As an owner or marketing manager for a multi-unit enterprise or multi-location franchise, you understand just how important it is to have a stellar experience for customers across your brand. But how? With locations spread nationally or internationally, managing marketing efforts from your brand’s headquarters as well as each individual location could prove difficult. Because each location or franchise could serve completely different demographics and attitudes about your brand, there are a few things to keep in mind when approaching marketing strategies across your business entity. By implementing consistent branding that has standardized digital marketing and social media marketing across locations with local SEO and area considerations, you’ll proactively build a marketing machine that keeps your customers coming in. Here’s a few tips and examples to help you build the best marketing strategy for your multi-unit enterprise or multi-location franchise.
Create Consistent Branding
From the time a potential customer encounters your brand to a frequent consumer’s review, each individual franchise or enterprise location has the unique responsibility to not only uphold your brand’s public image, but provide an experience based on demographics and the target market. What do your customers resonate with? What are they looking for from your brand, and how can you deliver branding consistently across locations? Keep in mind that things relating to brand identity like color scheme, logo and font, and brand image considerations like brand conversation on social media and representation in the media should be considered, solidified, and made standard to be shared with each location you open. The creation of a clear, consistent brand voice, brand identity, and brand vision goes a long way in providing an engaging experience that customers can count on.
When you think of companies with a lasting brand identity, companies that have managed to instill their color scheme, logo, and product offering into the collective consciousness stands out. Pepsi and Coca-Cola are two of the largest soft drink brands with tight branding; even a mention of their names produces a clear set of mental images like drinking soda, enjoying time with friends, and enjoying all-American meals. Coca-Cola was created in 1886, and while it’s been augmented slightly over the years, its identity is one that customers have known to look for when desiring a cool beverage. When building a multi-unit enterprise or multi-location marketing for your franchise, you want to make sure that the brand’s logo and color scheme is something that can be easily identified and relative to your target market, with lasting appeal.
Cultivating a strong brand image is next on the agenda and is a step that should involve some planning and testing to nail down. Because customers tend to engage with a brand where they are online, digital marketing strategies become increasingly important in communicating the right brand voice to match its product, reputation, and vision. Crafting a brand’s voice involves personifying and understanding your brand, giving life to the name, and creating a logo design in a way that provides customers with memorable experiences when thinking about the brand. Take for instance Geico’s gecko, a mascot that has taken form in this multi-unit enterprises’ print and digital advertisements. Geico has a distinct voice on major digital marketing channels like Twitter that reflects the voice and colorful personality of their mascot, and has created an easily-identifiable way to connect their brand with current and potential customers. The creation of the Geico brand’s voice through the use of a mascot reads as a smart and memorable way for customers to engage while still being playful and light.
Keeping your brand’s vision and purpose for operating or offering your product or service should also drive and empower your marketing efforts. Having a strong foundation in what you’re doing and how it affects your potential markets will ensure that each subsequent location you open is firmly grounded in your ‘why,’ or why you chose to create a product or service in your respective market. Make sure that when you’re creating any marketing strategy for your multi-unit enterprise or multi-location franchise, an emphasis on your vision is paramount before executing plans.
To instill in your national or international team the value of your customer’s experience with your brand identity, brand voice, and brand vision, create a shared marketing plan that regional managers or franchisors uphold and implement at their locations. Providing a digital marketing fund or set of digital marketing materials as standards to be used in tandem with localized marketing can ensure that consumers are experiencing your brand similarly across locations. With a standardized brand image and suite of resources in place, you’ll strengthen the voice and perception of your overall brand while making sure each individual location or franchise has the marketing material they’ll need to thrive in their respective markets.
Standardize Digital and Local Marketing Strategies
Digital marketing and social media marketing are integral parts of every marketing strategy and is even more important for multi-unit enterprises and multi-location marketing for franchises. Knowing how to meet the pain point of a customer, address the need in a user-friendly way, and close the sale by providing an awesome customer experience becomes easy when digital marketing and social media marketing efforts have been invested in a strategic way. Marketing strategies that prioritize building trust, creating the right website for products or services, and walking customers through the experience are finding success online in articulating their brand in a way that brings repeat customers.
Take for instance Wendy’s Restaurant, a multi-location franchise that currently boasts a free cash flow of $240 million. Wendy’s has a social media marketing strategy that has created quite a buzz in the millennial market, a demographic that many older fast-food brands find elusive as healthy options and more casual eating locations are preferred. To address this market, Wendy’s has created a digital marketing strategy that uses a young, fresh voice as the spokesperson on Twitter, a fresh, vibrant central website that links to individual locations without the need for local web design, and runs company-wide promotions with digital perks often to use their brand’s voice and style to not only affect a large target demographic, but provide a standard for all locations to follow and adhere to. This franchise’s social media marketing strategy works in a way that reinforces the same energy and intent in each individual location, with seasonal food rotations, new promotional menu items, and national promotions running at the same time per location.
What can we learn from Wendy’s? First, that building credibility and trust through digital marketing and social media marketing practices is paramount to Wendy’s core experience. Wendy’s on Twitter is a fierce, sassy voice that often shares fun jokes, competitive pings to other fast-food chains, and tantalizing images of new or promoted food items. Consumers know that if they visit a local Wendy’s location, while the consumer experience may vary in-store, the quality of the food, the pricing and availability are all consistent across the brand. Understanding that the customer experience in-store is important in providing a stellar overall experience with the brand, efforts for franchises that can extend the core marketing strategy includes marketing-based and brand-based training at each location, as well as the creation of core standards in delivering experiences that regional managers can ensure their areas are upholding.
For a multi-unit enterprise, it may be worth investing more time in a location-based digital presence and social media marketing strategy, especially if your product or service targets niche demographics or markets where individual locations may be harder to find. For a multi-unit enterprise like Marriott, utilizing tools like Google Keyword Planner is a must to both maximize search engine optimization (SEO) and determine in which areas their different hotel location offerings would be appropriate for. For instance, if Marriott wanted to open a new location in Katy, TX to meet the need of a comfortable hotel stay in the area, performing a Google Keyword Planner search for highly used keywords in the Katy, TX area would inform the local hotel’s marketing strategy by incorporating these highly-searched keywords within the local website’s content. Adding the proximity of attractions that a visitor of Katy would most likely be excited to experience while there can also provide a local SEO boost as well as benefit the potential hotel guest who wants to enjoy all that Katy, TX has to offer.
Understanding that digital marketing and social media marketing can again be both standardized for all locations of a multi-unit enterprise or multi-location franchise or individualized based on location, its up to the core brand marketing team to determine which strategy would work for the overall brand. Standardizing a core identity and brand voice across social media on one webpage, one Twitter account, and one Facebook page ensures that each location is represented as intended by your headquarters, keeping your brand’s voice intact across locations. Individualizing by providing location-specific details, SEO, and a local brand voice helps to build a deeper level of engagement with your brand and be found by your local target market, as well as help those not in the area find you through search more readily. Creating a set of standard marketing principles to be distributed across locations would prove beneficial for either strategy chosen, and would help to prioritize customer experience in finding and relating to your brand online.
Use Localized SEO To Attract (and Keep) Repeat Customers
As we mentioned in the previous section, the creation of localized SEO for multi-location marketing is important in not only gaining customers in your target area, but keeping them coming back to enjoy your product or service. The creation and implementation of local SEO is a bit different from that of overall SEO. In the prior, you’ll want to get customers to find your product or service. The former involves getting local customers to find your product and service nearby, in relation to themselves or local attractions and amenities. There’s a number of different approaches that customers take to finding your business, from map search to voice and location searches, and from various devices as well. Having a set of local SEO standards shared across your organization helps to ensure that not only is your multi-unit enterprise or multi-location franchise found, it’s found right in your customer’s area.
Most customers use mobile and map search to find businesses and services in their local area. In considering the example above, Wendy’s again has one page that lists out all of its locations by geographical area, with details about the offering of that specific location within the main site. While this approach keeps branding tight and ensures that all locations have the same general look and feel for their website (as they’re all using the same central website), it’s not so good for local SEO and ease of use for potential customers. Because customers are looking for the nearest Wendy’s to their general location and what offerings that individual Wendy’s may have over others, having no other way outside of a web-based (as opposed to Google Map-based) map search to locate and explore the offerings of their closest Wendy’s restaurant may prove troublesome for that location’s sales.
So, how do multi-location marketing strategies incorporate lasting local results that get the word out about locations in a customer’s general area? First, having a single page for each location as a subdomain of your main site with keywords within your content that are specific to your industry, product or service, and locale is a great way to individualize your digital marketing approach and make sure your branding is intact across locations. Using meta tags that are specific to the location’s area, for example “Overlea BBQ restaurant” vs “Baltimore BBQ restaurant” will help to get indexed and found on Google, one of the main search engines on the web which comprises of about 60% of the searches performed online. Be sure to include a map that pinpoints your franchise or multi-unit enterprise’s location on the map as it relates to other things in the area of interest, like landmarks or historic sites.
While creating a location-based webpage is a good first step, the next stage in building out SEO for your multi-unit enterprise or multi-location marketing strategy for franchises is to have a presence on and revise all of the location-based sites that your potential and current customers can find you on. Resources like Yelp, Google Business, TripAdvisor, and more are widely used directory websites that are sources of local information, reviews, and suggestions that can help boost your brand’s SEO, reputation, and overall branding if done right. Being mindful to create an official business site on Google helps provide details like a website link, full address, phone number, and keywords right where your customers are searching. Having a presence on Yelp with pictures, keywords that describe your business and the location, and reviews from new and repeat customers helps to build your brand’s perception and reputation among local visitors, while providing new ways for potential customers to find you. Adding information on additional directories like TripAdvisor and the online Yellow Pages further boosts your incoming clicks and provides even more avenues to promote your multi-unit enterprise or multi-location franchise to local audiences. By incorporating SEO techniques within your overall and local digital and social media marketing strategies, you’ll help those who are looking for your product or service find it with ease.
Creating a marketing strategy for multi-unit enterprises and multi-location franchises is no small feat, but investing attention and care in building digital marketing and social media marketing strategies will prove beneficial in the long run. Again, considerations for both the brand entity as a whole as well as each individual location can prove difficult if standards and processes are not well thought out and put in place early on to ensure efficiency, but taking time before expanding nationally or internationally to be clear on how the brand’s identity, voice, and vision will be expressed across locations helps to give customers a familiar experience. Consistent branding helps to keep your product or service in the forefront of a customer’s mind when thinking about your business. Creating a standard set of marketing principles and actions for each location with respect to localized assets will ensure that new and repeat customers find you and keep coming back. Optimizing your brand’s presence on the web through local SEO tweaks will ensure that through each medium that a customer can use to search, they’ll find and patronize your brand. Whether your multi-unit enterprise or multi-location franchise has two locations or 2,000, rest assured that implementing these tips will see you on the road to marketing success in no time.