5 questions to ask your network manager

How do the world's best multi-site brands deliver an exceptional customer experience?

Many are harnessing the power of a local marketing solution to help their local outlets follow established standards, guidelines and overall brand marketing strategy.

But if you look closely, you can see that local brands want more autonomy. They end up making tons of requests for creative assets and sometimes even designing their own advertising.

This is partly why it is so important for marketing directors and brand managers to maintain a positive and transparent relationship with their local partners so that they can make sure that everything is going well. But everyone knows that marketing managers don't have the time to understand what works or doesn't work in a given local market, and yet it's this knowledge and information that local marketers need most.

In the end, this complicates and tightens the relationship between the global and the local and with it the feedback of information from the field. As a result, marketing managers don't always have the right information to help them make better strategic decisions for their brands.

If marketing managers don't know the challenges they really face in the field, how can they advise their teams and define the direction in which the brand should go?

Why marketing managers need to listen to their local marketing managers

Gartner reports that by the end of this year, at least 50% of companies will be investing in customer experience strategies. If you want customers to continue to buy from your brand's franchisees, resellers or agents, it's essential to get as much information as possible about what's happening at the local level. That's why the most successful retail brands regularly collect information from their partners at the store level.

With this information in hand, brand managers find ways to tailor campaigns and brand assets to meet the unique requirements of local marketing teams. Ideally, marketing managers could call and speak directly with some of their dealers or franchisees. Realistically, we all know that marketers are often far too busy, so this information needs to be collected in different ways.

For example, you can create a survey that is sent out on a regular basis or equip your regional marketing team with a questionnaire that they can use after meeting with local affiliates. It can also be an internal exercise that you lead as a marketing team. It could also be a simple checklist that marketing managers keep in mind for the next time they think about their local marketing strategy.

If you work for a franchise, offer them the opportunity to give their opinion, it will help to create a virtuous circle. And if you work with a different indirect sales model, it will help you keep a connection with the field.

What are the questions to ask your points of sale?

Here are already 5 fundamentals that will allow you to get started quickly.

1. What works?

The first question is whether marketing campaigns at the global level have an impact at the local level.

Your marketing team may be proud of its new Instagram campaign, but what do franchisees think? They may not even be aware of the campaign, or they may feel that it doesn't help them promote their store.

Taking the pulse of your network is an important part of understanding why some things work and others fail. All your local affiliates work with your brand because they think you can make them more money. So that means that if a campaign hasn't increased their sales, they probably have ideas about why it didn't work for them.

To truly make actionable improvements, brands must adopt reliable sources of performance data. By creating a reporting process supported by a dedicated feedback tool, global teams can extract key information about franchisee or dealer preferences in terms of marketing assets. You can then use this data to better guide your questionnaire and further explore the topic.

2. Why do your customers buy from you?

The answer to this question can be complicated, but it can also provide valuable insights. Discuss why customers like to shop in your stores and how the brand contributes to this. Then use these answers to feed back to your creative and marketing teams. With this feedback, you can look for opportunities to evolve your brand. The answers may help you develop a better campaign that better reflects how consumers actually buy.

At the global level, use this feedback from the field to educate your marketing team. Often, customer behavior observed by local affiliates can help reveal inconsistencies in the buying process. Assessing the awareness and accessibility of your product can also inspire ideas for your campaigns. With this type of information, you can reinforce the messages sent to points of sale, while giving real credibility to those ideas.

Of course, local affiliates may not be able to respond. But if they don't clearly understand how and why people are buying and interacting with your brand, they need additional resources and tools.

3. What is the biggest barrier to customer loyalty?

At the local level, it is important to identify why customers are lost. Talking to local teams about their frustrations with customer retention can help uncover where these barriers are. To get the best answers, try listening more than talking. Use the information they share and conduct a mini-audit of local campaigns that help build customer loyalty.

There is a reliable way to create the kind of experiences that keep customers coming back. The key is to manage brand consistency. Stores need a clear baseline and marketing materials in the field that remain consistent.

By having the same customer experience on all your sites, customers always know what to expect. If they get what they want in those stores, they'll come back.

4. How can we make your marketing life easier?

This is a difficult question to ask its local affiliates. In all likelihood, the answers will surprise you. Be receptive to all criticism and comments, both positive and negative.

Then dig deeper to identify features or strategies they think would improve their local marketing. Take their ideas about the tools and resources they would like to have and share them with the rest of the team.

The goal is to take the precise temperature of your sign network. It is important that your local entities are happy to work with you. Otherwise, you risk them jumping off the ship. If local marketing teams find the day-to-day marketing tasks too difficult or simply ineffective, they will start to feel frustrated or dissatisfied. Marketing managers need to position themselves to deal with these issues and help their network work more effectively to achieve the desired results.

5. How do you know your marketing is working?

At the local level, marketing managers should understand how local marketers evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns. The answers you will get will be far removed from the criteria the digital team uses to measure their campaigns. For example, this question will generate responses such as "our sales people were really busy" or "we sold everything in no time".

It is important to remember that franchisees are NOT marketing professionals. That is why these types of questions, as well as open and honest dialogue, are so important. As a marketing manager you should not avoid these new "data" simply because they cannot be measured in Excel. This is an approach that can be extremely valuable in the way you approach your regional marketing support.

The answer to most local marketing questions

In order to promote the success of local marketing, increased collaboration between the teams at headquarters and the local subsidiaries is absolutely necessary. Start by asking your partners these key questions and use their knowledge to develop a local marketing approach that really works. If you find a misalignment between your global team and the field, keep this in mind and adjust your approach to maximize local buy-in and improve results.