Brainstorming franchise marketing ideas for multiple locations comes with unique challenges. Franchisors need to build brand awareness for their company as a whole, while simultaneously driving traffic to individual franchisee businesses—not an easy task.
The best way to get it done is through digital marketing. Digital marketing allows franchise owners to target the right audience with their marketing efforts and create unique online profiles for each of their locations. That way, the company’s marketing efforts don’t favor one store over another.
Building a franchise marketing plan can be frustrating at times, but with the right level of collaboration, individual locations will gain the exposure they need while upholding the company brand.
- Use social media at every level of the franchise
- Get published in online publications, industry associations, local newspapers, and more
- Utilize SEO best practices for franchisors and franchisees
- Create and maintain individual Google My Business profiles
- Use both general and industry-specific directories to improve local SEO
- Create content for your website’s blog
When it comes to social media, both franchisors and franchisees should work to establish a strong social media presence. That way, franchisors can focus on building the brand, and franchisees can focus on attracting local clientele.
Let’s take the example of RE/MAX, the real estate franchise, on Twitter. First, they have a company-wide ‘franchisor’ Twitter that gets the most views and posts content from corporate.
Additionally, they have regional hub social media accounts like this one from Western Canada that help bring traffic to local realtors.
And, finally, each franchisee has their own social media presence, like this RE/MAX office located in Scottsdale, run by Karen Asuras.
Having these three levels of social media increases engagement for the company as a whole and allows individual franchises autonomy in their marketing efforts.
However, it also can lead to serious faux pas if a franchisee makes a big marketing gaffe or silly mistake that blows back on the franchise itself.
For example, a Florida RE/MAX agent named Vic Tabarinni was forced to apologize after a transphobic joke was posted on his company-branded Twitter. Tabarinni said in his apology, “I support equal rights for all, and again, I am very sorry.”
Not the best look for RE/MAX; however, this is an example of one of the cons of multi-level social media marketing for franchises.
Still, overall, separating your social media efforts into levels like this is a great way to improve your franchise marketing plan.
Besides Twitter, franchises should take advantage of every social media platform that their target customer uses, from Linkedin to Facebook.
In particular, Facebook has a lot of advantages for franchises.
For smaller franchises, or owners of multiple franchise locations, Facebook’s multiple location management tool is a must. It allows users to navigate the complexities of social media marketing for various locations, all from one platform.
At the end of the day, whether the franchisor manages multiple social media presences through tools like the one at Facebook, or if each level of the business manages their social media, what’s important is that every level of your franchise has a social media presence to engage customers.
Getting published in online publications, industry associations, local newspapers, and more is a great way to build brand reputation.
The point here is to offer quality content that informs the reader, not to create a promotional piece about your business.
Getting published is all about organic brand building and positioning your business as an authority in the industry.
Online, specifically, you can secure backlinks in your published pieces so your franchise website can improve its domain rating and move up search engine results pages (SERPs).
Given that nearly 93% of all internet search traffic comes through search engines, that makes backlinks and your website’s domain authority pretty valuable.
One method of increasing domain authority and brand mentions online is digital PR. A common tactic of Markitors’ digital PR services is ‘community panels’ that showcase industry leaders’ opinions on a certain topic.
By publishing these informative, long-form panels on industry association websites, digital PR services position your company as an expert in the industry and help improve your website’s domain rating.
It’s no secret that the majority of people find businesses and services online. That makes search engine optimization, or SEO, one of the most valuable franchise marketing ideas.
SEO is the process of increasing a website’s visibility in search engines. The goal is to bring in organic website traffic and then turn those website visitors into paying customers or clients.
For franchises, SEO can get a bit confusing. There are four main parts of SEO: digital PR, SEO content, technical SEO, and local SEO. The first three of those are all mainly for franchisors.
SEO for franchisors focuses on improving organic traffic on the main franchise website, improving brand awareness and increasing revenue. This includes digital PR services to build a strong backlink profile, content marketing to draw in organic traffic, and technical SEO to fix UX, site speed, and other technical issues.
Here are a couple of SEO tips for franchisors:
Keyword cannibalization is when your company has produced content that competes against itself, hurting your position in SERPs. This happens when you create content either on the same website or across several franchisee websites that all target the same topics and keywords.
The fact is, according to a survey from Moz of 1400 searchers, the vast majority of people never look past the first page of Google results. Those aged 13-18 click on the first result in Google’s SERPs an amazing 32% of the time.
What does this mean in terms of keyword cannibalization?
It means that if your content is competing against each other, it will be tougher for a single page to break through to the first page of results for its target topics. Instead, you may be left with several subpar pages on the second page or beyond, where over 70% of people never visit.
In short, create unique content for each domain you own and within the same website.
Duplicate content is another issue that can plague franchisor websites that are closely related to keyword cannibalization. With so many similar products and service pages, sometimes Google can read your website’s pages as duplicate content.
When a search engine detects multiple versions of the same blog, for example, it will choose to show only the one it thinks is the original.
Let’s say a franchise has five websites for its different locations, and its blog is identical across all five websites, as the franchisor felt this would be best for consistent branding. The issue here is that there are now five identical copies of each blog page and search engines will only show one. The result is a wasted opportunity to make location-specific or unique content that readers can find, no matter the location.
Utilizing local SEO for each location
SEO for franchises should be considered on two levels—first, the franchise level, and second the franchisee level.
For franchisees, the main SEO service that will provide value is local SEO.
Local SEO helps improve local businesses’ visibility in Google Local Results and on Google Maps. That drives new customers to those businesses without the franchisor having to lift a finger.
The most important aspect of local SEO is establishing and maintaining a Google My Business (GMB) profile.
Google My Business profiles for multiple locations allow your businesses to be featured in local search results like the ones below for Wendy’s…
…as well as in Google Maps.
It’s one of the easiest ways to secure more local business.
However, franchisees and franchisors need to be careful when dealing with GMB profiles, because ownership issues, “keyword stuffing,” and a number of other mistakes can cause your account to be suspended.
“Franchise listings are owned by the franchisee, NOT the franchisor. The franchisor and/or another third party can be granted access as a manager, but not as the primary owner.”
On top of that, franchisees need to be careful not to add a location term to their business name in an attempt to stuff keywords. For example, if you own a Wendy’s franchise in Cleveland, your GMB profile should not say ‘Wendy’s Cleveland’ or ‘Cleveland Wendy’s.’ Google views this as an attempt at keyword stuffing, and they will pull your profile.
Since franchise GMB profiles can be tricky, we recommend referring to Google’s GMB help page for any specific questions.
Citations are another crucial tool for local SEO within a strong franchise marketing plan. Citations are simply online references to a business. They usually contain a name, address, and phone number (called NAP), but can also include reviews, a link back to your website, maps, and more. This information needs to match your Google My Business profile to help improve local SEO.
Remember, each citation should be for only one franchise location, and citations should be obtained by franchisees, not franchisors.
One of the best places to get citations is industry-specific directories. These can be found on trade associations and local government websites, but most are privately owned directories that provide citations for a small fee.
Here’s an example of a free citation that a franchisee of Kumon Math and Reading centers were able to secure in the City of Visalia, California’s educational resources business directory:
The citation includes NAP, a map, and a link to the company’s specific franchisee website.
Still, not all franchisees can acquire industry-specific directory citations. For example, if you run a local Wendy’s, there aren’t industry-specific business directories that would add any value for your business.
Instead, you might want to focus on more well-known general directories like the White Pages or Better Business Bureau.
Here’s an example from the Better Business Bureau that illustrates how each Wendy’s franchisee has registered their business with the Bureau and received a citation including the NAP, a link, reviews, and more.
Content marketing is one of the most valuable tools around. It helps draw in organic website traffic with valuable, informative content. Whether a brand only has a single website for all locations or a separate domain for each, content marketing has benefits with the right approach. Particularly, it’s crucial to avoid keyword cannibalization and duplicate content, as mentioned before.
Every major franchise has content marketing on its site. Here’s an example from Wendy’s corporate blog.
And another example from Kumon Math and Reading centers.
Kumon often posts educational material that can then be shared on social media by its franchisees.
Here’s an example post on Twitter from a Charlotte-based franchisee, Kumon of Myers Park, posting an article written on Kumon’s main franchise website.
Beyond supplying material for franchisee social media accounts, content marketing with blogs can help improve the main franchise website’s organic traffic.
In fact, according to the SEO tools Ahrefs, this Kumon post is on Google’s first 10 pages for 263 individual search queries. That’s a great draw for potential clientele.
Blogs are a great tool for franchisors not only to support their franchisees but also to draw in more potential franchise owners.
In fact, according to data from TechClient, B2B marketers generate 67% more inbound leads when using a blog. So if your franchise is looking to expand, content marketing with blogs is a great idea.
But shouldn’t I be focused on my business?
Sometimes spending too much of your time on new franchise marketing ideas can take away from what made your business work in the first place.
Thankfully, there is plenty of expert help out there if you don’t want to go it alone. Feel free to contact us for more information. We’d be happy to help you improve your current franchise SEO, or even start from scratch.
Markitors is a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO. We help small businesses rank higher on Google to get more traffic to their websites and increase revenue. Explore what’s in our SEO toolbox: audits and keyword research, digital PR, technical SEO and local SEO.