Officials at Papa Murphy’s, the take ‘n’ bake pizza chain with more than 1,500 locations in 38 states, 14 in Canada, and 12 in Dubai believe that locally-based marketing is the key to elevating brand awareness and customer engagement.

One of the key drivers for future success is effective and engaged marketing, CEO Jean Birch said during the company’s recent first-quarter earnings call.

“We continue to believe there is significant opportunity to drive results in our existing business through increased marketing awareness, but increasingly see local store marketing as a key component of any successful consumer engagement strategy,” Birch said.

During the first quarter, Papa Murphy’s funded a national test consisting of six full weeks of cable television advertising, focused on its core family customer and high-quality products.

“While results in some markets were quite positive,” Birch noted, “the campaign was less impactful in others. We continue to aspire to be a national brand. However, it is apparent that national advertising is not currently a solution for us. As a result, we will continue to look for cost-effective ways to increase awareness of our brand locally, including a refocus on local store marketing and additional digital strategies, including texting and social media.”

First-quarter revenue slipped 3 percent, to $32 million.

Company officials are squarely focused on their franchise partners’ interests.

“We announced our first strategic re-franchising deal, the sale of six company-owned stores,” Birch said. “This deal closed last week and is representative of our plan to re-franchise company stores to high-quality operators who have the capital and commitment to grow. We will continue to pursue similar transactions as we progress toward our goal of returning to a 95 percent franchise mix by 2020.”

Birch believes that engaged and thriving franchise owners are the key to success of any franchise business. Company executives met with more than 100 franchise owners at roundtable meetings in eight different markets recently.

“The outcome of these discussions brought forth our recently launched franchise relations pact,” she said. “This pact will serve as the foundation for our franchisor-franchise owner relationship, one rooted in mutual trust, respect, and our common destiny. We believe the ideals contained in the pact will help us strike the appropriate balance of franchisor leadership and local engagement, which is the foundation of a successful franchise business. We see our role as one of service to and support of our franchise owners with a shared goal of profitability and mutual prosperity. Our near-term strategies are designed to return the business to sustained growth and profitability and are tied directly to the success of our franchise owners.”

What’s more, Papa Murphy’s continues to test value offers.

“We offered a pair of medium 2-top pizzas for $5.99 each, on par with offers from other pizza competitors, but for our far superior quality product,” Birch said. “We sweetened these meals offers with our new Cowboy Cookie Dough; scratch-made cookie dough with oats, coconut, white chocolate chips, and semisweet chocolate chips available for a limited time for just $5. We expect to maintain a robust new product pipeline for the future and look forward to sharing more about product innovation.”

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