Blog, Marketing

In today’s competitive franchise recruitment marketing space, your online presence plays a massive role. No matter the industry you serve, your website must speak to the customer and draw them in to learn more. Your franchise recruitment website is no different.

Nearly 70 percent of the B2B buying journey happens online—but it isn’t a linear process. Your prospect franchisees often start their journey online and then ping pong back and forth between personal interactions online, something like this:

  • Reach out for more information
  • Talk to sales
  • Go back to do more research online to validate findings
  • Start contract discussions
  • Return to online data once again to further validate findings

With that in mind, your website should be considered a central hub of your franchise recruitment marketing strategy. If you’re wondering whether or not it’s time for a new website, here are seven signs your website is outdated and keeping you from growing your brand.

  1. Security and privacy are an issue

Online attacks and downtime from your website host can rob your franchise business of opportunities and leave you vulnerable to liability issues. Security is an aspect of websites that many companies don’t think about at the onset. Only once you experience an outage with your website host or a hacker threatens you with ransomware does security become a focus for many businesses.

But you don’t want to wait until you face an attack or liability to focus on your website’s security. Evaluate the security of your website host and content management system to decide if it’s time to upgrade.

  1. It lacks lead generation funnels

Because so much of the buying journey happens online, you need to think about how you turn website visitors into prospects and prospects into customers. Your website should guide visitors to the content that they need to know to learn more about your franchise offering.

Franchise recruitment websites should have a variety of ways to get in touch or learn more about you, including:

  • Contact forms
  • Lead magnet downloads (i.e., whitepapers, ebooks, guides, etc.)
  • Newsletter signup

When a visitor has a question, make it easy to find contact information by placing a link to your contact form on every page or along the sidebar. Lead magnets help you learn who is interested in your franchise and collect their contact information to offer more valuable content. And for those who are very early in the buying process, a simple newsletter signup form is ideal to invite visitors to stay in touch in a more passive way.

  1. The design is outdated

Website designs shift and change with time. And while you may not need to always have the most modern design, over time your website will become more and more dated. Today’s websites feature edge-to-edge imagery to maximize the space.

Even fonts change and need a good refresh. To feel good about choosing to work with your franchise business, a website visitor needs to know that you will adapt and grow with changes in the marketplace.

Sometimes franchises update their branding and their B2C website but neglect their franchise recruitment site. Keeping your franchise recruitment webpage consistent with the latest branding helps capitalize on brand recognition while demonstrating franchise marketing capacity.

  1. Mobile and tablet optimization is poor

When new devices hit the market, website optimization changes. If your website is not responsive based on the device size that someone is viewing your website from, it’s time to update your website.

Websites that render poorly on various devices make it difficult to read the text, interact with content and learn more about your business. Poor mobile optimization will also hurt your SEO and make it harder for potential investors to find you.

  1. Load times are slow

As technology improves, expectations for websites also change. If your website is outdated, it likely has slower load times than the industry standard. Those slow load times will hurt your SEO and lead your visitors to abandon your site before getting the content that they came for.

Old technology, such as Flash, can slow down your franchise recruitment website immensely. Evaluate your load times using Google’s PageSpeed Insights to learn more about your opportunities for improved load times.

  1. SEO is lacking or difficult to manage

Some website platforms lack the necessary tools to manage your SEO to ensure you show up when potential investors search for franchises like yours. You need full access to your website’s functions to ensure maximum optimization.

In some cases, your website template, content management system or format don’t meet today’s needs for customization to ensure your website’s SEO is at its best. That’s where a new franchise recruitment website can benefit your business.

  1. Your content is lacking or out of date

Just like technology has changed over the years, so has marketing content. New trends feature content that speaks directly to the customer in a friendly and easy-to-read manner. Many franchise recruitment websites also fall short in the quantity and quality of content they provide. Sharing the right information will help turn cold leads into warm leads and warm leads into hot leads while simultaneously helping you identify the most qualified candidates for your brand.  

While website content might sound like an easy fix, outdated templates and limited tools might make it challenging to format your website content in a modern and simple manner that your website visitors expect.

How to modernize your franchise recruitment website

iluma Agency offers marketing services tailored to meet the needs of franchise businesses, including franchise recruitment websites that offer the right content, design and security to ensure your success. Contact us to learn how we can help you reach your franchise marketing goals.

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Blog, Marketing

Location-based targeting has long been at the forefront of digital innovation, but as franchise marketing steps away from the one-size-fits-all approach, it has grown and evolved as a powerful strategy to create a true one-on-one audience experience.

“Don’t push people to where you want to be; meet them where they are.”

–Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP Marketing, Hubspot

As a franchise brand or location owner, it is in your best interest to reach the right audience at the right time and in the right location rather than advertising to everyone everywhere; it’s a smarter use of valuable marketing dollars.

Programmatic geofencing has revolutionized location-based marketing, as it gives franchises the opportunity to serve digital ads to mobile users within specific locations that data flags as relevant to their business. Through this tactic, prospects meeting your target demographic criteria who physically walk into geofenced areas or event spaces with a GPS enabled device may be shown your ads for up to 30 days. During this period, these display ads appear on unique websites and at different times depending on each prospect’s personal browsing and conversion behaviors.

These 5 uses of geofence ads are making programmatic geofencing increasingly worthwhile within the franchise marketing space:

  1. Directly target your competitors’ customers and prospects.

Whether you’re a fitness franchise or beauty business in the health and wellness space or currently trying to expand your youth-focused education franchise, franchise businesses are popping up everywhere, offering consumers more options—and providing franchise brands with tougher competition—than ever before.

Take 10 seconds to note your top 3 to 5 competing brands or local businesses. Now imagine being able to reach and influence every customer or member who walks into those competing locations. Geofencing lets you do this, and you can even track how many of your competitors’ customers visited your business after seeing your competing ad.

If you’re ready to run a competitor-focused geofencing campaign, be sure to leverage an enticing offer that rivals what your competitors are offering to their customers, members, and prospects, creating a sense of urgency to visit your brand’s business location instead.

  1. Meet your prospects at their favorite restaurants, stores, concerts, and sporting events.

Popular locations and events serve as prime opportunities to capture possible consumers that will be interested in your product or service.

Has your marketing data shown that most of your customers or members shop at Whole Foods? Use geofencing to target similar qualified prospects who physically walk into a local Whole Foods grocery store.

Does part of your franchise presales campaign include sponsoring a tabling event at a community 5K race? A geofencing campaign can ensure that anyone who is present at the event continues seeing your ads well afterward, until they take action.

Looking to bolster your franchise recruitment efforts and attract more qualified franchise prospects? Geofencing enables physically targeting attendees of franchise conventions like the IFA conference and MUFC as well as trade shows specific to your industry.

  1. Increase the lifetime value of current customers and prospects.

Geofencing doesn’t just have to target other business and event areas; you also have the option of fencing your own franchise locations in order to show ads to current customers and prospects who physically entered and purchased or browsed your products or services. This allows you to stay top of mind, build loyalty by thanking them and promoting a rewards program, and encourage repeat visits through a trackable limited-time discount code they can use next time.

  1. Win big from an addressable win-back campaign.

From customers who haven’t visited or purchased in a long time to ex-members who cancelled their membership, addressable geofencing allows you to digitally show ads across all their household or business devices by targeting their specific addresses. Be sure to use a compelling offer and message that motivates them to give your business another chance—but sometimes your previous customers just need a reminder that they used to love your product or service.

  1. Measure online-to-offline conversions.

In traditional digital marketing, we can use lead forms and landing pages to get some sense of direct ad campaign results—but many prospective customers could see an ad on Facebook, skip filling out a lead form, independently scope out your social media and Yelp reviews, then call or show up at your location if and when they decide to buy. Even though the ad created that customer lead, it’s not tracked as a lead, thus losing some visibility into the overall campaign performance.

Geofencing allows greater lead tracking, even when a prospect takes other actions between seeing your ad and purchasing. Setting your physical location as the “Conversion Zone” enables identifying how many of the individuals who saw your geofencing ad eventually enter your location, thus providing franchisees with a better sense of marketing ROI.

How will your franchise brand benefit?

Hyperlocal geofencing has proven tremendous value as it bridges the physical and digital divide to create unique opportunities for consumers by providing them with relevant ads based on their location, interest and behaviors. In today’s mobile-driven world, there’s no doubt that geofencing will only become more prevalent, with early adapters standing to gain the most from this cutting-edge digital trend.

A franchise-focused digital agency partner can deliver highly effective hyperlocal geofence marketing campaigns that are custom-tailored to your brand and the unique market of every franchise location, so your corporate team and franchise owners can focus on operations. iluma Agency’s comprehensive integrated digital marketing program maximizes reach, engagement, conversions, and profitability for franchise brands.

To learn how iluma Agency can make your brand shine with our proven franchise development services, contact us today.

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Blog, Franchise Development, In The News, Marketing

Our team has assembled a list of franchise marketing articles worth consideration as you position your brand to reach its goals in growth and revenue in 2020 and beyond. From buttoning up your franchise recruitment strategy to leveraging the power of online conversation at the local level, a holistic franchise marketing campaign won’t ignore these powerful trends.


Successfully Marketing Your Franchise Opportunity

Forbes

The evolving digital marketing landscape has changed the way we need to reach and attract qualified new franchisees. From determining your franchise recruitment marketing budget to seeking new franchisee prospects within your current customer base, one of the best tips in this article is to clean up your brand’s online presence across all platforms before spending marketing dollars. Today’s savvy modern investor will check website content, review site responsiveness, and social media posting consistency before even expressing interest in your franchise opportunity.

Earning Five Stars

International Franchise Association
iluma Agency has been an IFA member since 2017.

As a franchisor, keep these three things in mind: 1) the majority of customers across all your locations expect a response to their Google review within a week; 2) approximately 80% of prospects will check reviews before deciding to try or buy; and 3) implementing a review monitoring process will provide valuable operations insight to dozens or hundreds of locations that would otherwise be impossible to visit and monitor yourself in person. If online reputation management is not currently part of both your local franchise marketing and franchise recruitment considerations, it should be.

Leverage Franchise Locations and Employees as Advocates

Sprout Social
iluma Agency uses Sprout Social to manage franchise social media content publishing, engagement, and review response.

Equipping your franchise brand with a well-planned employee advocacy program can make your franchisees’ marketing endeavors more cost-effective and successful. Brand messaging posted by employees sees nearly 25% more shares than other brand content and has even been linked to influencing new customers with a higher retention rate and longer lifetime value. Implementing a reward system to encourage employees to spread brand awareness can help transmit a sense of authenticity across your brand. Paired with high-quality and consistent brand messaging and social media content, you will generate unique and meaningful human engagement in saturated and highly competitive markets.

Establish brand standards, plus ‘why’ behind them
Franchise Times

Defining the difference between innovating within the brand and violating brand standards, makes it easier to enforce brand guidelines and may save you from time-consuming backtracking in the future. Being able to communicate the value of the proven, consistent brand your zees bought into—along with the adverse effects of an inconsistent customer experience—will help shift brand policing to proactive and constructive brand building. Follow this one up by reading this article about “glocalization” by Mike Kehoe, and consider creating a franchise Facebook Group as a way to communicate with your franchisees.

Maximize Local Franchise Awareness During Pre-Sales
iluma Agency

One of the best times for a new franchise location to reach their local market and create a big impact with an efficient marketing spend is before opening—or even before beginning construction. A regimented and replicable pre-sales marketing plan can help franchisees grow your brand. Building this into your franchisee onboarding process can also help attract new franchisees as you seek franchise recruitment and brand expansion.


When Is It Time to Leave Your Digital Marketing Agency?
Franchising.com

For franchise brands seeking frictionless communication and consistency across hundreds of locations, the importance of a good working relationship with your local marketing agency partner is paramount. If you have doubts about your current agency or agencies, consider their transparency and responsiveness in communication as well as their knowledge and use of data-driven technology and best practices.

With more than 10 years of experience helping franchise brands shine, iluma’s team of franchise focused marketing experts are fully immersed in the evolving trends of local franchise marketing and franchise recruitment. Please contact us for more information about working with us to grow your franchise.

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Blog, In The News

Inc. magazine ranked iluma Agency no. 3,457 on its 36th annual Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. We are proud to have qualified by achieving a three-year growth of 102% and to have made the list for a fourth year since 2015. In fact, less than 8% of companies who ever make the list are recognized 4 times. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small and midsized businesses. Companies such as Microsoft, Pandora, LinkedIn, and Yelp gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 5000.

“Having our agency repeatedly recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in the US while also a Best Places to Work, is just evidence of our dedication to building a great team that invests in and honors our culture every day.” Says iluma Agency CEO and Founder, Aaron Lee. “That special kind environment always leads to continued growth.” 

The 2019 Inc. 5000 list unveiled earlier this month is the most competitive crop to date. The average company on the list achieved a mind-boggling three-year average growth of 481%. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue is $206 billion, and the companies on the list collectively generated 619,500 jobs over the past three.

iluma Agency provides frictionless franchise marketing with a focus on helping individual franchise locations, groups, and co-ops execute global brand messaging in their local markets. We are honored to be in good company with the nation’s fastest-growing private companies, including several franchise brands we work with: Orangetheory Fitness ranked no. 1,830, and Blink Fitness made the list at no. 2,734.

Want to grow with us? For custom-tailored, innovative campaigns to drive franchise brand growth, contact us today.

    

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Blog, In The News

We are honored to announce iluma Agency was named one of Florida’s “Best Companies to Work For” in 2019 by Florida Trend magazine. iluma Agency ranked 12th in the small-company (50 employees or less) category for our unique company culture, team-building office activities, and quarterly outings.

“Our agency’s recipe for growth is a combination of focusing our strengths on franchise brands and more importantly, carefully cultivating a team that is dedicated to our amazing culture,” says iluma Agency Founder and CEO, Aaron Lee. “We take care of each other so that we can take great care of our clients. That’s part of why we say we’re the agency you won’t hate.”

The annual award program recognizes Florida’s best employers based on an evaluation of their workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems, and demographic. The process also includes a survey that measures employee satisfaction in the workplace. Under the leadership of Aaron Lee and Jamie Cundiff-Melendez, COO, iluma Agency strives to recognize and reward each team member’s commitment to the franchise marketing agency’s core values of excellence, dedication, collaboration, integrity, and innovation.

“This year we spoke with Millennial employees of the Best Companies to Work For to get their perspectives on their workplaces and work experiences,” says Florida Trend Executive Editor, Mark Howard. “It’s clear that the Best Companies know how to attract Millennials and then engage them once they’ve been hired. Millennials want what every employee wants—a workplace environment that helps them be productive and a chance for input into how work gets done.”

At iluma Agency, we love what we do and enjoy working together—and it shows. As we continue to work with additional franchise brands and grow our team of marketing experts, we welcome new talented stars to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with our agency happenings and hiring opportunities.

About Florida Trend Top 100 Best Companies List

For a list of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Florida, visit the FloridaTrend website.

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Blog, Meet the Staff

Alicia Loredo joined our account management team as an Account Executive just over a year ago and has made her mark ever since. Since joining our agency, Alicia has been able to improve client relationships, innovate agency processes, and open the door to new opportunities for our franchise clients. Alicia’s hard work and dedication led to her promotion to Senior Account Executive in early 2019. 

Born and raised in Miami, Alicia attended Florida International University and received a bachelor’s degree in Advertising. From cheerleading to working for FIU Athletics, sports have always been a part of her life. Originally, Alicia started studying Health Sciences to further a career in sports medicine, but she realized she needed something more creative. She discovered a passion for Advertising, which allowed her to work with sports and health while using her creativity. She currently works closely with many of our fitness franchise clients, including Orangetheory Fitness, to provide custom-tailored marketing solutions for their unique needs.

Alicia loves being able to relate to franchisees on both a professional and personal level. One of her favorite parts of her role is helping a client feel comfortable and trust her throughout the marketing process. As a firm believer in “Teamwork makes the dream work,” Alicia wants all her clients to know that our team is here to help and that she’s going to do everything she can to help them benefit and grow from our franchise marketing agency partnership.

When Alicia is not in the office, she loves to travel to new places. Last year, she embarked on a solo adventure to Costa Rica. She hiked mountains, saw volcanoes, and even ziplined through the rainforest. The trip opened her eyes to new experiences and cultures. When she is not touring the world, she explores new coffee shops and posts about them on her blog @espressoblog. From blonde roast to dark roast, we appreciate her java expertise. 

Our bubbly Senior Account Executive loves working at iluma because of all the hardworking and positive people she gets to interact with every day. She views all her hardships as opportunities for growth, and we are so grateful to have her on our team. 

To stay connected and keep up with our growing agency team, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

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Blog, Marketing

The digital marketing landscape is continuously evolving, presenting new opportunities for savvy franchise brands to grow at the local level and beyond. Now that we’re well into 2019, it’s time to take a step back and revisit core marketing activities. This doesn’t always mean scrapping the old for the new, but it’s worth examining how we’ve leveraged certain advertising platforms in the past, how we’re applying marketing strategy today, and how we might be better served by shifting our approach in the future.

“You shouldn’t do things differently just because they’re different. They need to be… better.” -Elon Musk

Business is increasingly competitive. Whether your franchise is a gym, spa, tutoring center, or health food store, your franchisees depend on differentiation and data-backed marketing decisions to help them stand out from the crowd and focus on their bottom line. To retain and attract customers in 2019 and beyond, franchise brands are gravitating toward an omni-channel approach, focusing on providing a seamless customer experience as the backbone to their integrated, multiple marketing channel communication.

Here are 10 of the most relevant omni-channel trends we expect to help excel franchise growth this year:

1. Geofencing: Through GPS technology, we can draw a virtual boundary to define a location where we want to serve digital ads to smartphone users, such as a competing franchise, a store where qualified leads are likely to shop, or an event like a Marathon or Convention that they’re likely to attend. Once a target prospect physically enters that zone, we can continue to show them ads for up to 30 days. In addition to linking to a lead-focused landing page for conversion, this hyperlocal targeting even allows us to set a “conversion zone” so we can track if someone who saw the ad eventually visits one of your franchise locations.

2. Programmatic video: “Cable cutters” and “cable nevers” represent a generational shift—turning to video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube instead of cable TV. These platforms present a cost-effective opportunity for franchise locations to deliver localized video ad content to their target audience

3. Second screen content recognition: We live in an era of mobile multi-tasking, casually scrolling through Instagram on our mobile devices while checking work emails on a laptop in front of your TV. Ads can be served to a smart phone based on recognition of content being watched on a separate TV screen. While it may be overly expensive and impossible to advertise on popular prime time shows, marketing through a separate device during shows popular with your prospects can be quite cost efficient and effective.

4. Artificial intelligence: Machine learning about audience, behavior, and results helps us systematically lower cost per lead for a more efficient and effective marketing campaign, meaning franchisees can get more for bang for their buck.

5. Voice search:
Products like Alexa have become a household staple. When customers ask for a local product or service recommendation (“What’s the best gym near me?”), will your franchise location be mentioned? Boosting online presence through local listings, search engine optimized blog content, and community engagement via Yelp reviews and social media comments are contributing factors that can help improve voice search rankings.

6. Chat bots: The modern consumer expects instant gratification. They want information when and where they need it. With so many platforms to manage, it can be difficult for the staff of a local franchise business to be responsive on all platforms in a timely manner. Thoughtfully programmed chat bots can automatically respond to customers and prospects in a way that considers their behaviors and needs. These should be used as a supplement—not a replacement—to live customer service.

“Instead of using technology to automate processes, think about using technology to enhance human interaction.” -Tony Zambito

7. Email marketing: Email marketing is by no means new, but instead of using email to sell, franchise brands should move toward email as a nurturing device. Focus on making customers feel good about being customers. Showcase the experience with the brand. Potential new customers won’t want to miss out; your brand will sell itself.

8. Employee advocacy:
Not only are employees’ part of what make a brand and each franchise location special, most employees also have their own network of social media followers. Are your franchisees’ employees equipped to effectively communicate your brand?

9. Social media metrics:
Paid lead-gen campaigns can be measured in terms of direct ROI. What about organic social media content? We can spend an unlimited amount of time creating, curating, and publishing content, but how valuable is your Facebook profile? Are your Instagram posts working? Social media analytics can reveal top performing posts, trends in engagement, viral impressions through shares and extended networking, audience demographics, hash tag performance, Instagram Stories interactions, and more. In addition to enhancing future content, social media metrics can help you gain an emotional understanding of your customers and prospects that can help inform success of marketing on all other platforms.

“People spend money when and where they feel good.” -Walt Disney

10. Honesty and authenticity: In light of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and increasing public debate regarding Facebook’s use of personal data, franchise brands should strive for honesty. When using landing pages or lead forms to capture contact information, be clear about how their information will be used. Today’s consumer knows they are being marketed to, so there’s no need to hide your intent. That being said, in a world full of ads (and customers who have learned to ignore ads), bringing a more authentic look and feel to your digital marketing campaigns can help your brand stand out from the crowd.

Your 2019 Franchise Marketing Checklist

Are you ready for your franchise brand to shine?

  • Platforms: Robust but integrated online presence. Continue using paid ads and organic social media content while incorporating new technology like programmatic video ads and chat bots.
  • Targeting: Hyperlocal growth through geofencing for big-scale growth.
  • Content: Be authentic and honest. Leverage real customers and staff.
  • Data: Beyond cost per lead, use social media metrics to gain valuable emotional insight.
  • Management: Collaborate with an agency partner for consistent success across hundreds of individual franchise locations.

Iluma Agency’s team of franchise marketing experts help franchisees execute global branding at the hyperlocal level. We’re excited to help brands take advantage of the digital marketing tools and trends that will directly benefit your unique needs and goals. Please contact us or book a call for more information about working with us.

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Blog, In The News

It should come as little surprise that Iluma Agency is a Best Place to Work honoree. Founder and CEO Aaron Lee built the franchise marketing agency from the ground up. The goal has been to deliver innovative and effective digital marketing to global franchise brands.

But what sets it apart? “Beyond just the bits and bytes of what we do,” he says, “our secret sauce really comes down to our people, who dedicate themselves to being the agency you won’t hate.”

Lee boasts about the culture he’s nurtured and the people’s he’s recruited. It’s a place where people want to work. By getting the right people in the door who you can trust to abide by the values, understand and believe that they will do all that they can do get the job done, and ultimately create a structure of support to let the daily work happen along with the fun and exciting activities.

“We are proving that when you select the right employee and invest them into a team of like-minded individuals, then invest teams of like-minded individuals across an entire company, you create a structure that feeds itself,” he says. “You gain trust that your coworker will get it done if they say they will. You worry less when an employee works remotely – because you trust they are working. You know that you are never alone.”

The agency advances individual development and career growth, offers flex time that defies the 40-hour workweek, and tests whether they can measure what matters. In the end, it comes down to the people.

“We are a company built by people, run by people, designed to help other people,” Lee says. “If we didn’t have a ‘people-friendly’ culture, we’d simply go out of business.”

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Blog, Franchise Development
When a franchisee begins presales or signs a new location, they’re faced with a tough question: How do they quickly and efficiently raise enough local awareness that they’ll be flooded with business starting Day 1 of Grand Opening? The most successful marketing campaigns start well before a business actually opens.

Here are a few ways a strategic agency partner can help your franchise maximize this crucial stage of franchise business growth.

1. Announce your presence—and leverage your brand identity

A direct mail campaign can be considered when initially announcing that you’ll be joining the neighborhood, but for many markets, a digital campaign will provide the most trackable and budget-conscious results. Through paid social media and geo-fence ads, we can target select ages with specific interests in a local radius or even a precise location or event at a certain time. By using “coming soon” messaging that targets only those people who are likely to be interested in your business, your announcement will be heard loud and clear when and where it matters most—and you can start to build a loyal following.

As a franchisee who has bought into a national or possibly global brand, you fortunately won’t be starting from scratch. By using the brand guidelines, assets, and tools, available to you, you can reach local leads who already know, trust, and are excited about the brand. A franchise-focused agency partner will use those assets in a way that maximizes digital ad spend efficiency and success.

2. Engage your local community—and maximize visibility through digital

Now that you’ve started to make your digital footprint and your audience knows your business is on its way, it’s time to show them all you have to offer the community. Whether it’s a 5K for charity, campus activity, or sports game, actively getting involved by sponsoring and supporting local events can send a message that you’re joining the community—not taking advantage of it. And of course, these events will all serve as opportunities to interact with potential prospects and start building relationships with people who could end of being long-term members or customers.

You can also host your own events in the community before you have a brick-and-mortar location—such as a party to kick off membership presales, or an event where the community can sample products and services coming soon.

Be sure to take lots of pictures, videos, and boomerangs with prospects at all of these events so you can share them on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Encourage leads to follow you on social media so they can see (and share) the pictures they’re in. Taking the buzz from a physical event onto social media extends visibility and promotes viral exposure among your leads’ own networks of family and friends.

Ask your agency for best practices and to help you integrate that valuable content into your organic social media publishing schedule.

3. Create a sense of urgency

Do you know who your customers will be on Day 1? Pre-open lead capture and sign-ups can seem difficult when Grand Opening is more than a couple months out, but the right messaging and offer can help you lock in business well before Opening Day. Your agency partner will combine efficient ad targeting with “last chance,” “before we open only,” and countdown messaging about your pre-sales promotion, using click-worth calls to action to drive prospects to a lead-capture landing page focused on collecting the contact information of your future customers.

4. Don’t just generate leads—stay connected with them 

Once you’ve created an initial sense of urgency and excitement, your agency partner can help you keep your leads engaged in the months leading up to Grand Opening.

Email marketing has proven to be a cost-efficient, fast, and effective way to communicate with leads to stay top of mind, educate them about the brand, and to keep them in the loop about your opening dates and any events along the way. Because leads have already expressed interest and opted in to receive email updates, they are highly likely to open and engage with your email marketing campaign.

Social media is also an effective platform to connect with the audience you’ve built through digital advertising and local marketing efforts. In addition to consistently publishing informative and promotional branded content, your agency can help you leverage content that sparks engagement and conversation. Every comment on your social posts should be liked and/or responded to. In the long run, your engagement will catch the eye of prospects as well as their social networks, showing your franchise favorably as one that listens and cares.

Maximize your pre-open marketing

Pre-open marketing is an opportunity for business growth that deserves attention and expertise. To learn how your brand can optimize its hyperlocal marketing during the pre-open phase and all stages of growth, schedule a call with iluma Agency today.

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Blog, Marketing

As social media marketing becomes increasingly competitive and over-saturated, franchisees are finding it challenging to use platforms like Facebook and Instagram effectively. Combined with brand parameters that may at times feel restrictive to their content (relative to non-franchise local businesses), franchisees often become discouraged and may fail to recognize the importance of local content marketing to gain brand exposure, build loyal relationships with followers and grow their business. By posting content that their members are compelled to share, franchisees will experience extra visibility at no cost. With the right tools and tactics, they can earn more social likes and shares to increase their digital presence—all while staying perfectly on brand.

Use Facebook’s algorithm to your advantage

In January 2018, Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritize “meaningful interactions,” which includes posts from “friends, family and groups.” Facebook intended to filter out “less public content” or, at least, limit it. For businesses, this generally made it more difficult to gain visibility without investing ad spend to boost posts. But for the social media savvy, this change isn’t a challenge but rather an opportunity.

Franchisees can gain the upper hand by focusing on content that sparks interaction among their local community and customer base. Meaningful interactions count toward your engagement, which makes Facebook’s algorithm favor you and show your posts to more people in the future.

Dare to engage your audience

Increase interaction by sharing and posting user-generated content. People love being recognized by the brands and businesses they care about. Your followers will feel like you care about them and in return may even share your content with their followers. Feel free to shout-out your biggest fans and share the love.

To stand out from other businesses on social media and encourage reciprocal communication rather than just talking at your followers, consider asking questions and using fun prompts relevant to your customers’ interests that will give them a chance to be in the spotlight. Although cheap, point-blank calls to action like “share if you agree” or “use the reactions to vote” are judged unfavorably by Facebook’s most recent algorithm update, there are plenty of ways to stir up a conversation naturally. Your customers and followers are just waiting for the opportunity to share things about themselves, engage with your business, and interact with one another.

Keep up with your followers

While the content you share says a lot about your business, what your customers are saying about you matters even more—and your response to them probably matters the most. By constantly monitoring your local social media channels and responding to all comments, messages, and reviews, you are gaining more insight into what your customers are interested in, building loyalty among your followers, and even encouraging others to join in the conversation. Social media users crave more personal interactions—and you have the opportunity to provide exactly that.

Developments in technology have increased the viability of practicing social listening, responding to comments and reviews, and tracking hashtags, tags, and mentions from multiple social platforms across hundreds of franchise locations.

Host and promote events

From an open house to grand opening, workshops, anniversary parties and beyond, hosting a local event as a franchisee is an ideal opportunity to ramp up your social media exposure.

Start by creating a Facebook event page and be sure to promote it on-location as well. Any time your customers or followers RSVP via Facebook, all of their Facebook followers are notified about the event.

Posting content from the event itself, especially photos showing your customers and followers, will likely be shared on their profiles for all their friends to see. During an event hosted at your franchise location, encourage Facebook check-ins—which essentially let your customer’s friends know they visited your business.

Consistency is key

In the media world, one day you’re in and the next day you’re not. That’s why it’s important to post constantly and consistently. You have to remain cohesive and gain the attention of your followers. The more consistently you post, the easier it is to stay relevant, on trend, and top of mind. As you build a history of content, you gain valuable insight about the types of social posts that win the most engagement, shares, and visibility.

Never lose sight of your vision

While engaging with your followers is highly encouraged, all interactions should primarily align with your brand’s overall vision. Not only do you want to avoid confusing your audience and driving them away; by transmitting a consistent message, you are gaining more credibility from your audience, as well as increasing retention. The more on brand your business stays, the more identifiable you will become. And the more on brand dozens or hundreds of locations stay, the more identifiable your local business will become on a national or even global scale.

While optimizing your social media content can increase valuable web traffic and brand exposure, quite possibly the most important benefit is the relationships built between franchise businesses and their followers. As the digital world has become an overwhelming and intimidating place, consumers are straying away from sales pitches and looking for more authentic engagement from brands.

At iluma Agency, we enjoy helping hundreds of franchisees use social media to connect with their customers and qualified prospects. For a digital marketing approach tailored to your brand and your local market, please reach out to our team.

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