As with many things, franchising and local marketing is a series of ingredients that must be put together in the right way and baked at the right temperature to produce a perfect cake.
Although the headline of this article refers to ‘marketing’ The underlying I would really like to discuss is franchise support, and how crucial it is that both at a franchisor and franchisee level, we fill important and common gaps in the local marketing strategy. Why is this important when it comes to effective franchise support? Well, that is simple. As a franchisor, you are constantly striving to identify any weaknesses in your system, and in order to do that, you have to systematically ‘plug the gaps” so that eventually the only variable is the implementation of the system, not the system itself.
As the most dynamic part of growing a franchise, Marketing gets the most attention but often has the most ‘gaps to fill’ too – usually in fundamental areas that should never be neglected.
Google my business, (Maps)
This is possibly the most neglected marketing element in franchising. That is partly because franchisors do not understand how it works and the crucial role it plays in their local marketing strategy.
In a recent survey by Brandify, 77% of respondents used google maps as their primary search tool for local services, and let me tell you, it is not as simple as just ‘being listed’. A few weeks ago, I sat not even 10 meters away from a franchisees store, searched for their service and they came up 23rd on the map’s listings.
Here are the 6 critical elements that one must get right in order to maximise one’s returns from Google My Business.
- Get your category and description right and be as accurate as possible
- Build your Google reviews – they make a big difference to your ranking
- Constantly add new and relevant photos
- Attributes must be as accurate as possible
- Google Posts are key – post weekly to increase your ranking
- Manage the Google Q&A on a regular basis
It’s nearly impossible in this modern world to ignore reputation management, especially since it is one of the fundamental responsibilities of a franchisor. In fact, one might argue that the whole basis of a franchise agreement is reputation management, yet many franchisors still neglect this area of responsibility.
As mentioned above, reviews make a huge difference to the success of a franchise network and, because online reviews and feedback are ‘global’, it falls squarely on the shoulders of the franchisor to manage this ‘global’ reputation. Of course, there are potentially hundreds of channels to monitor but thankfully there are a few incredible franchise-specific software solutions that should be a part of the basic toolkit for any modern franchisor.
Centralised social media management
Following on from the previous two points, it should be quite clear that having some control of the online & social media content and narrative is incredibly important. Gone are the days when a franchisor can just simply say ‘do your own social media’ without guidelines and rules. Gone are also the days when it is OK to have only some franchisees do social media posts and others not. This links back to reputation management for obvious reasons.
Modern franchising demands a hybrid approach which has been made possible by specialist franchise technology. This technology allows the franchisors to create image & content libraries, which franchisees can access and adapt to their local area, whilst also allowing centralised, network-wide posts to be published by the franchisor. The best of both worlds.
Importantly, this centralisation takes a lot of pressure off the franchisees when it comes to creating social media content and consequently, they end up posting more content due to the fact that they have the ‘library’ for inspiration.
Paying attention to these three ‘gaps’ is vital to ensure the ongoing growth and success of your network. By getting these three elements right, you are ultimately ensuring three things.
- You are maximising your local digital marketing
- Your brand reputation is well managed
- Your brand messaging is consistent and of a high quality
The result: More sales, greater profits and of course, happier franchisees!