When thinking about franchise marketing, you have to consider two different causes: What the marketing will do for the consumer, and what it will do for franchise development. While both can benefit from the same marketing ideas and techniques, how they will benefit differ pretty significantly. Unfortunately, many franchise companies miss this little fact and focus their marketing methods too heavily on one cause over the other.
Being able to make this distinction can help you understand how to structure your marketing strategies for growth in both areas of your business and bring you overall success.
- Search Engine Marketing (PPC & SEO)
By now most franchise companies know that search engine marketing means bringing visibility to your company on search engines through either paid search advertisements or organic search earned through SEO practices. However, differentiating between how this helps your franchise grow and how consumers will react is an important distinction:
Consumer: When it comes to the consumer, both PPC and SEO will help drive qualified traffic to your individual franchisee local page. This ultimately helps you generate more leads/sales because your franchisee location/information pages will hopefully be shown to a targeted and relevant audience that is most likely to convert. It saves consumers time because they are immediately taken to the page that means the most to them thanks to your ads and to SEO efforts.
Franchise Development: Both help drive more prospective franchisees to your franchise websites, which again helps to generate more leads/sales. This actually benefits franchise development the same way as consumers, the only difference is your ads and organic search entries are optimized for this audience and deliver prospects interested in starting a franchise.
- Encourage Online Reviews/Testimonials.
Online reviews can come from many different avenues. Yelp, Amazon, and Google reviews are probably the most popular, but online reviews can also come from other search engines, the Better Business Bureau, a local directory, and more. Testimonials are a bit easier because you control the reviews you display on your site, but in either case they can make a big difference:
Consumer: Reviews are important for local franchise businesses because they allow consumers to see other consumers' experiences with their product/service. According to a Search Engine Land study, 79 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Although you don't always have full control over online reviews, it's important you monitor them and do you best to increase your number of online reviews, which you can learn more about here.
As for testimonials, well you do have control over these, so it would be a wasted opportunity to not include them on your site.
Franchise Development: Testimonials are important to franchise development because they allow prospective franchisees to see how current franchisees' businesses are performing as well as their experiences with the corporate branch. After all, seeing poor reviews isn't going to get anyone to come to your franchise let alone interested in opening one.
- Create a Community.
This is one that franchise companies tend to forget. Being part of a community doesn't necessarily have to mean a physical geographical community (although it can). A community can happen through social media as well. However you can create that sense of belonging and community can help your franchise development and consumer connections:
Consumer: Being a part of a community can help consumers learn more about your product/service. It also allows the local franchisee, to show that they care about their local community and are putting in the work to help it succeed. Communities want to feel like they are doing something to help their local economy, so creating that sense of community helps.
As for social media, that community can help you get the word out there about your brand, promotions you're having, etc. in front of a relevant audience.
The goal here is to attract more franchises in the locations where you don't already have a franchise, so sometimes this can be tough. Social media can help make this a possibility by showing the opportunities your business offers directly next to your target market. In other words, those who are seeing your social media campaigns are your target market, so your products and services as well as those who interact are all right there in one place.
Once you see who is the most active on social media, you can start creating more customized content and emails to eventually start up a conversation. As they say in the industry, "nurture" the relationship.
- Build awareness in the media.
This is one aspect of franchise marketing that has become more important in recent years. Building awareness of your brand in the media is a great way to find that balance for your two goals:
Consumer: Local newspapers and TV stations want to know what's happening in the communities they cover, so reach out to publishers, editors and producers with press releases of anything newsworthy at your business. Offer to write a free column that benefits a news outlet's audience. You will be surprised at how interested many local media sources are about your business.
However, remember, always make sure you're offering relevant information and have something you can offer back to these media outlets. If you act like you don't know anything about that newspaper or radio station it will be hard to get back in their good graces.
Franchise Development: Build relationships with media outlets and provide them with in-house research performed about their industry and their franchise system as a whole. Make it something valuable and interesting that the general public would want to read or share. Again, it's all about creating something relevant for the public when it comes to media sources.