Franchisee blueprint for digital marketing


When you invest in a franchise, you’ll need to market your business. Here’s a roadmap to follow that will help you drive more business.

There’s a world of things franchisees and franchisors could do to secure more customers using digital marketing, but it’s hard to know what will drive the most cost-effective results.

Reaching the right balance means a clear top-line strategy and leveraging the economies of scale inherent in franchise networks, while taking advantage of local area differences; market, weather, demographics, competition, community and much more. 

While there is no one size fits all approach, there are foundation digital strategies that every franchisee can benefit from, which can complement responsibilities overseen at the head office level.

How to get started with franchisee digital marketing

It’s important a franchisee gets a handle on how to tap into the head office strategies so as not to double up on activities and make sure consistent messages are presented to market. Top-level strategy is a moving beast. What was the right marketing approach six months ago may have changed. 

A reasonably regular conversation with the head office marketing manager will reveal lots of insights to refine your local level approach and use as leverage to boost your local results. You can find out how your franchise customer data can feed into head office remarketing strategies, the social content being developed to promote on the local level, and whether your activities reflect and complement the national messages and strategies. 

Google listings a foundation for digital success

The foundation stone of most local bricks and mortar businesses is Google My Business listings, typically tied to location-based searches. You’ll see this on Google when searching for a product or service with an accompanying suburb or city name. When that page loads, a map is presented along with relevant businesses attached to those search terms. 

This will be an account set-up by either head-office or franchisee, depending on how your network operates. My digital marketing agency Rocket works with Plus Fitness, which has over 200-locations Australia wide. In this instance local area marketing controls the listing but head office has access in most instances to help work towards consistency.  The result has every Plus Fitness gym ranking on the first page of Google for ‘[location] + gym’ searches. 

Keep in mind the images you use should be considered with care. Choose vibrant, in-focus images of the correct resolution that reflect your brand guidelines. Video is also a good option. If you’re stuck, head-office will have relevant advice and pictures for you to use. Ensure details are correct like address, phone, opening hours and website. It is crucial to have a proactive approach to managing reviews. 

Social media helps build your community

It’s important to cultivate a strong local brand presence on social media platforms. You’ll be missing out on valuable customer interactions if you don’t.

Social media takes time, but a consistent approach driven to build a community through stories and personal behind-the-scenes insights, images and helpful advice will reap rewards. A content calendar will help you commit. 

Don’t feel you need to produce a new piece of content daily. For most local businesses it is enough to have 4-8 pieces of quality content per month, which can be cut into different instalments, such as a competition that plays out over a few posts. Consider sharing the load by assigning various team members to produce content.

To boost leads, competitions give a reason to build the page, especially referral competitions. Offering your community incentives to refer business your way can be both engaging for your audience and you can directly see its value to your business.

Take advantage of Facebook and Instagram audience insights

Keep in mind that every person who engages with your business pages on Facebook and Instagram should be added to a remarketing list using the Facebook pixel. In your Facebook Business Manager, you can create custom and lookalike audiences based on page engagement, video watch-time, and even users on social media who have taken a sequence of actions across multiple posts. 

Take the time to play around in the Facebook Business Manager, beyond just boosting posts. Start slowly with your investment to learn the features and benefits. Over time you’ll see with more people engaging with your brand on social, the more valuable this audience becomes.

Overall, the roadmap to digital success find its direction from good communication with head-office which then leads to expressing individuality with Google and social media that drives more business to your door.

James Lawrence is the co-founder of multi-award winning Australian digital marketing agency Rocket, which works with national multi-location and franchise brands like Plus Fitness. James is co-author of best-selling marketing book Smarter Marketer which was published in July this year. He is currently a finalist for Australian Marketer of the Year in the prestigious B&T Awards.