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At Front Porch Solutions, we work with a wide variety of franchise networks. Regardless of the franchise’s industry, we hear time and time again from franchisors about one consistent pain point– the struggle to maintain consistency online for franchises. Make no doubt about it, maintaining franchise brand consistency online is essential, but enforcing consistency is easier said than done.
Why Is It Critical to Maintain Consistency Online for Franchises?
Maintaining consistency online for franchises is crucial for two primary reasons: customer experience and measuring success.
Just as customers expect your stores and services to be consistent from one franchise location to the next, they expect a consistent online presence as well. Controlling your brand voice, messaging, and offerings helps ensure the customer experience is the same online and in-person, regardless of which franchise location your customers interact with.
In addition to customer experience, managing a consistent online presence helps you measure the effectiveness of franchise marketing efforts. With uniform accounts, websites, and marketing campaigns, you can easily track and report on your initiatives’ success across the entire network.
5 Tips to Maintain Brand Consistency Online Across Your Franchise Network
After years of specializing in franchise marketing, we’ve identified five key ways for franchisors to maintain control of their brands and standardize online marketing for franchisees. Here are our must-try tips for franchise owners.
1. Communicate your marketing strategy with franchisees.
Communication is vital when it comes to running a successful franchise. Don’t assume that your franchisees know the ins and outs of your brand identity or marketing efforts. Frequently, franchisees join a franchise network because things like marketing are taken care of for them. Instead, they are focusing on the day-to-day operations of their businesses.
Be sure that you are communicating expectations clearly and regularly. Getting a network of hundreds or even thousands of franchisees together to discuss marketing efforts can be easier said than done. Try scheduling a monthly call to share online marketing updates, and be sure that you communicate:
- Brand guidelines
- Marketing strategy
- Franchisor vs. franchisee marketing responsibilities
An optimal time to communicate with franchisees about marketing is when they join your network. Ensure that your marketing team meets with all new franchisees during training to give a crash course on brand standards, processes, and where to find approved brand assets.
2. Establish a plan to create and maintain online accounts.
Most franchisors require that each unit have and maintain a list of online accounts; however, every franchise handles the creation and maintenance of those online accounts differently.
While some networks create and maintain marketing channels on behalf of franchisees, others outsource the job to marketing agencies or require franchisees to manage the accounts locally. Whatever your plan for establishing a local presence online for your franchisees, make sure that responsibilities are clearly defined and that the brand message is the same from one unit’s account to the next.
If you allow franchisees to maintain their own accounts, be sure that you have clearly communicated rules such as social media policies, acceptable online communication with users, and a review process for running online advertisements locally.
3. Create a digital marketing library to host approved marketing materials.
One simple way to ensure franchisees are using franchisor-approved assets online and offline is developing a digital asset library. Your digital asset library can house everything from logo packs and content style guides to social media imaging and videos. Keeping all of your assets in one place makes it easy for franchisees to download and share brand-consistent materials online.
4. Develop a review process for new marketing materials.
Because your franchisees act as the front lines of your business, they often have more experience dealing with customers than marketers at the Corporate office might have. That being said, they can often identify gaps in your marketing efforts, new opportunities, and customer needs. Plus, franchisees may be able to identify needs in their local communities that you might otherwise be unaware of.
Take advantage of the feedback your franchisees provide by implementing a review process for new marketing materials or marketing initiatives. This review process could be as simple as an intake form for marketing material requests or as comprehensive as an online proofing software for franchisees that create their own materials.
5. Limit variations in website templates.
A common mistake that many franchisors make is allowing franchisees to make significant changes to the network’s website template. While some customization capabilities may be helpful for local marketing, deviating too far from the original brand template can wreak havoc on brand consistency and optimization if you’ve used search engine optimization (SEO) best practices.
Key Takeaways for Franchisors
As you can see, franchising creates a unique set of challenges for managing brand consistency, but there are ways you can streamline efforts. Effectively communicating goals, strategies, and brand standards, as well as developing a digital asset library, helps to create a uniform brand online and franchisees to excel in their local markets.
Every franchise network is different and requires its own online marketing strategy based on its unique business model and target audience. If you need help developing a strategy for your brand or managing franchisee marketing efforts, contact Front Porch Solutions. We create uniform, scalable marketing solutions for franchises.