Savvy franchisors nowadays look to leverage the Internet and social media to strengthen marketing and branding efforts, and in turn boost lead generation and sales at the local level for their franchisees. However, it’s next to impossible to do this well without a certain level of franchisor support and franchisee participation. It’s no secret that most franchisees are unhappy with the marketing support provided by the franchisor and these franchisees are already seeking out ways to market their locations online, more and more each day.
Since franchisors are looking to ensure brand and regulatory compliance, it’s critical to approach local online marketing very carefully to strategically include franchisees and get the best results while avoiding costly problems. Franchisors may not want to give franchisees 100% control over their online presence, or else they could run into compliance and messaging issues. At the same time, franchisors can’t be too restrictive, or they run the risk of franchisees simply breaking the rules until they are tracked down and forced to comply. Franchisors need to have a clear strategy that strikes the right balance. First and foremost, franchisors need to understand what they’re trying to accomplish, and plan their strategy that maximizes the benefits to both parties. Franchisors should ask themselves questions like:
- What are my end goals?
- What types of content are local customers interested in?
- Where do our customers ‘live’ online?
- What metrics and analytics can we use to track successes and identify areas to improve?”
Whether you’re a solo franchisee or a multi-brand franchisor, you probably have felt the shift over the past handful of years. What shift are we talking about? We’re talking about how people make buying decisions. 80% of the research is done before people reach out to your local franchise or your sales team selling your opportunity.
The first thing that we need to agree on is the fact that a Franchise is a “Local Business” and in order for this local business to be successful in a geographically targeted marketplace the business must be marketed locally. It cannot be overlooked that even though the Franchisee may be part of a national organization, each location is truly a stand-alone local business and is competing directly in their local marketplace and therefore must be marketed as an individual business in order to maximize their online exposure and lead generation.
Many Franchisors are opposed to individual Franchisee websites and are reluctant to relinquish website control to Franchisees. On the other hand, many Franchisees feel that their “hands are tied” since they have little or no control over the marketing decisions for their own business. These feelings become even more apparent when the local Franchisee determines that the Franchisor’s marketing campaign is ineffective and the resulting new business lead generation is virtually non-existent. However, with proper local SEO for each of these franchisee marketing websites, the resulting increase in targeted traffic and online lead generation would serve as a positive motivator, increasing each franchisee’s enthusiasm and satisfaction while providing the franchisor with an excellent marketing tool to share with other potential franchisees.
To better understand the best path to a successful local franchise marketing strategy, check out our most recent franchise marketing article: SEO for Franchise Businesses – What is the Best Strategy for Local Search? . The article explores how multi-unit enterprises and franchises can work together to develop a strong local online marketing program and narrow the widening gap between corporate control and the local franchise owner’s need for lead generation and business growth.