Keeping your franchise website attractive to quality leads can take a lot of work from week to week—work that’s rarely a walk in the park.
Updating your franchise blog, compiling, designing and publishing newsletters, and promoting community involvement through social media channels—let alone creating and managing ad campaigns, optimizing your site for SEO, refreshing the design, and doing everything else a modern digital marketing strategy demands—can be a full-time job.
But sometimes hiring a full-time position to tackle all this just doesn’t fit into the budget, prompting franchisors to choose whether they should add new tasks to an existing staff member's plate or outsource them.
Whatever your situation, consider this a buyer's guide that helps you weigh the advantages of each approach to find the best fit for your franchise.
Disclaimer: We are an inbound marketing agency that offers franchise lead generation services, so naturally we'd love to help you reach your goals. At the same time, we’ve found that our best clients are businesses that actively need the specific services we provide, so we’ll strive to provide helpful information you can use, whether or not you decide to work with us.
The bottom line: what's important to you?
Before choosing to outsource, hire a new employee, or add work to a coworker's plate (or perhaps your own) it's helpful to step back and look at the big picture.
- What are your marketing goals?
- What is the nature of the problems you need to solve?
- What do you value most in a solution?
- What is your budget?
- What resources will solutions require?
- What resources do you already have?
All these things will help determine which solution is best for your franchise.
Benefits of doing inbound franchise marketing in-house
For some franchises, planning and executing inbound campaigns effectively in-house makes sense. Here are some advantages to that approach.
Quick communication between team members
Nothing beats being able to walk over to a colleague's desk when you need something or shoot them a message rather than scheduling a meeting or sending a follow-up email and waiting.
Sole responsibility for your successes and failures
Both an advantage and a disadvantage, in-house marketers do not have to rely on an external teams to hold up their end of the bargain.
The ability to hand pick team members
With an in-house team, your members are a known quantity, and you have control over who works on your project, which isn't always the case when working with an outsourced provider.
The ability to connect closely with other parts of the company
If your campaigns rely on the involvement of other departments, it may be easier for in-house team members to get ahold of people within the same organization.
First-hand access to specialized knowledge
Someone within an in-house marketing department is constantly immersed in the world of their company and its products and services. Often, this person even has a background in the company's industry. This sort of specialized knowledge is a real boon, especially when it comes to creating content.
May be more practical for filling specialized niches
If you have the need for a specific skillset in the long term, like graphic design, it might make more sense to simply hire an on-staff designer rather than hiring a team of different specialists.
Advantages of outsourcing inbound content marketing and lead generation
For other franchises, outsourcing makes more financial sense, and offers other advantages.
Lower monthly retainer fees compared to payroll expenses and onboarding
Choosing between increasing payroll expenses and throwing work onto your current staff is a decision you don’t have to make. Outsourcing can offer a cheaper retainer fee with no strings attached.
After adding up salary, vacation time, benefits, and training, the cost of adding a new position can be enough to convince company heads to just say, “skip it” altogether.
Outsourcing the work avoids all of these expenses and gives franchises access to trained writers who only need time to get acquainted with your brand and audience—a process most agencies have refined.
This also means you don’t have to start from scratch with newly trained employees or staff members who are doing this for the first time. Outsourced professionals start providing quality content you can be confident in immediately.
Splitting up inbound duties among your staff is a huge organizational task. Creating effective content for lead generation alone can be daunting for someone new to the game.
Agencies establish carefully planned editorial calendars filled with a variety of content ideas. These are planned, written, optimized, and published in the same time it can take an inexperienced writer to think up a list of topics that may or may not appeal to visitors.
Handing this work off to those who do it every day gives you higher quality content while allowing your team to focus their effort on primary roles in the company.
Easier to scale marketing efforts
By the same token, in-house teams often have limited bandwidth due to staffing limitations, divided attention, and burnout.
When your company's growth demands that you scale up your marketing efforts, agencies tend to be better set up to distribute tasks across team members and manage multiple diverse projects at once.
Shared responsibility for your successes and failures
A reliable external team can help keep a project on track when busy in-house marketers are overwhelmed.
If you’re worried about accountability issues, it’s important to realize that each inbound action is built with measurement in mind—a benefit both for the agency and client when it comes time to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.
Flexibility and a fresh angle on marketing ideas
Whether it’s a “this-is-how-we-do-things-around-here” mentality that permeates the company culture, or teams don’t have the time to stay ahead of the curve, getting stuck in a one-track mindset with fixed campaigns and rigid procedures is a recipe for failure in this quickly evolving industry.
Unlike an in-house team, agencies focus squarely on inbound day in and day out.
While most of the time is spent planning, creating, and publishing the content that resonates with your target buyer, a skilled agency also takes the time to see where inbound is headed next to make sure clients aren’t merely following trends—they're ahead of them.
Built-in access to professional tools and equipment
There are some excellent free digital marketing tools out there (like Google Analytics), but sooner or later you'll wish you had access to particular high powered, specialized tools to execute your strategy effectively and efficiently.
We often see companies working with several different systems to manage their inbound marketing strategy. While this is definitely the route that saves the most dollars, it is worth considering the time and headache that can often be spent trying to make sense of disparate systems.
Access to powerful professional tools (and how to use them) is baked into agency fees. Plus, you don't have to purchase any new hardware and supplies or allocate space for new staff.
Plus, if you want to consolidate some of these tools by investing in an all-in-one system like HubSpot, going through a certified partner agency may be able to help you get a good deal and more hands-on support.
Access to multiple specialists
What skills do you need to execute an inbound marketing strategy? Here are some of the most common:
- Project management
- Website development
- SEO experience
- Graphic design
- Video editing
- Analytics knowledge
Many, if not most, inbound marketers have at least a little skill in more than one of these areas, but it's very rare for a single person to be excellent at all of them.
That's why hiring an agency with specialists in all or most of these areas can provide the best value if you don't already have team members with these skills.
How to Get Your Franchise Team on Board with Inbound Marketing
So if you do choose to outsource, how do you get the rest of your franchise team—especially the C-suite—on board with outsourced inbound marketing?
Show the benefits of relationship building
Selling franchises isn’t easy—it’s a big investment for just about every buyer and the decision to pull the trigger on a new location almost always comes only after extensive research and deliberation.
Getting leads stuck in your sales funnel can spell disaster when your opportunity is just one of many the buyer is considering. When no attempt to open a dialog is made, it can be difficult to “unstick” these hesitant leads, and they often disappear.
If lost opportunities are plaguing your lead generation efforts, it’s crucial to communicate the point that inbound is all about starting a conversation by providing valuable resources to those who come looking for answers.
Show your team how the inbound franchise marketing methodology actually works with images and descriptions of all the moving parts.
Hit home the fact that instead of chasing around bogus leads, inbound lets you worry less about grabbing people’s attention by putting the focus on attracting serious franchise buyers and taking the time to guide them through the buyer's journey.
Smarter franchise brand building
The traditional idea of branding still runs strong in the minds of many executives who want to make their brand as strong as possible in the eyes of franchisees and their customers.
Content marketing—the core of inbound—attaches something extremely important to your brand that isn’t there when your website is little more than a flashy brochure: credibility.
One of the biggest problems with franchise websites today is a lack of any content that isn’t obviously written to sell, promote, and advertise the opportunity.
Talking about yourself gets old, and to put it bluntly, most serious buyers see through it immediately. Franchise prospects are coming to your site with questions that selling points simply don’t answer.
Inbound focuses on promoting your opportunity by establishing your franchise as a resource that helps them learn about the industry. For example, you can share what kind of owner typically finds success and what life is like as a member of the franchise.
If you’re pitching inbound around the office, remember to keep the bottom-line benefits front-and-center. For your executive team especially, methods are secondary to results.