Franchisors involvement in franchisee online marketing is a touchy subject and some take it to extremes. Considering the fact that the Local Commerce Monitor, produced by BIA/Kelsey, stated that 51% of franchisors are “highly involved” in their franchisees’ online marketing, it’s time to ask ourselves what the “right answer” is.
Some franchisors are so committed to brand compliance to the point that they control their franchisees’ interactions with customers. Nonetheless, according to Content+, 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site, which means that generic messages don’t do as well with potential clients.
Still, there are other franchisors who aren’t involved at all because, understandably, they are busy with other work-related tasks. Some don’t even provide an online marketing solution to their franchisees or don’t pay as much attention to some details in it, which can result in misrepresentation of the brand, legal issues and, rogue sites.
So, if you feel like you’re in one of these two polar opposites, this post will help achieve a balanced collaboration, regardless of if you run a controlled or flexible franchise!
The Two Ends of the Spectrum in the Franchisor-Franchisee Relationship with Online Marketing
The Controlling Franchisor
This kind of franchisor is constantly overlooking everything the franchisees do with online marketing: from social media, to content marketing and even the interaction they have with customers. This can be both beneficial and detrimental to your company:
- Brand Compliance: First of all, your brand, what’s representative about your company, will be well represented. This means that no compliance or legal issues won’t be present in your online marketing strategy. You can sleep at night knowing that everything is under control.
- Franchisees’ Time: At the same time, your franchisees will be able to concentrate solely on other work-related issues instead of worrying about every single detail in online marketing. Since it’s probable that a lot of them aren’t tech savvy, this can also create big relief for them.
- Support: Your franchisees may feel like you’re there for them. As stated in the eBook “How Franchisees Think About Online Marketing“, a common opinion in the franchisee community is that franchisors don’t offer the amount of support they need to succeed in online marketing. If you’re supportive, there’s a higher chance of them succeeding!
- Generic Message: The downside to overseeing everything and being fixated with brand compliance is that your messages will be generic and unappealing. A controlled interaction with users and visitors is not be as engaging to them because it feels stiff.
- Your Time: Another thing to consider is that you probably don’t have time to oversee some of the other aspect of your franchise. You or your marketing team will be swamped taking care of all your franchisees strategies online (especially if your franchisees are in the triple digits).
- Inconsideration: Your franchisees may get the sense that you don’t think that their opinions on the matter are important. This is their business too and it’s probable that they would like a say or have their thoughts be heard.
The Flexible Franchisor
On the other hand, this type of franchisor allows their franchisees to take care of some aspects of their online marketing; which doesn’t mean that he doesn’t pay attention to it but, it gives them more freedom to make decisions on their own. Again, this philosophy comes with some good and not so good aspects.
- Genuine and Local Messaging: Franchisees that are able to speak to their customers in a more personal, have a better understanding of what they’re going through. Plus, visitors are engaged and they feel that the company is involved with them and their needs.
- Your Time: Another good thing of letting your franchisees take the lead in online marketing is that you can concentrate in other projects and help franchisees in other aspects for them to succeed.
- Consideration: By empowering your franchisees and allowing flexibility within the online marketing strategy, they will feel more engaged with it and will put more effort in to make it succeed. Plus, they may feel that their opinions are important in your company and that they’re taken into consideration.
- Brand Compliance: If you don’t pay attention to what they’re doing, your site may be misrepresented. This is a big problem because, potential customers may get the wrong idea of who your company is and that is extremely detrimental for business! Plus, if you don’t offer a robust solution for them, rogue sites may happen.
- Franchisees Time: If they aren’t tech savvy or don’t have enough time, the strategy will fail. Think about it, franchisees sometimes struggle to make ends meet and to get everything done. Adding a site to their task list will become a burden!
- Lack of Support: Your franchisees may feel lost and that they don’t know what to do in terms of online marketing. According to the “How Franchisees Think About Online Marketing” eBook, it’s clear that they consider it a big opportunity for success, but if you don’t offer that support, they won’t know what to do with it.
The Balancing Act in Franchisee Online Marketing Involvement
It’s hard: being on the same page with someone can be a nightmare. This becomes increasingly difficult when you think about how many franchisees you have working for you. Nonetheless, collaborating with them on an online marketing strategy may be the way to go.
You need to manage them, give them support, and, if they have the time to do it, you’ll need to rely on your franchisees in some aspects of online marketing. It’s the only way of you both achieving your goals in it: being compliant whilst engaging potential customers.
Your Compromise as Franchisor
Overseeing brand compliance and offering support is what you or your marketing department, should do. You know your image and you should have an idea of what needs to be done to succeed online, so it shouldn’t be as hard.
For example, to achieve compliance, you can use a product like Empowerkit, the white label website builder. With it, you can stay in control of your brand’s message online and offer a robust solution for your franchisees without it being a burden for you. Plus, our team can help you by offering support and maintenance to your site (check out our packages!).
Their Compromise as Franchisees
The franchisees should play an essential role in online marketing. As stated above, customers prefer content and strategies that are aimed at them and their needs. And who knows the customers’ needs better than the franchisees who serve them? So, to recap localizing and creating relevant messages for their specific audiences is the way franchisees can contribute in online marketing while being compliant. This way, people will be engaged with your company at a local level (which is where all the sales are happening!).
If you still need more help on how you can collaborate with your franchisees, regardless if you’re running a controlled, somewhat controlled or flexible franchise, check out these posts! They’ll graphically give you an idea of what you could be doing:
- How to Collaborate in an Online Marketing Strategy: Design
- How to Collaborate in an Online Marketing Strategy: Franchise Content
- How to Collaborate in an Online Marketing Strategy: Franchise SEO
Think about your own situation: are you too involved or not enough? On one hand, you put your interaction with potential customers (your ultimate goal) at risk. On the other, your brand may be misrepresented. What you need is a happy medium where you can oversee branding without it being a burden and where they can easily collaborate by localizing messages and strategies.