For franchisors that want to rapidly expand their franchise systems, the local digital marketing imperative is clear. A recent survey of 437 service industry franchisees found that 58% view online marketing as "very important" or "important" to the success of their business. Nine out of 10 (89%) respondents also said that corporate online marketing is an important factor in choosing a franchisor.
It is clear that franchisees recognize the double imperative of corporate-level online marketing and their own local online marketing. So how are franchisors addressing this double imperative?
The survey also found that two out of three respondents (64%) are "somewhat disappointed" with the level and quality of support they actually receive from franchisors. That dissatisfaction, however, does not seem to be slowing franchisees from directing an ever-increasing portion of their monthly marketing spend to digital marketing. Spending among those surveyed is currently focused on direct mail, online search, social media, and online directory management, so it's already digital-heavy. The study states that "franchise owners are investing heavily in online channels, and express interest in increasing that spend."
So how are corporate franchisors in the service industry addressing the imperative of online marketing? Here's the breakdown according to the survey:
You can see that there is not much consistency in how corporate franchisors collaborate with franchisees to execute local online marketing. What's apparent is that 40% manage the online marketing themselves, according to the study.
So it's clear that 1) franchisees believe online marketing is important, 2) there is not much consistency in how franchisors collaborate with franchisees in regard to online marketing, and 3) in general, franchisees are not very satisfied with the support they receive from their franchisors in this increasingly important area.
Plenty of large franchisors and other companies that sell through local partner networks have not put successful local online marketing in place, so the general dissatisfaction does not surprise me. Let's briefly talk about how to address the main problem at the root of that dissatisfaction. Who is responsible for local Internet marketing, the franchisor or the franchisee? The truth is, duties should be divided between both.
Franchisors must create the framework within which franchisees can thrive. It's a no-brainer. Franchisors already do that with their business system, location selection, and supply chain management for their franchisees, so it should not be any different for online marketing. Franchisors that employ systems today to organize roles and duties of local online marketing between themselves and their franchisees will be ahead of their competition tomorrow.
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