Running a local franchise is hard work. Franchisees are responsible for the vast majority of tasks that keep a business humming — hiring, customer service, accounting, day-to-day management and more. One task that can hamstring franchisees is executing a local digital marketing strategy.
Franchisees understand the importance of a local digital marketing strategy but often lack the time to dive into the nuts and bolts of the tactic. Often, this unfamiliarity understandably leads to skepticism and, ultimately, abandoning the tactic altogether.
So how can franchisors, who are often responsible for providing marketing infrastructure and guidance, help their franchisees adopt digital marketing at the local level? After working with thousands of franchisees from more than 200 franchise brands, this is what we’ve learned.
Show franchisees what they’re paying for.
Franchisees are entrepreneurs first and foremost, and entrepreneurs don’t rush into spending money without knowing where it’s being spent. Franchisors and marketing partners must be transparent and communicate clearly to franchisees exactly what they’re paying for.
They aren’t paying for the idea of local digital marketing. They’re paying for the promotion of their business. Before any talks of lookalike audiences and click-through rates, franchisors and marketing partners should show them which ads are being placed on which networks.
Showcase value to franchisees in quick, simple terms.
A franchisee’s time is valuable and limited, so grabbing their attention is paramount. One sure way to grab their attention is to put the hard numbers in front of them. Forget about the wonky digital metrics for now, and focus on return on investment. Franchisors and local marketing partners can prepare a case study, email blast or one-sheet — anything that shows franchisees the final product: more customers and more revenue.
Don’t leave franchisees hanging.
Introducing a local digital marketing program is much different than executing a local digital marketing program. Without proper support, your program is unlikely to ever be adopted by a vast network of franchisees with differing needs and capabilities.
The first level of support is training. Digital marketing training is essential for the long-term success of a franchise-wide program. And franchisees want to be trained. In a 2016 BIA/Kelsey survey of franchisees, 33% of respondents said “more training in digital advertising” was what they wanted most from their franchisor — the most common answer among survey participants. Before rolling out a digital strategy, franchisors should have training resources in place, including printed materials, video tutorials and live support.
The second level of support is ongoing education. The ever-changing nature of digital marketing is a major obstacle to local-level adoption. It’s frustrating and time-consuming for franchisees to stay up to date on all of the twists and turns in the industry. It’s up to the franchisors and their marketing partners to do the heavy lifting, providing digestible content for franchisees to take in when they can. This includes emails, newsletters, webinars and a robust online resource center where all of this information can be found.
Meet franchisees in person.
Effective communication is at the heart of all of these initiatives, but some forms of communication are more important than others. Emails and phone calls are nice, but they can’t replace the power of face-to-face interaction. Depending on the size of your franchise system, meeting with each franchisee should be a priority.
If that isn’t practical, franchise conferences are a great place to get in front of as many franchisees as possible. Set up a digital marketing booth at the conference, where local digital experts can give franchisees the individual attention they deserve. Engaging franchisees on a personal level displays an emotional and tactical investment in their individual success and increases the likelihood of participation.
Provide a turnkey marketing solution for franchisees.
According to the BIA/Kelsey survey, “franchises report they use on average 20 different free and paid advertising or marketing channels.” This fragmented approach is difficult for even the most experienced marketers to execute. It’s understandable that a franchisee would be hesitant to adopt such a complex system that requires the skills of a professional marketer and the resources of a franchise brand.
Franchisors and their marketing partners must provide a more convenient solution — a centralized platform where franchisees can find training, ongoing education, live support and transparent performance data all in one location. When this infrastructure and support are delivered with convenience and efficiency, franchisees can stop trying to catch up with the current state of digital marketing, and instead use digital marketing to keep their local businesses ahead of the curve.