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NIFA Q2 2023 | Beyond Four Walls: The Energy You Give and How to Capture Market Share

Brand relationships with customers are like a first date. Yes, seriously. At the end of a first date, you have two options: friend zone or take it to the next level. It is no different in brands. Brands who don’t seek to get out of the friendzone and create brand love, end up focusing the majority of their time on trying to solve brand problems.

At the recent Northern Illinois Franchise Association Q2 gathering, Entrepreneur CMO Game Changer, Doug Zarkin, led an inspiring keynote covering all aspects of what makes a truly powerful brand and the relationships that franchisors should have with their customers and franchisees. Here’s an inside look at the conversation:

The single most powerful tool in a marketer’s toolbox is their reputation. If you spend nothing on marketing, spend time managing your online presence.

“The hardest thing in franchising is helping the franchisees understand that you are only as good as your worst location,” Zarkin said. “What one does impacts the rest. From day one, it is about creating a sense of ownership and accountability for themselves, but also the brand.”

How do you begin to build that reputation? One of the most powerful ways is getting out of your four-walled environment.

A successful initiative Zarkin introduced at Pearle Vision is their CORNEA program, an acronym that stands for community outreach and reinforces neighborhood eyecare activation. With this plan, $1,000 per location was carved out of their national marketing budget for franchisees to sponsor local events in their market. The only catch, those events had to be an opportunity to do either screenings or adjustments.

From Friday night football games to local street fairs, Pearle Vision would cover the costs of renting a van, plus any decorations or raffle prizes. But franchisees had to get out of the store and into the community. These proved to be a great success, with an average of 18 new signups per store, which is almost an entire week’s book of exams.

Zarkin proved the impact of community activity cannot be understated.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Doug and our sponsor, Specialized Accounting Services, for making this event possible. To continue nurturing these connections and facilitating the exchange of best practices, we invite all attendees to join our vibrant NIFA LinkedIn group.

As we look forward, NIFA has exciting plans for upcoming events in Q3 and beyond. If you are interested in sponsoring an event or have a topic suggestion, please reach out to Lauren Izaks. Your support and ideas are highly valued.

For more information about our organization and to stay updated, please visit our website at



About Our Panelists


Doug Zarkin, Entrepreneur Franchise CMO Game Changer
Passionate about teams, talent and culture, as well as the redefinition of brands in categories such as; health and wellness, fashion, beauty, entertainment and hospitality, Doug Zarkin has fostered an enhanced degree of accessibility for consumers in a new era of tech empowerment. Doug is a proven modern marketing leader, committed to driving growth and human impact—both inside and outside corporations. His approach to building brands through “thinking human” has generated a proven track-record of results across a variety of verticals. A consumer champion, brand storyteller and influencer within the c-suite and critically at the associate level, Doug is a skilled executive in not just developing but implementing strategic change and innovation throughout even the most complex organizations structures.

About Our Sponsors 

Specialized Accounting Services
Specialized Accounting Services is a CPA firm focused on Accounting, Tax and Consulting services for franchisees, promoted via franchisors. SAS adds value to the franchise by providing benchmarking, consistency and timeliness for the franchise.



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