When it comes to digital marketing, franchises are fast splitting into two distinct groups.

One is the old world franchise where all marketing is handled by head office. The other is the progressive franchise that gives its locations flexibility and a degree of autonomy at the local level whilst staying in control of the brand.

While the latter strategy requires some organisation and process to enable it, the business benefits far outweigh the hassle. Here’s four compelling reasons to give your franchise locations some flexibility to run their own digital marketing activity.

1. Locally relevant campaigns

Consider this scenario. Within the same fitness franchise, one location might get the majority of its business from sporting clubs while another lives off an adjacent university.

Logically, both locations are going to experience very different seasonality. They’ll need different messages for different audiences, too.

Imagine if the gym opposite the university was prohibited from running it’s own targeted member acquisition campaign at the start of each semester? That’s the way of the old-school franchise. You’d be mad not to see that as a massive lost opportunity.

Today’s progressive franchises enable that location to place geographically-targeted student offers on to the smartphones across campus at that time. It’s just good business sense.

2. The ability to cater to different marketing budgets

Some franchise locations will do better than others. Some will see the value in digital marketing more than others. So it makes sense to offer a range of options across different price points. One size definitely does not fit all.

The great thing thing about digital marketing is that it’s all completely scalable, so it’s easy to adapt campaigns to suit budgets. Once set up, the only difference between a $500 Google Adwords campaign and a $1000 one is the spend level.

The other key benefit of digital marketing with regard to budgeting is that it’s entirely trackable. So franchisees will always know what their ROI is after a campaign. Perfect if they want to ‘dip a toe in the water’ to see initial results before taking the plunge on a heftier financial commitment.

3. Helps business relationships with head office

Having options for franchise locations to supplement head office marketing with their own short-circuits a lot of franchise frustrations.

Having options for franchise locations to supplement head office marketing with their own short-circuits a lot of franchise frustrations.

Franchisees will always want more from head office and more from their monthly marketing fees. Even if their current business performance is healthy. Having easy options for them to ‘scale up’ their marketing through a trusted agency partner is the perfect solution.

This is particularly the case during seasonal busy periods when individual locations need to ‘make hay while the sun shines’. Think about a fast food outlet near an annual summer festival. Or a beachside Yoga Studio looking to capitalize on tourist high season. These are critical periods for the financial wellbeing of the business. If franchisees feel unsupported by head office marketing at this time it will undoubtedly place stress on the head office relationship.

4. Local content is more effective in social media

Local stories perform better on social media. Way better. In fact, on a per-follower basis, local pages gain over 450% more engagement than national and global brand pages, according to Digital Stack.

Franchise head offices should be doing everything possible to encourage engaging local content - whether it’s organic or paid.

When you think about the type of content you interact with on social media, this makes complete sense. It’s the people and the relationships you have with customers, staff and community that drive interaction. And Facebook’s algorithm changes in early 2018 will only make local content more effective.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explicitly said that the platform will pursue “personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”. Of course local content will perform better. And other social platforms will surely follow suit.

The bottom line of this local content gets greater reach and vastly improved brand awareness and consideration. Which in turn serves to reduce cost-per-click on national digital activity.

Final word

Building in flexibility to a franchise digital strategy need not be complicated. Pre-packaged options that allow franchisees to leverage network-wide learnings and best practice are the way to go.

With some upfront consultation on objectives and the nuances of the local area, it’s easy to adapt previously successful campaigns and reap the benefits quickly. And it comes without adding campaign management headaches for head office.

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