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Trends in Local Marketing for Franchisors

Franchise marketing can be a particular challenge, as it requires companies to blend brand uniformity with enough flexibility to tailor to each location. Today’s local marketing trends for franchises focus on bridging that gap with smart strategy, local partnerships, and just plain time and effort. Which trends are the smartest franchise marketers leaning into right now – and how does it affect your hiring plans? Read on to find out more!


Not Enough Attention Spent on Marketing

According to the 2023 Local Marketing Gap Report from BrandMuscle, 83% of local affiliates view marketing as important to their success. The problem? They’re not dedicating nearly enough time, energy, and resources to it.


Consider the following findings from BrandMuscle’s report:

  • 78% of local partners spend less than 40 hours per month on marketing activities.
  • 66% of affiliates don’t evaluate marketing tactics on a regular basis.
  • Only 47% monitor their growth metrics regularly.
  • 51% don’t report spending any time on marketing planning.
  • And yet: “extremely marketing-savvy partners” experience 44% more revenue growth than their unsavvy peers.


These trends indicate that local franchises aren’t quite rising to the occasion – but they’re capable of it, and they can reap the rewards if they do. It’s about finding the right balance between marketing support that comes from the overarching brand and developing marketing tactics that are specifically tailored to the local community. In the best-case scenario, this marketing tells a “story” that customers will love: they’re getting the quality and support they expect from a recognized brand name, alongside a unique approach that shows an understanding of the unique needs and preferences of their local community.


Local Partnerships

One of the most effective ways for franchises to set their individual locations is to truly bring some local color into their marketing efforts. In many cases, that means partnering with local notables, such as college or professional sports teams. Marketing software provider MarcomCentral suggests tactics such as:

  • Creating special menu items to celebrate the local team
  • Offering giveaways if the local team wins or reaches a particular goal
  • Sponsoring seating boxes at local stadiums
  • Building social media campaigns around sports team partnerships


As national (or even global) brands, franchises must look for ways to adapt to and connect with the unique culture of each locale. Partnering with local sports teams is just one method; any approach that involves partnering with local, recognized businesses or entities can help. It’s about forming those connections with the local culture and becoming part of the community, rather than being perceived as an outsider just dropping in. Franchise leaders who prioritize these community-building efforts are critical to any organization’s efforts to be successful at the local level.


Tried-and-True Tactics Are Still Effective

BrandMuscle’s The Most Effective Local Marketing Channels Report found what many franchises already know to be true: classic tactics are classic for a reason. The most popular traditional and effective “traditional” tactics include referral programs, direct mail, in-store displays, and promotional items. Among the most “marketing-savvy” local affiliates, 71% use direct mail, 68% use referral programs, and 62% use purchased leads.


Likewise, the most heavily-used digital tactics are also some of the most effective, including paid and organic social media, email, webpages, business listings management, and online reputation management. 68% of affiliates use organic social, while 62% use paid social ads. The gap between the least-savvy and most-savvy marketers reveals just which channels the smartest local marketers are gravitating towards. For instance, 39% of “not at all savvy” local marketers use email, but 79% of the “extremely savvy” ones do; just 22% of not-savvy marketers use reputation management, but 60% of extremely savvy ones do. Franchises looking to optimize their local marketing spend can view these trends as guidelines to help tailor their strategy towards the tried-and-true channels that have the biggest impact.


Local Marketing and Hiring Franchise Talent

Understanding today’s top local marketing trends is just part of the equation for franchise success. The other part, of course, is having the right talent in the right roles. A smart local marketing strategy starts with leaders who understand the importance of connecting with individual communities and who have a strategic approach to gathering localized data, interpreting it, and translating it into action.


When hiring for roles that will intersect with your local marketing goals, consider some of the following questions:

  • Does the candidate have experience handling localized or otherwise segmented marketing?
  • What experience and knowledge does the candidate have with data gathering, segmentation, and application?
  • How comfortable is the candidate with overseeing a multi-channel marketing strategy?


Ensuring your franchise leaders have a clear strategy for local marketing is critical for overall franchising success. Blue Rock Search specializes in identifying and recruiting top franchise talent for a variety of roles, including critical positions overseeing marketing and communications for whole brands and localized strategies. Contact us for more information on how we can help your brand thrive!


About the Author

Nancy Estep-Critchett is a founding Partner of Blue Rock Search, with oversight of the Franchise Practice. She has 30 years of successful working experience as a business advisor and executive recruiter in the franchising space. Nancy has built solid relationships which have spanned decades with industry professionals and internationally recognized brands.

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