Owning a franchise can be an investment but it certainly gives you a jump start above the competition and you can position yourself quickly and professionally in the market as a real company. While you have got the training and marketing material and are ready to position your company professionally with a branded van, business cards, brochures, great equipment and using industry’s best practices, you may still not be in a position where you can start to acquire new customers easily and affordably. So the obvious question – I am ready to work but where is my first customer? In working with franchises, we found that though the corporate office is a strong backing for the franchisee in every operational matters of business, marketing definitely appears to be a hard nut to crack for the local franchise owner. Even if the corporate office does help in marketing, it’s not enough and there appears a need to branch out from the corporate style marketing and come up with an independent marketing plan for the franchise owner.
The corporate office can provide you marketing material and limited marketing support but that alone does not really suffice in acquiring new customers amidst overly competitive local markets. Franchise owners, who are a husband-wife operations or family run business, generally lack a marketing team or an effective marketing plan that can bring in fresh business. One of the best sources to get fresh business is by marketing on search engines and social media which is not given enough importance or in more cases done nonetheless not very effectively. In this economy, it’s the right time for the franchisee to take more control of their marketing and start to have their own web presence and internet marketing plan independent of the franchisor company.
Here are 5 simple marketing tips for franchise owners that might turn out to be of great help:
Owning a Website: Lot of franchisor companies have a common (corporate) website and allow you as a local franchise owner to have a micro-site (couple of pages or a landing page) with your contact information on it to keep things under control. The other 95% of the website is all corporate. Sure the video with CEO’s message, company history and other relevant information is great to have but is just this going to do any good for a local franchise owner? Is a local searcher going to care so much about the details of the company and is just that one landing page going to do the franchisee any good? On the contrary it’s easy to get lost in the corporate website and get distracted with so much information that is particularly not very relevant for a local prospect. For this reason owning a website and optimizing it with localized information is much more beneficial for the franchisee rather than a micro-site embedded in the corporate site and offering enough distractions to lower down your campaign response. In my experience, an independent locally optimized website helps connect and convert local visitors into business much better than a generic corporate site.
An Effective Website which is searchable – You got a 10-page, unique design, graphical, nice and professional website designed and spend a thousand dollars on it…is it enough? Consider this an investment if it helps convert your site visitors into business otherwise guess what? Your marketing dollars have gone down the drains! An effective website is one which not only looks professional but achieves your bottom line, serves as a sales funnel and brings in business. Most business owners do not understand this and sit back and relax after getting a website designed and optimized for search engines and think that they are doing all that is needed for internet marketing…not enough! The next bigger challenge is it your site searchable on Google? Can people find it? What keyword is your site ranking for? Are there real people searching that keyword? If you are listed on the top search results for that keyword, and you get clicked, does your website have enough appeal that will capture the prospect’s attention? An effective website and marketing program takes a lot of experimentation before you can commit that you are doing all you can…it’s never enough and it never ends..…it’s a continuous process of experimentation to see what works.
Better control of Your Marketing -With a separate website, you have better control over your website and marketing. Be it making simple changes on the website for your marketing campaign, editing coupons or optimizing your website for ranking in local search results…all of which can be made possible only if you have a separate website and full control over it.
Marketing using Google AdWords for Instant Business – We found majority of franchise owners are a bit skeptical about spending their marketing dollars on Google AdWords in this economy rather they would prefer not to do it. Using Google AdWords, there are ways you can lose all your marketing dollars with no results at all and there are effective campaign management techniques that can lead you to business fairly immediately. If you have tried to manage the campaign yourself and not got much business out of it, chances are that it was not done right and chances are that you could not position yourself effectively or your campaign was not receiving highly relevant visits. Google AdWords by far is one of the most effective and fastest ways to get in new customers and immediate business and you have all the control over the campaign i.e. cost, geographies to target, services to advertise and you can track the effectiveness of your campaign. We have had franchise companies less than 6 months in business start with $100/week budget and made close to $400 in business out of it. Now this is a great start even if you make a dollar on every 50c you spent. Keep in mind, the repeat business you generate out of it.
You are a brand; you can generate a good ROI – Franchisers generally advertise on national televisions and other popular media and people can relate to brands while conducting a search. Being a well-known brand in the market, it will be easier for you as a franchise owner to acquire customers as compared to your competition. Even franchise owners fairly new in business can start to generate good business out of search engine marketing and generate good ROI from your campaign.
So think differently if you are a franchise owner and invest in an independent marketing plan which involved marketing on search engines and social media. Only sticking around with the corporate marketing is not good enough in this economy.
Abhi Patel is an Internet marketing strategist and specialist and founder/CEO of Clean Marketing Online. We have helped franchise owners generate more business through the Internet by helping them branch out and expand their marketing with an effective and localized marketing strategy independent of the parent franchisor company. You can visit our Franchise Marketing page for more information.