Multi-Location Marketing Challenges

The Most Common Multi-Location Marketing Challenges and How to Overcome Them

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Any business has its marketing challenges. From knowing which channels to focus on to implementing strategies and measuring results, there is a lot of moving pieces to focus on.

But what about when you take the marketing challenges one business location and multiply it by three, 20, 50, or more—sometimes across different cities or states? That’s a whole new set of marketing challenges. And a lot more moving pieces.

At Gannett, we’ve worked with a lot of multi-location businesses and have a pretty clear idea of some of the marketing challenges they face on a daily basis. And while every business is different and presents its own set of challenges, there are some that just can’t be avoided.

To make your life as a multi-channel marketer just a little bit easier, let’s talk about four of the most common multi-location marketing challenges—and how to overcome them.

1. Multi-location SEO

Local search engine optimization, or SEO, is challenging for most businesses. You’ve got changing algorithms, tons of competition, and evolving customer behavior to think about.

But for multi-location businesses, it’s even more complicated. You could be trying to rank for searches at both a national and a local level, within multiple cities, or for multiple business locations within the same city. And that’s on top of the regular challenges you might face when running an SEO strategy.

But local SEO is important if you want to drive traffic to your website and capture local searchers with high purchase intent. (In fact, 76% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a business within 24 hours.)

How to overcome this challenge:

Multi-location SEO is the answer. Multi-location SEO is SEO that you optimize around each of your business locations, which can include multiple locations within the same city, metropolitan area, or across the country.

Here are some tips for multi-location SEO.

  • Create location pages on your website. Each location page should contain a unique and location-specific URL, the location name and address, location contact information, location-specific metadata, and structured data. These location-specific pages can rank for local searches.
  • Use location-specific keywords. Your location pages should also incorporate location-specific keywords. These should be used intuitively throughout your content and align with keyword phrases customers would use to find your business.
  • Create and optimize local listings. Directory listings send important signals to search engines about your business’s locations. Make sure to create and optimize listings for each of your locations, especially on Google Business, Bing, and Yelp.

By implementing these local SEO best practices, you can increase the chances that your individual locations will rank for relevant queries in their areas.

2. Consistent branding across locations

Keeping your branding consistent across locations, especially in online marketing materials, is another big challenge for multi-location businesses. This is especially true for individually owned and operated franchises.

When there are so many locations, people to communicate with, and different branding requirements, it can be a lot to manage. You can’t be everywhere or do everything! If only it were that easy.

But brand consistency is extremely important. 71% of people say they’re more likely to buy from a business they recognize, and brand consistency can boost revenue by 23% on average.

How to overcome this challenge:

If you don’t already have a brand style guide, that’s one of the first steps that can help simplify this challenge. Your brand guidelines will include your business’:

  • Mission statement. This can help set the stage for why representing your brand in a cohesive way is so important—you don’t want to dilute this message.
  • Brand colors. These are the approved colors that represent your brand and can be used in marketing materials.
  • Company logo including different sizes and color options (thumbnail, banner size, black and white, etc.). This will (ideally) keep you from seeing stretched or compressed logos that don’t reflect your branding.
  • Fonts in bold, regular, and italics.
  • Brand voice to illustrate how your brand should sound, what types of phrases you should use, and the style you write in.
  • Boilerplate. This is a basic business description that can be added to press releases, social media posts, emails, and more.
  • Social media best practices. If your locations manage their own social media sites, you can include dos and don’ts that might help them stay on brand.

Once you’ve created your brand guidelines, you can share them with your franchise owners, location managers, and any partners you work with. This should help streamline the materials you’re seeing.

You might also consider educating your locations on the importance of brand consistency so they better understand why adhering to brand guidelines is so important. Each person within your business is focusing on their specific goals—so aligning them and communicating the importance of this shared goal can help reinforce the importance of building a cohesive brand.

3. Targeting nuances for different locations

Targeting the right audience across your various marketing channels is essential to reach your goals, increase brand awareness, and get new business. But for multi-location businesses, this can be quite complicated.

Your target audience likely varies a bit from location to location, and finding the sweet spot for each across different ad channels like Google Ads and Facebook Ads might feel like an impossible task.

But if you want your multi-location marketing strategy to be effective as a whole, this is one task you’ll need to master.

How to overcome this challenge:

Getting clear on your brand’s target audience and then breaking those down for each location can help you determine some key targeting criteria for your ad channels.

Here are some tips.

  • Find out what your audiences have in common. There are likely commonalities for your customers at a brand level. Identify these and set them as the basis for your targeting. For example, you may know that your customers are primarily millennials, which can help you set age ranges for your targeting while narrowing down the ad channels you need to be present on.
  • Survey your customers across locations. To identify more specific traits of your customers across locations, try a customer survey to collect data. You can then use your findings to further tweak your campaigns.
  • Talk to your boots on the ground. The people who work with your customers can provide valuable information that can help you further drill down into your customers.
  • Use lookalike audiences when available. Channels like Facebook allow you to use lookalike audiences for targeting, which can help you target an audience with attributes similar to your current customers. This can increase your chances for success on these channels.

By establishing a baseline for your audience, you can set up targeting that gets pretty close to who you want to reach. Then, using data, you can drill down even further to optimize your ads by location for even more effective multi-location marketing.

4. Measuring success across all marketing activities

When you’re running marketing and advertising campaigns across multiple channels for multiple locations, it can be difficult to aggregate your data to identify meaningful trends or outcomes.

But measuring and analyzing your marketing results can hugely impact your planning, budgeting, and more.

How to overcome this challenge:

There are a few different steps you can take to make measuring and analyzing success a little simpler.

  • Run marketing centrally. It can be near-impossible to track your marketing if each location is running campaigns on its own. If possible, run marketing for your locations centrally or at least through a shared account so you can easily get access to reporting and have a clear view of what marketing is running.
  • Get clear on what success looks. Each marketing channel provides its own report, but not every metric on that report really impacts the bottom line or contributes to your overall goals. When you identify what success looks like—both at a channel-specific level and an overarching level—you can better understand which metrics actually matter in your marketing reports.
  • Use a single dashboard for reports. If possible, use a tool that allows you to see an aggregate of all your marketing activities and how they’re contributing to what you care most about: leads. A tool that allows you to drill down to a location-specific and channel-specific level is even better. This allows you to see the full picture as well as where tweaks may need to be made to channels, budgets, or campaigns.

Getting access to the right data and seeing a clear view of how it’s contributing to your most important marketing goals can make or break the success of your strategy.

Start overcoming multi-location marketing challenges

Marketing a multi-location business is challenging. But with the right tools, tactics, and team, you can simplify even the biggest marketing challenges and move the needle for your brand. Try these tips to find the strategy that works best for your unique marketing challenges.

Stephanie Heitman is the senior managing editor of B2B marketing at Gannett.

Stephanie Heitman is the Associate Director of Content for LocaliQ, a growth marketing platform that helps businesses find, convert, and keep more customers. Find her work—along with the latest marketing insights, tips, and tricks—on the LocaliQ blog or the WordStream blog.