How to nail content marketing in a franchised business
11th December 2020
The world of franchising is an interesting challenge when it comes to content marketing. Who should be responsible for content creation to ensure that you maintain online visibility and that your target audience is kept informed, educated, and engaged? Should this be the franchisor’s responsibility? After all, they control most of the marketing material from head office. Or should it be the franchisee’s business – as in essence, it is their business – given that they are just using someone’s brand and methodology?
The answer is not clear when it comes to content marketing responsibility, and a lot will depend on the make-up of the franchise itself. However a general rule of thumb would be to expect both parties to contribute to the content marketing activity, and here's why...
So in any franchise, there are certain elements that a franchisee is buying into. For all franchises, there is a brand, a defined offering, processes, systems, and a methodology that is proven to work. If, as a franchisee, you are not receiving all of the above, we would question why you are buying into the franchise at all.
Next up, the majority of franchises will offer you a collaborative environment (you are not alone), training and support, and centralized marketing activity (of which content marketing obviously plays a role). Some franchisees will be provided with central leads and opportunities, and others won’t. Some franchises may include physical goods such as products, buildings, vehicles, equipment, and tools.
However, any franchise in the world will want to see their franchisees succeed. You may argue that some unscrupulous franchisors are merely focused on selling franchise rights. This isn’t altogether untrue in some cases. However, a failed franchisee is a bad reflection on the business, so we would argue that all franchisors want their franchisees to succeed (whether they provide them with enough central support is a different matter).
If that is the case, surely content marketing responsibility should reside with the franchisor? If centrally, the franchise is generating high-quality content for its franchisees to disperse, they are completely controlling their brand and messaging.
In our opinion, it is much healthier for a franchisee to use the material that comes out from head office centrally, but to carry out their own content marketing activity as well.
There are a number of reasons why we believe franchisees should take on as much responsibility for content marketing as franchisors.
YOU are your franchise – yes you have a brand and methodology that works, but it will not maximize your potential and should be viewed on a case-by-case basis.
With this in mind, you have to consider that people buy from people. They are buying into you, not necessarily the brand of the franchise. If this wasn’t the case, everyone would make it work. This then means that your content needs to represent you and your personality. If there is a disconnect between you and what you are posting or sharing – it will be obvious. By creating your own content you are saying what YOU want to say, whilst creating something unique.
Although a franchise will be targetting similar target audiences generally throughout its branches, depending on the franchisees' background and experience, this could alter dramatically. Therefore, consider whether your desired audience is taking well enough to the central content, and where you believe the greatest opportunity lies. Consider, do you have your own social media accounts as a franchisee, or are you just using central accounts? Use the same rationale for content – if you are posting from your accounts, you want to be using some of your own content.
Many franchises span international borders and sometimes what works well within one region may not necessarily translate well in another. This may not just be about the words – it could be the style and imagery. By creating your own content this can be easily overcome and you can relate it to the current events in your area.
One of the biggest mistakes franchisees make is “defaulting” responsibility to the franchisor. If, as a franchisee, you take responsibility for creating some of your own content, then you are not overly reliant on the output of head office – and you can’t complain about the quality of their content or not having enough.
The plus side of a franchise is that it is proven, and there are people in your country who are already making it work. The downside to this is that if you are all posting and sharing the same content – what differentiates you from another franchisee in the next town or city? We know some franchises are policed geographically – but we all have connections in the area and could potentially see the same content a few different times from different franchisees.
Different franchises are set up in different ways, some will provide franchisees with a page within their website - others will provide you with a small micro-site. If you are only ever using central content, you are only really building brand equity in the central franchise brand. If you are creating and posting unique content from your own local URL – you are investing in the visibility of your specific business.
In our opinion, franchisors should be providing content marketing services from a central perspective for franchisees to use, share, comment, and like. However unless franchisees are carrying out some of their own content marketing activities, they are missing a massive opportunity. Yes, it takes a bit of effort and investment (or at least time) to create unique content for your own business, but that content will be yours forever to reuse as you wish.