According to Franchise Direct, in the United States, one in seven businesses is a franchise, on average one to two new brands launch each day, and an average of 300 new brands start franchising each year.
In an increasingly crowded marketplace, how do you find a skilled franchise digital marketing consultant to help your multi-location brand or business stand out and stand above the competition? Here are the top five qualities you should look for and the questions you should ask before choosing the right franchise digital media partner for you:Jump down below to get your own copy of my infographic, A 20-Question Must-have Checklist to Choosing the Right Franchise Digital Marketing Consultant.
Multi-location Digital Marketing Experience
Anyone can say they can handle your digital marketing, but few have the experience and expertise to streamline and support complex multi-location campaigns seamlessly, to handle all the moving parts.
Ask potential partners what verticals and clients they have worked with in the past. Find out if they have relevant experience in your field. Learn about their big wins, their biggest challenges and opportunities. Know their track record.
Ensure they have custom turnkey systems so your digital marketing campaigns can go off without a hitch. Are the systems scalable, meaning can they still run your campaigns smoothly when they must ramp up and handle more locations? Here are a few helpful turnkey programs your franchise digital marketing consultant should have in place:
Multi-location Digital Media Program Enrollment: How do they handle digital marketing program enrollment? Is it through a web portal? If so, is the web portal well-designed, a breeze to navigate, and easy and quick to use? (Enrollment should take less than 10 minutes.)
Multi-location Digital Advertising Creative and Offers: What’s the process to view and approve advertising programs, creative and offers? How quickly can they get digital advertising live? Make changes? Switch out limited-time offers or gear certain offers to specific markets?
Multi-location Digital Media Campaign Performance Reporting: Can they provide daily performance reports that are easy on the eyes and easy to understand? Can you get more analytics if you need them? Getting this campaign data will not only help you understand how your campaign is faring but give you insight into how to improve. Your chosen consultant can then use these findings to optimize your campaign in real time.
Multi-location Digital Media Campaign Billing: Billing is never fun. But, when many locations or individual business owners are involved, it can get downright complicated and confusing fast. Is your potential provider happy to wade through billing, compliance and corporate advertising reimbursements and handle it for you, for all your locations? How involved do you have to be? Is it a straightforward, simple process and headache-free?
Hyperlocal Marketing Knowledge
Consumers like to connect with local businesses through search engines. A Google report mentioned 50% of consumers who performed a local search on their mobile phone visited a store within a day. And, according to HubSpot, 72% of consumers who search for local businesses end up visiting stores within five miles. Does your potential franchise digital marketing consultant have the knowledge to help you hone your local marketing efforts to drive quality local leads to your door? Can they help you turn these leads into customers?
Find out if your prospective digital partners can build microsites to promote different locations and individual advertising offers and promotions. Can they map your locations on all the major platforms and add current and consistent contact info to local business directory listings across the internet? This is so time-consuming to manage and keep up to date but is important so consumers can quickly find or contact you.
Responding to customer inquiries and reviews in a timely manner can be tough to make time for in the day-to-day whirlwind of all you have to do. Can your potential partner help you monitor and respond quickly to your customers’ questions and their reviews?
Can your potential franchise digital consultant advise and handle your paid search advertising and social media efforts?
All these local marketing efforts can drive more qualified traffic to your locations.
Research- and Data-Driven
To grow your multi-location brand or business, capture leads, sell more to current customers, and pitch your prospects, you need excellent insights. Research and data can help you learn how to best speak to and reach your customers and prospects and tell you if your media strategy is effective and on target.
Qualified franchise digital marketing consultants should be able to tell you where your customers and prospects go online and how they get there. They should be able to conduct audience targeting across devices using a variety of channels. Most of all, they should be transparent with you about your performance metrics and audience data (your target segments, channels, and tactics) and how they’re affecting you financially. Whatever your customers or prospects are doing, research and data can help you identify leads and reach them.
Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, Tulsa. No market is the same, so taking a one-size-fits-all approach to the media plan doesn’t work with multi-location campaigns. Can your prospective franchise digital marketing consultant adapt and personalize digital marketing at the local level? No matter the market size, big or small, you need someone familiar with the entire country and with extensive regional and local knowledge to build a successful media plan specific to each market.
Find out how well your potential digital consultants understand various markets and their opportunities. Do they know the markets’ circumstances, events, teams, landmarks, and such? Find out how well they understand the target audience for each – their characteristics, demographics, likes and dislikes, their income, education, challenges, needs, and desires.
The franchise digital marketing consultant you choose must be nimble and flexible enough to take your overarching national plan and customize it, test it and optimize it for any area, using the best technology, the best channels and tactics to fit your unique needs.
Easy to Work With
Different clients and verticals can be challenging. How can you manage everything when marketing is only one of many things you need to do each day?
Find a digital media partner that has extensive know-how, that cares about all the little details as much as you do, and that can answer all your questions and dive right in to help you. Look for one that truly cares about your unique challenges and can quickly give you the research, answers and solutions to help you succeed.
Can your potential franchise digital media provider quickly learn about and support your brand standards across the country while supporting business owners’ local efforts as well? Building your national brand – your identity – helps customers and prospects learn about and become interested in you. Uniformity and consistency are key. Local markets should share and build on the national message so no matter where a consumer goes, all locations have a similar look and feel and extend the same customer experience.
Is your prospective consultant transparent and willing to share their knowledge? Are they willing to take the time to teach you so you can understand the benefits of digital marketing for your brand or business and how your investment will drive growth and traffic now and in the years ahead?
Your potential digital media provider should be approachable and accessible. Can they take your phone call and pop in regularly to meet with you in person? Can they help you sort out your day-to-day concerns and get involved with establishing and building your presence in local communities? Can they get you plugged in with prospects and customers so you can grow these relationships and build trust?
When you’re scoping out franchise digital marketers and trying to select the best candidate for the job, it can be overwhelming and nerve-wracking. It’s too big of a decision to choose wrong. So, follow my must-have list to ensure you ask the right questions to make a well-informed decision:
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A franchise digital marketing consultant may be expected to coordinate and support up to hundreds (even thousands) of business owners’ needs, demands and individual programs around the country and around the clock at the same time. If that weren’t pressure enough, they must also provide the right strategies to successfully engage many different audiences in various markets at once to turn leads into sales. These tasks are incredibly hard to pull off, let alone do well. That’s why the one you pick must be well-rounded – must be media-savvy and research- and data-driven, must be easy to work with, and have the multi-location experience and hyperlocal marketing knowledge you need to succeed.
When you discover one with all the qualities you’re after, one that seems to check all the boxes, you’ll know you’ve found the right fit, the right franchise digital marketing consultant for you.
If you would like more franchise digital marketing tips and trends to maximize your budget and take your multi-location brand or business farther, we are enthusiastic to help.
Ami Sirlin is a 15-year digital advertising veteran with experience managing campaigns for several large automotive brands, such as General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and Subaru of America. She currently serves as vice president of multi-location for Goodway and regularly speaks on digital topics at various industry and retailer functions.