One-size fits all marketing, good for McDonalds, good for me?

An owner of well-known franchise approached me late last week, and is seeking some assistance in creating a local and loyal customer-base.

Woo hoo! Another client, you say? Sure, if I want to bang my head against the wall. Working with most franchise operations is a no win proposition for a marketing guy like myself. No matter what you pitch, beyond bland, there’s often a disconnect between what is needed, and what is allowed by the franchiser. These ‘mother ships’ set standards and procedures (and rightly so, you can’t have a Mickey D’s with soggy fries!) that squeeze out and disallow new and different ideas that may help the franchise market themselves differently.

This kind of top-down marketing is like going into The Gap and being offered one-size-fits-all jeans, they may fit some customers, but very unlikely to fit all. So let’s talk jeans for a sec.

How do you set the specs for one-size-fits-all?

Do you break down demographics so that you know what the fat, thin and tweenies spend?

Conversation at The Gap HQ: The Gap merchandizer, “Mmm, I see average household income for the ‘weight-challenged’ is 25% higher than the ‘slim jims’. Lets make the one-size-fits-all jeans on the large size.”

One size fits all marketing is no less (or more) a fallacy than one-size-fits-all jeans. (With the exception that marketing won’t make you look fatter).

Just as everybody has a different body, every company has different appeal based on different customers’ needs.

Franchisers generally have smart marketing guys who set policy company-wide and wonder why certain customers aren’t buying into the message.

Just as you are more apt to sell smaller jeans in California and bigger jeans in the South (yes, I’m generalizing based on my travels – great fries and beignets in New Orleans) marketing is based on demographics; e.g. geographic, economic, schizophrenic – I added the last one, but it’s often true 🙂

So, getting back to my potential new client, I’m going to review his franchise itself, view his franchise agreement, review the franchiser marketing guidelines and see if there’s enough wiggle room to make some effective change.

And talking about wiggle room, I might go buy a pair of jeans too.

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