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Build a Better Marketing Plan: 9 Tips From the Online Franchise POV

Plan your work, work your plan–we live by that mantra here at OrderUp, especially in July and August. A number of our online franchises are near college campuses, and are busiest during the school year, when college kids are around to order lots of food online. So the end of summer is go-time when it comes to building a marketing plan.

No matter when you’re busiest, you’ve got to plan. Or else you’ll end up scrambling and spending a ton of time on last-minute marketing efforts. Of course, we always leave room for sudden ah-has, but generally, you get better results from your efforts if you think ahead.

 

I plan for several of our company owned online food ordering markets, but I’ll break down how we plan for just one market. Any business can learn from the planning system we’ve perfected (or at least worked really hard on, we’re always looking for ways to get better).

  1. Think big. We have a long-term vision, but our specific plans cover the next year. A lot can change in a year, but I promise, you’ll thank yourself for planning ahead. That way, you can spread out budgets, plan your vacation, and see the valleys beyond the peaks of your hard work. At OrderUp, we generally suggest planning a few large campaigns for each market each year, with several smaller campaigns in between.

  2. Zoom in. A month or two out from each major marketing effort, we build a more detailed plan. We usually build—and live by—a three to four week marketing plan for each promotion. Week one, we’re getting specials and deals. Week two, we’re printing postcards and other promotional items, writing emails, and planning social media communication. Week three is the actual campaign, where we hit the streets and fire on all cylinders. Needless to say, planning this the Friday before—or even the week before—would be utterly chaotic. The same goes with a big push in any industry. Set yourself up for success, and then get to it full blast.

  3. Plan for what kind of help you will need. One of the best parts of planning ahead is being able to assess whether your existing team will need extra help. Do you need an intern? An employee? A consultant? Hiring someone can be hit or miss, and it can take a long time to find the right people. If you know a big campaign is coming up and you need help and don’t have someone, you need to give yourself time. For us, sometimes it doesn’t take long to train an intern, because anyone can hand out postcards. But if we need to find someone to run an entire company-owned market, there’s a serious learning curve. If you’re rushing to hire someone, you’ll put yourself and your new team member into a bad situation.

  4. Build relationships ahead of time. Having the people you work with ready is part of planning. We stay in touch with restaurant owners whether or not we’ve got a big campaign coming up. I suggest keeping an account management calendar, or depending on your industry, a networking or partnership calendar. That way, you know what’s going on with each key person, and you can be there for each other when you need to be.

  5. Write your plan down, and give it to the key people involved. Writing down your marketing plan is a good first step—if you’re storing your plan in your head, you will forget something. Guaranteed. But beyond writing down the plan for your own benefit, make sure you distribute it to the key people involved, and remind them before major parts of the plan go live. That way, no one gets caught by surprise, for example, when an email blast triggers a lot of activities. Generally, I make this plan a simple PDF so it’s easy to scan at a glance.

  6. Record your plan in a dynamic way. In addition to providing a simple plan, I make calendars for my campaigns so that I get email and phone reminders. That way, not only am I working the plan, but the plan is working for me.

  7. Get involved in your community so you can align your plan with events. When you’re involved with your community, you get a sense for when it’s going to be a good time to run a promotion. For example, in our State College market, Halloween is huge for us, because there’s a lot of eating and drinking going on. But we can’t just target a special around Halloween, especially if it’s a weekday—we have to dig into our community to figure out which weekend people will choose to dress up. Tune in to your community to find the best times to promote your business.

  8. Don’t take your yearly routine for granted. Always double check dates and timing for events, because sometimes routines shift. For example, the weeks before Penn State’s finals, which traditionally start on a Monday, are huge for online ordering here in State College. Even though pizza and wings may not be the best brain food, tons of students order food so they can study instead of cook. This year, though, if we’d planned based on last year’s timing, we would have been in trouble. Turns out finals this fall are starting on a Wednesday, which will shift the length of studying time. If I hadn’t double checked, we would have mistimed our promotions for that week.

  9. Be flexible to allow new opportunities in your plan. Stick to your plan, but don’t get stuck because of your plan. New community events and restaurants pop up all the time, and I’ve definitely benefited from shifting the plan on-the-fly.

A great marketing plan will keep you sane and on target as you run marketing campaigns—thus boosting your effectiveness and making you money. Now go out there, and create a better marketing plan!

Plan your work, work your plan–we live by that mantra here at OrderUp, especially in July and August. A number of our online franchises are near college campuses, and are busiest during the school year, when college kids are around to order lots of food online. So the end of summer is go-time when it comes to building a marketing plan.

No matter when you’re busiest, you’ve got to plan. Or else you’ll end up scrambling and spending a ton of time on last-minute marketing efforts. Of course, we always leave room for sudden ah-has, but generally, you get better results from your efforts if you think ahead.

I plan for several of our company owned online food ordering markets, but I’ll break down how we plan for just one market. Any business can learn from the planning system we’ve perfected (or at least worked really hard on, we’re always looking for ways to get better).

  1. Think big. We have a long-term vision, but our specific plans cover the next year. A lot can change in a year, but I promise, you’ll thank yourself for planning ahead. That way, you can spread out budgets, plan your vacation, and see the valleys beyond the peaks of your hard work. At OrderUp, we generally suggest planning a few large campaigns for each market each year, with several smaller campaigns in between.

  2. Zoom in. A month or two out from each major marketing effort, we build a more detailed plan. We usually build—and live by—a three to four week marketing plan for each promotion. Week one, we’re getting specials and deals. Week two, we’re printing postcards and other promotional items, writing emails, and planning social media communication. Week three is the actual campaign, where we hit the streets and fire on all cylinders. Needless to say, planning this the Friday before—or even the week before—would be utterly chaotic. The same goes with a big push in any industry. Set yourself up for success, and then get to it full blast.

  3. Plan for what kind of help you will need. One of the best parts of planning ahead is being able to assess whether your existing team will need extra help. Do you need an intern? An employee? A consultant? Hiring someone can be hit or miss, and it can take a long time to find the right people. If you know a big campaign is coming up and you need help and don’t have someone, you need to give yourself time. For us, sometimes it doesn’t take long to train an intern, because anyone can hand out postcards. But if we need to find someone to run an entire company-owned market, there’s a serious learning curve. If you’re rushing to hire someone, you’ll put yourself and your new team member into a bad situation.

  4. Build relationships ahead of time. Having the people you work with ready is part of planning. We stay in touch with restaurant owners whether or not we’ve got a big campaign coming up. I suggest keeping an account management calendar, or depending on your industry, a networking or partnership calendar. That way, you know what’s going on with each key person, and you can be there for each other when you need to be.

  5. Write your plan down, and give it to the key people involved. Writing down your marketing plan is a good first step—if you’re storing your plan in your head, you will forget something. Guaranteed. But beyond writing down the plan for your own benefit, make sure you distribute it to the key people involved, and remind them before major parts of the plan go live. That way, no one gets caught by surprise, for example, when an email blast triggers a lot of activities. Generally, I make this plan a simple PDF so it’s easy to scan at a glance.

  6. Record your plan in a dynamic way. In addition to providing a simple plan, I make calendars for my campaigns so that I get email and phone reminders. That way, not only am I working the plan, but the plan is working for me.

  7. Get involved in your community so you can align your plan with events. When you’re involved with your community, you get a sense for when it’s going to be a good time to run a promotion. For example, in our State College market, Halloween is huge for us, because there’s a lot of eating and drinking going on. But we can’t just target a special around Halloween, especially if it’s a weekday—we have to dig into our community to figure out which weekend people will choose to dress up. Tune in to your community to find the best times to promote your business.

  8. Don’t take your yearly routine for granted. Always double check dates and timing for events, because sometimes routines shift. For example, the weeks before Penn State’s finals, which traditionally start on a Monday, are huge for online ordering here in State College. Even though pizza and wings may not be the best brain food, tons of students order food so they can study instead of cook. This year, though, if we’d planned based on last year’s timing, we would have been in trouble. Turns out finals this fall are starting on a Wednesday, which will shift the length of studying time. If I hadn’t double checked, we would have mistimed our promotions for that week.

  9. Be flexible to allow new opportunities in your plan. Stick to your plan, but don’t get stuck because of your plan. New community events and restaurants pop up all the time, and I’ve definitely benefited from shifting the plan on-the-fly.

A great marketing plan will keep you sane and on target as you run marketing campaigns—thus boosting your effectiveness and making you money. Now go out there, and create a better marketing plan!

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