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(This is a reproduction of an article I originally wrote for the Franchise Academy’s newsletter)

Almost all franchise businesses stand to gain significantly from search engine marketings ability to connect you with active prospects.

Google AdWords (thatҒs the sponsored listings across the top and down the right hand side of the Google results page) is one of the most effective tools for taking advantage of this medium. Despite this, many franchises often fail to make the best of the opportunity…probably because its seen as complicated and costly.

The root cause of problems often comes from issues of control. Typically we see two different approaches. Either the franchisor runs the whole process centrally, or the franchisee is left to get on with it. There are benefits to both approaches:

Benefits of Franchisor Control

  • Consistent representation of the brand and values in relation to the text being used in adverts and the search phrases (ғkeywords) used
  • The ability to cover all geographic regions effectively. Despite the impression some search engines give, the ability to target searchers in a specific geographic region is anything but perfect. A blanket
    coverage approach is still required to ensure the opportunity is maximised.
  • Monitoring success of campaigns, through tools such as Google Analytics, is likely to be easier and more consistent, allowing each franchise area to be benchmarked
  • Protecting the trademark from abuse. Competitors showing ads when someone searches for a trademark is simpler to control centrally.
  • The individuals running the campaigns are likely to have a greater insight into getting the most out of AdWords, ensuring lessons are learned only once.

Benefits of Franchisee Control

  • The franchisee gets the opportunity to decide how much money they should be spending, rather than being dictated to.
  • There are no issues in relation to how the budget is split up
  • Knowledge of the local market is likely to be higher, although this is less important with AdWords as it is with some forms of marketing
  • Scrutiny of the advertising spend is likely to be higher as what may be a small amount of cash to the franchisor may be significant to the franchisee

There are obviously pros and cons of both routes. Whilst some form of hybrid model is possible, thereԒs no doubt that success needs a franchisor to take the initiative.

At best, insufficient support from the franchisor will lead to missed opportunities. At worst, franchisees may start setting up their own websites and separate search marketing strategies, risking inefficient spend and damage to the brand.

If AdWords strategy and search marketing in general isnt part of your manual, please give serious consideration to making it so.

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