The Evolving State of Franchise Marketing: Three Pillars to Live By
Pillar #2: Marketing Technology — Artificial Intelligence, Real Outcomes
In part one of our series exploring three modern-day franchise marketing pillars, we examined how identifying the soul of your franchise differentiates the brand and aligns brand teams, franchisees, and customers around a uniquely compelling vision. If this brand experience is your organization’s heart, then marketing technology is its central nervous system, bringing the ethos of your franchise to life across the entire system.
In today’s exploration of pillar two—marketing technology—we’ll take a deep dive into how the right technology creates a more consistent brand experience, more efficient and engaged internal teams, and better performance and results across your network.
Let’s start by evaluating the problems inherent with the common approach franchises take with their digital advertising and advertising technology…
A Siloed Approach Creates Limitations
Would you ever start a cross-training program (weights, swimming, jogging, team sports, etc.), schedule a precise amount of time for each exercise, and then rigidly stick to your schedule regardless of outcomes? You might discover swimming is fun and effective while running is a painful slog. However, your plan dictates doing each exercise just once a week, so you stick to the program — even though swimming produces better outcomes (mentally and physically) towards the achievement of your fitness goals.
This same twisted logic is often applied to cross-channel digital advertising — a fixed amount budgeted each month, along with a static set of ad creatives, for Google PPC, remarketing, Facebook, etc. Sure, you may look back every so often and make adjustments, but this structure silos each channel and prevents you from dynamically shifting budgets across dozens of channels in real time (based on factors like performance of ad creatives and offers, shifts in prices and availability of ad inventory, and channel performance).
Manual Management Leads to Burnout and Brand Inconsistency
For those making manual adjustments, digital ad management can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. The costs of this approach are even more acute for expanding franchises, whose growth trajectories can quickly outpace the bandwidth of their support teams. In a few short years, two people supporting 25 locations can see their responsibilities expand to supporting 100+ locations without any additional resources.
When employee exhaustion strikes, burnout and disengagement follow. At that point, brands risk churning talented and committed team members and losing their vital know-how and experience. Even if you manage to retain the people that got your brand to where it is today, marketing performance inevitably degrades as team members expend their reserves of energy on countless franchisee phone calls and tedious data collection from dozens of channels and ad providers.
To compound this dilemma, overburdened brand teams are then left with no alternatives beyond vetting a list of local digital marketing providers, who are then introduced to a network of franchisees now tasked with fending for themselves. With this approach, results often suffer and brand consistency breaks down. Franchise owners and operators become prone to go rogue with their own vendors’ set of ad creatives built outside of brand guidelines, diminishing what made the brand so powerful and attractive in the first place.
Creating Efficiencies & Improving Outcomes with Smart Technology
This is where the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in marketing technology has shifted the landscape of what’s possible for franchise brands. Advertising platforms that leverage AI and machine learning can break down channel silos by flexibly shifting and reallocating budgets in real time, based upon hundreds and even thousands of data points. This removes the day-to-day burden from your team’s shoulders, saving time, preserving sanity, and optimizing performance to produce the best possible outcomes.
Reliable, impartial data can prove that certain channels (like Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.), offers, and ad creatives perform measurably better than others. The right tech will aggregate and consolidate that data in one place so that you can enjoy a 50,000 ft. view of the enterprise and stack-rank franchisee performance, then eliminate failed tactics and scale the proven winners.
When tech is doing the heavy lifting, marketing teams are given back the time, freedom, and bandwidth to do what they do best — craft and execute innovative strategies designed to drive the long-term direction of the brand. The newest, most robust reporting platforms empower marketers to slice-and-dice data from across the entire franchise network, enabling them to pull insights previously hidden across multiple spreadsheets and reports.
Lastly, marketing technology allows brands to fold marketing into the value proposition they offer franchisees, one that is an integral part of a turnkey solution for owners and operators. When marketing technology is provided and framed in this manner, franchisees no longer have to focus on keeping up with the constantly evolving digital landscape, nor are they forced to personally manage multiple vendors or interview their counterparts to find out what’s working well in other parts of the country. Today’s marketing technology solutions allow for small business owners to take a hands-free approach to advertising across search, social media, and dozens of other channels from a single platform and point of contact.
With smart technology deployed, business owners and operators can fully focus on running their businesses while franchisors are freed from worry about brand inconsistencies or rogue branding. Marketing tech provides brand teams the ability to personalize ad creatives for hundreds of franchise locations and ensure they’re all up-to-date with the latest brand guidelines.
Stay tuned for part three, where we’ll look at Pillar #3: Integrations & Reporting — how the integration of marketing and operational platforms create the conditions for even better marketing performance, along with clearer, more accurate, automated reporting.
Justin Mink, CFE, is the SVP of Franchise Growth at Scorpion. His passions for branding and digital marketing has guided a career that includes owning an events company in Washington, D.C., brand marketing for USATODAY.com, leading the franchise team at digital marketing firm ReachLocal, cofounding the marketing technology start-up Music Audience Exchange, and serving as Chief Marketing Office as New Frontier Data. Mink has been with Scorpion for over four years. Most importantly, he is Kate’s husband, Jude’s dad, and best friends with Titan the mystery mutt. For more information about International Franchise Association (IFA) supplier member Scorpion, click here.
Kenny Wu is the Director of Vertical Marketing who specializes in demand generation and content marketing for Scorpion's franchise vertical. He is passionate about marketing campaigns that deliver both immediate short-term results and sustainable long-term growth. A proud Bruin, Kenny received a B.A. in Economics and two minors in Global Studies and Film from UCLA. He is an avid fan of Atlas Obscura, new countries to visit, and Jamon Iberico.