The old adage about strength in numbers is especially true in marketing. When individual centers work together within a region, they have the ability to leverage marketing opportunities that might otherwise not be efficient for an individual center, such as regional and state PTA conventions, booths at large expos, and broad-reaching mass media when appropriate.

Regional marketing is becoming increasingly popular with centers across the country, as word of its success has spread. Although “joint marketing”—with a couple of owners working together at a time—has taken place at Mathnasium over the years, regional marketing across multiple centers began to increase dramatically within the last year. By joining together, often with the help of their FBCs, individual franchisees have pooled their money to incredible effect.

For example, franchisees are leveraging the company’s national relationship with the PTA at both regional and statewide levels. Texas, California, Washington, Virginia, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida have all participated in their states’ PTA conventions.

Rose Brenner, owner of the Saginaw, TX center, attended her state’s PTA convention in 2017, where she found great opportunities to network with PTA presidents and members and to illustrate the value of Math Nights.

“Convention attendees engaged in Math Night activities with us and saw that it was cool, fun, and easy to do,” Brenner said. “PTAs are often strapped for money, so when they asked how much it cost, and we told them we would bring Math Nights to their campus at absolutely no cost to them, it resulted in a lot of PTA sign-ups.”

Participating in the Texas PTA Convention also resulted in a much stronger relationship with the Lewisville, TX Independent School District’s Council of PTAs. The Council implemented a new program in which local Mathnasium owners were invited into district schools to speak about leadership.

Other examples of regional marketing include making use of local media, and sometimes local personalities, to promote a special offer:

  • In Denver, 16 centers committed to allocating $500 per month for regional marketing campaigns for a 12-month period. These dollars were spent on local radio and various regional events. The centers saw a 27% year-over-year (YOY) revenue increase in September and continued double-digit revenue growth from October to December in 2017.
  • In Dallas-Fort Worth, 40 centers each paid $339 per month for nine months of ads (both prerecorded and live) on two radio stations, with a “Two Free Trial Sessions” offer. The ads were endorsed by well-known DJs with loyal followings and began in February 2018. Since the campaign’s inception, year-over-year leads have risen 46% and revenues have increased more than 13%.
  • In Austin, 13 centers each paid $715 to advertise in 128 spots on three radio stations in February 2017, with a “free visit” offer. Year-over-year leads rose 22% and new enrollments rose 14%. Due to the campaign, YOY revenue increased 11% not just for February, but for an additional three months after the campaign ended.
  • A recently-completed regional PPC campaign running in over 70 centers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut showed some very positive initial results.

In larger markets, where dozens of centers may be clustered around a major metropolitan area, pooling resources gives the franchisees tremendous buying power. In addition to the markets listed above, regional campaigns have run or are currently running in Houston, San Diego, Chicago, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Orange County in California.

In more rural markets, regional marketing enables the few centers spread across a large area to start advertising in prestigious daily newspapers with thousands of readers, in addition to, say, their local township’s weekly newspaper.

FBCs and regional directors can help center owners determine what advertising vehicle to use or discount (if any) to offer, among other variables. For larger opportunities, FBCs can research the demographics and marketing vehicles, recommend targeted spends, negotiate pricing, and structure an arrangement among franchisees. This takes the burden off individual owners who can then continue focusing on center operations.

The Power of Saturation

Marketing regionally isn’t just about saving money on ads; it’s about the power of saturation—reaching the highest share of your target audience with a consistent, repetitive message about our brand. It benefits owners on multiple levels: Establishing and/or boosting name recognition, communicating our primacy as the region’s math education authority, and increasing traffic and revenue. It can also work to supplement national media campaigns during periods that are especially important to your region—for instance, before or after state testing or after report cards. Franchisees can also use it to drive awareness of special regional offers.

While it requires only a small slice of the $2,000 average monthly marketing budget, regional marketing does require a fair amount of patience. It’s not “advertise today, get leads tomorrow.” As with any wise investment, one must be ready to play the long game, as many of these efforts focus on driving awareness. Efforts to increase regional awareness can make it easier to gain qualified leads and enrollments through future tactical media channels.

“Like all marketing, regional marketing needs to be tested in different times and places. You can’t just do it once and expect it to work,” said Senior Director, U.S. Strategic Accounts Elizabeth Lyons. “The more consistent the message, the more places it is seen and heard, the more powerful your ROI on marketing dollars becomes. There is something about using local, trusted partners to boost the trust and confidence of families to see Mathnasium as ‘the math experts’.”

Lyons, who communicates with FBCs regularly, noted the increasing trend toward regional marketing as a sign that Mathnasium is reaching a more mature level of marketing. “Owners are moving away from the idea that they only need to market in their own territory and that all other branding, specifically awareness, belongs to national,” she said. “Now we look at it more broadly. We are seeing the power of regional marketing as strengthening both individual and national efforts.”

Beena Momin, owner/CD of the center in Denton, TX, agrees strongly. She came to Mathnasium with 13 years of experience in marketing and advertising, and she’s an expert at leveraging her dollars.

While she acknowledges that franchisees can be hesitant to take the leap into regional marketing, she says a combination of local and regional marketing is a critical requirement for success. She urges other franchisees to allocate some of their marketing spend each month to regional campaigns.

“As much as national marketing is important, students in New York look a lot different than students in Texas,” she said, observing that local franchisees are in the best position to decide together how to get the best bang for their marketing buck.

Franchise companies with household names, such as McDonald’s, Midas, and Chick-fil-A run their marketing as regional co-ops, says Momin, with a “mutual understanding that it’s a branding and awareness campaign first.”

“You have to see long-term, develop a plan for different media with goals for six months, 12 months, three years, and five years. It’s big-picture thinking, not 10 leads the next day.”

In Keller, Texas, Franchisee Carl Keating, a founding member of MFAC, pushes hard for regional marketing as the way to win hearts and minds.

“Regional marketing gives potential customers much more confidence in us as an organization, much more credibility that we’re not just operating out of our garages,” he said. “When it comes to actually selling the customer, that credibility goes a long way. Regional marketing isn’t just about attracting new leads, but about closing leads.”

Franchisees interested in regional marketing should contact their FBC for more information and look for key opportunities to reach target families in their region.