The elephant in the franchise digital marketing room: Franchisees expectations vs. franchise capabilities

Oct 18, 2015

You might have noticed that local outfits are often much better referenced in Google than nationwide brands franchisees, which might seem odd at first glance since local franchisees should benefit from franchisor’s marketing power and global presence when competing with the independant local store around the corner.

Regardless of their size, market or industry, websites are nowadays at the heart of marketing strategies for local web stores and national franchise networks alike. Yet an overwhelming majority of franchisor’s websites limit local franchisee’s exposure to a single page of content which has little to no value in terms of content, and often outdated.

As the two-fold franchisor’s strategy unfolds (sell more franchises + increase sales royalties), local franchisees are more often than not left alone with dealing with online marketing.

Once franchisees jump on board lured by all the bells and whistles offered by franchising brands, they often end up disenchanted by the actual online presence, aka ‘rogue websites’ provided by the umbrella website they are supposed to use for marketing purposes.

Disgruntled franchisees are indeed right: franchisors owe them nothing less than a perfectly rounded digital marketing strategy more focused on local franchisees, the bread and butter of any successful venture, and less looking for its own global needs.

The single main hurdle faced by franchises, other than lack of commitment or budget, is their inability to leverage the right marketing software to give franchisees the best of both worlds: a strong, well-known global brand AND flexible, user-friendly tools to develop and manage their online presence at the local level.

Whether you’re a franchisor or a local franchisee, you first need to look square in the eye of the elephant in the franchise digital marketing room, and acknowledge the wide gap between franchise capabilities and franchisee expectations.

Once all blocking points have been singled out, you will be able to craft a mutually satisfying and more cost-efficient marketing strategy that satisfies the needs of both franchisors and franchisees.

Then, and only then, will you be able to identify the the perfect tool to make it all happen and ensure maximum onboarding incentives and long term local franchise success.

What franchise networks give VS what franchisees need

One way to characterize the problems faced by local franchisees is to observe the wide gaps between what they would actually need and what most franchise networks have to offer in terms of online presence and marketing power.

From conflicting interests to rogue franchise websites

The discrepancies between franchisor’s and franchisee’s own interests lead to a number of major issues, from brand inconsistency to conflicting information.

In turn, this situation pushes local franchisees to abandon franchisor’s online marketing model and create their own from scratch, a phenomenon known as ‘rogue franchise websites’.

Multiplication of rogue franchise websites can be fought effectively with a simple 3-steps strategy:

  1. Offer customizable online marketing tools to make local content relevant & effective
  2. Enforce brand compliance across local franchisee’s online presence
  3. Provide initial training and ongoing support

Yet, In most cases, franchisors simply do not follow those golden rules. Why? Because they just don’t have the tools to enforce them and provide franchisees with a true online presence that satisfies both the need for unified brand control AND local marketing development.

This is even more true for social media presence, which is an ever-increasing part of any sound online marketing strategy, and in this area franchise brands are never too big to fail.

Finding the perfect tool for both franchisors and franchisees

In his post “A Future-Proof Solution for Service Oriented Franchises”, Scott Clark rightfully points out that most “online networks and tools are not well set up for the parent-child business structure of a franchise brand”.

This is true even for specialized software such as Bridgeline's IAPPS DS (formerly ElementsLocal) which lacks many essential features at both franchise and franchisee levels.

Consequently, franchise networks often resort to build their own proprietary applications on top on architectures that weren’t meant for this use, ending up with less-than-efficient tools that eventually lead to very same problems, failing to solve the spreading of rogue franchise websites.

So, how do you serve both franchisors and franchisees with a multi-locations website builder and a matching scalable multi-sites marketing software? How can you get the best of both worlds, leveraging the franchise’s marketing firepower with the flexibility of locally optimized franchisee’s websites that won’t hurt the global brand?

This is where SeoSamba’s franchise software kicks in with a solution that was built from the ground up to replicate the unbeatable power of distributed and MLM business models.

Introducing SeoSamba’s franchise marketing software

Build upon its patent-pending “hub & spokes” technology, SeoSamba’s open source and out-of-the-box is a solution to build, manage and market entire franchise networks.

SeoSamba let franchisors manage any number of franchisee's local websites through a centralized, cloud-based and white-label all-in-one franchise marketing platf​orm that lets franchise networks deploy franchisees’ websites out of the box. 

Franchisors can deploy and manage branded networked content for just one or all franchised websites through the SambaSaaS centralized cloud-based interface, while franchisees can manage their own local website, content and promotions with the open source & ecommerce website builder SeoToaster CMS.

The cloud-based all-in-one marketing solution enables franchisees with user-friendly ecommerce catalog management, allowing them to pull any or all of the products and services available from the franchise centralized catalogue.

Franchisors can manage network-wide search engine optimization with powerful SEO automation features, while franchisees get an added layer of customization with automated localization to maximize their presence in local search engines and resources.

For online marketing purposes, SeoSamba's solution comes with built-in networked content, on-click social posting and advanced monitoring, powerful news/blog/PR distribution, and on-demand voice/SMS marketing from both the franchisor and franchisee's standpoints.

To top it all off, powerful multi-sites web analytics are provided for the entire network, along with extensive search engine reports and SEO optimization audits straight from Google Webmaster Tools.

So there you have it, there indeed are ways to make it all work online for both franchisors and franchisees, all the while ensuring brand consistency and smart user control on global as well as local levels.

Just because you hadn’t heard of them yet does not mean that the right franchise marketing tools don’t exist, nor that it is too late to make the right choice. For more information, please read more on the benefits of our online marketing solutions for franchise networks.

As a franchisor, you will get all the control, fast deployment and global marketing you need to get more franchisees on board with a minimal cost.

As a franchisee, you will be able to market your custom online presence on all fronts on top of all the marketing power a global franchise holds, allowing to beat the most competitive local brands without either selling your soul or having to ever go down the rogue franchise website road.


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About the author

Michel Leconte
Michel Leconte

Omnivorous mammal & SEO Samba CEO, I'm a regular speaker at search engine marketing conferences around the world, including Search Engine Strategies London & New York, and a contributor to a number of publications, including Website Magazine, and Feedfront Magazine. I enjoy strategy, coaching, and motivating both customers & staff.

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