Content Solutions for Your Franchisee Websites

righthand 300x191 Content Solutions for Your Franchisee WebsitesContent is king. It’s something you have heard over and over again. So you better be doing anything in your power to post content regularly in your franchisee websites.

As a franchisor, you’ve made the great decision to empower your franchisees with websites to include information about your business from a local point of view.

Nonetheless, your franchisees’ websites need to have content that’s unique, relevant, compelling and that’s updated on a regular basis. Your site depends on fresh and appropriate content so it can rank better in the search pages and to engage your customers with your company, so you should take full advantage of it.

This may be a little tricky to achieve. Depending on the type of franchise you own, your franchisees may not have the time to think about content, let alone produce it constantly with the right type of information. Let’s take a look at three different scenarios:

A)Kristen is a franchisee for a tech-savvy and sophisticated company that has a marketing team to help her out.
B) Mark is also a part of a franchise and while he works hard, he still manages to have some time for himself. 
C) Burt, on the other hand, is a franchisee for a smaller business and he struggles from time to time to keep his head above the water and has no time to think about content.

These scenarios are very different but plausible and need to be addressed separately. So, as a franchisor, what approach should you take depending on the type of franchise you own? We’ll present some strategies that can help you get your franchisees’ websites up to date.

Franchise Website Content Tips

For a Franchisee in a Tech Savvy Company

As mentioned above, Kristen has it easier than Mark or Burt. All she needs is a little guidance to start producing content. If you have a marketing team, they can probably help you out to make this happen.

  • Provide guidelines to your franchisees. If your franchisees will be developing content for your company, you need to make sure that the verbiage, writing style, images, etc. is somewhat uniform. After all, they are all representing the same company and you wouldn’t want one of them taking a very formal and technical approach, while another has a very laid back writing style.
  • You could even elaborate a style manual where they can go over the standards set for the content. It’s also very important that you hand over a brand compliance guide to make sure there’s consistency in how they refer to your company, how to use the logo, the images they use, among other things.
  • But what would they write about? Sometimes, inspiration can be hard to find. You, or your marketing staff, can start up a weekly newsletter where you include a list of topic ideas for your franchisees to write on.
  • At the same time, you can have them subscribe to blogs that they can draw inspiration from. It should become a weekly habit for them to be searching for things to write about. You could even open a suggestion box where they can brainstorm and input ideas for content. If a certain idea works for a franchisee, share his achievement so the others are inspired to do the same.
  • In terms of how to include the content, blogging is a great way to get your content out there: they generate 7 times more traffic than a static page. Dont’ let this opportunity go to waste! A weekly blog post can be very helpful for your customers and for SEO.
  • Tips and tricks can be easy to write about and they’re a source of inspiration that people are constantly looking for. For example, if Kristen were a franchisee for a convenience store, she could write “Healthy Monday” posts where she could include some tips for healthy meals using the products in stock. At the same time, engaging and real content is very sought after too: your franchisees can go over a real and successful experience that your product or service helped out with. Encourage them to share things the’ve learned about, answer customers questions through a blog post, and more.
  • Teach them about SEO! SEO (Search Engine Optimization) covers a set of rules that can help your websites rank higher in the search pages for terms related to your business. With the use of the right keywords, page titles and content, every page is an opportunity to be the top link in a search! Make sure that they read more about this so that they can learn how to do it properly.

For a Franchisee With Some Time

Mark is somewhere in between. Due to the type of company he is working with, he could still manage to go over content on a (more or less) quarterly basis. Again, he needs some guidance and inspiration.

  • If your franchisees have more of a workload, they probably won’t have the time to go over all the guidelines and style requirements that I mentioned in scenario above. Nonetheless, there still needs to be some consistency and brand compliance. Instead of handing out some heavy documents filled with do’s and don’ts, a more punctual approach can be helpful. Let them know what font type, size and color to use for styling text and give them a general idea of how to approach the content. All as condensed as possible.
  • About inspiration, they’re probably not going to be able to read a lot of blogs, that’s why you should rely on the newsletter to give them topics that they could cover with their content. In it you could share tasks more so than ideas for inspiration. Being punctual and straight to the point is key here and handing over content tasks (instead of letting them look for it) can save your franchisees a lot of time.
  • Remember that videos, images, audio, etc., are content too and they can, sometimes, be easier to post: a quick shot of a happy customer (with their permission, of course), can help potential leads see real people with your product.
  • On that same note, they can even update little things. If you have a testimonials section, have them update it constantly with the opinion of your customers. If their franchise is having a special offer, they can make an update about that too (as long as they specify that that they’re only talking about their own franchise). Oncoming events can also be fairly easy to edit. Think outside the box and make it easier for them to take care of their actual franchise and its image on the web.
  • Blogging can also be an answer here (even though posts can be kind of far in between). Have them focus on a subject. If they want to do tips and tricks, they should concentrate on doing just that. If Mark were a franchisee for an insurance company, a post about how to get better coverage can help him keep up with content while talking about subjects he already knows. Another way to go is to have a franchisee answer simple customer questions in a blog post; this can keep the customers involved and informed while updating the site. Again, as a franchisor, you and/or your marketing staff, should be available to help them with content ideas and guidance.
  • If you have a marketing staff, it’s a good idea for them to go over the content, just to make sure that it is right for your company, keep up with SEO and that brand compliance is in check. Remember that your franchisees are trying to squeeze in time to produce content for their website, and while I’m sure they’re going to do the best job possible, a small typo can be very destructive.

For a Franchisee With No Time

As a franchisor, you can’t ask Burt to be interested in content. He struggles to keep his franchise going and he doesn’t have the time to focus on anything else. As you know, generic content published all across your franchisees’ websites can be hurtful for SEO, so that’s not the way to go.

  • So, updating the website regularly is very important but there’s no time to do it, what should you do? If your company has a marketing staff, you should consider delegating this task onto them. They can go over the guidelines and keep brand compliance within the company. Nonetheless, the post will need to have a certain degree of customization. Being that if you want a local site to get some leads, you’ll need to provide information that the people in that specific location is looking for. For example, you wouldn’t write up a post about insurance against snowstorms for an audience that lives in the desert, right?
  • If you don’t have a marketing team to fall back on, some external help may be in order. You need to design a strategy that keeps up with your goals as a company and your franchises at a local level and that’s realistic with the time constraints your franchisees have. You could also hire someone to, like in the tip above, write up the content and customize it for them. This will make it a lot easier for your franchisees.
  • On the other hand, you could provide your franchisees with preproduced content that they can customize to fit their local market. This can be done around once a month to keep the website as updated as possible. If they have the time, they could upload an image of their customers or store from time to time to keep the ball rolling. Make sure that this fits into their schedule and that they don’t have stretch themselves too thin to get it done.

At the end of the day, you should think about it this way: even though content may be an investment (be it in time and/or money), it will ultimately help your franchisees’ websites rank better, be seen in the search pages, get leads and conversions.Think about your franchisees and your business’ needs: if one succeeds, you all will! The idea is that you should encourage and inspire your franchisees to update their website.

If you have any questions about this article or anything related to Empowerkit, don’t be afraid to ask!

January 16, 2013

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