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What Franchisors Need to Know When Hiring a Marketing Agency To create consistency (and success) across multiple locations, franchises should find a marketing agency that understands their story-and knows how to tell it across platforms.

By Frances Dodds

This story appears in the December 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Golden Sikorka | Shutterstock

1. Marketing Is About Messaging…and Infrastructure

From Afif Khoury, CEO, SOCi

"SOCi is a technology company first. We developed a platform that serves as the backbone for some of the largest franchises in the world to run their marketing. Brands invest a lot of money into messaging and then turn around and put it in the hands of potentially thousands of franchisees who own local locations. One local Ace Hardware store might have four social media pages for reviews and a dozen listings pages, and be deploying local ads. That's 20 things they have to manage. Multiply that by 5,000 locations. Now you're literally up to 100,000 pages that say 'Ace Hardware'—that's a problem a human can't really handle. Our technology lets everybody log in and out, share assets, go through approval processes, and get notifications, brand templates, suggested best practices. A lot of people will shy away from ROI models, but we don't. We'll absolutely show you what the ROI is on your social campaigns, your search campaigns, your reviews, and your ability to respond to them and get that score higher. Relative to this time last year, our usage is up 300 percent. When COVID-19 hit, digital channels like social media became a critical lifeline for local businesses, and our listings management tool became really important: A lot of stores have had to change their hours of operation, or put out notifications about mask wearing, or update delivery availability. Those things were constantly changing every week. That tool has really served these small businesses."

Related: The 4 Essential Elements of a Franchise Marketing Plan

2. Find a Feedback Loop

From Isaac Vaisberg, founder and CEO, Sasquatch Strength

Seattle-based fitness brand Sasquatch Strength started franchising last year, and it wanted the franchisee experience to be as turnkey as possible. It hired Drive Social Media to help integrate marketing into its tech-forward OS. Since, the agency has…

1. Learned the brand history.

"They pulled data from our CRM, distribution lists, past click-through rates," Vaisberg says. "They understand the complete picture."

2. Created a brand voice.

"They worked with our director of marketing to really understand the ways we sell ourselves, and made copy recs based on what they've seen in their work with other fitness concepts."

3. Built a "smart" system.

"They created APIs to tie into our systems and software," Vaisberg says. "When someone clicks on our ads, there's instant info on that lead. Eventually, the system learns who buys at Sasquatch, and we can target similar customers."

Related: If You're in Franchising and Need a New Bank, Ask These Questions

3. Unexpected Success

From Tim Arpin, vice president of franchise sales, Scooter's Coffee

What he expected: In 2017, the Nebraska-based coffee company hired 919 Marketing to help it find new franchisees. "My original hope was to have a strong working relationship with a competent marketing group that understands the franchise space," Arpin says.

What he got: In four years, Scooter's Coffee has grown from 158 to 288 locations, with another 43 set to open by the end of the year. "Any agency can spend your money on Facebook ads," Arpin says. "But is that where quality prospective franchisees come from? Likely not. You have to consider domain authority, trade publications, press releases, blogs, and so on. A great marketing strategy creates a chorus of sound around your brand."

Frances Dodds

Entrepreneur Staff

Deputy Editor of Entrepreneur

Frances Dodds is Entrepreneur magazine's deputy editor. Before that she was features director for Entrepreneur.com, and a senior editor at DuJour magazine. She's written for Longreads, New York Magazine, Architectural Digest, Us Weekly, Coveteur and more.

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