5 Tips for Creating a Franchise Marketing Strategy
Creating a cohesive marketing strategy that meets the needs of both the franchisee and franchisor is a pain point for many networks. As franchisors know, you can’t merely place your network into one box and think of them as a singular group or organization.
Your franchisees could be spread across an entire region, state, or even span multiple countries, all with different needs and perspectives. Of course, it would be too time-consuming and costly to create completely unique marketing plans for each store in your network. Instead, you have to create a strategy that serves a massive group of business owners at once, rather than a sole business. To make matters more complicated, you have the burden of maintaining brand reputation and unity across this large body of people.
Like regular business models, digital marketing is non-negotiable. But, unlike regular business models, digital marketing for franchises is full of additional elements that make the entire process more complex. Below we outline the marketing efforts your franchise should focus on and how to best reach the goals of all parties while adhering to brand guidelines.
Ensure Brand Consistency
With so many people involved in your network, it gets challenging to maintain a unified brand identity across your marketing channels. But, all of your efforts need to have a consistent voice. Many networks struggle with franchisees wanting to do things their own way on social media, websites, email marketing, etc. One way to mitigate this is to provide branded assets (e.g. templates for social media photos and videos, email campaigns, and poster signs) that give the franchisee some flexibility while maintaining consistency.
Of course, it’s encouraged for franchisees to integrate their own content to better target their local markets (we’ll cover this more later). Although you don’t want to stifle creativity, you need to ensure your network is represented well. Putting parameters in place can help clarify what is and isn’t appropriate to share. Create brand guidelines to educate on what terms and topics to include and avoid, so all franchisees have an understanding of what is expected of them. It’s helpful to delegate a person on your team to monitor social activity for any violations.
Focus on Local SEO
In a franchise network, search engine optimization efforts need to be made at the local level. Nearly everyone with a smartphone conducts a “near me” search, so your individual store websites should be optimized to rank on the first page of results for location-based services. Link building and location-specific keyword research are great building blocks for increasing website visibility. At the franchisee level, they can enhance their presence by crafting articles targeted directly to a local readership. If, at the franchisor level, you manage online listings for your network, you want to ensure consistency among the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of a location across all directories.
As voice search grows more popular, you may want to consider altering a location’s website content to fit a more conversational tone. For example, rather than searching for a “mobile repair store near me,” a user would more likely say, “What is the best mobile repair store near me?”. Consider content that answers these questions naturally while working in the city and state names of your store.
Integrate Location-Specific PPC Campaigns
In many networks, it’s common for one marketing professional or a team of professionals to oversee all franchisee PPC efforts. Most franchisees aren’t trained in PPC advertising, and it’s not as cut-and-dry as social media marketing – although many special considerations need to be made there, as well, as discussed below.
All PPC campaigns begin with keyword research. You have to know what people are searching for online when looking for your company. Tools like SEMrush and Moz are especially helpful in nailing down words and phrases related to your products and services, brand, and specific locations. Use these lists to build out campaigns with location-specific ad creatives and landing pages. Each time a user clicks on the ad, they should be directed to the contact page or another relevant page on the locations’ website.
Geo-targeting is a huge consideration, especially in large franchise networks with many stores covering an area. You’ll want to set parameters for your campaigns to only reach people within a certain radius of the franchise store. Keep in mind that areas with more franchise locations will have a smaller geo-targeting radius. Aside from store overlap, you’ll also need to think about how far a customer would travel to visit your store. It doesn’t always make sense to target beyond 10-15 miles.
Encourage Franchisees to Be Active on Social Media
Many franchises offer some degree of social media support through a national advertising fund. This is great because it ensures all store pages receive some activity. However, we also strongly recommend encouraging franchisees to share content on their store pages. Content tailored to local markets tends to outperform content generated for the masses, so it’s always great when franchisees can work in news, updates, or general information that is pertinent to their location. As we mentioned before, you’ll need to establish guidelines on what should and shouldn’t be shared.
Especially given these limitations, it’s helpful to include content ideas your franchisees can post about. Check out a sample of ideas listed below:
- Advertise any products or services unique to your location
- Share an in-progress photo of a product or service you’re working on
- Feature employees, and ask them to provide info related to their position, fun facts about themselves, etc.
- Answer a commonly-asked question about your product or service
- Share links to blogs written by your store or the franchisor
- Highlight any awards or certifications you receive
- Highlight any community service initiatives you were involved in
- Use Google’s Marketing Kit to share positive customer reviews
- Show support for other local businesses by resharing their content
- Hold contests or giveaways – can collaborate with other businesses on giveaways
You should think of other ideas specific to your business and industry that franchisees would post about. But, these ideas should get you started!
If you have enough interest in social media advertising, you could also consider running advertising campaigns on behalf of your franchise units. On Facebook, you can manage many different pages under one ad account, making it easier to bring all your efforts together.
Make Email a Collaborative Effort
Email marketing is another must, but it also has to be carefully managed by both parties. Our team finds maintaining a database of email sign-ups at the franchisor level to be effective. Then, we break out our main subscriber lists into specific segments based on interests and location.
Like social media, franchisees should supplement the franchisors’ efforts with campaigns tailored to their local audience. Email is a great tool to share location-specific deals, product/service announcements, and much more. Using templates provided by corporate, or by designing a brand-approved campaign, franchisees can send out content tailored to a specific audience. Franchisees can grow their email lists by providing easy sign-up opportunities on their website or in-person.
Franchise marketing is truly a comprehensive effort – one that requires participation at the store owner and franchisor level. With all these considerations in mind, you should be on your way to crafting a well-rounded digital marketing strategy for your network!