Learning, Insights and Challenges - Managing Digital Marketing of a Multi Location Business

Posted by Surround Integrated on November 18th, 2016

It has been nine months since I embarked on the journey of managing a franchise client with 38 locations across southern Ontario. Multi-location businesses often have a leg up on the competition not only because they have a more physical presence with different locations but they tend to have the domain authority search engines are looking to promote.

This particular account is a two-dimensional one.  The annual marketing plan is driven by corporate where the larger budget, strategy, planning and execution is mapped out. Supporting this is a local support component where franchise owners have their own, smaller marketing budget with a different set of objectives.  The local budget is in place to optimize individual locations, make specific website updates and assist franchisees in planning localized marketing efforts.

I found myself building a relationship with 38 different business owners but applying best localized practices to the Franchisee efforts and ensuring their respective plans align with Corporate marketing goals.

Here is my list of the top 3 tactics, tips and insights for successfully managing a multi-location client.

  • Organized Account Setup

Proper management of local business information sounds like a no-brainer, but without it, it can be the root of many substantial problems with multi-location marketing. It is important to store, maintain, and update accurate data to send out to search networks, online listings and directories, and third party advertisers consistently and in a timely manner. Marrying the Admin and Digital Marketing components of a complex account is crucial in ensuring all moving pieces are working together towards the common goal.

Admin

  • Create and keep a reference spreadsheet of all locations and their pertinent information.
  • Identify cities or areas attributed to each location – geo targeting is crucial for local success.
  • Clarify the main contact (or contacts) at the specific location and introduce yourself asap.
  • Identify influencers in the company and do not prolong clarifying suitable objectives and reaching out to offer the appropriate support.
  • Manage expectations openly and consistently.

 

Digital Marketing Approach

  • Individual and specific landing pages for each location.
  • Utilize bulk uploads
  • Distribute business information via data aggregators
  • SEO each business page using local search best practices
  • Build and monitor reviews and citations.

 

multiple locations on a globe

  1. Proper Planning, Communication, and Information Sharing

It can be a challenge to market, promote and communicate with one client, let alone 38 clients that are spread across thousands of kilometers. Not to mention getting buy in from 40 (or more)  individuals to help contribute to consistent messaging and offers.

  • Be mindful of different budgets and the proper allocations. You need to be relevant to them and not get stuck in “while the Hamilton location did this).  Plus, be sensitive to confidential information between the locations.
  • Plan your time and efforts fairly but also start with initiatives that can positively impact the most locations.
  • Various stakeholders will have different backgrounds and levels of knowledge. Be consistent in your support but identify when you should avoid presenting too much information to digest.
  • It’s easy to get lost in something small that may be underperforming at that moment but step back and look at the bigger picture.
  • Be present.  Remember your audience.

 

  1. Utilize Tools and Resources – you can’t do it all yourself

Automation is a key tool.  There are some readily available tools to help manage multiple locations, use them to their full potential.

  • Email systems, the very same we use for our clients to communicate with their customers, are very helpful in sending mass emails to multiple contacts while still keeping it personalized.
  • Bulk uploading and top level accounts is the best organizational tool and strategy for managing listings and online pages.
  • Establish a collection system for testimonials and reviews whether that be a simple spreadsheet or a program that scans all online mentions such as a Vendasta or Chatmeter.
  • Finally, a well organized back end and custom website makes all the difference when updating, changing, and linking web pages.

 

Don’t Underestimate The Value Of Exceptional Customer Service

Of course applying all the best practices of providing exceptional customer service is critical and worth the refresher:

  • Cultivate relationships with influencers
  • Be responsive even if you cannot action a request that moment. Record it in your project management system or in a note to action later and relay that it is or will be in the system (today).
  • Make an effort to demonstrate that you truly value the relationship, their investment, and their business – because, you DO.

 

If you are a multi location business and would like to know more about our experience or how we could help you, please contact us for more information!