How Your National Franchise Business Can Own Local Search
Published: October 12, 2017
Author: Scott Fish
Owning a franchise is an exciting and dream-fulfilling decision. Often the decision to start a franchise includes consideration into how much support the national brand will give your newly opened franchise business. Most franchise agreements include fees being paid into a corporate marketing fund or co-op marketing fund that will help support the local brands with national advertising. This obviously has benefits for a new business: connections with advertising channels are already in place, marketing materials have been created, and brand recognition is a key ingredient in jump-starting your new franchise.
Do you need more marketing power?
The easy answer is YES. You do need more marketing support than the corporate marketing that your franchise business is getting. We work with franchise businesses around the US in industries including hospitality, senior care services, commercial and residential restoration, and coffee franchise businesses. These are the marketing strategies that we recommend to our clients and the gaps that we often see needing to be filled.
Own Your Website Presence
Owning the experience that potential customers have on your website is critical – it can mean the difference between a visitor leaving immediately and a visitor becoming a customer. Many nationally strong franchise businesses will offer a website page and section on their national website URL. For example, Servepro.com is the home to thousands of franchises around the US, each with their own unique page and ‘starter content’ that is not always unique to their location. While this offers SEO benefits of having a strong domain that can rank well in the search engines, oftentimes it isn’t enough. SERVPRO franchise owners may want to drive more traffic to their site with different content than what’s allowed on the national site, or they may simply want to try A/B testing of a landing page to see if they can drive more leads. Either way, a standalone site that you can control and own is recommended for a franchise owner who wants to own and direct the user experience.
Own Your Local Listing Presence
Your Google Local listing is gold. Google’s dominance in the local search space is hard to ignore – they are the single largest driver of local traffic for most businesses. The first thing that any franchise owner should do is to set up their Google Local listing and built it out as much as possible. The second thing that should be created is a strategy to obtain more reviews in their Google listing. Local listings and the reviews are some of the top factors needed to improve your local SEO rankings.
Own Your Social Media
Social media marketing is hyper-local, it’s conversational, and it’s a connection between people and not just a brand. It is important for a franchise owner to have a strong grasp of their social media marketing strategies, not only so that they can drive more leads and sales, but so that they can control the customer experience for their location.
Undoubtedly the national company that you’re working with will have a Facebook page, and perhaps a Twitter page. You should have one too! Carefully think about where your audience will be and consider starting a social media presence in those communities. Not everyone needs a Twitter account, especially if they’re honest with themselves and realize that they’re not going to actively manage it. Facebook has a product called Facebook Business Manager. It’s a spot where you can place multiple Facebook pages, ad accounts, and users under one roof and easily manage your assets together. A franchised business should have this centrally set up for all their franchise owners, but if not, you can set it up for one or many franchise locations that you own.
Here’s what it looks like for a basic setup with a few ad accounts and a few pages being managed:
Finally, owning your social media experience is important, but being able to tap into your potential audience with customized demographic ads is critical for increasing sales leads. One strategy that many local franchise business employ with success is to use their email address lists to create Custom Audiences within Facebook, Twitter, and other channels so that they can target their exact customers when they are using the social media platforms. These are some of the options that Facebook advertising offers for creating custom ad segments based on how you want to reach new people on their platform.
Own Your Email Marketing and Lists
Email marketing serves the purpose of creating new leads, curating current customers into brand loyalists, and reactivating past customers to become current customers. These three powerful strategies are things to think about when you start a franchised business. You should own your email lists and your email marketing. Whether you choose to use an email platform like MailChimp or utilize the national company’s email platform, owning the email experience should be a priority. As mentioned before, using your email list for social media cross marketing is a great idea, and you can use your email list building strategy to create new opportunities for your business. Remember – own your email marketing so that you can create new leads, expand current customers, and reactivate past customers.
Own Your Lead Generation Experience
During the past 15 years, I’ve seen many companies deciding to spend tens of thousands of dollars of paid search, social media ads, or SEO in an effort to drive more leads. Choosing your marketing channel is only half the battle – the lead closing or customer service experience is the other half, and that has to be tested, monitored, and developed so that the leads are not wasted.
Finally, using a phone call tracking system will help you tie all of your marketing efforts together and help you understand what channels are driving calls.
During the next several years, Google’s importance in driving local search will likely shift, but they will always be a major factor in driving leads for local franchise businesses. Channels change, the way that people search for services change, but the importance in owning your local business franchise presence will always be present.
Whether you’re starting a new franchise or have many years of franchise business experience, make sure that your local search strategies, social media assets, email marketing opportunities, and lead generation methods are dialed in. It’s the only way to keep the phone ringing.