Franchise Marketing | A Step-by-Step Advertising Guide

April 6, 2022

A franchise represents a great opportunity for any business. As a franchisee, it’s an opportunity to leverage the value of established brand equity as a foundation for building your own success. But, there’s more to franchising than simply “cashing in” on an existing business. Franchises must advertise themselves, especially in their local markets. Success in this area can be the difference between a successful franchise and a total washout. Here’s how to handle franchise advertising the right way.

Franchise marketing revolves around one critical element. What is it? Above all else, franchise marketing requires extreme dedication to your local audience.

franchise marketing step by step marketing guide

Think Local

Since your establishment already has a national presence advertised by the corporate office, you don’t have to stress so much about the big picture of your company’s brand. However, you do have to take care of business when it comes to local advertising. In fact, the corporation above your brand is banking on you doing exactly that.

The reason for this is simple. A large company doesn’t have the time, resources, or expertise to cater to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of local markets. You do. You know your customers, your area’s culture, and your demographics better than the corporate office ever could. And it’s your duty to appeal to the local market, filling in the gaps left by the corporate marketing strategy.

Virtually all of your franchise marketing will deal with local marketing because that’s the one thing corporate can’t handle. Local marketing requires something different for each area, and the direction you’ll ultimately take will depend on whom you’re marketing to and what works for that group. But the core principles of local franchise marketing are largely the same for all industries. Here’s how you can get started.

Claim Listings

Your first action for franchise advertising has nothing to do with your company’s website, email, or social media. But it might be the most important thing you do.

Listing services are vital SEO drivers because they combine the power of well-known domains with your unique business. Listings like Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business help to make sure people searching for your business find exactly what they’re looking for. You’ll want to get these sites updated with your website URL, your location, your hours, and images of your business ASAP.

commit agency google my business screenshot

Why the rush? Half of local searches result in an in-store visit within 24 hours. Additionally, just under half of local searches are zero-click searches — in other words, people who search can find what they’re looking for through Google My Business, without ever going to your website. People are looking for the quickest and easiest option to obtain information. Listing sites help you to achieve this, with minimal effort required on your part. It’s a massive return on zero investment — that’s exactly what you want to achieve in marketing.

SEO and Paid Search

People who search for your company directly will be able to find information on listing sites. But what if they conduct a more general search? That’s where the search engines can help you out a lot — if you make it easy for them, anyway.

Nearly three-quarters of Internet users utilize search engines like Google to find local businesses. Of those searches, 40 percent end in a click on one of the top three ads on the search engine results page. That’s where you want to be. But it’s not quite that simple, of course.

Paid search requires more than just a big wallet. You also have to target the right keywords. If you own a Subway franchise, for instance, you might want to bid on keywords like “deli near me”, “deli (location)”, “sandwich shop near me”, and “sandwiches (location)”. Look for long-tailed keywords that are popular with searchers, but aren’t overly saturated. Of course, do a reality check and make sure you’re using keywords that make sense and that people might actually use the phrases you’re targeting.

Organic SEO can be a bit trickier, especially if a corporate overlord is in charge of one website for your entire company. However, you can use social media posts as a form of populating the search engines with SEO that refers to your local business. A sub-page on the corporate website dedicated to your location is also a prime location to load up on relevant keywords and phrases.

A mixture of paid search and SEO is advisable to get the best results. But in today’s world, there’s one additional factor to consider. With digital assistant searches on the rise and searches made via spoken word becoming more commonplace, businesses must be able to account for the ways people speak searches as well as the typical written search.

voice assistant device on a blue background

This is especially true for local businesses, since consumers may conduct a search while driving and don’t have time to type out a conventional search query. Think about how people might verbally phrase searches relevant to your business, and be sure to incorporate that verbiage into your search engine strategy.

Social Media

Everyone knows that social media marketing is a powerful force in the smartphone era. And even if your parent company runs your corporate website, you can still use social media to reach local consumers.

Having said that, it can be tricky for franchises to gain traction on social media. People are happy to follow McDonald’s on Instagram, but they might not be so keen to follow the individual McDonald’s franchise in their town. That’s where you have to bring your A-Game and give people a reason to follow your social media profiles.

How do you do that? The same way you’d promote a standalone business. Show off the best aspects of your franchise. Highlight your promotions and give people a reason to care about them. Promote the lighter side of your location. Acknowledge individual employees. Get involved in the community and show the world how important causes are to your business. Amassing followers doesn’t have to be a huge task. Produce good content, and people will come.

As stated, a successful social media presence has huge SEO implications, and we know that SEO is vital for the success of any local business. Make things happen on social media, and you’ll get a nice residual SEO benefit as well.

Respond to Feedback

Every business should respond to every piece of feedback they receive, no matter how big or small. But this is particularly important for franchise businesses.

Think about it. If you’re a customer who has a bad experience at your local Pizza Hut, you’ll be mad about it. But you still love Pizza Hut. So you won’t boycott the company. You’ll just go to a different location instead.

Now, in this example, the initial Pizza Hut location didn’t have to lose the customer’s business. When that customer made a complaint on Facebook, Yelp, Google My Business, or any other platform, the Pizza Hut franchise could and should have responded by admitting fault, apologizing, and asking for another chance.

small wooden block with a frowning and smiling face on each side with a hand turning it

Companies that respond to negative feedback have the chance to turn a negative into a positive. Clearing up a misunderstanding and making it right by the consumer often leads to a customer that’s not only no longer upset, but is actually happier than ever with that establishment. That’s the opportunity that’s at your disposal every time you get consumer feedback. Whether it’s positive or negative, whether it’s long or short, it deserves your time and attention.

Just as we saw with social media, there are SEO implications for responding to consumer feedback. But more than that, responding is a tremendous sign of goodwill toward current and future customers. It shows that you, as a franchise, value the business of everyone that takes the time to leave feedback. It’s a small sample of your dedication to customer excellence. No matter how your parent company presents itself, you can show the world that your franchise truly cares. That goes a long way for consumers.

Additional Factors

These steps will get you started in franchise advertising, but they’re not the only factors in a successful franchise marketing strategy. A careful understanding of your target market, as well as the politics and demographics within the community, are also necessary to effectively market. Since each market and each industry is different, use your best judgment. Identify inefficiencies in the marketplace, and don’t be shy about showing why your franchise deserves the attention of the local populace.

Franchise advertising can be a challenge, especially if the corporate entity has strict rules about how franchises can market. A focus on local marketing built upon SEO, paid search, and listing sites will help franchises to find the most success. If you’d like to learn more about how you can best market your franchise, don’t hesitate to contact us at Commit Agency today.