Today we talk about:
Aaron: [00:00:15] Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Marketing Natives. Today's topic is why a fitness franchise should take marketing into their own hands. A few things we're going to cover are why you should let the franchisor handle some of the marketing but not all of it, websites and landing pages and how that's applicable for your local business, and how to allocate your money effectively while joining directly with your franchisor.
Christian: [00:00:40] Yep, and as a fitness franchise, you probably bought into a larger brand name. Something like Orangetheory or what are some other ones?
Aaron: [00:00:51] Well, McDonald's is a franchise.
Christian: [00:00:52] No, but we're talking about fitness franchises.
Aaron: [00:00:56] Wow. There's like F45. There's HEW's which is Hard Exercise Works. There's My House Fitness which we have locally here too.
Christian: [00:01:06] Yeah. So you buy into these larger brand names in exchange for really great brand recognition. Usually a higher ROI than doing it on your own, but you have to basically adhere to stringent branding standards and marketing efforts from corporate or your franchisors. And I was reading here a little bit, and it says more than half of franchises feel dissatisfied with the marketing support they receive from corporate.
Aaron: [00:01:34] And I can see that from- I think this is one of the reasons we did the episode. I can see that because a lot of times they're in a different location. For example, you know, some company may start in Florida and then sell franchises one, all over the world but at least all of the country, and people in Florida, they think differently than people in California or even people in New York. So there's a disconnection between the franchisor when they're selling the product versus the person, the franchisee, when they purchase it.
Christian: [00:02:02] Right. So it's good for corporate to do some of that marketing but not all of it.
Aaron: [00:02:07] Right. Like I mean, you're a graphic designer over here, Christian, but so like the brand guidelines. Corporate does a pretty good job of keeping the brand guidelines of when they should use a logo, what colors they should use. That's a great way to use the marketing, but let's- I guess we can dive deeper into why they should not use them for all of the marketing.
Christian: [00:02:29] I feel like we've seen some of these news stories where some kind of local event happens. It doesn't have to be something like what happened in Las Vegas, but maybe some kind of tragedy that happened in your hometown. Your whole town is basically talking about it on social media, and here's corporate who's located in a completely different state putting out advertisements about something that could be something related to that tragedy. But they don't even know that because the news hasn't gotten to them yet. You as a business owner, I mean, you have firsthand experience, and you're looking at your timeline. You know, you're looking at all these local people talking about this, and here you are posting and blasting about specials or different things when you should not be doing that.
Aaron: [00:03:16] Right. And I think it also loses- and we don't look at this as like an opportunity, but you know, if there is a tragedy or if there is something that happens locally. It could even be a good thing like, you know, your local team wins a national championship, and everybody's posts are about, like, for football, I guess. Well, it's football season now, but they win the national championship. And like Christian said, you're over there posting about this new offer that you have instead of a picture of you guys like congratulating the football team like everyone else. It's just about the selling. So there's just a big disconnect with that.
Christian: [00:03:48] Yeah. And we're not saying that this happens 100 percent of the time. There might be some fitness companies out there who may have local offices, you know, in your state. I feel like that's more rare, but a lot of times this happens, and not just with fitness franchises but with others.
Aaron: [00:04:07] I was going to say with franchises in general, but I would say that that happens less frequently. After working with quite a few franchise, that's- pretty much the only gyms that we've worked with in the past has been from franchise, and there has been a huge disconnect with what's been posting and what isn't been posting. One thing that I would suggest I guess if you can't get around this if they do a lot of your marketing is- an idea I just had is I know of somebody who's not in a franchise. They have, like, corporate push posts to their, like, Facebook page, and you have to approve them locally. So that's one way to get around it. Not all the time is that effective, but if you just to prove everything, it requires you more time to review and it may be a little cumbersome, but it at least allows you to choose what goes out there and what doesn't go out.
Christian: [00:04:56] Yeah. And yeah, you can sort of pick and choose and then still do your own marketing on the side. Another big thing about marketing is websites and landing pages, and we see this a lot where corporate creates a cookie cutter website and that's it. You know, what you get is what you get. If you want to add new features to your website or visually you want to change a little bit just to stand out from the crowd and from other franchises, you really can't do that.
Aaron: [00:05:29] Right. You can't add- like say you have an employee of the month or you have a trainer of the month rather, you can't add them onto the website that easily. We're going to go a little bit deeper into why it's important to have your own landing page and website. Just kind of on a local level, it just feels like there's a disconnect with- Say, for example, another gym that has their own website, they can do whatever they'd like. They can talk about local events. The corporate one is going to be really slow to make those changes, and you never get that data. There could be thousands of people going to your individual like landing page, I guess you would say, on the franchise website, but you would never know that because corporate is not going to share that data with you. Or at least the franchises we know of are not sharing that data.
Christian: [00:06:17] Now can they ask for that data and they get it? Or is there a process to even get that?
Aaron: [00:06:22] So there's only one franchise, and it wasn't a fitness franchise that we've worked with that gave that data. I will say that it took four weeks for us to create a pixel, which is a tracking code or a cookie that Facebook puts out to put onto this individual page. It wasn't an individual landing page, but it was part of their website that they put that code on there. It took back and forth of us creating the code, them approving it, double-checking it, triple-checking it, talking to the franchisor, talking to us, and that took four weeks to happen. In that time period, for example, this was a seasonality thing, or say, for example, you're franchise or a fitness company that's about to run like a presale or a launch, four weeks is now gone, and you can't collect any of that data. Even if you were to contact them beforehand, that still is going to be the process. I'm not going to say it's always going to take four weeks, but it does- there's a lot of checks and balances that have to happen so you can't move as quickly when you have to go through that many people.
Christian: [00:07:25] Right. And just to put into perspective, how long does it take to install a pixel?
Aaron: [00:07:30] If you know what you're doing, I can do it probably in about five minutes.
Christian: [00:07:34] Wow. Four weeks. Five minutes. That's insane. And then also the other thing is landing pages. Landing pages is a huge part of a marketing strategy nowadays where you want your ads to take people to landing pages, and from landing pages you have a higher conversion rate for people to sign up or get a coupon or any of that stuff. And landing page is another hurdle because again you have to go through corporate, and they have to approve basically everything.
Aaron: [00:08:04] The design, the verbiage, the way that, you know, if you have something creative made like a video, or even a different image has to be approved by a corporate for that landing page. We're not saying that it doesn't have to be approved otherwise, but if you're able to create that on your own instead of having corporate create it, which I'm guessing a landing page would take a much longer time period than, you know, if you did it on your own or hired a local agency or, you know, if you had somebody in-house that could do it, but just the speed of getting that done. Like for example, you know, you could have a $99 special or you could have a one week free special. You have to have two different landing pages for that, and to create those, I mean, you're always just behind the eight ball and timing is so important for deals like this.
Christian: [00:08:57] Yep.
Aaron: [00:08:57] All right. So the last thing we have here is that dollars to be allocated effectively. So it may be an option for your franchise to always sponsor this pop up event with, you know, a tent and whatever else, and you go to this local park. But your clientele isn't there. For example, you know, you get a bunch of parents who are there, but they're not in your demographic or maybe they can't afford service or they just already have another gym. Doesn't matter. But then you find out that there's a golf tournament. It's local, and you don't have enough money to spend on that golf tournament because corporate's kind of push you to do these events at a park. I'm pulling these from actually specific examples, but I'm just saying that- just giving an example that's like you on the local level, you have boots on the ground. You basically know or you have a better idea of where your target market is going to be instead of this is what the mold looks like for corporate somewhere else.
Christian: [00:09:57] Right. I think when I was working at Pizza Hut, we would see that sort of clash in, you know, the things that corporate would do nationally and how it would affect us locally. Because local Pizza Huts could, you know, run their own advertising and their own coupons and stuff. And sometimes, you know, corporate would put out something like the $10 deal for the pizza deal, and then we had some deal that was sort of similar but maybe a dollar more. And it completely didn't make sense because, you know, they're running those ads nationally on TV. People see that. So there was always a clash between, you know, what corporate was doing and what we were trying to do locally.
Aaron: [00:10:39] Right, and you were trying to fit more into the mold of- I mean, you were trying to make money too, but just fit in the mold of like seeing if something else works. Now corporate did something nationally, put it out there, and you don't even know what you were going to put out there is going to work for your audience now because you have no testing. So it just also can cost a lot of money because it's not like corporate says hey, we're going to do this for you. It's usually this is what you need to do, and we're going to get and push you to do the money or like push the money to go to that side. I would also say that most the owners of a franchise, and you know, if you're a franchise owner you could tell us, marketing is not their expertise. They have an expertise in something else. So you know, they're going to listen to corporate. I see us a lot where they listen to corporate for about six months, and then they're like wow, this is not working at all. So then they kind of jump ship, and they've lost six months. So hopefully we're getting to you guys before you have started the franchise.
Christian: [00:11:35] Yeah. Now so you're saying like a lot of fitness franchisees, they have the option to either choose corporate marketing or their own?
Aaron: [00:11:44] Right. So I know, for example, there's a My House Fitness locally here that they could choose to do corporate. Corporate really pushes them to use their own companies, and they usually find somebody local here to do it. But it's usually a deal that they've worked out so it's not really in the best interest of either parties. So this local company that the franchisor hires, their goal is to work with all of the example- like all the My House Fitnesses in the area. So they're not really focused on one of them to make sure that this particular one gets better or not. So they really push them to work with those, but if they push hard enough, they can actually go and work with a company that they choose. Which I would say is the best option because you're going to be working with this person, talking with these companies, and you want to make sure you have a good relationship with them. Not just that they create good content, but that you have a good relationship with them and can talk to them if you don't have somebody in-house.
Christian: [00:12:44] Yep.
Aaron: [00:12:44] All right. So that's all we have for you guys for franchises. We may jump into other franchise episodes in the future, but truly appreciate you guys listening and checking this episode out. If you have a friend who's about to start a franchise, specifically for fitness, that'd be great, but this, I think, is some good marketing advice for anybody who's about to open a franchise in general. And if you guys do us a huge favor, click that subscribe button, and then the most important is don't harbor this information. Make sure you share this with a friend. Go ahead and click those three buttons in the right hand corner of your app, and then share this with a friend. You can post it on Facebook or Instagram, or you can even do it on Twitter. But just share this episode, and we will talk to you guys next week.
Christian: [00:13:34] See you.