Breaking into the franchising industry can be a daunting process. From selecting the ideal piece of real estate to building brand awareness that leads to a loyal customer base, getting a business off the ground is no easy task. That’s why Wild Birds Unlimited, the leading brand that connects people with birds and nature, offers its franchisees one of the most comprehensive marketing planners in the industry.
Wild Birds Unlimited knows that one of the most essential steps franchisees must take in order to run a successful business is marketing. Every year, the brand releases a detailed marketing plan that includes monthly campaigns targeting current customers, plus campaigns for customer acquisition and reactivation. Campaigns include professionally-designed marketing materials for direct mail, email, web, social media, in-store signs, TV commercials and in-store videos.
In addition to specific marketing campaigns and recommendations, the planner also includes budgeting tools and explanations for how best to implement each specific strategy. The goal is to give local business owners a top of the line marketing resource, while at the same time providing them with the flexibility they need in order to tailor the marketing planner to their specific market and community.
“Our business varies in any given month from neighborhood to neighborhood. Certain species of birds reach specific regions of the country at different times, so we create our marketing planner with that in mind. It’s designed so that franchisees can pull from parts of the planner whenever they see fit,” said Bo Lowery, director of digital marketing communications for Wild Birds Unlimited. “Local business owners can also add in their own ideas and marketing strategies. While our goal is for them to use between 80 and 90 percent of what we create, we absolutely encourage innovation.”
By opening the door to new ideas, Wild Birds Unlimited ensures that creating its annual marketing planner isn’t a one-sided process. The brand requires its franchisees to complete an online survey every month about the elements of the planner that they’ve used versus the results they’re seeing. This allows Wild Birds Unlimited to thoroughly track what tactics are working. The brand also reviews the previous years’ results as a whole to weed out ideas that are no longer viable.
Wild Birds Unlimited also values the input of its passionate franchisees. The brand holds a collaborative meeting with its Ad Council members and other local business owners who demonstrate strong marketing skills in order to get additional feedback. At the end of the day, modifying and implementing the tool is a constant, ongoing process.
“What makes our marketing planner so strong is the fact that it’s a collaborative effort. We’re fortunate to have an incredibly talented in-house marketing team and we also have talented franchisees who bring years of marketing experience to the table, so we use their innovative ideas to take our overall brand strategy to the next level,” said Paul Pickett, Wild Birds Unlimited’s chief development officer.
Beyond providing marketing campaigns and templates, Wild Birds Unlimited strives to make the methods detailed in its planner affordable for franchisees. The national ad fund that local owners pay into every month is responsible for covering the costs of various platforms franchisees use to implement the marketing campaigns. The only out of pocket expense that franchisees typically experience is the cost of printing and mailing promotional materials and placing customer acquisition marketing in their local media
Wild Birds Unlimited unveils its marketing planner for the next year at the end of October or beginning of November, giving its local business owners time to create a strong marketing strategy for the months ahead.
“The thing we hear most from our franchisees is how much they love having access to a year’s worth of marketing campaigns upfront. It gives them the time they need to tailor the tactics to their specific consumer base,” Lowery said. “By making the ideas in our marketing planner easy to implement, we’re ultimately setting our local owners up for success.”