Franchises have the best of both worlds: they can combine local and national marketing strategies to spur growth. The franchisor will create the overall marketing plan and blanket customers at a national level, while each individual franchisee will take that plan and execute at the local level so it has a measurable impact in the community.
However, not every franchise is not capitalizing on this strategic advantage.
Typically, a franchisor's national marketing plan includes advertising, email campaigns, television and radio commercials, online marketing, social media (around the central brand) public relations and direct mail. All of these channels are great for creating and building brand awareness at the national level, but none of these activities actually connect the brand to local communities.
When it comes to the local level, franchisors should rely on and support franchisees because they have the necessary connections needed to grow the business. While franchisees have the upper hand in local marketing, more than 50% of franchisees feel their franchisors aren't providing them with the support they need to be successful.
While franchisees are dependent on franchisors for certain activities, there are some proactive steps that local franchisees can take to grow their business at the local level.
Local listings put your business front and center
One of the easiest ways a franchisee can contribute to local marketing is through local listings in online directories. Being listed in online directories such as Google and Yelp will give franchisees more online visibility and drive more traffic back to the franchisor's main website, thus upping SEO (search engine optimization).
Currently 51% of consumers search for local businesses on-the-go, making local listings in online directories an important part of any local marketing plan. The consistent visibility online directories provide franchisees will keep the business at the top of customers minds.
A good example of a local franchisee listing in an online directory is Subway. As you can see below, Subway's local listing brought it to the top of a mobile search page for "sandwich shop."
Responding to reviews in a timely manner
Local listings will certainly help SEO, but they aren't the only contributing factor -- reviews are also critical to the SEO mix. If you read our Google My Business blog post, you know that Google (and many other directories) will link your listings to reviews, making reviews an integral part of a local marketing strategy.
At a time when 88% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends, best practices recommend that franchisees respond to both positive and negative reviews in a timely manner in order to get the most out of review sites. While a franchisee might be discouraged by seeing a bad review, they need not give up. Studies show that 30% of reviews will turn positive if the business simply responds to the unhappy customer (and it might even be removed).
For example, this AMC movie theater could have improved their Yelp rating from the start if they simply responded. While the movie theater is lucky that the reviewer updated the review independently, it would have demonstrated good customer service if AMC had responded.
Form an online community with social media
An online community might seem like something a franchisor should manage, but when it comes to specific questions and quick responses, franchisees reign supreme.
First, let's dispel a myth about franchises: that franchisors (a national brand with a large marketing budget) and franchisees (local business with limited resources) are on different capability playing fields when it comes to marketing. National brands miss 86% of the feedback on social media channels, meaning your franchise could be missing major opportunities on social.
A good way to ensure your franchise doesn't miss any feedback is to turn the management of online communities over to those who are actually part of the community -- the franchisee. Not only will the franchisee be quicker to respond and engage with community members, they have a vested interest in the success of the online community: it means more business for their location.
For any of these measures to be successful, there needs to be clear direction to the franchisee on how to proceed. It is the responsibility of the franchisor to create a consistent brand image across all franchises. While local marketing will help create a local identity for each franchisee, there needs to be a strong brand that seen at every location.
For a guide successful local franchise marketing strategies, check out our white paper, Who Owns Local Marketing? Examining the Franchisor/Franchisee Gap. This white paper explores how multi-unit enterprises and franchises can monetize local internet marketing and how to narrow the growing gap between corporate HQ and local retail locations.
If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.