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Key takeaways from our live Q&A with Sam Dresser

We had a blast talking email marketing for franchises during our live Q&A with Sam Dresser. Sam tackled subjects ranging from the challenges of marketing with a limited budget to the importance of maintaining brand consistency. Most importantly, he left us all with interesting, easily-applicable tips and helpful, real-life examples from School of Rock. We can definitely get behind all the amazing marketing advice and expertise he shared!

Since he covered so much, we thought it’d be a good idea to summarize some of the key takeaways from our chat – read on and enjoy!

Which marketing channels have been the most successful for School of Rock?

One of the challenges for us (and really for any growing business) is that we don’t have the money in our marketing budget to do huge, broadcast marketing campaigns – tv ads, that kind of thing – to get our name out there. But thankfully, there’s a major shift happening in the digital space that now allows brands to get their names out there in ways that are much more cost effective and that can also give you a much better ROI because they help you reach the right sort of people.

So we haven’t done a lot of the more traditional, broadcast marketing spends. Instead, we do things like working with a partner and doing co-marketing campaigns – we recently did some work with the Danny Boyle movie – and we’re very big on digital. We do a lot of Google Ad spends, Facebook ads, and of course, email marketing.

As a franchise, how do you make sure your brand stays consistent across the board?

Of course, every franchise brand does that a little differently. Some are more top-down in the way that they manage the marketing for their franchise locations, and that can be a great way to manage it. But School of Rock isn’t like that – we make things much more balanced, and we give a lot of freedom to our individual locations to manage their own marketing.

That definitely could have the potential to make us lose consistency if we didn't have the platforms and tools to help us out. For example, we were able to work with Emma’s design team to create a custom template that all of our franchise locations now use. The template is mobile-friendly, it's on-brand, but it also has the right amount of flexibility so that our schools can start with the template but tweak it to whatever message they’re trying to get out.

How does email marketing fit into School of Rock’s overall marketing strategy?

The focus on email has been relatively recent for us. Historically, we allowed our franchisees to all do their own email marketing, with whichever tools they wanted to use. But we found that to be a difficult system to manage – we couldn’t integrate email with our lead management tools or customer databases, and things got a little chaotic. 

Now that we use Emma, it's a lot easier to keep track of everything. Most of the emails that we send from our schools tend to be informational – our schools speaking directly to students and parents. For those mailings, open rates tend to be very very high because it’s all information that our recipients need to know and they're already engaged with the brand. What we’re trying to move into is getting much more intentional about emailing to prospects, leads, people who haven’t enrolled.

Can you give us an example of a recent email you’ve sent and the thought behind it?

This one was recently sent out to individuals who had expressed interest in opening up their own School of Rock. This was designed by our marketing agency but built within Emma. At Marketing United, I heard a talk about how you can use email design to inspire clicks and engagement. And a big part of that is photos – especially ones that contain people. And since we have so many great, high-quality photos of people playing music, we try to feature those as much as possible.

What are some ways you’ve been making your emails more targeted?

Our email recipients expect relevant, personalized, and timely content in their inboxes, and if we aren't providing that, they’ll unsubscribe. With features like automation, and now dynamic content, we can ensure that the right content is delivered to the right people at the right time. However, these features can only be leveraged if we have the data and events to support them.

Thankfully, Emma's integrations make a world of difference when it comes to finding and leveraging that data. We use one one of their integration partners, Front Desk, to curate a lot of that information: how long our customers have been enrolled at one of our schools, what instrument they play, when their last lesson or rehearsal was, and even their birthday! This gives us all the information and tools we need to deliver more timely, personalized, and effective email communications than ever before.

Have a question for Sam? Tell us in the comments, and we'll send them his way to answer for you!