Community marketing is the one thing you want to get right for your franchisees. While you may have a marketing team, branding agency, or even a vendor that updates your social media, you can never outsource it completely.

There is no shortage of vendors that try to sell the magic bullet of marketing. Just like a sales professional trying to sell an “easy” weight loss program or a “fast” way to make money, they position it as a cake-walk once you make a hefty investment.

The truth is, marketing is exactly like getting to a healthier weight or making a more satisfying income; it is a step-by-step journey, where you learn along the way with true rewards at the end. But it is certainly not a cake-walk — no matter how many people try to sell it that way.

For a more realistic look at how you can build community marketing into your franchisees’ day-to-day processes, consider the tips below.

Build Meaningful Connections

“Within a three- to five-mile radius of every store or restaurant there are dozens of other businesses, hundreds of homes, and thousands of potential new customers,” said Jim Sullivan, in his book “Multi Unit Leadership.” “Connect with community ‘influentials.’ One American in every ten tells the other nine where to eat, what to buy, and how to vote.”

Connecting with the movers and shakers of your community, whether they are in local government, businesses, schools, or community organizations can make a huge difference. And you don’t always have to go straight to the top. Think of people who talk to others on a regular basis, Sullivan suggests: “hairdressers, hotel bartenders, receptionists, concierges, religious and civic leaders.”

Sometimes, the best opportunities are right before your eyes, and you can’t even see them. Every week, you have dozens of “invisible” customers walking through your doors: Amazon delivery people, wine merchants, and event promoters, to name a few. Do they get hungry or thirsty? Do they have any friends or family with upcoming events?

Thinking of your own team can also be a potential revenue generator. Say every person on your team has 200 Facebook friends. If each person recommends just five, that can have a meaningful impact on your business.

graphic showing how community marketing can grow with Facebook

Always Be Marketing

Marketing is something that you want to have as part of every person’s day-to-day, whether they are servers, managers, trainers, or hosts. Jay Conrad Levinson, author of “Guerilla Marketing,” said, “Marketing is not an event, but a process. It has a beginning, a middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it. But you never stop it completely.”

Every business is sales-controlled, but few have a true sales culture that plants marketing as the first step. Event-based “big deal” marketing programs still have a place, but they are nestled within regular, consistent programs.

Training Solidifies Marketing

According to Sullivan, “The more that you invest in training, the less that you spend on marketing.”

If your team provides superior service, the customer will come back — and even better, they will leave a positive review, which has more credibility among customers than any marketing piece you can create.

Additionally, you want training to enhance your marketing campaigns. Consider the old advertising saying, “There is nothing that will kill a bad product like good marketing.” Now, more than ever, you want to make sure you follow through on the promises that your marketing makes. With the speed of information, if you fall short, it may end up as a Twitter or Instagram #fail, damaging the franchisees, their region, and even the system as a whole.

Manage Moments of Truth

Jan Carlzon, in his game changing book “Moments of Truth,” defined marketing as “anytime that a customer comes in contact with a company’s brand, people, or services and forms an impression of the quality of service that they provide.”

Take a step back and ask yourself, “What is marketing?” More and more, marketing is cleanliness, service, and teamwork. It is every single touchpoint. As you are doing a field audit, see the store from the customer’s standpoint and think about what his or her impression would be.

Marketing is a core part of any successful team’s DNA. Never think of it as someone else’s job. It is a mindset that can change your business and life.