Janet M. Kennedy, Director Market Development, Market Vue Partners

Charles Darwin’s theory of "survival of the fittest" is well known and often used as a rationalization for the success or failure of a business venture. But what happens in retail if the "category killer" happens to be another store in the same franchise group? There are always high performing franchise stores in each market that seem to reap extra benefit by virtue of their superior location rather than exemplary customer service or marketing campaigns. Even more challenging for some of the lower performing locations is the market wide media campaign that is paid for by their required co-op or advertising funds. Franchise owners pay into the fund equally, however, the media campaign by default is going to send the majority of customers to the top tier stores. How can the campaign be managed to ensure equitable benefit for all participants?

The simple solution is through the use of customer targeting and tracking. By its very nature a mass media campaign will target a broad audience, a large percentage of which is not a match for any of the franchise group’s potential customers. A more successful strategy is to create a campaign that is targeted to the customer profile and matched to the most likely respondents’ in each location’s trade area via direct marketing. By defining each franchisee’s unique trade area a balanced response to the campaign is more probable. Flagging customer or prospect records prior to mailing makes it a simple process to review the campaign sales report for the appearance of those targeted customers.

QR codes, PURLs (personal urls) or dynamically generated custom coupon codes are other ways that a little work and expense on the front end of a campaign will insure better data collection and a more attributable ROI to a completed campaign. Targeting the ideal customer through modeling makes the direct marketing campaign more cost effective than a mass media campaign for all locations, even when multiple locations are involved in the co-op media buy.

The moral of this story may not be that the "survival of the fittest" depends on size or location dominance. Knowing how to effectively target prospects makes the case for "survival of the efficient."