If you’re a business owner or marketer, you’ll know that an effective digital marketing strategy must cover a range of different disciplines, such as social media marketing, PPC, email, and more.
Though your ongoing approach to these marketing tactics may be effective in the context of running a single-location business, multi-location franchises require a slightly different approach.
If you want all your business locations to thrive along with the main branch, you’ll need to adapt your marketing to the nuances of each branch, make sure your resources are being allocated depending on the intensity of local competition, and ensure that all your franchisees are reading from the same page.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how multi-location marketing strategies differ from single-location marketing, and some of the best strategies you can use to improve your overall ROI.
What is Multi-Location Franchise Marketing?
Franchise marketing refers to any marketing strategies and methods that are intended to promote your business across several locations.
Successful franchise marketing requires input from both a franchisor and their franchisees. The franchisor needs to lay a foundation for their marketing campaigns by establishing a strong and instantly-recognizable brand with a replicable business model. From there, they must set specific marketing targets and standards which their franchisees must adhere to for branding consistency and long-term growth.
Even if you’re an expert in marketing for single-location brick and mortar businesses, multi-location marketing can be a challenge. You’ll have your own ideas of the branding, messaging, and strategies that you’ll want to apply at a franchisor level, but your franchisees are likely to have their own unique goals and marketing methods that are tailored to their local environment.
One of the biggest difficulties faced by franchisors is striking a balance between a consistent brand identity and approach to marketing, and the unique requirements of the different franchisees. For an individual franchise to succeed, it needs clear marketing direction from the franchisor, but also a certain degree of freedom that will let them succeed in their local market.
As a franchisor with multiple franchisees working to succeed in their individual arenas, you’ll need to create a marketing strategy that serves the needs of all parties.
4 Franchise Marketing Strategies for ROI in Multi-Locations
Now that you’ve got an overview of what franchise marketing strategies are, let’s list off some of the most effective strategies to improve your ROI across multiple locations. These proven techniques should help you to consolidate the aims of both franchisor and franchisee, and guide your business towards stronger, more sustainable growth.
Understand How your Customer Base Differs Across Locations
Every business leader knows that one of the secrets to successful marketing is having a keen understanding of your target market. However, when you’re working to optimize your franchise marketing strategy, you can’t take a blanket, scattergun approach.
Customer behavior, needs, and interests can vary significantly from city to city and region to region. You need to learn and understand these nuances in order to create the kind of personalized experiences that will supercharge your brand equity and marketing.
One of the easiest ways to start the process of segmenting your customer base is using Google Analytics to sort your audience into different geographic locations, and analyze their interaction with your franchise sites to determine how satisfied they are with each franchise’s product or service offering.
Once you’ve identified the regions that are flourishing and the ones that are lagging behind, you can cross-reference this by segmenting geographic search data using tools like Google Trends, and see how certain topics relating to your business are performing in different areas.
If, for example, you’re running a chain of coffee shops, you might find that less populous areas have a higher volume of general terms, such as “brunch cafe” or “corner cafe”, while searches in built-up urban areas have more specific searches like “matcha cafe” or “vegan cafe”.
Once you’ve determined the things that define each region your franchise serves, you’ll soon have the info you need to craft diverse marketing materials which will speak directly to your localized audiences.
Develop a Signature Experience
Though almost all modern marketing is digital marketing, when it comes to franchises, your marketing strategy will have to move off the computers to ensure it gets results.
The experience your customers have shouldn’t vary depending on the staff member they interact with, and everything from the premises’ branding to the card payment machine that customers use should be as consistent as possible for every location. Even if your franchise locations are scattered all over the country, inconsistencies in the experience customers receive can quickly drag down brand equity in the constantly-connected world we live in.
To make sure the customer experience is working for you, rather than against you, you need to set out a signature experience by setting definitive, non-negotiable standards that should be met at every single stage of the customer journey.
Set some time aside to liaise with your franchise managers, and audit the way each branch is being run in the context of franchise-wide goals. This will typically involve a lot of training or retraining to ensure all employees know how their job feeds into the long-term goals of the company, and that personal interpretation is removed completely from all systems and processes.
While overseeing the training of front-line staff, it’s also important to communicate with management to make sure they’re aware of what you’re trying to achieve, and how this will be measured. Initiative success metrics such as revenue, staff retention, customer satisfaction metrics, and more can all be great ways to see how effective your audit is, and give your managers a useful benchmark to measure their success against.
Develop a Local SEO Strategy
When running a franchise business model, you need to practice good SEO on both a national and local level. Nation-wide SEO often comes naturally to franchise companies in the early days of their operation as they seek to grow the company with new franchisees, but once these branches are established, you’ll need to concentrate your SEO resources on the local level to ensure long-term success.
One of the quickest methods to bolster your local SEO is to research keywords that are exclusive to certain regions, and optimize your location pages for those terms. It’s also important to set some time aside for local listing management, ensuring that any local directories where your branches appear are accurate down to the last detail.
Another big part of local SEO is establishing your brand as a part of local communities through location-specific content. This is especially important for branches that are in more rural, thinly-populated areas rather than big cities that may be oversaturated with competitors.
Try to fill your content calendar with regional content that’s specific to each one of your locations, and establish your brand as one that cares about being part of the local community.
This can be a challenge when you’re working from a single, centralized location, but digging around in the right news agencies and social media platforms is sure to help you brainstorm some great ideas. It can also be helpful to get regional managers involved, encouraging them to keep you up to date with local news and events, and suggesting ways that this can be included in your local content marketing.
Standardize the Level of Marketing Autonomy for All Branches
When you’re setting out to execute an effective franchise marketing strategy, there are two main schools of thought as to how you should approach marketing management: either delegate marketing activities to the individual teams managing your franchise branches, or streamline your marketing from one central point in order to group the activities of all locations. Whichever one you choose, it’s important to have a standardized level of marketing autonomy for consistent results across all branches.
Each of these comes with their own array of challenges. If you’re hoping to manage the marketing strategies for each branch through one centralized team, then this can be a very demanding undertaking, and could represent a drain on resources. On the other hand, when each branch of the franchise has a lot of autonomy for drafting and executing strategy, it can present challenges in terms of communication, branding consistency, spend, and a general lack of visibility.
If you’re wondering which course of action is best for your brand, carry out a self-assessment to determine how well-suited your company is for either approach at present. You should begin the process by getting an accurate read of the capacity for both your team and the marketing managers for each branch, determining how much time both you and your location managers have to oversee marketing strategies, and the time available to execute any training required to bring marketing up to speed.
If you’re foreseeing big rewards for decentralizing your franchise marketing, but you’re concerned that you’ll be too squeezed for time to adapt to this now, you may need to come up with a strategy of easing each branch into the new way of working, starting with the simpler, more routine tasks, and gradually ramping up the responsibilities.
In Summary: Finding the right balance
We hope these marketing strategies have helped you form a clearer picture of your franchise marketing strategy moving forward, and helped you determine the best way to define both your strategy and your relationships with different branch managers.
Finding the right balance between consistent branding and local nuance can be a challenge for people with a more general marketing background, but by understanding and implementing these core strategies, you’ll soon be able to clear up the confusion, streamline resources, and see a much stronger ROI!