Franchise Marketing: Care and Control of Your Content

Imagine this nightmare scenario as a franchisor: You’re excited because you’re about to sign a new national customer. You’re getting the final paperwork ready to sign when your social media manager informs you that a disgruntled franchisee has just posted inappropriate content on their local Facebook page. It’s going viral. Frantic, you try to log in to remove the offensive content only to find that you’ve been locked out and there’s nothing you can do. Hopefully, something like this has never happened to you and never will. But here are some things you can do to market effectively, help your franchise grow and reduce the possibility of this nightmare ever occurring (at least while you’re awake).

Websites. As a franchisor, you want to create a corporate website as well as consumer-facing local sites so your brand can dominate on both a national and local level. But what’s really vital is that you maintain administrative control over all these digital properties while still giving franchisees editorial access to post content relevant to their local markets. This allows you to maintain consistent brand messaging as well as take web development and franchise marketing pressure off local franchises so they can focus on growth.

Paid Search. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) can promote brand awareness on a corporate level, but it is also a great way to promote individual franchise websites locally. You can also dedicate some of your franchise marketing PPC budget to specifically target those looking to establish new franchises in areas where you want to expand. PPC can complement search engine optimization (SEO) efforts with its ability to jumpstart initial traffic generation, provide a boost during busy seasons and drive targeted traffic to local websites.

Social media. Having an active presence on the social web is more important than ever — and a powerful franchise marketing tool. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are excellent vehicles to deliver information and promote your products and services without spamming potential customers. Corporate should establish social media accounts for themselves and all their franchisees, while maintaining administrative control over all platforms. They should grant access to individual franchises so that they can post on local events and promotions.

By retaining this level of control, you can effectively manage brand messaging — and if you’re ever faced with the nightmare scenario described earlier, you can respond rapidly. Corporate can help support local franchises by using social to expand brand awareness in their markets; something that’s often challenging for franchisees to do on their own. Taking responsibility for social pages and posting high-quality social media content takes one more burden off their shoulders, so they can focus more energy on growing in their local market.

Also remember that, along with your customers, potential franchisees will also likely be looking at your social media. You can encourage new recruits by including announcements for when new franchises open and when significant sales and other business milestones are achieved.

Reviews. Online reviews are critical in local markets for B2C franchises and an important part of your franchise marketing efforts. Having a good track record of positive reviews can also help promote franchise development as prospects see the legions of customers satisfied by your franchise’s products and services.

As a franchise corporate office, you should provide a platform for franchises to generate, track, manage and respond to reviews to foster consumer confidence and engagement. But the franchisor should always maintain administrative control of all Google Maps pages.

The Takeaway. Controlling franchise marketing digital assets on the corporate and local levels as a franchisor has several important benefits:

  • Maintaining brand voice, identity and messaging prevents dilution of the brand, which ultimately benefits all franchises.
  • Relieving local franchises of the burden of establishing and maintaining websites and social channels allows them to focus more on growing in their local markets.
  • Retaining control over digital assets reduces the chance of the “nightmare scenario,” as well as a bevy of other potential problems that can result from fragmented or substandard marketing services that could be contracted by individual franchises.

Providing valuable marketing support to franchises, while maintaining control over all assets and channels, allows franchisors to put themselves in the best position possible to help both themselves and their local franchises succeed.