Turning Data Into Engagement: 3 Reflections From IFA 2015

Upon entering the expansive hall at the International Franchise Association (IFA) Convention this year, we were immediately struck by the overwhelming growth in attendance. It was obvious that the show had attracted more franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers than ever before and after hearing the content quality we understood why.

With the economy on the rise, more franchisors can focus on core business objectives. The sessions were a direct reflection of that, including everything from franchise development and marketing to legal, advanced technology and operations. Even with all the high-level content, there was a recurring theme around the creation of engaging human interactions to drive loyalty, affinity, productivity and ultimately tangible business results.

After discussions, roundtables, and workshops, we left the conference with three reflections we were compelled to share:

1. Data for Data's Sake is Just Data

We saw a number of sessions offering fabulous tools for gathering and compiling data. What we didn't hear was how to effectively utilize this data to connect with consumers in peak moments of interest. What type of messaging resonates most with your target audience? How do you cultivate and share your brand experience in a way that transforms customers into evangelists?

Without a method of effectively developing a deep customer understanding and communicating back in a way that is relevant and scalable, it is simply data for data's sake.

2. Your Brand May Be National But Your Customer is Local

There were great presentations around creating a brand story that resonates with your target customer base, however many conversations seemed to revolve around the franchise as a brand, and failed to address the story of the unique communities surrounding every location.

There will always be a need and a market for broad national brand messaging. Brand marketing casts a wide net to reach a large audience in hopes of appealing to a small subset of potential buyers. But the price tag is high, the engagement rates are low, the performance is difficult to track, and the local relevance is almost non-existent.

In the age of mobile, the way brands market and advertise has changed along with the consumer behavior towards it. There is a strong demand for digital messaging that is relevant and as personal as the devices we carry in our hands.

Adapting to deliver on this expectation will not only produce increased engagement across platforms but also build true brand affinity through the connections made within the communities you serve.

3. If You're Not Innovating - You're Dying

Creative ideas around unique social media campaigns, leveraging digital audiences, maintaining brand consistency and building local communities within social channels were shared in every conversation I heard.

With so much great insight to build with, it can be difficult to know where to start. There is no shortage of technology solutions prepared to help you in this journey. MomentFeed's comprehensive platform offers brands the opportunity to harness, amplify and engage back with the communities surrounding their individual locations through digital channels.

This form of localized marketing allows for franchisors and franchisees alike to create connections with customers in the digital world that directly translate to in-store foot traffic in the physical world.

With Facebook organic reach declining daily and mobile usage increasing indefinitely, the world of marketing is far different than what you may have experienced even a few months ago.

Brands that embrace the challenge to innovate with this new form of marketing have enormous opportunity to create meaningful relationships with customers that not only boost loyalty but produce measurable results.

Next year's IFA will undoubtedly carry along the theme of creating engaging human interactions through digital and we look forward to hearing the successes and challenges faced throughout the year with our growing network of franchise friends.