Who doesn’t like a bit of a challenge? While it’s always rewarding to take on new marketing endeavors, certain businesses feel the heat more than others.
Whether you’re a food and beverage franchise, a multi-location dealership, a national real estate group, an enterprise bank, or anything in between, you know that managing marketing efforts across the board can sometimes feel like an uphill battle.
In this guide, we’ll help you address common marketing speedbumps your franchise or multi-location business encounters by covering:
- The top areas of focus for your franchise marketing.
- Why these franchise marketing tactics might be easier said than done.
- How to address these marketing challenges to turn them into marketing successes.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a list of 10 problem-solving ideas for all your franchise marketing needs along with three checklists for branding, planning, and reporting. Plus, you’ll have an overall clearer picture of how to manage locations, channels, and partners all under the same marketing umbrella.
10 major marketing challenges for franchises
Managing your franchise marketing can be a juggling act. As the classic saying goes “no pain, no gain!” Let’s dive right into how you can turn 10 major franchise marketing pains into marketing gains:
1. Maintaining brand consistency across locations
Why it’s a challenge: It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges franchise marketers face is location managers or franchisees that go rogue—especially when it comes to branding and brand consistency. But until a teleportation or cloning device gets invented, you’re unfortunately unable to be at all your locations to guide them through their marketing (despite how much you wish you could). This makes maintaining brand consistency across all locations a difficult task.
But brand consistency is extremely important for the success of your marketing. We know that 71% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy a product or service from a brand they recognize. Plus, we can’t forget about the age-old marketing “rule of seven” which states that people need to see information about a business at least seven times before they become a customer.
So brand consistency isn’t just a “nice-to-have” element in your franchise marketing plan, it’s a need-to-have!
How to approach it: The first thing you should do is create a brand style guide. Once you have your style guide in place you can use it across locations for years to come. So this is worth putting time towards now to save you time later. If you already have one in place, now is the time to revisit! The more thorough your brand guidelines the better.
Here’s our list of what should go into your brand guidelines:
- Company logo in various sizes and color options (black and white, thumbnail size, banner size etc.)
- Your business’s colors in hex codes
- Your selected fonts in regular, bold, and italics
- Your chosen grammar, mechanics, and style preferences (including punctuation, capitalization, and abbreviation)
- Blog post title preferences
- Image styles and sizes for digital and print materials
- Your business’s boilerplate and mission statement
- Preferred tone and voice
- Social media best practices by platform
Not only will this keep your brand consistent, but it will empower your location owners to create their own marketing collateral while knowing they have a cheat sheet to help them along the way.
If you’re crunched for time, bringing on a marketing partner to create a new style guide or edit your current style guide is also a stress-free and efficient option! Plus, they can take care of facilitating training on that guide to your location owners. Whatever route you choose, a brand style guide is a must-have for a consistent brand no matter how many locations you have!
2. Identifying your customer base across locations
Why it’s a challenge: Let’s face it—your local customers’ interests at your Boston location will be different from those in your Houston location which differs from those in your San Diego location, and so on!
If you generalize your target audience without consideration for how their lifestyles differ by location, not only does that lack of inclusivity limit your reach, but it also gives your customers a less personalized marketing experience.
However, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences. So identifying your target audience across locations now to deliver a personalized experience at each location later is a marketing tactic you won’t want to miss out on.
How to approach it: Taking time to identify your target audience across all locations when your plate is already full is easier said than done. A more efficient way to execute this is to look at your target audience from a birds’ eye view and zoom in from there.
Once you identify what makes up your target audience at a high level you can take it down to the regional level. From there, you can use free online tools like Google Trends to understand the interest of topics by location to see how your messaging may slightly differ between regions.
Another workaround would be to create marketing collateral that’s diverse enough to speak to all customers regardless of lifestyle. A healthy mix of both, however, will give your customers that localized experience while saving you as much time and resources as possible.
3. Knowing what solutions are available (+ which ones your brand needs)
Why it’s a challenge: There’s an infinite amount of value your brand has to offer its customers. Add that on top of your many convenient locations, a diverse range of employees, and audience segments, you’ll find it can be challenging to know how to best deliver all this information to your potential customers.
With so many potential marketing channels to choose from, how do you know which strategies will be most effective? And how can you communicate your chosen strategies’ effectiveness to your franchise managers?
How to approach it: We’ve broken down the top marketing channels for franchise businesses into a few core pillars. Introduce your franchisees to the following and encourage them to try it for their own benefit:
Search engine optimization
SEO is at the core of any strong marketing plan for good reason—it’s free! Not only do clicks from organic search results come at no cost to you, but with 90% of consumers searching online before making a purchase digitally or in-store, SEO can help each of your locations grow sales faster.
With search advertising, there are now more options than ever for dynamic location targeting at the ad copy and campaign setting level, so your chances of pulling in a click from a select locations’ local customer is nearly guaranteed.
Search advertising ensures you’re showing to potential customers when it matters—as they’re searching on top search engines like Google and Bing. Plus, paid search ads can increase brand awareness by up to 80%. If you have a location that’s struggling to pull in new customers, paid search ads are the best route for making it known to potential customers that you’re in their area with lots to offer.
Video marketing on YouTube or via OTT (over-the-top) streaming allows for your franchise or multi-location business to create engaging content to exclusively targeted audiences. Even though you may be juggling various locations and customer bases, you can segment your video marketing in hyper-specific ways to ensure each location gets a piece of the pie.
If you’re looking to scale more quickly, video marketing fills that need by growing revenue nearly 50% faster and pulling in 66% more qualified leads per year than businesses that don’t use video.
Display ads give you a way to target your audience on sites across the web—when they’re not even actively searching for your business. This increases awareness for your brand. If your branch managers notice a dip in sales, display ads could be the solution since consumers who are retargeted via display ads are 70% more likely to convert.
With 3.5 billion active social media users worldwide, it’s no secret that social media marketing is a must if you want to heighten your chances of reaching all the potential customers around each of your locations.
The beauty of social media marketing is that you can get results regardless of whether you decide to go the free or paid route. So if you’re struggling to get all your franchisees on board with one marketing strategy, social media marketing is an accommodating solution with endless options that can fit any locations’ budget (or lack thereof).
Of course, there are additional marketing channels you should consider as part of your strategy. Take a look at all the basics of local marketing to find out what would work for you.
4. Getting all locations on board with the right strategy
Why it’s a challenge: Speaking of budgets, with multiple franchises, it can be tough to get them on the same page with the marketing spend and strategy that you encourage. Each location has its own needs and budget which you want to accommodate within your recommended marketing plan.
It gets trickier when you want to save yourself time by creating an easily transferrable franchise marketing strategy that can apply store to store but also is flexible enough to not have one set budget applied.
How to approach it: The first thing you’ll want to look at is all the free and low-cost marketing options available. Small businesses have been doing this for years, but for a larger enterprise, this feels counterintuitive. However, the kicker of franchise marketing is it’s the same concept as local marketing—just multiplied.
When you present your location owners with low-cost or free options, they’ll have no reason to not want to implement them. Some examples could be setting them up with a social media account for regular posts or facilitating online workshops to foster their SEO expertise.
With that said, we know that a mix of marketing channels maximizes your chances of results. Ideally, you’ll want your location managers to get on board with allocating some of their revenue towards a marketing budget. The best way to encourage this is to research statistics to display the ROI if they were to go for it and to provide co-op funds from corporate if possible. For example, paid advertising returns $2 for every $1 spent–a 200% ROI.
It’s helpful to keep in mind that marketing budgets don’t have to be huge. It doesn’t always take a lot of money to make a big impact, but a little can go a long way!
5. Managing marketing across channels and locations
Why it’s a challenge: While some franchises are fine with individual locations running their marketing strategies themselves, others opt to streamline marketing from one central team or group for all locations.
Both options present their own sets of challenges. If you’re managing the marketing strategies for all locations, you have a big job—you must not only execute a successful multi-channel marketing strategy that includes optimizing campaigns, writing ad copy, and deploying offers, but you have to do that for different areas and audiences.
If you allow franchisees to run their marketing themselves, you have to worry about brand consistency, optimized spend, and a lack of control around results.
How to approach it: It doesn’t have to feel like a lose-lose situation when you choose which route out of the two you want to take. As mentioned above, both managing marketing for your locations versus letting them manage it comes with pros and cons.
To identify what’s best for your brand, we recommend doing a self-evaluation with the following questions:
- How much extra time do I have to oversee my locations’ marketing strategies?
- How much time do my location owners have to put into marketing?
- Would implementing marketing at the location level require any training?
- What types of marketing channels do I need to have running at each franchise location? Can each location handle those themselves?
- Has my company struggled with brand consistency in the past?
- How would I measure the success if I ran the marketing for all franchise locations? How would those locations measure and report on their own success?
- How frequently would I expect to change up the marketing strategy?
- Is it easy for me to consistently communicate with all of my locations?
Depending on your answers, you’ll end up leaning towards one over the other. However, if you’re still unsure then that’s totally fine! Another option would be to involve a marketing partner to help oversee your franchise marketing strategies along with you. That way you won’t have all the locations’ marketing on your shoulders, and you can leverage a resource that has every marketing tool needed at its fingertips.
6. Localizing SEO across national
Why it’s a challenge: You need to focus on SEO that is both national and local. National often comes naturally to many franchise businesses at this point, but without a strong local SEO approach, you won’t be able to show up for searches when and where it counts.
How to approach it: The easiest way to complement your national SEO with a local SEO strategy is to include keywords related to your locations within your content—this can be easily done through location pages on your website. The next quick fix for local SEO is to invest in listings management so local listings are accurate for each location to help drive leads. It may seem minor, but 64% of consumers have used Google My Business to find contact details for a local business.
Additionally, try to position your brand as a partner to each of your locations by creating local-friendly blog content. Brainstorm a blog topic that’s specific to each one of your locations, and you’ll save time on your editorial calendar planning while also staying consistent with local content!
You can also quickly research other local businesses to link to for resources within your content to build trust with your local audiences. That said, maintain a friendly presence in your local communities by encouraging location managers to participate in local events to trigger brand awareness for searches later.
7. Standing out from the competition (including your own franchisees!)
Why it’s a challenge: Franchises have a unique competitor set in that while you compete with other local businesses and large brands, you might also compete with your own locations. For example, you might have two locations down the block from each other that own two completely different territories but could be competing for the same customers. One major hurdle every franchise must jump over is how to run marketing at each location without stepping on one another’s toes—all while stepping on the competition’s toes!
How to approach it: We can’t stress enough how important geo-targeting is to your multi-location or franchise marketing. Geo-targeting is a way to ensure that one location’s marketing collateral doesn’t slip onto the screens of consumers in another location’s territory. When you run ad campaigns with geotargeting you’re maximizing the overall growth of your business by handing out a fair, even slice of the cake (or in this case, audience) to each store.
As for standing out from the competition, geotargeting can also help here if you want to identify and target their locations too. Otherwise, bidding on competitor’s branded keywords will help to ensure your brand shows when folks are looking for your competition. That way you can sweep the competition’s customers away and bring them to your locations.
8. Reporting for all locations, solutions, AND channels
Why it’s a challenge: Let’s get this straight: your business has multiple locations, offering multiple products or services, overseen by multiple managers, marketing to multiple different audiences, through multiple different channels. What a handful!
You don’t have time to loop in hundreds of data points into one performance tracking sheet. You need some way to ensure that all your franchise marketing efforts maintain a growth track with proven KPIs.
How to approach it: For this instance, technology is your new best friend! Take advantage of digital tools that aggregate reporting across platforms, locations, and more to report on what matters. A few things you should ask yourself while scouting a reporting solution are shown in the image below.
9. Training across locations
Why it’s a challenge: You and your franchisees are busy running a national brand at the local level—you all don’t have time for in-person pieces of training on all your marketing technology and best practices! Never mind the fact that gathering the resources to help location owners understand your brand’s marketing plan is a feat in and of itself.
How to approach it: Have fun with it and get creative with your training! You can hold training online after hours to make it easy for all your branch managers to attend.
Another way to make marketing education more accessible across locations is to create various training materials. For example, you can shoot or share quick “how to” YouTube videos for visual learners. For busy location owners short on time, you can write and email training articles that they can read in bits throughout the day.
The more training material, the better. If your schedule is so jam-packed you can’t even begin to think about running training or creating training materials, leveraging a marketing partner to facilitate training for you is another great option.
10. Managing multiple marketing partners
Why it’s a challenge: You may have one agency helping with social that has a totally different approach than your in-house team managing paid search. Or each location might be working with their own team or consultant. How do you keep multiple teams and marketing partners aligned?
How to approach it: If you’re struggling to keep track of all your marketing solutions, then it may be worth it to find a marketing partner that can bundle all your needs into one. When you leverage a marketing partner that can house all your channels and reporting under one roof it’s easier to maintain consistency and performance tracking.
In the meantime, though, communication is key! Be sure to hold regular meetings with your in-house team, your location managers, and your agencies to maintain consistent cohesion across channels.
This is also another opportunity to distribute your style guide to all marketing partners so that there’s no confusion across agencies, marketing associates, or consultants on what your brand’s voice is.
Solve these franchise marketing puzzles today to decode a brighter tomorrow
If there’s one thing we can take away from all 10 of these marketing woes and wins is that the more you can plan ahead and communicate with your locations, the easier your job will be later. Plus, no matter your goals, channels, or audiences, there’s a solution out there that can work for your franchise. With a bit of creativity and finesse, you can make your franchise marketing strategy do the heavy lifting for you. Putting in the time to square away your challenges now is worth the time it will save you later.