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Four Features Franchisors and Franchisees Need in an Online Marketing Portal

Media automation platforms offer the promise of saving time, cutting costs and providing convenience.

In today’s cost-conscious and value-oriented economy, consumers are more focused on deals than ever before. While they’re certainly loyal to your brand and your products, you know that the key to getting them in the door − and keeping them coming back − is targeted, demographic-specific local advertising.
As a franchisor, you’re understandably concerned with protecting the integrity of your brand, and ensuring that any promotions offered by your franchisees are appropriate, relevant and consistent with the image, messaging and marketing strategy you’ve carefully cultivated.

And as a franchisee, who on any given day may be juggling construction, staffing, customer service, inventory, IT, product and accounting issues − just to name a few − your marketing focus is most likely on getting the word out as quickly and effectively as possible to the people you want coming through your doors or requesting your services.

That’s where a marketing portal − or media-automation platform comes in − no matter how big or small you are, or whether you’re a traditional brick-and-mortar business or one that is exclusively service-oriented. Media-automation platforms are the newest and sexiest solutions in today’s dynamic franchise arena. They offer the promise of saving time, cutting costs and providing complete convenience. But as you’ll see when you begin evaluating what’s out there in the marketplace, all platforms are not created equal.

Before you even look at what they offer, the first “must” on your list is that the media-automation platform should not charge you to use its system. While there will be costs associated with purchasing media to distribute your promotions, there should be no fee for choosing your tactics, selecting the ZIP codes that you’d like to reach or designing your creative materials.

Here are four key features that you should look for to realize the cost, time and convenience benefits that your business deserves.

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Multi-Media Tactic Selection

It probably comes as no surprise that most media-automation platforms are designed around the specific tactic offered by the company providing the portal. For example, a social media company might provide a portal that streamlines Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media outreach. Or a door hanger company might make available a portal that enables you to design and purchase their products. What none of these tactic-specific portals offer, however, is a one-stop destination where you can browse and select all of the advertising vehicles that you’d like to utilize to publicize your business.

Imagine one portal that gives franchisees the option of designing door hangers, newspaper ads, direct mail, free-standing inserts, billboards, brochures, letterhead, business cards and more all in one place.
Imagine the savings in time and staff resources, not to mention the sheer convenience, of only logging into and utilizing one portal. And from a bottom-line perspective, imagine the savings you can realize by taking advantage of the frequency or volume discounts inherent in such consolidated buying power, as opposed to buying little pieces of your local media plan from multiple vendors.

The best media plans are those that leverage multiple channels. Find a media-automation platform that is robust and flexible enough to accommodate not only one or two media tactics, but as many as you need to get the word out about your business.

Creative Customization

From both a franchisor and franchisee perspective, the creative component is an essential aspect of your plan. The media-automation platform that you select should provide the ability to design pieces easily and efficiently, while adhering to franchisor advertising guidelines and requirements. Franchisors should be able to load pre-approved templates and promotions into the portal, again, at no cost, giving franchisees a literal menu of offerings from which to “click and pick.” Franchisees then “drag and drop” the promotion(s) that they’d like to extend to their customers into the template, and with just a few simple clicks, are ready to implement their marketing plan. Franchisors looking for even more control over, and comfort in, the creative process can also opt to proof the franchisees’ creative material through the portal prior to submission.

As critical as ease of design is, equally important is the ability to do so across multiple marketing channels. A true one-stop media-automation platform allows end-users to create door hangers, free-standing inserts, newspaper ads, solo mail pieces and more from one intuitive, user-friendly portal. This makes it a “no-brainer” for a franchisee or the person in charge of their marketing to execute a media plan.

Tactic Distribution and Budget Determination

Depending on the media tactic selected, there are endless possibilities and requirements associated with the respective vendors. For example, newspapers may mandate different minimum quantities on different days of the week, as well as different zones or even full-run stipulations. With door hanger vendors, deliverable versus non-deliverable areas come into play, whereas carrier route data and post office boxes are important for every-door direct mail.

Not only is this confusing, but it can get even trickier if a media-automation platform isn’t equipped to handle a project from start to finish. Our LMap evaluates vendors’ minimum requirements and the franchisee’s budget, determines the scope of advertising tactic design and distribution, and provides analytics that indicate the number of pieces redeemed and which offers appealed most to individual demographic sectors. This enables franchisees to determine the return on investment on each marketing effort, and to tweak their messaging for future consumer promotions.

Choose a one-stop marketing portal that specializes in multiple channels and is equipped to guide your franchisees through the entire marketing campaign. This expertise will save you time, money and headaches, both in the short term, as well as over the long haul.

Check-Out and Execution

The final step in utilizing a media-automation platform is check-out and execution. Franchisees should be able to pay for the media outlets selected immediately using a credit card, and have peace of mind knowing that the distribution of the advertising tactics they designed and funded will be executed for them seamlessly and without further attention on their part.

William Rodriguez is president and founder of Silvercrest Advertising, a Los Angeles-based media planning/buying firm that leverages national marketing technology on a local level.

William Rodriguez is president and founder of Silvercrest Advertising, a Los Angeles-based media planning/buying firm that leverages national marketing technology on a local level.

Thanks to their one-stop convenience and inherent cost and time efficiencies, full-service media-automation platforms are not only here to stay, but are expected to flourish as awareness increases about their end-user benefits and technological advances continue to be incorporated into their portals.
The platforms that lead the franchise industry currently are those that offer a variety of complementary multi-media tactics and franchisor-controlled/franchisee-customized creative. These platforms additionally have the ability to determine and revise marketing budgets based on quantities and media selected, and to provide the comfort of knowing that the media plan selected and funded is exactly the one that will be executed.

William Rodriguez is president and founder of Silvercrest Advertising, a Los Angeles-based media planning/buying firm that leverages national marketing technology on a local level. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org/ via the directory.

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