Note: This article was featured in Franchising World for their December 2017 Issue. If you would like to review the published digital version, you can do that here.

Keys to Obtaining Franchisee Opt-In on Your Direct Mail Programs

If you want to make direct mail programs work for your franchise brand, you need to understand why franchisees don’t typically opt-in to this marketing channel. Ultimately, it comes down to two factors:

  • Franchisees don’t have strong data to prove that the program works – If they don’t know it works, they won’t participate
  • Lack of Sales Force / Marketing Representative Engagement – If they are engaged and promote the programs heavily to franchisees, they will be used

Direct mail has a good story to tell. According to the DMA, the response rate for direct mail for all reported campaigns is 5.1% (compared to .6% email, .6% paid search, .4% social media, and .2% online display). The current response rate is the highest the DMA has ever reported since coming out with the Response Rate Report in 2003*. Direct mail is far from dead. In fact, many franchise brands are turning to direct mail campaigns because of high response rates and proven performance in generating sales and new customers, as well as retaining customers.

Here are some more thoughts on the keys to gaining participation in your direct mail programs.

Offer Direct Mail Programs That Are Proven Winners

To get your franchisees on board, your team needs to do their due diligence during development and testing of the direct mail program before inviting your franchisees to participate. Test! Test! Test! By taking the time to do this, you will present a strong case for them to invest their dollars in your program, which is half the battle.

Here are some examples of the type of data you should be ready to share with them:

  • How many test campaigns did you run?
  • What stores/locations were tested?
  • Did you integrate POS data points?
  • What were the size of the campaigns?
  • What offers were tested?
  • What were the results of the test campaigns, i.e. sales, margins, cost per new customer acquired or cost per lead generated?
  • What was the cost per campaign?
  • How does this method compare to other marketing channels, such as: email campaigns, paid search, social media campaigns, radio advertising, etc.?

When they are able to see the results, they will be more inclined to participate and advocate. It definitely helps to have franchisees provide solid reviews. Peer-to-peer testimonials work extremely well when rolling out new marketing initiatives.

Your franchisees aren’t the only ones who reap the benefits of having successful direct mail programs. By giving your franchisees the option to execute their own direct mail campaigns on brand portals with controlled brand parameters, your marketing department will have more time to focus on other marketing or sales initiatives. Your marketing team will not need to spend any time customizing offers, routes or mail materials because the franchisees can do that on their own with a few clicks.

Use Your Sales & Marketing Team as Key Influencers

There’s no way around it, your corporate sales and marketing team is a critical factor. Your team can easily influence participation, but only if they have the right tools at their disposal. By arming them with successful metrics from your test campaigns, your team will have everything they need to show your franchisees how direct mail programs will help them.

Your franchisee support representatives should be challenged to communicate program details and sign people up. They should be armed with fact sheets and collateral that help them tell the story. Multi-modal communication tactics should be employed. Provide them with reports that shows who’s in and who’s out and hold them accountable to achieving enrollment targets. If incentive compensation can be offered, that would be a plus.

Having your team reach out to your franchisees, with proven success stories and metrics is a must and the most effective way to get your franchisees signed up. We have seen it repeatedly, the highest participation levels occur in organizations where sales reps or field marketing reps sell the program to the franchisees or dealers.

Make Direct Mail Programs Easy to Use and Execute

In order to make something for your franchisees to use, you have to do your research. This involves asking your franchisees some of the following questions:

  • Do you currently use any of our direct mail programs? Why or why not?
  • Do you want marketing programs that you can from an online ordering website, enrollment/opt-in programs, or both?
  • What sort of performance reporting would you like to see?

Once you have their feedback, you can develop programs and approaches that align with their preferences and train them on the approaches. Before training anyone, make sure your franchisees understand the data from the testing stage so they’re more willing to try it out themselves.

Training can be handled in different ways—webinars, YouTube videos, sessions at upcoming conferences and more. The important thing to remember while training is that everyone learns differently. It may be helpful to communicate with your franchisees before setting anything up so you can learn what method each one prefers and give them a choice. This allows everyone to learn about the program, in the way that best suits them, and can reduce the need for franchisees to contact your marketing team.

Direct mail can provide powerful insights and results

Direct mail is often overlooked in the multi-channel marketing mix, but it shouldn’t be. Direct mail can provide incredible insights about your customers—particularly when integrating campaigns with your POS data. Careful thought needs to be given to tracking results.

By measuring your ROI on direct mail campaigns, you can easily see what’s working and which offers and approaches your customers prefer and respond to. Some of these tracking mechanisms include coupons, visiting a URL or PURL for an appointment or estimate, scanning a QR code or calling you directly. Your objective will help drive the appropriate option.

The possibilities of using direct mail are endless, but here are a few areas that could benefit from direct mail programs:

  • New Customer Acquisition
  • Driving Store Traffic
  • Loyalty or Reward Programs
  • New Product or Service Offering
  • Lapsed Customer Win-backs
  • Grand Openings
  • Special Events

Direct Mail Is Still Powerful

As you can see, direct mail campaigns can help achieve a broad range of marketing and sales objectives.

If you’re not currently running any direct mail programs for your franchisees, you may be missing a big opportunity for brand awareness, lead generation or sales. According to the DMA, 79% of consumers will act on direct mail immediately, compared to only 45% who say they deal with email immediately*. Studies show that direct mail and email, used in conjunction with each other, perform better than the sum of the results of either tactic used alone.

Direct mail success can lead to higher sales for franchisees and higher royalty revenue and positive referrals for the franchisor.

If you want to learn how to increase your franchisees participation in direct mail programs, feel free to give us a call at 810-239-5763 or contact us here. Additionally, you can find out how we help our franchise clients with other services by checking out our Franchise Marketing page.