Marketing that directly targets consumers using cutting-edge media needn’t be costly, but can be most effective, says Jamie Izaks
The ability to clearly communicate a franchise opportunity to prospects becomes even more important when you consider how inundated by digital messaging most people are today. But marketing is a broad category and it can be confusing for busy and ambitious franchisors to know where to allocate resources. Let’s take a look at three of the top digital marketing trends taking 2018 by storm and see how they can be used to drive leads and support your existing franchise network.
Surge in live video
Video itself is not a trend – it’s now a norm and is quickly becoming the most influential form of digital content for businesses today. Franchises, too, are utilizing the strength of video across their franchise and consumer-facing websites and social media pages. While consumer attention spans are continually decreasing, franchise prospect attention spans are decreasing as well – this means that now, more than ever, video messaging needs to be short, punchy and focused. Marketers are adapting to this trend as well, especially on Facebook Live.
A darling with viewers, Facebook Live gives them the opportunity to get ‘behind the scenes’ with a franchise brand in a more personal – and less polished – way than written content. In fact, 80% of users said they prefer watching a live video over reading a blog post, while according to Facebook itself, live video gets 3x more views.
How can franchisors take advantage of this?
In 2018, resolve to set a real strategy in place for using Facebook Live to promote your franchise opportunity. This is as inexpensive as it can get when it comes to innovative content generation – Facebook Live can be streamed and filmed on your smartphone, and just a few add-ons can take the experience over the top in terms of quality. Invest in an inexpensive tripod to keep your phone steady as well as a set of clip-on lapel microphones to ensure decent sound quality. Put your subject in good lighting and you’re ready to go.
In terms of content, Facebook Live serves as an innovative way to take prospects directly to the franchise opportunity, either behind the scenes in one of your locations or in a short, dynamic interview with a figurehead at your company. Get your CEO on camera to talk for 30 seconds about who makes a great franchisee. Interview a top-performing franchisee about why he or she likes working within your system. Showcase a new product or service that’s changing the game and driving profits for your company.
Investing in content marketing and email
Again, content marketing is not a trend. But it’s growing – in a big way. Nearly 70% of people said they prefer to learn about a business through an article rather than an ad. Combine that data with the fact that content marketing is cheaper than many other forms of marketing – plus, it has the ability to create exponentially more franchise leads. Content marketing takes many forms, so give equal time to pursuing blog posts, videos, infographics and email marketing campaigns.
When it comes to content, think about your brand’s top franchisee performers. What have you heard them say about your franchise opportunity and why it appealed to them? These are the qualities that you want to highlight in your content. Write or film profiles of your franchisees describing why they enjoy being a part of your company. Post a Q&A with your CEO and Franchise Development Director about qualities of ideal franchisees. Showcase earned media to demonstrate brand momentum. Celebrate new openings, signed agreements and other milestones that shout your growth message.
Content, whether text, video or an email campaign, is worth your time more than ever in 2018.
Going hyperlocal for franchisees
Our robust digital landscape is allowing local businesses to interact directly with consumers in an easier way than ever before. This is incredibly important for franchisors with dozens – even hundreds – of locations across the country and world, as it helps individual locations harness their autonomy as local businesses serving their communities directly.
In 2018, we’ll see even more hyperlocal focus, from Google Posts (a feature of Google that allows people and businesses to create content directly on Google which appears highly ranked in Google search results) and Google My Business (the Google feature that showcases individual businesses on Google Maps search results and also allows for consumer reviews) to Facebook Local (a review and search function of Facebook) and more.
Individual franchise locations all have the opportunity to reach their consumers in a more direct way. According to Google’s research, 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same. This means ranking in local search has a direct impact on in-store traffic, which is huge for franchisees who are looking for more business.
As the franchisor, it’s important that your marketing team communicate the importance of these free or low-cost services to franchisees and provide them brand standards and guidelines to keep pages consistent and updated. Hyperlocal pages are the ideal opportunity for third-party validation to take a front and center focus for your business – better page rankings equal more business and an even stronger brand identity in your markets served.
Take these three digital marketing trends into consideration when allocating marketing dollars for 2018 – the importance of live video, strong content and a consistent presence on hyperlocal pages cannot be overstated as the market becomes more saturated than ever.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jamie Izaks is the President and CEO of All Points Public Relations, a franchise PR agency located in the Chicago area.