SEO

5 Steps for SEO Success for Franchises by Michelle Hummel

SEO stands for search engine optimization. At its core, this practice is simply a way to ensure that a business website shows up in the top group of results when someone searches for a relevant keyword phrase. Because Google is always evolving, the best practices for SEO in 2018 look quite different than even a few years ago.

To help ensure that you’re on the right track with SEO, we want to cover the 5 steps for franchise SEO success during the upcoming year:

1. Start with Key Pages

Franchisors often get overwhelmed by the prospect of diving into all of their SEO needs. That’s why we recommend starting with your most important pages. Good starting points include your homepage, About Us, main blog page and product/service pages. Investing time and resources to get these pages right can then be leveraged as a template for all other pages and online properties.

2. Create a Strong Online Footprint

The best rankings come from having a balanced and widespread online footprint. Instead of falling into the trap of chasing shortcuts, focus on ways to spread the word about your franchise online. More people knowing about your franchise will result in more people talking about it, which in turn will naturally generate the types of links that are so vital for ranking well in Google.

3. Optimize Location Pages

Some franchises have sub-pages for different locations. Others use individual websites for each location. And plenty of franchises take a hybrid approach. Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, you’ll want to be sure that customers in each target market are able to easily find local franchises online.

4. Understand Local

This ties directly into the above point. The way that Google ranks and displays local search results differs from general queries. As more people do searches from their mobile phones, fully understanding local has become even more important. One of the main things to keep in mind is that Google wants to verify that businesses have a local presence. NAP (name, address and phone number) citations are a key way they measure this. Ensuring NAP consistency across all major directories will help local rankings a lot.

5. Grab the Long Tail

The long tail refers to keyword phrases that are highly targeted but don’t get a ton of search volume. What makes the long tail so appealing is there’s less competition to rank in the first few spots. These highly targeted keyword phrases also have clear intent, which makes them great for converting searchers into actual customers. Integrating long tail content into your SEO strategy is a very smart choice for 2018.

If you want expert help creating the right SEO plan and putting it into practice during 2018, be sure to take a look at how Web Strategy Plus can help.

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Michelle Hummel is CEO of Web Strategy Plus a full service agency focused on Franchise Marketing. She was recently nominated for the Woman Owned Business of the Year! She’s a passionate Social Media Trainer with 15+ years of successful online business development, sales and marketing experience. She also holds a valuable Internet Marketing Degree however with the ever-changing world of web marketing she strives to learn something new every day.

She travels Nationwide to share her wisdom by providing keynotes and in-depth social media training. A current contributing editor to The Social Media Monthly Magazine and she has written 3 books in my series called, “The Social Media Magnet: Everything You Need to Know to Attract Customers with Social Media”, where she shares hers best kept secrets to success. She also specializes in helping Franchisors and Franchisees develop an integrated web marketing program to drive leads. She’s available for interviews via email, telephone, Skype video, news segments on location and more. Just let her know how she can help!

franchisees

Tips for Developing a Social Media Policy for Your Franchisees by Michelle Hummel

Social media is one of the best ways for franchises to market themselves in 2018. While social media is a very powerful option for connecting with customers, plenty of franchisors have concerns related to platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Given the immediate and widespread nature of social media, these concerns are completely valid.

Fortunately, there is a way for franchises to fully harness the power of social media and simultaneously protect their brand. The key to striking this balance is to create a social media policy for franchisees. Here are some of the most important elements to keep in mind as you work on creating this policy:

The Basic Objectives of a Social Media Policy

The three basic objectives of a social media policy are branding protection, legal protection and customer engagement. While many franchisors initially assume that their policy will take the form of a list of what not to do, that approach generally doesn’t lead to the best results. A better way to approach the development of a social media policy for franchisees is to give lots of examples of what they should do.

Best practices for desired content, recommended frequency of posts and similar guidelines can be extremely helpful. By empowering franchisees while also reminding them of what to avoid, you’ll be able to give them all the tools needed to make the most of social media as a marketing platform.

Additional Tips for Developing the Ideal Policy

It’s often useful to divide a social media policy into sections that are focused on the main areas of emphasis. This often begins with brand identity. You want franchisees to fully understand exactly what your brand is all about, as well as steps they can take to protect it online. A great policy will create a set of guidelines with clear expectations of how franchisees and their employees should act on social media so that they are great stewards of your brand.

Legal protection is a good choice for the next area of emphasis within your social media policy. You’ll want to explain why franchisees cannot make statements on social media that can be interpreted as misrepresentations, including misleading or over-promising a product or service. The same is true for not disclosing confidential information about the franchise system.

The last tip we want to cover is integrating customer engagement into your policy. Useful guidelines may include describing how franchise owners can comment on reviews, thank customers, answer questions and leverage public relations. These guidelines and examples will go a long way towards boosting the overall reputation of your franchise system.

If you want expert help crafting a highly effective social media policy for all your franchisees, be sure to take a look at how  Web Strategy Plus can help.

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Michelle Hummel is CEO of Web Strategy Plus a full service agency focused on Franchise Marketing. She was recently nominated for the Woman Owned Business of the Year! She’s a passionate Social Media Trainer with 15+ years of successful online business development, sales and marketing experience. She also holds a valuable Internet Marketing Degree however with the ever-changing world of web marketing she strives to learn something new every day.

She travels Nationwide to share her wisdom by providing keynotes and in-depth social media training. A current contributing editor to The Social Media Monthly Magazine and she has written 3 books in my series called, “The Social Media Magnet: Everything You Need to Know to Attract Customers with Social Media”, where she shares hers best kept secrets to success. She also specializes in helping Franchisors and Franchisees develop an integrated web marketing program to drive leads. She’s available for interviews via email, telephone, Skype video, news segments on location and more. Just let her know how she can help!

Social Media Matters

Social Media Matters More Than Ever by Michelle Hummel

At the start of this year, analysts found that there were 2.8 billion active social media users around the globe. To put that number in perspective, 2.8 billion was the entire population of the world in 1955. This figure marks a global penetration of thirty-seven percent. What may come as an even bigger surprise is social media grew by twenty-two percent last year.

Based on those figures, it’s safe to say that just about anyone your business may want to reach is on social media. Of the billions of active social media users, 28% are on just one platform and another 24% are on two platforms. Active users of three platforms drop to 16%, then 8% for four platforms and only 4% for five. What those percentages show is when people find a platform they like, they’re going to stick with it. This is the first big lesson for franchises that want to utilize social media marketing. You need a clear idea of exactly who you’re trying to reach so you can find the one or two platforms where most of those individuals are spending their time online.

Getting Your Audience’s Attention

When Facebook made a big change to their algorithm a few years ago, they explained that anytime someone visited their News Feed, there were over 1,500 possible stories that Facebook could show. Since then, the rate at which social media content is produced has only continued to grow. While social media usage (especially on mobile devices) has also continued to increase, competition for attention is fierce. Because major media publications and businesses of all sizes want to get their content in front of people on social media, identifying exactly who you want to reach and how to get their attention is an essential component of a successful franchise social media marketing strategy.

From Social Media to Customers

Once you have the attention of your target audience on social media, you’ll want to provide them with consistent value in the form of great content. By delivering value, you’ll establish a trusted relationship with your audience. Having this level of trust will then allow you to make compelling offers that successfully convert a meaningful percentage of your audience into customers.

How to Get An “Unfair” Advantage

Even though we only skimmed the surface of social media marketing, it’s clear that developing and executing an effective strategy requires a lot of work. If you know that you want to utilize social media to market your franchise but aren’t sure where to start, take a look at how expert franchise marketing services from Web Strategy Plus can put your organization on a path to online success.

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Michelle Hummel is CEO of Web Strategy Plus a full service agency focused on Franchise Marketing. She was recently nominated for the Woman Owned Business of the Year! She’s a passionate Social Media Trainer with 15+ years of successful online business development, sales and marketing experience. She also holds a valuable Internet Marketing Degree however with the ever-changing world of web marketing she strives to learn something new every day.

She travels Nationwide to share her wisdom by providing keynotes and in-depth social media training. A current contributing editor to The Social Media Monthly Magazine and she has written 3 books in my series called, “The Social Media Magnet: Everything You Need to Know to Attract Customers with Social Media”, where she shares hers best kept secrets to success. She also specializes in helping Franchisors and Franchisees develop an integrated web marketing program to drive leads. She’s available for interviews via email, telephone, Skype video, news segments on location and more. Just let her know how she can help!

Web Strategy Plus Reviews and Testimonials

Web Strategy Plus Reviews

My business increased dramatically since using Web Strategy Plus. I would recommend them to all my clients in the future. The team have been wonderful in helping us with all of our online marketing needs. As an accounting firm our online presence has proven to be an invaluable resource and we wouldn’t be able to manage it without Web Strategy Plus. Our website looks extremely professional and our social media is continually updated. I highly recommend their services!

Web Strategy Plus Reviews

Duane Donohoo, Donohoo Accounting Services

Web Strategy Plus does a great job of handling all of our social media pages for both businesses, Pet Wants and USA Collision Centers.  They provide great content and interesting articles. The team is always extremely helpful and goes out of their way to help anytime we have had any questions or need help. We love the Web Strategy Plus team!!

Web Strategy Plus Reviews

Laurie Sanfillipo, Owner of Pet Wants Cincy West and USA Collision Centers

The Web Strategy Plus team has been a dream to work with as our Social Media Management Company! They are very quick to respond, reliable and they always have great ideas. I wish all my points of contact for our business accounts were as easy to work with. Two thumbs up to the Web Strategy Plus!

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Dawn Donaldson, Manager of Dog Day Every Day

Franchise Marketing is being offered by Web Strategy Plus for the Franchise Success Team! Michelle Hummel, the CEO has been recently nominated as the Woman Owned Business of the Year! Her team can help you develop Marketing, Sales and Lead generation strategies that produce real results. She has been a franchise adviser for over 15+ years.

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Red Flags of Franchise Marketing

Top 4 Red Flags of Franchise Marketing by Michelle Hummel

Creating a strong and effective franchise marketing plan can help franchisees and the entire organization flourish. However, creating this type of plan isn’t easy. Whether you’re in the process of creating a franchise marketing strategy or are concerned that your current plan has some significant issues, there are quite a few pitfalls that can come up during the planning and execution of marketing. Through our franchise marketing services, we’ve had direct experience seeing and helping to resolve many of these pitfalls. That’s why we want to share four red flags you’ll want to watch out for with your own franchise marketing efforts:

1. Inconsistency

One of the advantages franchises have is the ability to use their scale to continue growing their brand. However, many franchises miss out on making the most of this advantage. This is because they don’t create a consistent experience across their entire brand. A surprising finding of a franchisee survey was that 49% of franchisees “are not required to follow specific corporate recommendations on marketing strategy.” So even though it is helpful to get input from franchisees about what’s working best and which areas need improvement, your marketing plan should ensure consistency across all operators.

2. Scattered Campaigns

Both direct mail and email are channels that can work well for franchise marketing. While plenty of franchises are aware of these channels, they often make a significant mistake when trying to use them. That mistake is not managing these efforts through an integrated platform. Not having a centralized platform will increase marketing costs and decrease the efficiency of campaigns.

3. Lack of Budget

With marketing channels like social media, it’s possible to get more bang for your buck by creating campaigns and content that gain organic momentum. Although increasing marketing ROI is great, getting campaigns up and running still requires having a budget. So if a marketing plan doesn’t include getting at least some financial support from franchisees, chances are very good that it’s going to significantly hamper results.

4. Forgetting About Personalization

As a franchise, you probably want your presence to spread well beyond your home base. It’s normal to have aspirations to create an established presence on a national or even international scale. One important thing to keep in mind as your franchise is opened in more locations is marketing efforts should be personalized to the area. When franchises don’t take regional or cultural differences into account, they miss out on a big opportunity to tailor their marketing efforts in a way that helps them to resonate even more (while still maintaining a consistent brand image).

If you want to avoid these mistakes and/or need help with your franchise marketing, be sure to take a look at how Web Strategy Plus can help.

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Michelle Hummel is CEO of Web Strategy Plus a full service agency focused on Franchise Marketing. She was recently nominated for the Woman Owned Business of the Year! She’s a passionate Social Media Trainer with 15+ years of successful online business development, sales and marketing experience. She also holds a valuable Internet Marketing Degree however with the ever-changing world of web marketing she strives to learn something new every day.

She travels Nationwide to share her wisdom by providing keynotes and in-depth social media training. A current contributing editor to The Social Media Monthly Magazine and she has written 3 books in my series called, “The Social Media Magnet: Everything You Need to Know to Attract Customers with Social Media”, where she shares hers best kept secrets to success. She also specializes in helping Franchisors and Franchisees develop an integrated web marketing program to drive leads. She’s available for interviews via email, telephone, Skype video, news segments on location and more. Just let her know how she can help!

 

FRANCHISE    Marketing Branding Retail

The 4 Essential Elements of a Franchise Marketing Plan by Michelle Hummel

Most franchises are already aware that they need a strong marketing message. However, there’s often a significant disconnect between crafting the right message and having an audience to deliver it to. The reality of the franchise industry is very few sales happen by accident. Instead, the types of franchisors that are able to consistently sell new franchises do so by having a clear marketing plan that’s carefully crafted to attract a specific type of prospect.

In order to craft this kind of marketing plan, there are some essential elements that need to be in place. We’re going to cover all four of those elements right now, along with the role they play in a franchise marketing plan:

1. Budget

The reason this element is first on our list is even the best marketing plan is only going to succeed if there’s a budget to support it. When it comes to choosing your budget, setting clear growth goals and then working backward is the best strategy. This will give you a ballpark estimate that you can then compare against industry averages. Once your marketing budget is set, you’ll be able to use it to check the feasibility of other steps in your marketing process.

2. Focused Market

Making the market you want to target as tight as possible has two significant advantages. First, you’ll be able to craft a message that truly resonates with these individuals. And second, you’ll reduce the amount of money you waste trying to reach people who aren’t ultimately the right fit for purchasing a franchise. In addition to using your intuition, you’ll want to use resources like primary research to really drill down into your target market.

3. Funnel

Although marketing funnels aren’t a new concept, many franchisors still fail to utilize them. Creating a marketing funnel will make it much easier to track all the metrics related to your marketing. A well-defined funnel will also improve the effectiveness of your marketing activities. And by knowing each step in your funnel, you’ll be able to pinpoint areas that are underperforming and then invest in optimizing them.

4. Timing

If the franchise you’re selling has a seasonal element to it, this is something your marketing plan should take into account. But even if seasonality isn’t an issue, it’s important to know that franchise sales are at their peak between January and March, with November and December being the months when these types of sales crawl to a halt. By taking these and other timing factors into account, you’ll be able to choose the optimal times to ramp up marketing spend.

While the four elements we covered above will help guide your marketing efforts, fully crafting an optimal franchise marketing plan and then executing it on an ongoing basis still requires a lot of work. If you would like a knowledgeable expert who can help with these kinds of tasks, be sure to take a look at the franchise marketing services we offer.

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Michelle Hummel is CEO of Web Strategy Plus a full service agency focused on Franchise Marketing. She was recently nominated for the Woman Owned Business of the Year! She’s a passionate Social Media Trainer with 15+ years of successful online business development, sales and marketing experience. She also holds a valuable Internet Marketing Degree however with the ever-changing world of web marketing she strives to learn something new every day.

She travels Nationwide to share her wisdom by providing keynotes and in-depth social media training. A current contributing editor to The Social Media Monthly Magazine and she has written 3 books in my series called, “The Social Media Magnet: Everything You Need to Know to Attract Customers with Social Media”, where she shares hers best kept secrets to success. She also specializes in helping Franchisors and Franchisees develop an integrated web marketing program to drive leads. She’s available for interviews via email, telephone, Skype video, news segments on location and more. Just let her know how she can help!

 

 

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What Are the Keys to Franchise Marketing Success? by Michelle Hummel

Over the course of just a few years, many changes have occurred across the marketing landscape. These changes are just as relevant to franchises as they are to any other type of business that’s trying to reach new customers. Since marketing has a big impact on how well a franchise is able to do and grow, we want to highlight four essentials of any solid franchise marketing strategy:

1. Tell a Story

When it comes to making your franchise stand out from any competitors, having a compelling story to tell can be a significant advantage. By building your brand around a story that resonates with target customers, you can make them feel far more connected to your business. Once you’ve crafted a great story for your franchise, it’s important to look at each marketing outlet and come up with a strategy for the best way to communicate your story.

2. Utilize Customer Reviews

Receiving a great review from a customer always feels good. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you should do with this kind of content. Not only can customer reviews boost the visibility of your franchise in local search engine results, but you can use them in a variety of ways. Whether it’s sharing them through your social media profiles or putting them directly on your website, reviews and any other types of content that customers create are marketing gold mines.

3. Don’t Overlook Email

Because social media has become such a popular form of online marketing, it’s easy to overlook other channels. But not taking advantage of options like email can be a big mistake. By using social media to drive leads to sign up for your email list, you will be in an optimal position to build a relationship with those prospects and ultimately convert them into customers. One of the advantages for franchises that make email marketing a priority is their ability to segment and target their list of email subscribers.

4. Empower Franchisees

Marketing works best when it runs through an entire organization. This fact is why the franchises that are most successful at marketing actively empower their individual owners. By not only creating a marketing system that can be utilized by every franchisee, but also giving them the ability to try new marketing channels and share their results with the rest of the organization, you will create a culture that allows marketing efforts to thrive.

While the essentials covered above will help you build a solid foundation for your franchise marketing efforts, there’s still a lot of ongoing work required for successfully executing this type of plan. If you would like expert, hands-on help with this work, be sure to take a look at the franchise marketing services we offer.

If you want expert help creating the right SEO plan and putting it into practice during 2018, be sure to take a look at how Web Strategy Plus can help.

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Michelle Hummel is CEO of Web Strategy Plus a full service agency focused on Franchise Marketing. She was recently nominated for the Woman Owned Business of the Year! She’s a passionate Social Media Trainer with 15+ years of successful online business development, sales and marketing experience. She also holds a valuable Internet Marketing Degree however with the ever-changing world of web marketing she strives to learn something new every day.

She travels Nationwide to share her wisdom by providing keynotes and in-depth social media training. A current contributing editor to The Social Media Monthly Magazine and she has written 3 books in my series called, “The Social Media Magnet: Everything You Need to Know to Attract Customers with Social Media”, where she shares hers best kept secrets to success. She also specializes in helping Franchisors and Franchisees develop an integrated web marketing program to drive leads. She’s available for interviews via email, telephone, Skype video, news segments on location and more. Just let her know how she can help!

Franchise Marketing Essentials

Franchise Marketing Essentials You Need to Know

 

Marketing programs are an important part of franchising. Collecting funds from the different franchisees in a system can lead to greater marketing power. On the other hand, this type of policy can cause tension if some people feel that the money is not being spent the way it should be. That is why you need to make sure that your company’s marketing system is rock solid. Here are some key qualities of a great franchise marketing program:

Drives Customers

For the franchise to be successful, the marketing program should attract lots of customers. If the franchise can consistently do this, all conflicts will be easily taken care of.

The Franchise Is Taken Into Consideration

The most successful franchise marketing programs give franchisees the opportunity to voice their opinions. While the franchiser will make the final decision, it’s important to give everyone a chance to add some input. Don’t forget that the franchisees are the people who frequently interact with customers.

Smart Allocation of Funds

Most franchises spend their marketing fund dollars on a few important things. They may cover any costs incurred during a specific marketing effort. This money can cover the costs of producing different types of marketing materials. Fund dollars are often also used to make media buys. It’s hard to spend enough money on all three areas, which is why there are often complaints about too much money being spent in one area, while neglecting others. That’s why it is important to maintain a good balance among all the areas.

Validation

Ask the franchisees how well the marketing program is working. You should receive honest and direct feedback. Ask how well the marketing plan is working in regards to attracting customers. Ask if they feel that they are getting good value for their contributions to the marketing fund. If the franchisees are happy about the marketing program, things will run smoothly and any potential problems may be avoided.

The Program Is Well Documented

Any strategic franchise marketing program should be documented by the franchiser. While you probably won’t have all of the marketing documentation, you should have some type of manual. This will help you look at the strategies to market effectively.

Marketing is a critical component of creating an appealing franchise opportunity, which is why you should dedicate a lot of time and energy towards it. A solid marketing program needs to have good materials, effective systems and easily attract new customers into the business. The more work you put into developing a great marketing program, the happier you will be with the results. And if you want to be sure you’re on the right track from the beginning, our franchise marketing services can help.

Using Social Media Effectively for Franchises

Using Social Media Effectively for Franchises

 

Over the past few years, social media has evolved from something that franchises viewed as helpful to an essential part of marketing. This is true for franchise owners who want to reach more customers. It’s also true for franchisors looking for potential franchisees. There are several reasons why social media has grown into such a powerful marketing channel. Not only can social media deliver an impressive ROI when managed correctly, but it also offers a level of targeting that’s simply not possible through other channels. Add to that just how much time people from all walks of life spend on social media platforms, and it’s easy to understand why social media as a marketing channel is here to stay.

With all that being said, the fact that social media can be a very effective marketing tool for franchises doesn’t mean it’s easy. Whether social media is being used with the intention of reaching consumers or potential owners, plenty of organizations struggle to make it work. Since competition for attention on social media platforms is only going to continue to increase, we want to share a few helpful tips for franchises to successfully use social media in 2017:

1. Try It All, Then Focus In

Franchises often wonder where they should start with their social media efforts. The best answer to that question is everywhere. Because there are multiple platforms with a large number of active users, it’s important to establish a presence on all of them. Then over time, you can see which platform(s) drive the most results and shift more resources accordingly.

2. Review and Adjust

There are a lot of different ways to execute a social media strategy. Although it can be helpful to have an initial idea when starting out, chances are some or all aspects of the strategy will change over time. The good news is social media platforms provide more analytics than ever to businesses, which means it’s easy to see which content is performing well and then focus on sharing more of the same kind.

3. Don’t Forget to Engage

While social media is a great way for a franchise to broadcast their message, it’s important to remember that this channel is a two-way street. So if you want to find real success with social media, making a point of engaging with customers or potential owners is a must.

4. Be Consistent

It takes a little time to really get the ball rolling with social media. Unfortunately, many franchises give up on social media too early. If you want to avoid this pitfall, having a little patience and being consistent with your posting activity is a must.

If you want to learn more about how to use social media effectively for franchise marketing, our social media magnet books are a great resource.

Top 3 Marketing Strategies Franchise Owners Should Invest in for 2017

The words Top three Marketing Strategies franchise owners should invest in superimposed over the image of a light bulb lying on a work table.

Since all franchise owners want this year to be more successful than the last, the question is how best to make this happen. The key to success is with your marketing strategy, and as is true with any marketing effort, you want to continue to build your brand while at the same time bring in new leads. The following are three areas you should focus your attention to achieve both brand building and lead generation: Continue reading