Even when you’re part of an international smoothie franchise with widespread brand awareness and marketing resources at your disposal, adapting your franchise to your local market comes with many advantages.
Specifically, marketing your smoothie franchise to your local community can help create strong demand and brand affinity at the unit level, driving stronger foot traffic and tangible sales through your doors.
Here’s more on how you can adapt your smoothie franchise to your local community, creating meaningful relationships and partnerships along the way:
1. Create Partnerships with Like-Minded Owners and Complementary Businesses
Some of the most strategic relationships you can establish as a local business owner are partnerships with other local business owners. When business owners offer complementary services, they can form partnerships to help them reach new guests and expand the products and services they offer. These local partnerships help both businesses increase their visibility and build customer loyalty.
The first step in building these local partnerships includes identifying businesses with a similar mission and target consumer demographics. Gyms and health clubs, health food stores and other local businesses that align with complementary health and wellness-focused brands are generally a strong fit for your smoothie franchise. Of course, you will want to make sure they’re not direct competitors but rather appeal to the same demographic by offering a complementary product or service for a healthier lifestyle.
Often, local business owners are interested in pursuing a mutually-beneficial partnership that will add value to their own business and client base, so many of them will be receptive to a potential partnership, particularly if it only involves cross-channel or sample marketing. Many business owners are able to network with other owners in the community by joining their chamber of commerce, attending local business fairs or events or reaching out to business owners directly.
For example, Smoothie King franchisee Brian Griffiths was able to establish these partnerships by researching health-focused local businesses and cold-calling the owners to gauge their interest in a potential partnership. He also found success by attending gyms and health fairs, discussing the product and handing out menus and nutritional guides to interested businesses and consumers alike. He says this was crucial to his success in generating greater interest and awareness in a local market relatively new to the Smoothie King brand.
2. Invest in Sample Marketing
At the same time, Brian also made sure to provide free samples at local businesses, schools and festivals he attended. Offering product samples to prospective guests is beneficial since it increases exposure beyond the four walls of your restaurant and shows guests your confidence in the product.
Sometimes, schools and businesses will approach you to offer samples at their events, but more often than not, you need to proactively seek out these opportunities. Finding the right opportunity will be based largely on your target market and the ways you can reach them through the event.
You can also attract customers with free samples at your own location, allowing guests the opportunity to taste your smoothies before purchasing. Decide on the best times to offer smoothie samples, for instance, selecting two days per week as free-sample days. Highlight these free-sample days on your marketing materials. This is particularly helpful for promoting new blends or highlighting any menu items when breaking into a new local market, with guests who may be unfamiliar with your brand or recipes.
“Samples are always a great way to market new blends, since getting the smoothie in guests’ hands is the best marketing tool” said Elise Ganucheau, product manager at Smoothie King. “Tasting new blends is the best way to showcase the power of the quality ingredients we use.”
3. Get Involved to Give Back to the Community
In a similar vein to partnering with complementary businesses, finding charitable giving opportunities, from sponsorships to hosting events and fundraisers, is an effective strategy to reach local audiences.
Not only does community outreach generate greater awareness, but it also helps position your business as a cornerstone of the community, while fostering brand affinity and customer loyalty. Eighty-five percent of consumers have a more positive image of a company that gives to charity, and 90 percent of consumers want to know how small businesses are supporting charitable causes.
By partnering with local philanthropic organizations and sponsoring various charitable events, Smoothie King franchisee Brian Ziegler was able to get the word out about his smoothie franchise, while reaching consumers who were likely to visit his location later on.
“In my local market, there was relatively little brand awareness, so that first year in business was really about getting our name and mission out there, so people knew what we were all about,” Brian Ziegler said. “We partnered with local rec centers, and we made sure to get involved in 5K runs, sponsor a local baseball team and find other fundraisers and charities that aligned with our health-oriented business.”
Charitable runs and other philanthropic events with a health and wellness tilt are a perfect fit for a similar-minded brand, but giving back to the community doesn’t necessarily need to directly align with the product or mission. Identifying a cause you care about and finding a way to give back through your business is just as effective in creating greater brand awareness and affinity – while helping your community in the meantime.
For example, Smoothie King franchisee Tonya Brigham decided to donate $10,000 to various charities after her first year in business. She made a donation toward developing mentoring programs in prisons, as well as called a local school to make an anonymous donation to children in need. Other times, she has donated smoothies and portions of her store sales to various charities, whether she’s handing out smoothies at her local church or sponsoring homeless children’s sports at summer camp. But, she says the most important part is getting involved in the local community and finding ways to give back with your business, regardless of what form it takes.