3 Local Online Marketing Support Mistakes Franchisors Should Avoid

regret 1 3 Local Online Marketing Support Mistakes Franchisors Should Avoid

Franchise sales and development is what drives the growth of a franchise system, especially early on, and it’s what most franchisors lose sleep over more than anything else. But what’s also crucial to the steady growth of a franchise is the support that corporate gives to existing franchisees, in terms of marketing and advertising, operational best practices, and ongoing training.

All too often, franchise support is skimped on and treated as an afterthought, which leaves franchisees feeling alienated from corporate and disenfranchised (pardon the pun).

One thing in particular that’s always changing, and which franchisees are desperately seeking guidance on from their franchisors, is online marketing – more specifically, how they can make sure they’re staying competitive online, attracting as many local customers as possible, and generating leads to grow their sales.

Here are 3 common mistakes to avoid in local online franchise marketing support:

1. Static Local Websites

Many franchisors, early in the growth process, publish basic landing pages for franchise locations with very little unique local content, and no easy way for the franchisee to make updates. This results in poor search rankings, pathetic conversion rates, and upset franchisees who often go rogue and create their own sites.

What should you do?

Provide a system like Empowerkit, where franchisees can easily make updates to their own websites, within the brand and content controls you set and can oversee at corporate.  Make sure the system is flexible and can adapt with your changing needs over time.

2. No Business Listings

Franchisees generally don’t know the first thing about submitting and maintaining their business listings on Google Places, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and other sites. So, if you don’t give them instructions and best practices, or provide an automated solution, then guess what…there are no business listings for your locations! Complete, comprehensive business listings are a key traffic driver and lead generation source, so don’t make this mistake.

What should you do?

First off, lead by example. Make sure your corporate listing is complete and consistently listed in all of the main search engines and directories. Next, decide whether to engage a specialized vendor, utilize an automated service, and/or provide documentation and best practices.

3. Ignoring Social Media

Whether you love it or hate it, social media is here to stay, and franchisees in almost every industry are trying to figure it out for their business. Franchisors who ignore social media are finding themselves chasing down compliance issues, and seeing dozens of disparate profiles and pages that are poorly managed. Translation – a nightmare for your branding. Don’t let this be you!

What should you do?

Don’t fight social media, embrace it. It’s the only communication channel that let’s a business directly interact with customers and other stakeholders, which is valuable to almost any type of business. Develop a strategy with defined goals at the local level, layout any necessary policy guidelines, and train franchisees on best practices. Consider working with an outside consultant initially, and remain flexible to adapt your strategy based on results and changing trends.

These are just three common mistakes that franchisors make. Please share other pitfalls to avoid, and let me know if you have any questions!

Photo credit: Carlos Almendarez (“regret”), Sean MacEntee (“no regrets”)

January 11, 2012

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