing and Innovation Committee designed the new programming and carefully selected a powerful group of speakers, many of whom are industry veterans who rarely speak at franchise events. The roster included top tier talent, a few Undercover Bosses, and representatives of large franchisors including Subway, Winmark Corporation and TGI Fridays.


With so much “new blood” sharing the stage at FranTech, more thought-provoking ideas and strategies consumed each day with topics like: driving profits through mobile apps and voice activated speakers, tackling technology in a growing franchise brand, using data to refine consumer and franchise development strategies, creating an engaging environment outside your store, and ways to use technology in the sales process to find the right franchisee, faster. Sherif Mityas, CIO and Vice President of Strategy and Brand Initiatives for TGI Friday’s, Inc., also presented a case study on the company’s winning campaign that designated them the overall winner of this year’s Second Annual FranTech Awards.


With participants from entry-level to C-suite positions, the new Franchise Innovation Conference is intended for all levels to learn the latest innovative strategies in an intimate setting and leave armed with forward-thinking strategies and tactical ideas that can significantly move their franchise forward. The hope is for franchise professionals, who traditionally are unable to attend conferences, to find significant educational and networking value in this three-day event.


The best part: this conference is only going to get better. So, if you missed the 2017 conference, be sure to mark your calendars for next October (keep an eye out for the 2018 date announcement at



Digital Marketing and Technology Summit


Consistently boasting close to 600 attendees each year, the popular Digital Marketing and Innovation Summit will make its return at the 2018 IFA Convention on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 8:30 a.m. MT. The three-hour summit will address the latest trends in digital marketing and the tools franchise companies need in today’s ever-changing marketing landscape. Beginning with case studies from leading franchising companies, such as Pearle Vision, attendees will learn what is working in franchise marketing campaigns and what ideas to scrap. Three rounds of 40-plus roundtable topics will close out the summit, providing an intimate setting to learn more tools-of-the-trade.


Investing in insights, digital and data


Knowing that data and digital are critical to modern marketing, and are two areas where the IFA considerably lacked, Sun, along with other board members, is placing an emphasis on innovations and making serious strides to move the IFA’s infrastructure to the 21st century. Dailey and her team have been working closely with the Marketing & Innovation Committee to bring advanced approaches to fruition that will succeed in the team’s vision of a delightful member experience that is both engaging and relevant.


Over the next 12 months, the IFA will continue its build-out of a basic operational marketing foundation, collecting performance data that will be used for continuous improvement. You can expect a new digital ecosystem with the addition of a SaaS-based data platform that will include an evolving interactive web-platform, optimized based upon on-site behavior. Further, the integration of marketing automation will deliver communications reflected by member behavior and segmentation. Insights from these developments will drive brainstorm and strategizing sessions within the IFA to build more relevant member messaging, creative and products. These exciting initiatives will drive growth for years to come.


How you can get involved


The FranTech: Franchise Innovation Conference and Digital Marketing & Innovation Summit, was developed by IFA members like you, to share fresh, innovative approaches to common challenges franchisors face. The Marketing & Innovation Committee recruits new members each year, typically relying on referrals from franchisors and current members. While this is the case, the group recently added two new members who repeatedly attended the committee’s annual meetings as guests; their tenacity and persistence paid off.


The IFA also continuously seeks support when it comes to spreading the word about educational opportunities for members, as well as identifying marketing pioneers to share their expertise. If interested in supporting the IFA’s marketing efforts, contact Beth Dailey at to learn more about ways you can participate.  


Sherri Fishman, CFE, is the President and Founder of Fishman Public Relations. She is an IFA board member and Chair of the IFA Marketing and Innovation Committee. Contact Sherri at or visit