Comprehensive guide to franchise marketing

Both in the US and worldwide, franchise marketing continues to see growth. Whether that trajectory will persist through global economic turmoil remains to be seen, of course, but the industry remains optimistic. In either case, franchise marketing presents some unique dynamics that may challenge marketers. As the digital marketing agency NYC trusts, we at Digital Dot feel this warrants some exploration. Whether you’re a franchisor or franchisee, this comprehensive guide should hopefully help you in your efforts to thrive.

What is franchise marketing?

Reading this article, chances are high you’re already familiar with what franchise marketing is and entails. In the US alone, Statista finds there were over 753,700 franchise establishments in 2021. Still, as an introductory note to a very crucial, rather unique distinction, let us briefly define it.

In the above dossier, Statista defines franchising as follows:

“The franchising industry […] includes arrangements where a company licenses the use of their brand, products and processes to a separate business, which then operate under the name of the larger company.”

This definition introduces two key terms, as regards franchise marketing, which we will be using across this guide:

  • The franchisor – the creator and owner of the original parent company. The franchisor establishes the branding franchisees will use, maintains creative control, and often works toward selling franchises.
  • The franchisee – the individual or partnership that acquires the license to operate under the franchisor’s model and terms. The franchisee will primarily focus on their own store’s day-to-day operations while building on the franchisor’s credibility.

As you may have assumed, it is this delicate balance that inherently complicates franchise marketing. A franchisor will cooperate with multiple franchisees, and all parties will need to maintain a coherent course. They will divide marketing focus and responsibilities while working toward the same goal of brand growth and trust.

Franchise marketing models

In addition, franchise marketing will often follow one of two distinct models. This too will bear significance going forward, as it will inform the course of all parties. Using the illustrations of Unleashed Technologies’ Timothy Prestianni, here we may also briefly glance through them.

#1 Developmental

The first model focuses on franchise development, as the name suggests. In a sense, it is the franchisor-minded model between the two, as it prioritizes brand growth.

A visualization of the franchise development marketing model and its goals.

This model sees the franchisor expand to additional markets, and position themselves to more franchisees. In doing so, its applications boost the parent company’s revenue.

#2 Operational

The second model focuses on operations instead, becoming the franchisee-minded model – largely, but not entirely. This model prioritizes customer acquisition and retention, alongside brand reputation strategies.

A visualization of the operational franchise marketing model and its goals.

In many ways, this model is ever-present throughout franchise marketing. It does offer different priorities, but typically denotes operational stability and secures a stable market position.

Franchise marketing strategies

Having established the above, then, we may consolidate franchise marketing’s primary unique factors as:

  • Multi-party marketing; the franchisor and franchisees must maintain cohesion.
  • Multi-location marketing; franchisees need to account for the market of their unique location.
  • Dual marketing models; franchise development and operational franchise models entail different strategies and priorities.

All three of these factors will significantly inform franchise marketing, from planning to execution. To illustrate this, let us explore the 5 most noteworthy franchise marketing strategies today.

#1 National SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing mainstay, and for good reason. Any SEO company NYC offers will attest to this, as data continues to confirm search engine rankings are crucial:

A graph on the click-through rates of Google search results by position.

It certainly presents its challenges, however, as SEO consists of over 200 ranking factors – each with its own best practices.

Still, at a fundamental level, SEO is the responsibility of all parties in franchise marketing. Whether one is selling through their website or not, it is very often the first contact point of new customers. Optimizing business websites toward SEO is thus a business imperative, regardless of party, operations, or model.

All that said, “general” or “national” SEO primarily burdens the franchisor. The brand’s main website will serve as the hub for further landing pages, location-specific pages and content, and more. As such, before all else, the franchisor must ensure seamless SEO to let all parties prosper.

#2 Local SEO

In contrast, local SEO focuses on individual locations – as the name suggests. Just like its broader counterpart, local SEO statistics show that it plays an increasingly vital role in business success.

In this context, local SEO presents a curious balance in franchise marketing. It begins with a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business, “GMB”) that is unique to the location, and then needs to cater to unique location factors like:

  • Locally valuable keywords and content
  • Backlinks from local sources
  • Distinct, locally-focused profiles

At the same time, these unique factors and content strategies need to align with broader, established brand guidelines. These dynamics also seep into social media marketing, email marketing, and Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing, as we’ll cover next.

Still, unlike “general” or “national” SEO, local SEO primarily burdens the franchisee. Regardless of the model, local SEO ensures seamless operations and an essential focus on local audiences that drive growth. Strong local SEO strategies benefit both the franchisee and the franchisor, but implementing and managing one lies with the former.

#3 Social media marketing

If the above seemed tricky so far, near-mandatory social media marketing strategies take these dynamics a step further. Social media marketing remains an incredibly powerful tool worldwide, and Statista notes its continued prominence in the US as well.

However, the above dynamics come in full swing here. In franchise marketing, social media marketing requires very close collaboration and very clear boundaries between franchisors and franchisees. For this reason, any social media marketing agency New York offers will require a careful review of a franchisee’s contract.

Exact terms will vary across contracts, but should typically include the following:

  • The franchisor maintains and operates all branded social media profiles
  • The franchisee maintains and operates location-specific social media profiles
  • Media kits, reviews, and other measures guarantee a consistent brand voice between the two

For a visual example of this, consider the following Facebook profile of Australian restaurant franchise Hungry Jack’s:

The Facebook profile of Australian restaurant franchise Hungry Jack’s.

Here you can observe the brand’s logos, their brand voice of choice, links to their homepage, and more. In turn, consider the following example of a Hungry Jack’s franchisee’s Facebook profile:

The Facebook profile of a franchisee of Australian restaurant franchise Hungry Jack’s.

As you can see, brand logos and media remain consistent. This profile clearly states its location in its name, and its activities specifically cater to its local market.

But here you can also observe how this specific location receives poor reviews. This metric would typically only concern the individual business, as it only affects its own local rankings. However, franchise marketing also reflects badly on the parent brand and diminishes its reputation. It is factors like these that make franchise marketing complex and challenging for all parties.

#4 Email marketing

Much like social media marketing, email marketing remains a potent marketing staple. With a staggering ROI of 3600+%, very few marketers can afford to overlook this channel. Still, the same dynamics of franchise marketing we discussed above apply to email marketing. They require a clear distinction between parties’ marketing teams and a carefully controlled approach.

In brief, the franchisor needs to maintain a control center, from which they can maintain central authority. They can then set up sub-accounts for each franchisee, storing data, customizing permissions, and potentially reviewing outreach. As they do, they can also share media kits for additional brand consistency.

In contrast, the franchisee needs to run successful email campaigns within the franchisor’s guidelines. Just as with local SEO and social media marketing, they need to drive business growth through successful marketing strategies. They need to ensure email personalization, catering to their own unique audiences, all while building brand trust and credibility.

#5 PPC

Finally, as a PPC agency NYC trusts, we cannot overlook the invaluable channel that is PPC. As we’ve covered in past content, paid marketing offers immense opportunities for growth and a terrific synergy with organic marketing.

As with all marketing, the first challenge lies in identifying profitable PPC channels. Perhaps unsurprisingly, franchise marketing also typically focuses on paid search marketing. The data behind this PPC decision is clear, as 99Firms illustrates:

An infographic on where users are most likely to click on paid ads.

That said, finding ideal paid marketing channels is only half the proverbial battle in franchise marketing. Here, too, franchisors and franchisees have different criteria and uses for PPC, such as:

  • Locality; franchisees will need to engage in Google Maps marketing, whereas franchisors may more easily focus on broader channels.
  • Uses; franchisors may use PPC to attract franchisees through such means as LinkedIn marketing, while franchisees will mostly focus on local customers.
  • Remarketing; franchisors and franchisees will handle remarketing and retargeting differently, and will often keep such strategies separate from one another.

These are of course just examples of fundamental differences. PPC marketing for franchises also includes an array of other, subtler differences that will often depend on individual parties, contracts, industries, and localities. Still, all such differences typically revolve around the key dynamics of franchise marketing we’ve covered thus far.

Conclusion

To summarize, franchise marketing entails the unique challenge of multi-party marketing. Franchisors need to maintain control and bolster the parent brand’s image, while franchisors have to ensure their operations succeed in their individual locations. These dynamics inform and span across local and general SEO, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid marketing strategies. Still, with proper communication and clear boundaries, franchise marketing can seamlessly ensure brand growth and success for all parties.

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