Effective local marketing is key to the success of a new franchise. Belvoir Lettings marketing manager Reena Patel provides her top 10 tips
Belvoir has been operating as a successful franchise since 1996. The company recently won the gold award for best UK Lettings Franchise at the 2013 Lettings Agency of the Year Awards in association with The Sunday Times and The Times.
We have a wealth of experience on how to maximise the potential of new Belvoir businesses and help franchise owners build a strong trading performance. Here are our top 10 tips:
If you are working in a service industry, it is the trust and relationships that develop between people that will sell, so ensure all marketing material is personal, approachable and professional. Belvoir recently created a new style of advertorials and the design focuses on showcasing our franchise owners as local experts.
Ensure marketing initiatives can be monitored - whether by use of a separate telephone number for each advert, promotional codes or personalised URLs. This will enable you to identify how much traffic goes to a particular page. All Belvoir’s national advertising uses a separate telephone number, which is answered by a call service. Each month we receive reports of who called and the follow up action.
Easy does it
Every marketing initiative should have a call to action. How will you know what is working if you don’t give your audience some method of getting in touch? Whether this is ‘call us now’ or ‘visit our website’, make it easy for customers to find you. Belvoir’s adverts contain telephone numbers, web address and postal address, all of which are easy to find. For example, the mobile version of Belvoir’s website allows users to call by clicking on a telephone number or email the offices instantly.
If you use online marketing, give careful consideration to landing pages. Do the pages you direct customers to give them what they want? If an advert says ‘click here for a free widget’ and then goes to a page where that isn’t mentioned, people are likely to click straight off that page.
On Belvoir’s social media accounts, uploaded stories include a link to the rest of the story, which is hosted on an office’s microsite. This drives relevant traffic to a franchisee’s page by creating teasers on our Facebook and Twitter pages, allowing people to read more if they are interested and hopefully click across to other pages on the website.
Keep it local
When talking to clients, use local terminology and language and ensure local customers associate you with being part of the community. For example, in Grantham Belvoir Lettings is pronounced ‘Beever’ Lettings due to a local mispronunciation years ago, so it is always verbally referred to as Beever Lettings, but spelt Belvoir Lettings. It’s confusing, but Grantham, Leicester and Nottingham residents wouldn’t recognise Belvoir and, likewise, calling us Beever Lettings elsewhere in the country would cause uncertainty.
Connect with your community by taking part in local activities such as charity events. Belvoir’s Northwich office recently hosted a charity golf day in its area, working with local businesses to increase awareness, and raised over £3,000. Belvoir Melton Mowbray hosts an annual charity fun day and raises at least £1,000 each year.
There are many local and national business awards around the country. If there is anything relevant to your business, get in touch and see how you can become an award winning business. It’s a great way to gain recognition for your work and you can benefit from third party PR.
Belvoir Telford’s office recently won the Outstanding Customer Service award at the Shropshire Business Awards 2013, while Belvoir Hitchin has been recognised at national industry award level. Both offices found the publicity invaluable.
Leaflets, flyers, postcards, press adverts - do they work? Don’t write off traditional marketing because it’s expensive, but research what your audience is paying attention to. Our corporate owned Grantham office is in a small market town and thousands of copies of the Grantham Journal are sold each week. If we pulled our advertising, we would potentially miss out on a huge local market, so we alternate between a weekly full and half page to maintain a local presence.
For those who do it well, social media is a very cost effective marketing method. However, most people think dabbling in social media is only for kids and assign the most junior person in the office to manage it. But consider this: would you allow the same person to speak to an audience of 200 of your customers about your brand? No? Then why give them the responsibility to broadcast to potentially millions of people online in public arenas that are permanently available? Once something is posted online, it is live for anyone to see and can be extremely difficult to delete.
Take the time and effort to learn about social media channels, research what current and future customers are paying attention to and how they interact with businesses. If you set up and manage social media properly, you don’t have to spend hours on it every day and the benefits could be huge.
I currently manage social media accounts for several of Belvoir’s national accounts and have created templates for local offices to copy using a social media handbook and social media policy - a set of guidelines for offices to follow.
It is often difficult to determine the exact origins of a lead, no matter how hard you try to monitor it. You can usually tell if something’s not working well because of the low response rate, so consider another way of doing it or ask your customers what they think is working. After all, they are your audience and will tell you the truth.