These days, if you are like most entrepreneurs or franchisors, you have probably received a lot of different sales pitches. Web designers and search engine optimizers will tell you your site is not more useful than a store in the middle of the Pacific Ocean if it does not show up on the first page of a Google search. Also, your website has to be optimized for mobile devices in today’s world. They will tell you the key to achieving your goals is optimizing both your mobile and original sites, or have a mobile responsive site design (preferred by Google for search) so you can get a 2 for 1 deal on optimization.
Public relations is the cornerstone for an effective franchise marketing plan that generates leads. At least, this is what a PR person will tell you. After all, you can get increased franchise sales with good publicity provided by third party credibility.
A skilled videographer may pitch that 28 percent of all Google search results are now YouTube links. Consequently, you can increase your sales by up to 25 percent or more by creating high quality videos. Plus, if one of those videos goes viral, it can have more impact than any advertising dollars possibly could.
When making buying decisions, today’s buyers rely on the suggestions from their networks and friends according to social media firms. You are lost if you are not engaging these folks. The key to growth is social media, not only for the consumer side of the business but also the franchise development side.
And, when you hear from an ad agency, they will tell you that public relations cannot be relied on. Placements are unpredictable, stories have no call to action, and the press is fickle. They will tell you lead flow is the ticket with advertising using portals, pay per click, and some print media.
So, which of these methods is right? They all are. They are also all wrong to the extent that they preach a myopic focus.
Choosing How to Allocate Your Resources
You do not have an unlimited budget for your franchise marketing plan if you are like every other franchisor. To achieve your goals, you have to choose carefully how you allocate your resources across different media channels based on their potential for returns. For a lot of franchisors, this means allocating scarce resources across diverse media.
The starting point is to set specific goals as part of your franchise marketing planning process. These goals may include, but are not limited to, any of the following guidelines singularly or in combination: customer retention, new franchisee acquisition, building the brand, and new customer acquisition. With each of your goals, be very specific. For example, come up with precise numbers for how many franchisees you want to add and where you want to add them.
You also need to understand your target franchisee. Find out which of your competitors they most often look at, what they read, how old they are, what drives their decision processes, how well educated they are, and if they are tech savvy.
Your current situation should also be part of your assessment. Figure out how you are going to differentiate yourself from your competitors. For promotional efforts, you need to know what in house resources you have and their capabilities. You need a budget. Plus, you need to make an honest appraisal of your website and marketing materials. Long story short, you need to start with a franchise marketing plan in order to prioritize the use of your resources.
The Web Is the Way to Go
Your first priority should be your website if you are a franchisor. Your website will serve as the hub of almost all of your marketing efforts. You will send people there with your online advertising. Links that lead them there will be created with your public relations efforts. Social media, video, and SEO are all designed to send people to your site. Despite all of this, one of the most underdeveloped marketing assets for a lot of franchisors still continues to be their website.
Keep in mind that search optimization is often theme based and domain focused. This means in an ideal world, you should have a dedicated consumer site on one url and a dedicated franchise site on another url. You should link the two together so traffic can flow. It is no myth that the largest referrer of traffic and leads to your FD site is often your consumer site.
Start with your website if it is not very good. You do not want to skimp on this. If you have a fifteen year old nephew who is a computer whiz, this does not necessarily mean he should develop your website. This is not the time to cut corners.
An overarching content strategy communicating your unique selling propositions should be a part of any good website. However, you want visitors to the site to interact with you, so the site should not have so much information that they will not need to. Your website should provide a value proposition that motivates visitors to share their contact information, and it should have many capture mechanisms to obtain leads.
Your website should seek to maximize the number of qualified leads, not just any leads. To drive specific traffic to your site, you need to have landing pages optimized around your keyword phrases and keywords. These keyword densities should never exceed five percent, or else your site may be penalized by Google.
Digital Marketing Agencies
If you are like most franchisors, this all may seem a bit overwhelming. You may not have the expertise on staff that can maximize your online marketing. Fortunately, there are digital marketing agencies like ClickTecs that focus on nothing but designing websites that are optimized for social media (SMO), search engines (SEO), and mobile devices. In addition, they can manage your online reputation and get you started with pay per click marketing, if you have the budget for it.
SEO is one of ClickTecs’ main specialties. By filling your site with original, useful content relevant to your industry, the search engines will reward you with a prime spot high in the search results. We have a team of talented writers that can craft high quality articles on any topic and that will make your company look good. Not only will the search engines give you a good ranking for having content users want, but the content will be shared on social media, and there is always the chance it could go viral.
The bottom line is digital marketing is a much too important part of any franchise marketing plan to be left to amateurs. If you do not have an expert on staff, or even if you do, you should strongly consider enlisting the help of professionals. What do you think the first steps for a new entrepreneur should be?
About the Author : Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi
A serial entrepreneur with extensive background in franchising and interests in multiple online business channels, Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi has played an instrumental role in the franchise development and success of an international franchise company. His most recent entrepreneurial interests include launching ClickTecs, a Digital Marketing company specializing in Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing as well as Website and Mobile Application development. In 2007 he co-founded Search Result, an online marketing company that supplies services to Internet Marketing Consultants. A sought after public speaker, Jam has been the featured keynote at many franchise conferences and international summits. He regularly trains ‘C’ Level Executives and supports both new and seasoned business owners on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Optimization, Mobile Marketing, Brand Reputation Management and Conversion & Measurement through web analytics. When he’s not scaling the heights of the Internet world, Jam ‘unwinds’ on extreme thrill-seeking adventures from the jungles of the Amazon to the highest summits. His passions include working with NGOs on humanitarian missions to areas around the world affected by disasters and poverty.