This can be a tricky area for many franchise systems as it links to intellectual property, branding and marketing issues.
If it is important to a Franchisor to have full control over the brand and messaging to customers, then generally the Franchisor will control the main website. Franchisees may be permitted to operate micro-sites that are “re-skinned” versions of the main site but with a small amount of local content to make them relevant to local markets. They would also have their own web address (URL) but usually would sit on the main platform used and managed by the Franchisor. The Franchise Agreement will need to contain clear provisions about ownership of the site, the information and customers/visitor privacy.
As technology and data mining techniques improve there is increased opportunity for online marketing at a local level. This presents new opportunities for Franchisees but requires clear policies and protocols set by a Franchisor. Online is just a channel to market (like advertising in a local paper) but brand control and control of marketing messages and styles remain an issue and must be covered in the Franchise Agreement and Operations Manual.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION & MARKETING (SEO & SEM)
As franchise businesses grow they require different forms of marketing.
At launch stage marketing is more about recruitment of franchisees. Then focus starts to shift to customer acquisition and also later, customer retention.
SEO & SEM techniques are important ways to extend your brand awareness and generate (or retain) customers. You do not have to spend a lot of money to have some positive effect.
Social media is a powerful marketing and customer advocacy mechanism. If handled properly it can be a significant asset for the business but it can easily become a mess and a major liability. Franchisors need to be careful on what they will permit and how they stay in touch and monitor. Also, what are the actions or penalties if there are breaches?
With new forms of online interaction coming to market regularly, Franchisors cannot adopt a set and forget approach to social media. It is now part of the fabric of many businesses and a key marketing channel that often requires skilled and dedicated resources.
Given Franchise Agreeemnts usually cover a period of 5 years or more, it is important to have social media clauses in your Franchise Agreement and a well constructed social media policy in your Operations Manual…a policy that covers social media as it stands today and a policy that anticipates and covers future developments in social media.
CEO Consulting works with clients to develop strategies and optimise channels to market including Franchise channels and Online channels. Contact us to explore how we can help grow your business via online channels & techniques and how we can ptotect you with appropriate social media policies.