The following excerpt is from Rick Grossman’s book Franchise Bible. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | IndieBound
The internet has become a pillar of franchise marketing, leveling the playing field for new franchisors because the barriers of entry are lower, giving creativity and not big marketing budgets, the advantage. Consider the following eight ways you can grow your internet marketing efforts:
Having a professional-looking website is a must these days. Here are some tips for creating a strong franchise website:
- Your site should have simple content and a clear call to action that’s on the first page, visible without having to scroll down.
- Your site should be built on a search engine optimization (SEO)-friendly platform. Some of the older platforms can hurt your SEO rankings.
Your site should be rich with keyword phrases -- combinations of words that people enter into the search engines to find information. Insert keywords in your titles, headings and page titles.
Include a blog on your website and add new articles every week. Fresh, informative content will increase your site’s ranking.
Include social media icons (for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so forth) that link directly to your social media pages.
Email is now commonplace and allows you to communicate much faster than traditional mail. The following are some tips for your email efforts:
- Your email addresses should be connected to a dedicated URL. Rick@XYZautorepairfranchise.com is much better than XYZautorepairfranchise@freeemail.com.
- Include a “professional signature.” It should contain your picture, logo, contact information and social media links along with your name.
- Include a legal disclosure that specifies that your correspondence does not imply an offer to sell a franchise. Have a competent, experienced franchise attorney provide you with this language.
- Be sure to comply with the email rules when sending “email blast” campaigns, including opt-out options and approved recipients.
- Always return emails within 24 hours of receipt. Sooner is better.
- Have all company email messages proofread to ensure correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are used.
You can think of blogs for your business in two ways. The first is one that should be part of your website. You will want keyword-rich articles on your website blog to rank higher on organic searches. The second category is what some call the “blogosphere.” There are thousands of great blog sites that already have tons of readership and rank high, and your company can gain exposure by submitting relevant articles to blogs that prospective franchisees may frequent. Including your website link creates a backlink, which increases your organic ranking and directs traffic to your site.
Apply the following tips for your blog efforts:
- Research your industry niche to find the top blog sites.
- Choose a specific keyword phrase for each article. Use it once in the title and once per 100 words. If you use it too many times in the article, though, it may be penalized by the search engines; 350 to 450 words is a good length for a blog article.
- Insert a link to your franchise website in each article.
- Make every article educational and newsworthy.
- Change at least 30 percent of the articles if you intend to submit them to more than one blog. The search engines will “de-dupe” or remove duplicate articles from rankings if they are exactly the same. You can buy software that assists you with the rewriting process.
Technology has made meetings and presentations a snap. Not too many years ago, a meeting would require plane tickets, hotels, travel days, meals and lost opportunity costs. Web presentations allow the presenter to share presentation slides, web content, audio and video testimonials, live presenter interactivity and live two-way video.
Franchisors can now invite prospective franchisees to scheduled or impromptu web meetings to present their franchise opportunities. This is almost as effective as an in-person meeting, since you can cover the same information. You can meet with people all over the world from the convenience of your home or office.
The following are some tips to consider when you launch your web presentations:
- You can sign up for web presentation options for a small monthly fee.
- Prepare a professional set of presentation slides and have them proofread. You may want to hire a consultant to develop this for you. This may be your first impression on prospects that are considering a huge investment.
- Always have the next step confirmed at the end of your presentation. Schedule the follow-up call, discovery day or any other step when you are finished.
- Use this platform for franchise support and training as well. Connecting with your franchise owners is often the best way to keep you and your team engaged.
Social media has changed the way people communicate and enables people to create networks with friends, family and business associates. As a franchisor, you can have social media components that augment your other internet marketing efforts. Consider the following when you create your social media campaigns:
- Hire a professional to help you with this effort unless you’re very familiar with social media. You’ll want to appoint someone within your company to focus on this to ensure consistency. Once you build a group of fans or followers, you must provide good information on a regular basis or you’ll lose them.
- Include great content to keep your audience engaged. Avoid posting “the fact of the day” type of postings just for the sake of posting something.
- Allow potential franchisees the ability to ask questions and get to know your company culture.
- Monitor the content carefully to make sure that it remains positive and professional.
Today, many of us rely on the instant response that comes from texting. Be prepared to include dynamic texting as a part of your franchise recruiting process. It’s been proven that people read and respond to text messages far more than email or even phone calls. You’ll want to offer texting as a communication option for prospective franchisees during the discovery process. You’ll also want to allow your franchisees texting options for support after they open for business.
Podcasts are audio or video messages that can be featured on your website or emails. They’re a good way to educate your prospective franchise owners as they move through your discovery process. You can break your franchise sales information into short high-impact audio or video segments. You can also optimize these for the search engines to drive traffic to your websites by posting them on all of the free sites and directing links back to your sites.
Smartphones and tablets have changed the way we “do life.” We now have fully functional computers in our pockets that take the place of an old-fashioned camera, video camera, desktop computer, GPS, music and book libraries, clock, time-management calendar, notebook, weather forecast, calculator and TV.
New smart device applications, or apps, enter the marketplace daily. You’ll want to explore the available apps to identify possible options to promote your franchise opportunity. Depending on your business model, you may find the need to create your own app to connect your customers with the services of your franchise owners. Hire a company that has a good track record to create your custom apps.