From a franchisee perspective, marketing a business can be pretty easy. Being part of an established brand, with directives and sales materials passed down from corporate, is part of the reason people get into a franchise business in the first place. After all, while there are still decisions to be made for yourself, being a franchisee often means the biggest broad strokes have already been handled for you.
If you’re a franchisor, on the other hand, your job may have just gotten a little harder. You’re the one providing those directives and materials down to your franchisees, influencing a substantial number of professionals — a significant responsibility that rests squarely on your decisions and strategies. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on emerging trends in franchise marketing, so you can get in on the ground floor on things that’ll take your business to the next level.
So what is the next big thing? Let’s take a look at some of those emerging trends. These aren’t all one-size-fits-all, so feel free to disregard anything that won’t work for your franchise operation, but it’s important to be aware of everything that’s coming so you don’t miss out.
Digital Marketing Is Still Growing
We’re well into the third decade of the 21st century at this point, so it should come as no surprise that cyberspace continues to become a bigger component of everything. Digital platforms are becoming an important launching pad for marketing communications — and can be utilized more-cheaply than their old-media equivalents. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X and LinkedIn are all entry points for you to address your target audience. Let’s break it down:
- Social Media Platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter – all ecosystems where your customers hang out, all ways to get your message in front of relevant eyes. Each one has their own quirks, language, and ways of operating, but with good potential rewards and little barrier to entry.
- Video Platforms: YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are all another way to get in front of your customers with relevant content. Obviously the barriers to entry here are greater: you might need specialized equipment, scripts, and people who can handle being on camera.
- Advertising Platforms: Marketing via advertising platforms like Google AdSense for paid search-engine marketing, or utilizing so-called “native advertising” platforms are another way to organically insert your messaging into the fabric of your target market.
- Subscription-Based Platforms: many subscription platforms that your customers use every day have spots for advertising — audio applications like Spotify, for example, can insert your advertising among your customers’ favorite songs and podcasts.
- CTV Platforms: Connected TVs and CTV devices like Roku allow you to insert your advertising in a highly-visible, unskippable way among popular streaming shows and movies.
Informative Content Is Big
Google’s Helpful Content Update is one of the ways Google has tried to stop people from gaming the system through deceptive practices like “keyword stuffing”. Basically, Google wants outlets to produce “people first” content that is designed to inform users, answer questions, and generally be of legitimate interest and value rather than trying to trick an algorithm through arbitrary behaviors. So an article that actually gives people useful information on the topic they’re searching for — articles like, uh, this one — are more likely to get good positioning in search engine results.
As such, some of the conventional wisdom regarding search engine optimization is becoming more-obsolete — when in doubt, try to write a piece that you’d actually want to read if you were in the user’s shoes, rather than trying to check off a bunch of boxes about sentence length and keyword density.
Voice Search And Digital Assistants
More and more people have some kind of smart device in their home that they can shout requests at to get a response. Siri, Alexa, Google Home – these smart speakers provide a modified version of search engine results that can be distilled into easy-to-hear sentences. Marketing for these devices, then, is similar to doing paid search marketing and search engine optimization — you need to have solid client data and a good grasp on the context and intent of searches that might lead to your page. This is a new and evolving area of marketing, of course, but emphasizing effective SEO on your homepage is a solid start in this direction.
The Rise of AI
The big buzzword for 2024 is artificial intelligence — it’s a powerful new technology, with ongoing efforts to pinpoint its genuine value versus unnecessary ornamentation. There are definite applications for artificial intelligence in your franchise marketing business, from help with writing ad copy, to using AI chatbots to handle low-level customer FAQs and complaints. AI can also bolster ad optimizations by providing real-time tweaks to your ad spend at any hour of the day.
The Death of Cookies
Everyone’s been talking about the loss of third-party cookies for marketers, but marketing existed before there were third-party cookies and it will continue to exist afterwards. A good focus on gathering first-party data is going to be an important plank of your marketing platform online, and using old-school tactics like demographic targeting will help bolster your sales just like they always have.
One of the corollaries to this is focusing on getting good data analytics on your marketing campaigns. Knowing which copy and images are getting conversions, during what time, via what publisher or outlet, are all ways to hone your messaging and make your marketing budget go further without collecting a whole bunch of third-party cookies.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is Important
In your marketing and messaging, having a focus on diversity and inclusion means you’re casting a wider net for a more-diverse array of customers — and potentially finding new revenue streams you didn’t know existed. If you do what you’ve always done, the saying goes, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten, which isn’t a recipe for expansion in a crowded marketplace. Engaging with a broader audience with your marketing and products is a great way to find new customers.
That works behind the camera, too. People from diverse experiences and backgrounds will provide firsthand knowledge and insights that you may not have — which helps you target those new customers you’re trying to get. And in an age where customers value diversity and inclusion, they want to see that reflected in the brands they’re shopping for.
Influencers Influence (Naturally)
One tactic that helps to combine a lot of what we’re talking about here is through Influencer Marketing for your franchise operations. Influencers are personalities on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok who can often reach very-niche audiences of, for example, young or minority viewers, and promote your product with short-form video in a naturalistic way. Broadcasting to your potential audience that they’re excited about your latest product or offering, or posting a video of them “unboxing” your latest release or merchandise is a good way to get your brand into new spaces.
Navigating the complexities of emerging trends in franchise marketing can be simplified by forming a strategic partnership — and Balihoo offers a seamless solution. Our comprehensive suite of tools allows you to manage ad campaigns, paid search, and more using an all-in-one dashboard. With automated tools you can optimize your campaigns on the fly and drill down on your most-effective messaging, whether you’ve got a hundred locations or a handful. Scaling your marketing has never been easier. Balihoo has its eye on the trends for 2024, and beyond.
To learn more, contact us today.
Sean Kelly, Senior Content Writer
Sean Kelly is a Senior Content Specialist, St. Louis-based engagement expert with 20 years of experience in content writing, and 8 years in adtech.