It can be extremely effective for franchisors to centrally manage advertising campaigns on behalf of franchisees — particularly for brand campaigns, and large ad buys that benefit from pooled advertising dollars.
But paid search (PPC) campaigns are a different animal. They don’t rely on pooled advertising dollars for economies of scale. And done well, hands-on local campaign management can be more effective at engaging and attracting a local audience.
Paid search campaigns on Google AdWords or Bing Ads are capable of immediately engaging a highly local audience. Done right, they may perform better in the hands of a skilled local franchisee. Equipped with training and the power to launch their own ads and promotions, locally managed PPC ads may outperform large campaigns that are centrally managed by franchisors or agencies.
Below, we play out the pros and cons of a franchisor centrally managing PPC campaigns, versus handing campaign management over to local franchisees.
We’ll begin by playing out all the ways a business and individual franchisees can benefit from franchisee-managed paid search campaigns.
1. Letting franchisees do what they know works
Franchisees live and breathe their local businesses and communities. They know what works, and what sells. By contrast, centralized franchisors can easily be unaware of regional and even highly local preferences and sensitivities.
By letting the franchisee manage his or her own PPC campaign, he or she can adjust promotional messaging, timing and products to suit their highly local market. Because they are aware of local competitors, cultures and demographics, they are ideally situated to develop campaigns that truly engage their customers.
2. Letting franchisees decide how and when to spend their marketing funds
Because PPC is an advertising channel that delivers immediate, trackable results, franchisees gain a lot of control when they locally manage their campaigns. They are empowered to decide how, when, and where to run a campaign in order to maximize its profitability for their local business.
3. PPC ad buys do not bring economy of scale
When compared to traditional big media buys such as TV or radio, PPC campaigns are very granular; you simply pay for the traffic that you get. In other words, the franchisor doesn’t save money based on the volume and variety of search ads purchased. This means a franchisor can’t take advantage of economies of scale that can be negotiated with other types of advertising, such print ads or large agency ad buys.
Paid search campaigns may not offer the same large scale discounts that other centrally managed marketing campaigns may allow. But they do enable you to optimize a campaign so you get more value for each dollar spent. This makes PPC a good option for franchisees, who can see in real time the tangible benefit of their ad spend and effort, then optimize accordingly. The benefit is not in a campaign’s broad reach, but in its granular, local impact.
4. Franchisees learn more about how to market their businesses
Training is fundamental to handing over the PPC reigns to your franchisees. Just like any advertising or marketing tool (and maybe even more so), managing a paid search campaign requires skills, and practice. But once that knowledge is shared, franchisees will have a very valuable skill set at their disposal.
We therefore recommend that franchisors who intend to let franchisees manage their own PPC campaigns make sure they provide paid search training to their franchisees. Without this, there is a very high risk that local PPC campaigns will either be ignored, or mismanaged. On the flipside, a well trained paid search manager can give a franchisee PPC campaign the love and attention it needs to thrive.
5. Franchisees can are empowered to promote their own deals and products
The risk in top-down campaign management, particularly when you are driving to highly local businesses: the franchisor doesn’t have the granular knowledge to know what’s happening on the ground. This makes it difficult for national or regional campaigns to sync with what’s happening at the franchise level.
By giving local franchisees control over their PPC campaigns, they can develop and launch campaigns and promotions that are relevant to what’s happening locally, in their businesses and communities. It also enables franchisees to launch campaigns and promote products or services based on their own sales cycles and local events. This results in consistency between what is being promoted, and what is actually happening at each franchise.
6. Campaigns can be granular and highly targeted
A large, centrally managed PPC campaign will inevitably be generic — it’s impossible to give each individual, local franchise the hands-on love that it may need. While this may not undermine the overall quality of the campaign, it does take away from the local flavour and hands-on care that a well-managed local campaign can receive. A franchisee who is advertising his or her business, hands on, will have the knowledge and care to adjust and target a paid search campaign based on day-to-day experience and knowledge about a franchise.
There are two sides to every story. Read on for some reasons why it makes good business sense to centrally manage local franchise PPC advertising campaigns.
1. Brand consistency
We’ve all come across advertising or marketing creative done by a franchisee gone rogue, with sometime embarrassing results. While franchisees are required to adhere to brand standards, sometimes it’s difficult for someone without high level experience with brand marketing to understand or follow these standards.
Perhaps the most compelling argument for centrally managing franchisee PPC campaigns is the necessity of maintaining brand consistency across different franchises, regions and campaigns. Rather than communicating new campaign messages to franchisees and hoping they are correctly implemented, a franchisor can can simply roll out a campaign across multiple platforms, including PPC without having to check that individual franchisees are following brand and messaging guidelines.
2. Duplicating learnings across franchises
Managing multiple CPC campaigns as a centralized franchisor enables two kinds of efficiencies: less effort per campaign, and more global awareness of which tactics are generating results. Because a franchisor is running several PPC campaigns simultaneously, he or she can develop and optimize keyword lists and ad creative in bulk.
A centralized campaign gives managers access to a larger data set, enabling optimization across multiple campaigns. Knowing what works globally duplicates a campaign manager’s learnings, enabling him or her to test and replicate across all accounts, rather than relying on an individual franchisee to learn, test and optimize based on a limited, local data set.
3. PPC requires skills, and a time commitment franchisees may not have
Centralized PPC campaign management can truly sing when it is being managed by a seasoned professional. Franchisees have diverse skill sets; some may be familiar with digital marketing, while others could be completely unfamiliar with how it works. What’s more, PPC requires consistent time and effort. Many franchisees may not have the time or bandwidth to manage paid search campaigns.
Without specialized training for franchisees, it will be more effective for centralized franchisors to manage a brand’s PPC campaign. By leveraging an agency or an in-house professional, franchisors can rest assured that all franchises and markets are being consistently represented in the paid search results.
4. Centralized campaign tracking and measurement
Centrally managed paid search campaigns offer a bird’s-eye view of how promotions, strategies and tactics are performing, both collectively and locally. This enables an agency or franchisor to shift tactics and allocate funds across multiple campaigns, based on aggregated data.
Not only can a centralized view of campaign metrics deliver useful information, it also enables campaign managers to quickly react and optimize across multiple regional or local paid search campaigns. By contrast, franchisees may not have access to global campaign data. This may result in delays or misunderstandings when a franchisor asks a franchisee to adjust a campaign based on national or regional data and trends.
It’s about empowering your franchisees
We know franchise marketers are busy. With training, your franchisees may be able to lighten your load by effectively managing their own PPC campaigns. Done well, a locally managed paid search campaign can empower franchisees and drive better results. Done poorly, local PPC can be costly, neglected and mismanaged.
There are benefits and drawbacks to both. Your decision may hinge on the current digital literacy of your franchisees: are they already actively using digital marketing tools and tactics, or will many of them be starting from a very basic level? Begin with a basic assessment of franchisees’ interest in, and capabilities with digital tools. This will inform your decision.