4 Things We Learned At The Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference

A few weeks ago, we traveled to Atlanta for the Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead. Created by Franchise Update Media, the Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference is a two day event focusing on all aspects of franchise marketing. Many of the industry’s top experts are brought together to discuss everything from how to utilize new technology to enhancing franchisee participation. LSM engaged in several interesting workshops addressing the changes and challenges facing franchise marketers today. LSM’s Chief Marketing Officer, Matthew Job, moderated the session voted best of the conference: ‘Local Marketing – Imperative For Location, Market and Brand Growth,’ which we thought was pretty cool! Needless to say we look forward to attending again in 2017!

Below are four key takeaways from the conference:

  1. Your brand promise is one of the most important components of your business to communicate to your consumers. It’s vital to the long-term health of your business, and it’s an element that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your brand promise extends to every part of your organization – from sales to customer service. Your brand positioning can drive innovation and even change the course of R&D based on customer feedback. Terri Snyder, CMO/EVP of the Checkers/Rally’s restaurant franchise system, described her experience of identifying the brand promise after she started with the organization, and encouraged us to go back to the foundation of the brand for inspiration.
  2. Local marketing is imperative for location, market and brand growth. This was a terrific presentation by Nancy Bigley, CEO at Bottles & Bottega, Ali Rauch, Director of Marketing at Chicken Salad Chick and Angela Paules, VP of Marketing at Mosquito Joe. In a nutshell, having an effective local marketing strategy is paramount to the success of many franchise brands. The first step is laying the foundation, which includes finding passionate franchisees who aren’t afraid to be true brand ambassadors, and helping them understand the importance of local marketing prior to them even becoming franchisees. Next is providing franchisees with turn-key marketing resources that make it easy for them to participate and understand the results of their spend: customizable marketing materials, checklists, lead tracking and online reporting dashboards for example. Working with vendor partners that specialize in different aspects of local marketing can be a great resource for brands that don’t have the internal resources to complete all the work needed to create and maintain an excellent local marketing strategy. Showing franchisees examples of successful marketing plans or initiatives will improve their likelihood of participation moving forward; testimonials from their peers can sometimes mean more than recommendations from HQ. They emphasized the importance of collaborating with others on a regular basis to unearth fresh ideas and solutions.A photo of LSM at FCMC
  3. Meet your customers where they are. Allow your advocates to interact with your brand where they are online. This is especially true with respect to reviews and reputation management. Get your dissenters offline immediately, and work with them to resolve issues as quickly as possible. Most importantly, make your responses geared towards the general public, not just towards the customer who left a negative review. Dave Randall, Sr Manager of Marketing Strategy at Great Clips, said it brilliantly: “Never get in a pissing match with a skunk – you’ll both end up stinking.” A potential customer’s opinion of your business is largely based on what people say about your business online; when responding to reviews, write with this potential customer in mind.
  4. Programmatic advertising is no longer “the future” – it’s now. Programmatic advertising is a way to purchase highly-targeted impression inventory (like banner ads and sponsored content) on the websites of your choosing. The goal is to serve the right ad to the right visitor at the right time. On programmatic advertising networks, you can target website visitors based on things like cookies and device ID’s (especially critical to mobile implementations) as well as contextual topics. Location targeting on these networks, in many cases, is also much more robust, factoring in GPS data of mobile website visitors. Darryl Singer, National Director at Centro, explained that the value exchange between privacy and relevancy is becoming more equal; if ads are inevitable, we probably want to be served ads we actually care about, and this is made possible by the advanced targeting options in programmatic technology.

These are only a handful of takeaways from the sessions that we were fortunate enough to attend. We’re positive that several more nuggets of valuable information were discussed during the conference.

For more information about the Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference, you can click here.

It was a terrific event and Local Search Masters looks forward to attending in 2017 and beyond!

SEO for Franchises – 3 Local SEO Tips for Franchise Systems

A quality organic search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is critical to most franchise systems’ ability to generate new business and brand awareness from the web. You shouldn’t need some sort of dubious statistic to illustrate the importance of organic search marketing, it should be common sense to anyone reading this article.

This article highlights a few quick tips on how a franchise system can set up their website in a way maximizes their franchisees’ ability to earn high placements in Google’s organic search results and map listings on lucrative search queries being performed by potential and current customers. Let’s get to it!

Each franchise location should have its own web page. We recommend setting up each location’s web page as a “subfolder page” of your corporate website instead of a “subdomain page.”

  • For example Pest People (a make-believe franchise with over 100 units) has a website (www.pestpeople.com) and one location in Nashville. The URL of their Nashville location’s web page should be www.pestpeople.com/nashville rather than nashville.pestpeople.com.

By doing so, the location pages better harness the SEO power of the homepage; it trickles down to the location pages. Think of it like a pyramid of champagne glasses. The glass at the top (your homepage) receives a stream of “bubbly” in the form of new traffic and backlinks, and that “bubbly” trickles down into the glasses below (your franchisees’ location pages), increasing their level of value to the target audiences (search engines and potential customers), resulting in higher organic search rankings on lucrative keywords. Cheers!

Let’s say Pest People has 15 locations in the greater Nashville market, and one of those units is located in the Belle Meade neighborhood. Pest People should consider utilizing one market page and 15 location pages where:

  • Their market page’s URL is www.pestpeople.com/nashville and contains information about all Nashville locations. The goal is to position this page highly on market-level non-branded keywords such as “pest control companies in Nashville” or “exterminators Nashville TN.
  • Their Belle Meade unit’s page’s URL is www.pestpeople.com/nashville/belle-meade and contains information unique to that local market. The goal is to position this location page highly on hyper-local non-branded keywords such as “pest control Belle Meade neighborhood” or “exterminators near me.”

This two-pronged approach can result in:

  • Increased conversion rates: Users performing regional keyword searches now find a page with ALL the brand’s locations rather than just one or two. They visit this page and quickly find information about the brand and the location(s) that make the most sense for them to visit.
  • Reduced franchisee competition and costs: Franchisees no longer spend money competing against each other for visibility on the same regional keywords. They share equal visibility on the same page and split that monthly SEO cost between each other.
  • Optimized franchisee visibility: Franchisees get quality visibility on both  regional keywords thanks to the market page and  hyper-local keywords thanks to their location pages. This maximizes their ability to earn customers from Google’s organic search results.
  • Higher organic rankings: it is easier rank a web page that provides quality information on 15 different locations on competitive, regional keywords than it is a web page highlighting one location. This is one reason why sites like Yelp and Home Advisor, sites that have information on multiple businesses in multiple industries, rank highly for non-branded regional keywords like “massages in Nashville” or “electricians Phoenix AZ.”

Here’s a visual to help you understand the website layout that we are recommending:

Each location’s web page should have two to four additional pages, each containing a minimum of 500 words, that display information related to such things as:

  1. The local area (neighborhoods, zip codes, areas you service, etc.).
  2. The brand’s products and services.
  3. Local career opportunities (if locations are typically in need of new hires).
  • For example: The Pest People location in Belle Meade offers termite services. Their location page should have an additional page, full of unique content related to their respective termite control services, with the following URL: www.pestpeople.com/nashville/belle-meade/termite-control.

These additional pages help transform your franchisee’s location page into more of a microsite, one that contains multiple web pages of unique content about your business and how you service the local area. These robust microsites increase your brand’s chances of earning high organic rankings on more locally targeted keywords and provide your visitors with more information about why they should do business with you. To see this franchise SEO strategy in action, check out our case study with Massage Envy. 

Here’s an updated visual of the recommended layout for your franchise system’s website:

3 Ways to Ensure Franchise Portals Don’t Intercept Your Franchise Leads

Optimize Your Management of Franchise Portals

The Web Reigns Supreme for Franchise Sales

The Internet remains the king of franchise sales. According to the 2015 Annual Franchise Development Report, which analyzed 139 franchisors and a little over 36,000 units, the Internet is the leading source of franchise sales for the second year in a row.  The report showed that 42 percent of all franchise sales come from online sources. All hail the king!

The ways in which franchise leads are generated through the Internet shifted between 2013 and 2014:

When a franchise executive reads this data, they may very well assume that it makes sense to spend more advertising dollars on franchise-related portal websites. Upon further investigation, however, one may find that the leads provided by these portals are not as cost-effective as you think.

Why? Because certain portals set themselves up to capture your online leads before they arrive at your franchise development/recruitment website.

How? By running pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google and Bing’s search engines that show up at the top of clients’ branded search queries (also known as keywords).

For example, let’s say that someone is keen on purchasing an Elements Massage franchise, and would like to contact them about setting up a time to chat. To find the proper contact information, they go to a search engine and search for the phrase “Elements Massage franchise.” Here’s what they’re likely to see in the search results:

These ads push the organic search result for Elements’ franchise development website, likely the best answer for a search related to Elements Massage’s franchise opportunity, further down the search results. This gives the portals, and not the franchise recruitment site, first dibs on this lead. These portals’ ads are highly relevant to what the user needs. In this case, the contact information of someone who can explain Elements’ franchise opportunity in more depth. This gives the ads more legitimacy in the eyes of the searcher and a greater chance of being clicked on first.

Takeaway: you might be paying portals for franchise leads that you would have received for free organically if the portals weren’t buying ad space above your franchise recruitment site on your brand related search queries (keywords).

Mobile = More Challenging

This strategy is even more effective for searches performed on mobile devices, where people must scroll further down the page to see the organic search results.

Mobile devices are used extensively in the franchise lead generation process. The percentage of prospects making contact using their mobile devices nearly doubled between August 2013 and August 2014 (going from 23 percent to 42 percent).  What’s the takeaway? It’s easy for portals to obtain and take credit for franchise leads and franchise sales that would likely have come straight to the franchisor’s recruitment site for free in the first place.

What Your Franchise Can Do

Here are a few things your franchise can do to make sure you optimize your management of portals:

1. Make sure that the portals you work with are not spending as much of your budget buying ad-space on branded keywords. For example, if I’m recruiting new franchisees for my make-believe Italian restaurant/bar franchise “Bocce & Beer,” I wouldn’t want portals buying ad space on brand-related keywords that I know my franchise recruitment site, boccebeerfranchise.co, will likely rank number one for organically by default. Examples of these keywords include the following:

  • “Bocce & Beer franchise”
  • “Bocce & Beer franchise opportunity”
  • “Bocce & Beer franchise cost”
  • “Buy a Bocce & Beer franchise”

Instead, consider purchasing ad space on non-branded keywords that you think your target audience may use when searching for their dream franchise opportunity. In our make-believe case,  my keywords selections might initially include the following:

  • “Bocce business concepts”
  • “Franchises for young entrepreneurs”
  • “Unique bar franchise concepts”
  • “restaurant with lawn games franchise”
  • “Outdoor bar franchises”

2. Ask your portals to show you more information about the origins of their leads. Figure out if their leads come from an ad that they ran on one of your branded keywords. Google and Bing both have outstanding tracking capabilities, so it should be very easy for a business to show you the results of PPC campaigns performed on these search engines.

3. Buy the ad space yourself!! Purchase space on your branded keywords to effectively reduce the number of portals that show up at the top of the search results. Plus, because your franchise recruitment site is the best answer to users’ search queries, the quality score of your ad will be higher, and search engines will be willing to position your ad at the top of the results for a cheaper price than everyone else.


Online portals can be an excellent source of new, quality leads for your franchise if they are properly managed. Improper management can transform these portals into under-producing investments that take credit for quality leads that your franchise earned on its own accord.