How to Promote Your Business: Advice from a Franchise & Foodservice PR Expert

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Melinda Morgan Kartsonis

In today’s competitive and crowded business climate, it’s important to stand out from the masses.

If you’re willing to go the extra mile, think creatively and make meaningful connections, there are a number of ways to market your franchise and ultimately boost your bottom-line.

1. Think outside the store.  One of the most important elements to generating buzz is creativity.  Devote time to brainstorming tactics to reach new audiences and plan to execute a different avenue each month. Test out free sampling at a street festival or host a monthly incentive for select professionals (i.e. half-off service cost for nurses in May). Then track which tactics drive traffic and weave the most successful practices into your store level plan on a regular basis.

2. Utilize your resources.  Most corporate companies work with a public relations team, either internally or through an outside PR firm, but very few franchisees are aware of this and even fewer take advantage of this fantastic resource. Work with your corporate contacts to determine the specific PR assets available to you to optimize the brand’s awareness in your specific market.

3. Support a cause.  Whenever a business is tied to a charity or local organizations, there are benefits well beyond the philanthropic impact. Find an organization that aligns with your concept or perhaps one you’re personally passionate about. Whether your franchise partners with a local school program, a sports team or a non-profit organization, there are opportunities to cross-promote your business and there’s a story there as well.

4. Embrace your community.  Providing a sampling of your product or service to surrounding businesses and neighborhoods is not only a friendly gesture but also a great way to drive business. Building a network of brand loyalists starts right where you are and branches out from there. Showing them a sign of good will, such as inviting your neighbors in for a free menu item at your restaurant, will stick with them when it comes time to make a referral. Think about your target demographic and your community’s best communicators such as concierges, hair stylists, teachers, bartenders and others who spend valued face time with your potential customers daily.

5. Get your social on. If you don’t have an outside or corporate firm already managing your social media, it is an essential brick in building a brand’s presence in today’s hyper social environment. I recommend selecting at least one social channel that makes sense for your business and carving out time weekly, if not daily, to grow an audience and engage your followers. It offers you a means to connect directly with your customers on a real-time basis, address their concerns, share their praise and more. Social media engagement is yet another platform to tell your business’ story.

6. Give and you shall receive. A willingness to share gift cards or exclusive offers for local bloggers’ social media giveaways or to deliver goods and services to local radio and TV stations or other media that could potentially cover your business, is another means of promotion.  Offering a sample of your product or service familiarizes the local media with your business and gives them something to talk about on their platforms, whether that be a review on their blog or even a live on-air mention. In addition, you can often leverage a local advertising budget for added value editorial and promotional support.

7. Champion your employees.  It’s important to know your employees and motivate them. Everyone has a story. When you connect with your employees, learn what is important to them and harness this knowledge to rally their excitement. When people work for a brand they believe in, they talk about it. And don’t forget to talk about them! Recognition of your staff creates additional exposure for your brand, but more importantly it encourages and helps retain great employees.

Melinda Morgan Kartsonis, APR, Fellow PRSA founded Morgan Marketing & Public Relations in 1991 and has established the award-winning agency as a top industry leader in franchise public relations. Under her leadership, the agency has developed a competitive position with a client roster of nationally-recognized brands including Del Taco, Wienerschnitzel, Pieology Pizzeria, Juice It Up! and Philly’s Best Cheesesteaks. In addition to fostering longstanding client relationships, some more than 20 years, Melinda’s most notable achievements include her induction into the prestigious PRSA College of Fellows, joining the ranks of only a few hundred PR professionals in the world.

About Morgan Marketing & Public Relations

For 25 years, Morgan Marketing & Public Relations has been providing marketing, public relations and event-planning services to a variety of industries including retail, restaurants and hospitality, real estate, food and beverage, and legal. The firm’s dynamic office space in Irvine, Calif., features a state-of-the-art test kitchen, and conference room with multimedia and focus group capabilities. Morgan Marketing & Public Relations is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Public Relations Society of America, Orange County Chapter which recognizes an organization that best exemplifies the highest standard of public relations practices. For further information please visit the agency’s website at www.mmpr.biz, call (949) 261-2216, or follow on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Morgan Marketing & Public Relations is located at 78 Discovery, Irvine, CA 92618.

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