Franchise System Response Drives Consumer Marketing

As chief marketing officer for Interim Healthcare, Linda Shaub oversees the company's branding and consumer-facing activities across a network of 332 franchise locations that provide and in-home care services in 43 states. We asked her about the importance and role of franchise system response in working with franchisees to increase sales, use social media, and build the brand at every possible consumer touch point.

What is your role as CMO?
To help increase the level of sales for the company, while at the same time enhancing and improving the positioning and image of the brand. I oversee different areas related to the marketing functions of the company, including marketing communications, public relations, website, and social media. I also am involved with new product development and marketing support for franchise development.

From a consumer marketing standpoint, what's the most challenging part of the franchise system response?
Making sure we continue to look at things from the customer's point of view.

What are the hot marketing-related issues you're facing with your franchisees?
For us, it's primarily two issues. The first is how to differentiate the business in a highly competitive market. We are always looking at how we can differentiate ourselves and provide more value. This includes making sure operations, marketing, and sales are all connected. The second issue is how to prioritize your time. As I said before, marketing is becoming more complex. We have many more channels and only so much time and money. Our offices are small businesses, so they need to be very efficient and make sure they are getting the best return on investment and return on engagement.

What is changing in terms of how, where, and why existing franchisees need your marketing assistance?
Our business is in the healthcare industry, and regulations are continually changing at both the federal and state levels. The franchisees are looking for more strategic guidance. Since they are overloaded with information, they need basic "how to" information that is very clear and concise. They also need information to help guide them in how to engage in new channels such as social media.

How are you meeting the marketing-related demands and needs of your franchisees more efficiently and effectively?
We are using technology to help us communicate and to provide ways for easily accessing and applications. And we are using focus groups and committees to gain input and help increase communication.

What technology tools are helping you meet the needs of your franchisees?
We have redesigned our websites using completely new architecture. We have a content management system that not only allows us to more efficiently add or change content, but that also gives our franchisees a much better for managing their local websites. We have a very robust intranet that allows our franchisees access to all of our programs, manuals, marketing, and sales materials. We have applications like Ad Builder, which helps them easily create their own ads. We have a document management center with hundreds of print-on-demand marketing collateral materials. And we have a social marketing technology platform that streamlines the process for updating Facebook and Twitter.

How does social media factor into the marketing needs of your franchisees?
In our business of home care, it's not something that a lot of our franchisees have been too involved with. They are pressed for time and it's hard to quantify time spent on social media. They are just starting to dip their toes in the water. It is something that is definitely on our radar.

What are the three most important keys to providing your franchisees with quick and effective marketing solutions?
1) Keep it simple, 2) continuously promote and communicate, and 3) integrate with operations, training, and sales so everyone knows everything to successfully execute.

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