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Marketing your franchise made easy

In 2013 the restaurant industry in North America spent nearly USD $6.5 Billion on advertising, McDonald’s alone making up an estimated 15.5% or $998 Million.  So why aren’t the hours of operation for the location down the street from our office available on Google Maps?

Through my own sales prospecting, I have encountered (and worked with) countless franchise owners.  I’m talking about all industries – Food, Gas and Private Education to name a few.  While the supply arrangements, royalty payments and corporate involvement normally varies widely from company to company, there is nearly always an expectation of promotional campaigns and materials supplied by the parent corporation.

Large chains spend heavily on TV Commercials, continual redesigns of websites, promoting special offers and contests and hiring staff to monitor and respond to the public conversation on social media pages.  This is all great stuff, the kinds of things that get you out of bed for a Whopper in the middle of the night.  But why do the Google+, and other business directory listings for franchise locations continue to go unsupported?

Any small business owner (who’s spoken to me anyways) knows that you have to create, claim and manage your businesses directory listings.  For established businesses the listings usually already exists, and may even come with a history of (hopefully good) reviews from the public.

Claiming or creating your listings is easy to do yourself, and should be very inexpensive to contract out the management to a local freelancer.  Google, Yelp, HotFrog, YellowPages and others will usually provide a link on an unclaimed ad which will take you through the account sign up and business verification.  In the case of Google, you’ll get a postcard in the mail with a secret code that will confirm you are actually associated with the business.

Once you have control, update EVERYTHING!  Current Specials, Share Coupons, marketing materials from your corporation and UPDATE YOUR BUSINESS HOURS!  I know, you’re thinking this is a waste of time, hardly anyone will look at these ads and this is all available on the corporate website.  The time has long passed to change this type of thinking, and here is why: cellphones.

Remember: Nothing will make your local customers madder than your store being closed when your ads say you’re open.  Make sure to update holidays and check everything for accuracy.

Android and iOS make up a currently estimated 93% market share for smartphones (Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 and BlackBerry making up most of the remainder).  Since 93% of users have access to either Siri or Google Now, why wouldn’t you want to get in to their phones, free of charge?  The number of local checks for food, convenience stores, gas and other daily purchases is utterly astounding, but what’s really amazing is that it is 100% free to direct these peoples own devices to tell them to come patronize your business.

How many people really look at these ads though?  Lots, and more and more every month, in fact.  Consumers keep getting updated phones, and manufacturers are always releasing new software, trying to get the competitive edge in usability.  The simple fact is that Google and Apple have been developing and investing in these powerful search methods is proof enough – YOU MUST CLAIM AND MANAGE YOUR PROFILE!

Having an active profile page on Google+ is your #1 best bang for your buck.  It’s just as important as a website, really.  Having current contact info, encouraging reviews from your customers and letting the public know when you open and close will let the app user know that you are there, want their business and have a good enough reputation to be in their phone (people actually do trust Siri’s tips for where to find a good burger).

Here’s a tip:  Apply these tips to your referral marketing strategy.  Creating your own website instead of simply sharing your referral link and engaging the public through social media is easy and effective!
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Think of it like this – some chains have thousands of franchises to manage, plus national advertising campaigns to think about.  The local stuff is best left to the local owner and management teams.  Since you are the ones seeing your customers every day, why not take the first step at reaching out through your local social network.  The last thing you need is your competitor franchisee or general manager down the street getting your sales!

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