Unique Challenges of Franchise Marketing in the Digital Age
Franchises are classic examples of distributed systems organized to efficiently provide goods and services and combine the best elements of brand strength with local market intelligence. Now, I know that was not the most exciting first sentence you may have ever read but what it means, in a nutshell, is that franchises create unique opportunities and challenges for marketing. All franchises offer franchisees brand recognition and access to corporate marketing content so that each owner does not have to reinvent the core marketing messages that drive the business. At the same time, every franchisee has an opportunity to grow their own local market based on their knowledge of the unique characteristics of the local community. As a franchise owner, you have the responsibility to provide marketing content and the infrastructure to support your franchisees and grow the overarching business. Simple, right?
Content Management Systems
Marketing is one discipline where technology can empower your organization and provide the right mix of control and power to manage the needs of a franchise business. What specific technology can help? Content Management Systems (CMS) are the tool that modern marketing teams use to manage complex digital activities. The CMS infrastructure allows you to publish content to multiple domains through a single interface.
Through the use of a CMS, you can create new web pages, edit existing content and upload digital assets (images, videos, and brochures) quickly and easily, without struggling with code or constructing complex HTML. You have complete control over the process of content creation, scheduling and publication. This means that controlling your online presence does not require you to have deep technical skills or force you to hire an agency to keep your website up to date. The software does the heavy lifting for you.
Content Control from the Top Down
Whether you’re implementing a single website with many sub-sites or operating multiple sites within the same organization, you’ve got content fragmentation to worry about. There are elements of every franchise that require a multi-site solution that need to be the same; mandated from the top and integrated downward. The last thing you want is every franchise site to have to recreate the common branding elements or your risk “brand drift” as users add new content to their specific sub-sites. Your CMS should enable you to manage and deliver this content to your sub-sites with as little fuss as possible.
Above the content layer itself, a nuanced workflow tool should empower you to customize the process of content creation. It should allow you to tweak the flow from ideation to collaboration to publication. At the most basic level, you should be able to provide content creation and publishing permission to franchisees that can approve or reject content. A good CMS will incorporate lateral workflow elements – the ability for users to comment on and task content to each other along the same lines. Each office should be able to access content, pass it back and forth then submit it to head office for approval.
By definition, franchises are spread out geographically. Individuals will need to be able to create and update marketing content and will not share the same technical infrastructure or have a central IT department they can rely on to do that work. Software as a service (SaaS) and cloud-based software solutions solve this problem nicely. Users of a cloud-based system can manage content from any computer, any time, without the need to install software package. Everything stores safely and is accessible to you or you franchisees through the web. Users can always log in, create new web pages, build email campaigns, design landing pages, or upload digital assets quickly and easily, wherever they might be.
Above and beyond the basic advantages of a CMS, solutions like Marqui provide an arsenal of tools that can empower content creators to work as a finely-tuned team. Management of multiple sites, workflow and permission controls and cloud-based infrastructure create a platform ideally suited to franchise digital marketing. A franchise organization can be a complex system with moving parts; independent teams operating under the guidance and guidelines of a larger organization can lead to slow approvals, missed opportunities and lost marketing money. Don’t let your web presence be tied down by a poor CMS. Use a single platform for all your digital content, no matter where it (or the people who create and manage it) might live.