Franchise Brands Need Digital Marketing That Scales: Observations From #IFA2015

BMI Icon Marketing Written by: BrandMuscle Marketing

Brandmuscle’s Marketing Director Lori Alba sits at the crossroads of technology and marketing, so she understands how complicated digital marketing can be for franchise owners and operators.

After a few days in Las Vegas for the International Franchise Association Convention, Alba has one main takeaway: there is rampant opportunity for franchise brands to better support their local franchisees with integrated digital marketing resources.

“There are pockets of franchise brands doing digital right, and I saw some cool case studies at IFA 2015, but, for the most part, franchisors’ digital marketing programs aren’t integrated or scaleable,” said Alba.

Alba said that what she learned from #IFA2015 mirrored what Brandmuscle learned in its 2014 State of Local Marketing Report: franchisees want help with online marketing -- in the form of tools, funding, resources and education -- so they can attract more local customers online. These new media methods often come at a lower cost than traditional methods, but franchisees struggle to understand how (or if) they should take advantage of them.

“Suppliers are trying to help both sides of the franchise equation -- franchisors and franchisees -- so it’s clear a solution exists,” said Alba. “From my experience, though, it’s franchisors that need to step up and invest in integrated local marketing automation tools and support systems for their franchisees. A franchisor that helps its franchisee base with not only traditional media but paid search, microsites, local directories, social media and other digital marketing tactics -- and makes it easy -- not only gets to set strategy that drives more local sales and ensures brand consistency, but they get access to the data from their entire franchisee network.”

One session confirmed Alba’s thoughts about the role franchisors should play. Scott Klososky of Future Point of View highlighted the marketing transformation brought on by digital media and told IFA 2015 attendees about how he sees "franchiZees" and franchisors working together to scale digital successfully at the local level:“Today, many franchisees are left to their own devices when it comes to digital,” said Alba. “Moving forward, I think we’ll see more integration – between digital marketing technology suppliers who specialize in distributed local marketing brought in at the franchisor level so they have more control over their brand on the local level and have access to local marketing data.”

Alba also acknowledged a that digital full-court press may not be the right move for every franchise out there.

"Some franchise marketers may not have the budget for every aspect of an integrated digital program, but those with aggressive growth projections or location expansion plans  need to think about the scalability of the solutions they put into place," said Alba.

“Franchise marketers know they need to improve their digital marketing efforts, it’s just a matter of finding a partner who can support them at the franchisee level and has the ability to grow as the franchise does.”

Do you agree with Alba’s perspective? Did you attend #IFA2015 and have thoughts to share? Let us know in the comment s below.

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