Digital marketing strategies for franchises and franchise owners have special challenges. Many not faced by non-franchise business owners. They not only need to stand out from their non-franchise competitors, they must also stand out from their local area “same franchise” owners.
As a former manager of a franchise business, I witnessed many of the difficulties personally. Often the limits on digital marketing stem directly from contract limitations placed on the franchise owner. The franchise home offices must weigh the need to protect the brand and ensure no loss of royalty payments. This can limit the freedoms they permit in individual owners’ digital marketing.
While everyone knows that people, the buyers, use Google, Bing, social media, and review sites to make buying decisions, the ability to harness all of this is a special challenge for the individual franchise owner. Regardless, there exists many digital marketing strategies for franchises and owners they must seek to have ways to employ them.
Recently, Entrepreneur Magazine published “7 Digital Marketing Strategies for Franchises” in infographic form. While this is a good guide, the question is, “what strategy would enable a franchise owner to deploy these methods?”
After reviewing it, it appears what they call the top digital marketing strategies for franchises comes from what owners think, not what the market necessarily shows is best. There’s other problems you must consider below.
7 Digital Marketing Strategies for Franchises
Unfortunately, what was provided by Entrepreneur Magazine was a list of tactics without any marketing strategy. Each is a tactic because none will singlehandedly achieve the market dominance you want without other methods being employed. Here’s a quick list of the Entrepreneur Magazine listings. With each, you’ll get a quick synopsis of why it is good or bad, or even wrong. Then later, I’ll give you a strategy to make all of work.
Local SEO – short for local search engine optimization and seen by franchise owners the number 2 best way to get customers digitally. This is according to a 2016 . Franchise owners are correct to place importance on being found high in the local search results. But this alone will not provide a huge market shift for your business. I’ll show you why later.
Pay Per Click Marketing – also known as PPC marketing, this is search engine marketing which places your ad at the top and/or bottom of search result pages. The advertising business pays for each click. Many consider this part of SEO. While this can get many more people to your web page, it doesn’t guarantee you more buyers. The problem usually is with the . And often franchises do not provide landing pages optimized for getting leads and converting to sales. This was viewed as tied with local SEO for importance by franchise owners.
Content Marketing – this form of digital marketing is either very time consuming or expensive. Just like the name suggests, it is about creating digital content a business can post on their website or syndicate around the web in places like social media. Writing things takes time. Creating the ideas takes time. Most people, including franchise owners don’t want to sit around writing blog posts, making videos, doing digital slide shows, etc. because the volume of content required to make content marketing successful is daunting to most. Honestly, content that doesn’t do effective calls to actions for the consumer doesn’t make any difference in your bottom line. Clearly a tactic because it needs additional tactics to make it effective. This was the number 4 choice in digital marketing for franchise owners.
Social Media – social media marketing was the number 1 choice of franchise owners. While it’s true that 74% or more buyers do rely on social media and look there when making buying decisions, the fact is this is time consuming for the individual franchise owner as well. It’s not easy to maintain a stream of posts buyers want to see on multiple major social media sites. Few business owners see a major increase in sales from only focusing on social media. Once again, it must be used in conjunction with other tactics to truly achieve digital dominance – which, by the way, transfers over to real people visiting your shop, store, restaurant, hotel, office, or making a donation.
Web Design – this is not a digital tactic or strategy. Having a wonderfully designed website won’t get you online market dominance. The reason is, web design does not include marketing content. You, the franchise owner must do this. In most large franchises, the franchise owner is not permitted to design their website. They must use the framework provided by the franchise home office.
It is true, that technical aspects of web design are important to your results in SEO. However, these technical things are meaningless if your website content does not deliver what consumers look for when they land there. You can quickly see why web design is not a tactic or strategy, and web design alone won’t get you customers. Here’s more on doing web design right.
Email Marketing – is one of the best ways any business owner, including a franchise owner, can stay engaged with their market consumers, and generate recurring sales. Once again, as a tactic it doesn’t work if you don’t have good content to send the readers to. When you compel readers to view content that doesn’t convert to sales, the email marketing is a waste of time. It requires good social media, useful content leading to customer action, and good sales messages. Otherwise, it’s just another email you pay for. It’s not listed as a preferred method by franchise owners. These owners are missing out when it’s part of a strategy.
Online Reputation Management – reputation management is outdated, and pretty much a waste of time and money when done as a standalone tactic. Why? Because primarily, it doesn’t market anything. Secondly, you rarely can change anything that gets posted online about you. The result is, you only become aware of what’s there. It maintains the status quo, and doesn’t change anything. Reputation marketing is what you should be doing because this gets customers buying from you, and gets them selling for you.
How to Make Digital Marketing for Franchises Effective
So far, I provided fairly negative review of the 7-digital marketing “strategies” for franchises. Seems strange since what I do is digital marketing.
The truth is, each of the 6 tactics above (along with web design, which is not a tactic or strategy) is necessary. All have very positive aspects when woven into a true digital marketing strategy. The point is, that focusing on any one of the above digital tactics without regard to the others will likely not achieve the results you hope for – high ROI, more new customers, many more repeat customers, market dominating sales.
I used to focus solely on SEO in the beginning days of our company. It did work at much lower cost then. But the digital environment for marketing changed rapidly. Thus, I shifted back to what has always worked, regardless of the environment – strategy. Having a true digital marketing strategy ensures success with high ROI results and lots of new customers coming in, and old ones keep returning. It also ensures you can adjust individual tactics as different methods become more or less effective.