When I speak to the heads of corporate franchise, dealer and agent networks, most of them have a common complaint: they spend a significant amount of time and money on marketing materials that are not being used or not producing the results they would expect. However, when I talk to the franchisees, dealers and agents, they are frustrated, too. They feel like the materials that are provided are not relevant to the local market and/or “too corporate.”
I sympathize with both sides, but in the back of my mind, I know that if corporate accommodates these requests and creates Les custom materials for each member of the network, a lot of additional time and money will have to be spent on creative services to manually tweak those materials. That’s fine if the materials get used, but more often, those materials will just sit in the corner collecting dust, because the end result is still not what the network had envisioned.
Managing a business network is complicated, to say the least. There will always be disagreements, but those who develop successful, healthy relationships with their franchisees, dealers and agents learn to balance the needs of corporate with the demands of the network. So what are those needs and demands?
In the scenario above, corporate needs to:
- Increase the amount of marketing franchisees, dealers and agents do on their behalf
- Reduce total inventory and inventory obsolescence expense by printing more pieces on demand
- Control co-op reimbursement expenses on marketing
- Ensure that branded materials are consistent and high-quality
On the flip side, the network wants:
- Materials that can be customized to ensure they are locally relevant
- Space for the franchisee, dealer or agent to brand themselves
- A simpler method of ordering materials
In these types of situations, we’ve found that the implementation of a Cloud-Based Marketing Center (CBMC) has provided a great solution. CBMCs are one-stop shops for all marketing items, simplifying the process for franchisees, dealers and agents. Corporate decides what is included in the catalog, which can involve a variety of items like:
- Printed and shipped on demand – i.e. collateral, POP, etc.
- Printed and mailed on demand
- Printed in advance and shipped/released on demand
- Personalized and generic microsite landing pages
- Lead nurturing tactics: direct mail, email and SMS messaging
- Display ads
Once these sites are constructed, corporate is able to focus on other core business activities since a significant amount of time was previously spent getting the network the materials they needed. The network, on the other hand, is pleased with the ability to access a variety of marketing materials online and at their convenience. Both parties are happy to see that the versionable materials offered on the site are not only properly branded, but also give space to both corporate and the franchisee, dealer or agent.
I won’t pretend that a CBMC is the answer to all problems in these network relationships, but I will say that it is a step in the right direction toward improvement. A network’s willingness and ability to market the business is a win-win for all parties.