Many franchisors are good at consumer marketing. But they typically struggle to reach a different, equally important audience — potential franchisees.
I’ve spent 15 years in franchise development marketing, and I see this problem repeatedly. Digital marketing strategies are often underbudgeted, or spearheaded by internal point people with limited experience. As a result, franchisors are slower to find the right franchisees for their brand.
How can you do better? Here are four major mistakes my team and I often see — and how to fix them.
Mistake 1: Thinking SEO is only for consumers.
Franchisors often understand the importance of content marketing, but they tend to aim it exclusively at consumers. As a result, a brand’s article or blog might come up when someone searches “coffee shop near me” — but not when someone searches “coffee shop franchise.”
Be smarter about how you spend your franchise development marketing dollars. Use analytics to understand what your target audience is searching for, and craft franchise-specific content that speaks to them. When done well, the right content strategies can reach consumers and potential franchisees on their terms, without any overlap or confusion.
Mistake 2: Launching separate sites.
Franchise brands often build separate websites, on separate domains, to reach consumers and franchisees — for example, through domains like brand.com and then brandfranchise.com. This strategy backfires on search engines, because instead of having one powerful and well-
trafficked website for search engines like Google to recognize, you’re exponentially reducing your website’s domain authority.
To fix the problem, take your consumer site (brand.com) and create a subdirectory for franchise recruitment efforts (brand.com/franchise). This subdirectory can be self-
contained, with a totally different design aesthetic, like a website within a website. (Just be sure the consumer and franchise development pages deliver the right user experience; we often see brands mistakenly use links that direct potential franchisees to the consumer homepage, which can be confusing.) This combined effort will earn you higher page rankings and increase your domain authority, which helps you reach more consumers and franchisees.
Mistake 3: Treating blogs like press releases.
Most brands understand the importance of content. But they’re confused about what counts as quality content, and what is simply a press release.
Think of it this way: Today’s candidates want answers, not sales pitches. They don’t care about how awesome your brand is until you’ve built up trust and credibility with them. So if they come to your franchise development site, and all they see are announcements about grand openings and new executive team members and can’t find answers to their top questions, they will lose interest.
Instead, create educational and informative blog content. Potential franchisees should find content aimed at them, and full of useful and actionable information. This will help you attract more qualified candidates to your site and convert them into engaged leads.
Mistake 4: Giving up too early.
Some franchisors expect online marketing strategies to pay off fast. They won’t. It can take up to a year or longer for search engines to index new content and raise organic rankings.
Think of your marketing like your 401(k) performance: If you expect fast results, you’re creating an unrealistic way to measure progress.
As you work to fix these common problems, remember that, in digital marketing, you must play two games at the same time. With consumers, you’re playing a volume game — reaching as many people as possible. But with future franchisees, it’s a quality game — appealing to the people who truly fit your brand. You can achieve that with the right content marketing strategy, guided by data analytics.