At first glance, marketing a multi-location business seems similar to marketing a single-location business.
After all, the goals are the same—building awareness, sparking action, increasing sales—so the approaches should also be the same, right?
Though there’s plenty of overlap in tactics, there’s also something decidedly different about multi-location and franchise marketing. Success requires being aware of the particular pitfalls these types of businesses face.
Multi-location firms often make these seven marketing mistakes, which should be avoided at any cost:
1. You’re not localizing your web offerings.
If you have multiple stores or offices offering the same products and/or services, you might think it makes sense to lump everything together online and add a single page that lists all of your locations.
The problem is that search engines and other online platforms don’t get it. They want to serve consumers information for specific locations, as well as for the overarching business.
That’s why developing localized web offerings is so important. This doesn’t mean you have to create a separate site for every location—that can be a step too far—but it does mean that each one should have its own page, which includes things like the phone number, address, images, offers and reviews.
2. Your branding isn’t consistent.
Here’s where things start to get tricky: while you want each of your locations to have its own presence, it’s also imperative that your branding is consistent.
This matters for two reasons. First, you want to ensure that your brand value is carried across locations. If consumers have good experiences in one place, you also want them to see your name, logo, etc. in another place and clearly make the connection.
Second, online platforms such as search engines and review sites are very picky about linking locations with each other. If even a small thing is off—say calling one location “XYZ, Inc.” and another “The XYZ, Inc.”—valuable associations can be lost.
3. You haven’t set up “Google My Business” and “Facebook Locations” correctly.
Since search and social are now the key channels that consumers use to find and research local businesses, if your locations aren’t properly linked together on the back end systems powering these platforms, then you’ll be at a major disadvantage.
It’s crucial that both Facebook and Google are aware of which master account controls your various locations and who has access to manage various offerings. This will unlock a range of powerful options, from publishing content on multiple pages, to targeting online ads more effectively.
4. You’re not actively monitoring and managing all your pages on review sites.
Keeping track of what’s happening on review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor for one location is stressful enough. Doing the same for multiple locations can feel completely overwhelming.
Nevertheless, it’s important to consistently monitor and manage all of your pages across all the different online platforms.
Timing really, really matters. If someone provides incorrect details about one of your locations or leaves a bad review, the damage can be significant to your entire business. The only way to deal with the issues is to be actively engaging so that you’re immediately aware and can respond quickly.
5. You’re not segmenting your audiences properly.
One of the paradoxes of multi-location firms is that the bigger your business gets, the more important it becomes to segment your audiences into smaller and smaller groups.
This is because consumers respond to relevancy. In the beginning it might be OK to send the same email to all of your subscribers, but that approach will increasingly fall flat as you expand into more areas.
For multi-location businesses, the first layer of targeting is typically geography, since you want to deliver messaging and offers only to the local audiences to which they apple. However, you shouldn’t stop there. The more you segment—by behavior, demographics, etc.—the more likely it is that your marketing campaigns will resonate.
6. You’re not geofencing your online ads.
For multi-location businesses, online advertising is all about efficiency. You want to ensure that your campaigns are reaching the right local audiences and not overlapping with each other.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is with geofencing. Online ad platforms such as Google and Facebook allow marketers to establish clear geographic areas—ranging from a town, to a zip code or a hand-drawn boundary—and deliver specific units only within these.
This is extraordinarily powerful for multi-location businesses. It means that the same overarching campaign can be slightly tailored to specific local audiences and then served based on geography—even if the consumers are on the move with their mobile devices.
7. You’re not examining analytics for each location.
It’s impossible to tell how your campaigns are performing without diving deep into the analytics.
As with other approaches, this can feel especially daunting for multi-location businesses. By their very nature, these campaigns are more complex—more offices/stores, more audiences—so it can be tempting to simply look at only top-level results.
Avoid that temptation.
Multi-location marketing campaigns yield more data and therefore more potential takeaways. With proper analysis, you can discover if a tactic tried by one location was surprisingly effective or if the wording on a particular geo-targeted ad sparked unexpectedly high conversions.
These valuable insights can then be put to use across the board.
Ultimately, this highlights an important fact to remember: Though multi-location businesses pose unique challenges, they also deliver unique rewards for savvy marketers.
Michael Del Gigante is the founder of MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with a leading reputation for developing effective branding strategies. A version of this article originally appeared on the MDG blog.