How Local Content Marketing Helps Franchises Succeed

To understand the importance of local content marketing, let’s take a pop quiz.

Homeowner A needs a new roof on his house.  So does Homeowner B.

You, being the business owner that wants to sell each of them a new roof, can broadcast your company’s well-researched, broad-based marketing campaign at both of them, and hopefully land both sales.

Right?

Not really.

Because Homeowner A lives in Pasadena, California and Homeowner B lives in Newark, New Jersey. Homeowner A needs to make sure his shingles won’t melt and he’ll still have room for solar panels. Homeowner B just wants to know his roof won’t collapse under two feet of snow come January.

Since your well-researched, broad-based marketing campaign focuses on your lifetime warranty, proven craftsmanship, and decades of professional service as a company, you might miss out on BOTH sales.

See, as meaningful as your umbrella message is, it doesn’t mean something specific to the unique local needs of Homeowner A or Homeowner B.

So how does a franchisee – or a franchisor – avoid this pitfall?

For Multi-location Businesses Serving A Wide Geography, Your Company’s Message May Not Be Enough

So what can multi-location businesses do to secure those sales in both Pasadena and Newark? The onus is on both the franchisee and the franchisor to deploy local content marketing strategies that serve individual locations equally well, so both can capture sales.

The Local Franchisee Challenge – Own Your Space, Focus On Local Content

Some new business franchise owners come into the job believing that all of their marketing will be taken care of “by corporate.” And while it’s true that franchisees do get some help in that area, at least compared to independent small businesses, the most successful marketing campaigns have work put in by both sides.

Own Your Own Space

The first responsibility franchisees have in digital marketing is in owning their own space. A business’s physical brick and mortar location is unique unto itself; it has specific needs to maintain its curb appeal, interior design and product layout – all ways in which it attracts and retains local customers. Why should their online presence be any different? A franchise website has its own needs for local prominence that may be neglected.

“But corporate set us up with a website and it looks fine,” a local franchisee say.

Looking presentable and being effective in leading customers through a sales funnel are two completely separate things. All too often, franchisors roll out a suite of websites for each of their locations, only for every one to give mediocre performances when it comes to driving organic web traffic or conversions. Though made with the best of intentions, these sites serve up duplicate content, recycled images, and vaguely audience-targeted messaging. In trying to capture every customer, they usually capture none.

When a single location in a multi-location business is able to own their online space, however, the benefits are undeniable. Any unique content, be it in copy, photos or beyond, is proven to be incredibly helpful to SEO performance. That unique content is also able to target the unique local needs of their specific customer base, something that might not be feasible for a nationwide cookie-cutter marketing campaign.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the need to focus on the local when it comes to local content marketing.

Focus on Local Content

With that owned space comes the next responsibility: focus on local content. Even if all the marketing efforts thought to be handled on the corporate end came through, they still might not be doing much for local franchisees.

Like with the roofing example discussed at the beginning, all the great features of a product or service pales in comparison to customers’ unique needs – those are the things your customers are going to be looking for when they open up their search engine. The search engines know this as well, and tend to reward local content with higher rankings on results pages.

Luckily, franchisees have something that corporate doesn’t in their corner: knowledge of your local customer base. They know who their prototypical customer is, what products they’re interested in, why they choose that particular company, and a slew of other useful information.

When forming a marketing strategy, multi-location businesses are able to use that knowledge to tailor their content in multiple ways:

  • Geographic targeting – Use geomodifiers often to appeal both to search engines and individuals. A geomodifier is a location-specific keyword, such as a city, state, or region that you want to target. Knowing how one’s customers talk about where they live can help better capture potential leads–for example targeting customers interested in a “Brooklyn plumber” versus a “New York City plumber.”
  • Address specific issues – What are the customers’ primary needs? Are they unique in any way, especially to their location? Going back again to our first roofing example, a headline of “What Newark Homeowners Can Do To Protect Their Home From Winter Storms” is typically more effective (and pleasing to search engines) than “Stansbury Roofs Can Stand Up To Anything.” Not only does it stress a product benefit over a feature, but it targets a benefit unique to a local service area.

These are some of the more straightforward and salient methods of doing so, but are by no means the only ones.

Franchises, Start Working Towards Digital Marketing Success

If you’re ready to leave cookie-cutter design, duplicated content and vague marketing messages in your rear-view mirror, Flint Analytics can help you get started. As is our philosophy, to make the right decisions you need the right data, so let’s start talking about putting the numbers together to find a solution that will start you on the path to local content marketing success.

Photo Credit: 123rf.com/ramcreative
13 Fans Will Be Arrested If The Steelers Win This Weekend

13 Fans Will Be Arrested If The Steelers Win This Weekend

We can’t tell you which teams will win this weekend’s AFC and NFC championship games, but we can tell you how many people we think will be arrested at each. In Atlanta, if the Falcons win, 1 fan will be arrested. If Green Bay wins, 3 fans will be arrested. In Foxborough, if the Patriots win, 11 fans will be arrested. And if the Steelers win, 13 fans will be arrested.



How We Made These Predictions

In a grad level econometrics class at Purdue, my classmates and I were tasked with presenting statistical findings from socioeconomic data. While most economists are busy figuring out how to predict the next financial crisis, solve poverty, or predict how many people will buy their company’s next product, I was more interested in what I might be able to learn about my favorite rowdy NFL fans from the Washington Post’s NFL arrests dataset.

Kent Babb and Steven Rich of the Washington Post organized public record requests from police departments that oversaw NFL stadium security between 2011 and 2015, and they provided the total number of arrests made at each game along with other game-specific stats like the time of day that the game was played, the final scores of the home and away team, and whether or not it was a division game or went into overtime. Of the 31 jurisdictions in which there is an NFL stadium (note that the Giants and the Jets reside in the same jurisdiction), Cleveland and New Orleans were the only precincts that did not submit any data at all. Buffalo, Miami, and Oakland provided only partial records and had to be omitted from the data set, which honestly kind of sucks, because we know Oakland would have the GOAT arrest totals. Precincts in Detroit, Minneapolis, and Atlanta also excluded parking lot arrests, which means we might be missing a few booze-fueled tailgating arrests from this study.

I wanted to create a model to predict the chances of getting arrested at an NFL game. The Washington Post data set gave me a few of the pieces of the puzzle in knowing whether or not the home team won and the time of the game, but I had a few other questions.

  1. Did higher attendance relative to stadium capacity lead to rowdier fans, and, more arrests?
  2. Did people tend to drink more on a hot day and find themselves in the tank more often than cold days?
  3. Did controlling for local crime rates change the probability of being arrested?

In order to answer these questions, I merged data from Pro-Football Reference.com on game attendance, NFL stadium seating capacity from Wikipedia, game time weather from NFLSavant.com, and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report with the Washington Post dataset to come up with the best overall look at local conditions during an NFL game that I could.

The Model

The model I generated from this data tells us that the probability of being arrested at an NFL game is higher if:

  1. The home team loses
  2. The game starts later
  3. Attendance is low relative to stadium capacity
  4. The weather is hot
  5. The local violent crime rate is high
  6. The local property crime rate is low 

If the model relied on factors 1, 3, and 4 alone, Jacksonville would have this one in the bag!

michael-jordan-jacksonville

I’ll explain the math used with broad strokes here, but if you really want the details, here’s the original term paper I submitted to Purdue. It should be noted that I received a 98% on the paper, which is enough of a confidence boost for me to publicly reveal this model. It should also be noted that my mom has yet to hang this term paper on the fridge.

The model was estimated using linear regression, and here is the primary equation:

arrest2attend = .0023167 – .000024hometeamwin + .0001295gametime – .000265attend2capac + .0000514ltemp + .0000508lhomeviocrmrt – .0003217lhomepropcrmrt

Let’s also take a second to explain each variable in the model:

  1. arrest2attend = total arrests at an NFL game divided by the total attendance for that game
  2. hometeamwin = 1 if the home team won, 0 if they lost
  3. gametime = the local time that the game was played expressed as a fraction of 1 (i.e. if the game had started at noon, it would be represented as .50 because noon is half way through the day)
  4. attend2capac = total game attendance divided by the stadium’s capacity
  5. ltemp = the natural log of the temperature (in Fahrenheit) during game play
  6. lhomeviocrmrt = the natural log of the local violent crime rate
  7. lhomepropcrmrt = the natural log of the local property crime rate

For the stats nerds out there, this model had an R-Squared of .2885, and the heteroskedastic robust standard errors for each independent variable implied statistical significance to at least the 10% level. For those who hated stats, this model was, scientifically speaking, not bad.

not-bad

The implications of the model actually make sense. If the home team loses, and we assume the majority of the crowd at any game is there to support the home team, we can expect a few upset fans to act irrationally, or, criminally. If the game starts later, there’s more time for tailgating and all the fun that comes with that.

The fact that lower relative attendance implied a higher probability of arrests may not reveal anything about social conditions at a game, but more about the nature of statistics. Let’s say 5 people each are arrested at 2 different games attended by 40,000 and 50,000 people, respectively. The chance of being arrested (arrests divided by attendance) at the game with lower attendance is 25% higher than that at the higher attended game, even though the total number of arrests was the same.

The weather is another interesting factor. Anecdotally, sun and heat lead to day drinking (naturally, Green Bay residents may be the exception). Heat can lead to higher instances of dehydration, which may lead to higher cases of public intoxication. But, this could also be a testament to regional cultures. Perhaps police forces in the south, where it’s warmer, are more likely to make arrests than in the north. Or maybe fans in warmer regions really are just rowdier than the north (though, back to our data omissions, we’d really like to officially verify this against Oakland and Buffalo).

With crime rates, one might attribute the difference in violent crime rates and property crime rates to police force allocation. In a region with high relative violent crime rates, precincts may be more likely to send officers into stadiums in an attempt to curb violence (our model thanks Philadelphia for not making the playoffs this year). In an area with higher relative property crime rates, precincts may be more likely to keep officers on the streets to deter theft and vandalism while the city is otherwise preoccupied with the game.

It should be noted that while the Washington Post’s data set included data from 2011-2015, I was only able to retrieve weather data from 2011-2013. So, this model is based on game data that is several years old, and should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, we used this model to predict the number of arrests that might occur this weekend at each conference championship game.

Predicting the Number of Arrests at This Weekend’s AFC and NFC Championship Games

We had to look at two outcomes for each game: one where the home team won, and one where they lost. From there, we just filled in the blanks on the model provided above. Green Bay at Atlanta is set to start at 3:05pm local (.628 in our time units), and Pittsburgh at New England is set to start at 6:40pm local (.778). Being conference championship games, we expect sellout crowds, so we set the attendance-to-capacity parameter to 1. The current game time forecast (as of the morning of January 19th, 2017) for Atlanta is 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and the same for Foxborough is 47. In Atlanta, the average violent crime rate for the last 4 years has been 399.3 for every 100,000 residents, and the property crime rate has been 3,374.4 out of 100,000. In Boston, the violent crime rate has been 507.3 out of 100,000, and the property crime rate has been 2,208 out of 100,000.

Plugging all of these numbers into the model above, and multiplying the expected probability of being arrested at each game by the expected attendance, we arrived at the predictions stated in the intro.

The results table looks something like this:

afc_and_nfc_championship_game_arrests_prediction

Conclusion

More than likely, the arrest figures we predicted here will not hold since we’re using regular season data obtained from 2011-2013 to predict events at postseason games played in 2017. In actuality, arrests may be higher due to the playoff atmosphere and likely larger security and police presence. Further, linear regression is not a perfect science, and this model cannot account for unexpected events like fan rioting, or some goofball in a hat and a red shirt showing up. Regardless, since the variables in the model make sense from a socioeconomic standpoint, it will be interesting to see how our predictions for this weekend’s game time arrests hold up in practice!

Google My Business Best Practices For Franchises

Best Practices For Managing Google My Business Listings For Multiple Locations

As a business with multiple locations, you want your locations to succeed in their local marketing, and one of the best online local marketing tools around is Google My Business. But to be successful at GMB, you need to not only create listings for all of your locations but also stay on top of keeping their information accurate. Managing one location isn’t that hard, but when you’re a franchise or multi-location business with dozens of locations, managing these can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together these tips to help franchises manage their Google My Business listings for multiple locations without being overwhelmed.

1. Set your account up the right way

The first step is to ensure that you meet the qualification guidelines set by Google to create and manage a Google My Business listing. Next, make sure that you’ve set up your account correctly so that you can manage your listings from one central location. If you have lots of locations that have never been centralized with Google My Business, you might have a mess at first because some of the locations may have great listings while others haven’t even claimed their business yet.

For consistency and brand control, we recommend that the corporate office retains ownership of the Google My Business account and manages all of the locations. You can do this either in house or by hiring a marketing agency to manage your listings for you. While you can give your locations access to update their own Google listings, you’ll be at risk of them making changes to the account, and so you may want to restrict them to be a communications manager.
If you don’t already manage your Google My Business listing, the first thing you need to do is set up an account. Create a Google account with your business name as the domain, for example, manager@acme.com. Next, you’ll need to create a Google business account, if you don’t already have one. This will be the main account that you manage all of the locations.

As the business owner or manager, it’s important that you retain primary ownership of your Google My Business Account. You can add other managers and owners (either marketing agencies, third parties, or local owners) to your listings as needed. If you’ve worked with an agency in the past and they’re the primary owner, you have the right to ask for ownership of the account. This means that even if you change agencies, you’ll still retain control of your account.

Some of your locations may already have listings they’ve claimed and manage. Request access and ownership to these listings by following these instructions.

2. Gather Account Information From Each Location Into One Place

It’s important that the information such as name and address that is on your location’s website matches their Google My Business listing and is consistent across all of your locations. If each of your location has the same name, i.e. “Sally’s Flower Shop” in each city, that is the name that should be on the Google My Business listing. You’ll also want to be consistent with address terms such as using “st” or “street” across all websites and local listings. This helps search engines recognize that it’s the same business and location across the web and ensures you’re listings aren’t competing against each other, resulting in lower search placement.

The easiest way to collect this information is through a spreadsheet. If you qualify for a bulk upload (see below) you can download a spreadsheet to use directly from Google My Business. You’ll need at least the store ID (for internal use only), company name, website page to link to, physical address, phone number, and service category for each location. We recommend adding additional information such as hours of operation, business description, AdWords extensions, and more to give your customers more details about your business. Here’s a list of the different fields you can create in your Spreadsheet.

If some of the information (such as hours) is different for each store, you can build a Google Form that feeds into your spreadsheet and send it to each store. You’ll just need to keep on top of your locations to make sure they fill out the necessary information.

3. Add New Business Locations In Bulk (If You Qualify)

There are two ways to add new businesses to your account: via bulk upload and by adding each listing individually. New businesses you could add include locations that were just opened* or locations that have never been claimed.

If you have more than ten locations, you can choose to use the bulk uploader. You’ll use the spreadsheet you already created (or use the one Google provides) and check that all the information is correct. Then you’ll upload it at once. Google will let you know if there’s any discrepancies or errors in the information.

There are some drawbacks to using the bulk upload method. First, there’s a character limit in the name and description field which can cut off text. Also, service area providers (where there isn’t a main physical location and services are provided at customer’s location) aren’t eligible for bulk verification.

After you’ve uploaded your information, you can request bulk verification. Bulk verification is a lot faster than manual verification. For manual verification, each location is mailed a postcard with a code that you’ll need to enter into their business listing. This can take time, especially if locations accidentally throw away their postcard and it needs to be resent. But with bulk verification, all of the locations are verified at once through sending a verification form to Google through your account. You’ll need at least ten locations to be able to request bulk verification, and it may take up to a week to get processed and approved.

*Never open a Google My Business account for a location that hasn’t opened yet. Your account could be disabled.

4. Update Business Information Easily

You can update information such as addresses, phone numbers, descriptions and more in bulk if you have at least ten locations. This is helpful if some of your locations already have listings, but they aren’t consistent with your other listings or have different information than their website.

You’ll need to download your location information, make changes in the spreadsheet, and then upload them again to Google. By downloading the information, you can also see if there’s errors that Google has found or any updates Google made on their own. Follow these instructions on how to make edits.

5. Hire Help As Needed

Business owners and managers should stay informed and actively participate with their business listings, but using listing tools or hiring experts can help your listings perform better and take some of the workload off your shoulders.

Local listing tools like Yext can help you manage your Google My Business account along with other local directory listings through one interface. If you want an even more hands off approach, hire a marketing agency.

Marketing agencies can enhance your local listings and manage your photos, reviews, ad extensions, and more so that your listing shows up for customers looking for your services. Another benefit of hiring help is agencies can manage your local listings across many services such as Yelp, Bing, and other directories. Look for marketing agencies that have experience with local listings, communicate well about accounts and changes, and adhere to Google’s guidelines.

Get Started With Local Listings Today

If you’re a franchise or multi-location business that needs help with your Google My Business or other local listing directories, give us a call at 317-576-2855 for a free consultation. We’ll manage your local listings for you so that customers can find your local stores while you focus on other aspects of your company.

 

Photo Credit: 123rf.com/abscent