Skip to content
Supercharge Your Pipeline
A group of business owners discussing strategies at a table

Insider Insights: Franchise Marketing Expert Shares Digital Triumphs

Case Study: Two Maids' Journey to Lower Costs and Higher Leads for Franchisees

February 21, 2024

By Ale Melara

Effective franchise marketing drives customer acquisition, maintains brand integrity, and facilitates sustainable growth. The combination of brand positioning, lead generation, digital marketing, local advertising, and paid media helps franchisees maximize their marketing efforts while adhering to established brand standards. 

For this article, we spoke to franchise business expert Jenn Foster, fractional CMO and founder of Foster Marketing. Jenn is a proven marketer with unparalleled success over her career helping businesses, and the people who operate them, succeed in brand building and positioning, content strategy and execution, digital marketing (and how it relates to consumer journeys), and social media marketing and influencer strategies.

(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

SmartBug Media: Can you provide some insights into the types of franchise networks you've worked with in your career? Have your consulting experiences primarily been at the franchisor level or the franchisee level? 

Jenn: My experience has almost exclusively been assisting home services franchise brands. I’ve consulted and worked with brands including Mosquito Shield, a mosquito control services company; Decorate with Lights, a company that sells different light decoration products; a lawn and pest control services company; a dog poop-scooping and pet waste removal franchise; and Pet Wants, a pet food brand. In most of these engagements, I was brought in to review the market and competition and to develop a marketing plan that could be scaled effectively across the nation to franchisees. I was always brought in at the franchisor level, as my expertise is building a plan that can be scaled to franchisees. Then, typically after building the plan, I was organically asked to stay on and help support the plan at the franchisee level. This is always the hardest but most rewarding part of the job. 


New call-to-action


There are many different markets, many differing [levels of] brand awareness in market scenarios (new to the market and not ...), and many different types of “owners” with varied backgrounds. So creating a level of brand consistency and also tweaking based on the needs of the local market was always a challenge. But when they start to see it works and start making money—so fun and rewarding.

  • I did this for Mosquito Shield from soup to nuts and then supported their efforts as a fractional CMO for the following four years until Covid hit. 
  • For Pet Wants, I was brought in to help develop a digital footprint and plan among national franchisees. This particular brand was strong on in-person activations, farmers markets, and humane events, but hadn’t cracked the code in digital at a multiple location level. While providing a Trello board of posts on social, the strategy lacked strategic guidance and search was completely undefined/leveraged. 
  • The lawn and pest control services company desired a consultant who could provide firsthand knowledge of the pest market to build a marketing plan. Having built the Mosquito Shield plan and supported it through record growth, I did a similar discovery and strategic plan delivery for that team.

SBM: Looking ahead to 2024, what do you believe should be the primary focus areas for franchisors when it comes to their digital marketing and sales strategy? 

Jenn: Franchisors and Zees (short for franchisees, or the person who owns a local franchise)  can’t lose sight of digital data because it truly informs the initial go-to-market [strategy] as well as an ongoing review approach to address changes that inevitably happen in the market. This is not a “set it and forget it” exercise. Zees and Zors (short for franchisors, or the company who owns the intellectual property of the business)  should be reviewing their respective data often (every two weeks or every month at least). New competitors coming into the market should elicit review of their search. 

SBM: Are there any emerging trends or strategies that you see as particularly important for franchise businesses to embrace?

Jenn: The digital landscape is ever evolving. When I’m building out a plan, I’m looking at data from Google search volume to a competitive analysis to analyze the market audience and demographics (like average home values and so on).

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking to see what new data can be collected from GA4. How does that data inform consumer behavior, and how can I turn that behavior into an impactful marketing and product strategy, messaging, or sales insight? I would advise any Zor or Zee to work with people who back their initiatives with data and have a plan/process to consistently review and optimize. 

SBM: Franchises often face challenges when rolling out marketing and sales campaigns across multiple locations. Could you elaborate on some common pain points or breakdowns that you've observed in these campaigns? 

Jenn: Many of the brands I’ve worked with don’t have a clear Zor plan and Zee plan. It’s, “Here's what we are going to do and here’s what we mandate and recommend you do.”

A common pain point from [this lack of planning] is at the higher level. A Zor having a brand plan that simply leverages the sheer brand and service is great. But when we drill down to the locations, the competition in-market, the demographics/saturation of said demographics of the target audience(s), and even keywords change significantly. Building a plan that can scale with a team that understands locality and can handle that lift is imperative.

I’ve seen many times a plan that addresses the most important search keywords, like “mosquito control or mosquito spraying,” but doesn’t consider the actual town in the franchisee’s territory to pair it with for true local search—think “pizza near me. [These plans also fail to] consider and continue to review which of these terms are performing better in that location to optimize the campaign [at the local level].

SBM: How can franchises address and overcome these challenges effectively?

Jenn: Franchisees should know that their budget in marketing will vary based on their market, and Zors should set the expectation on market budget as a range. The most helpful way in which a Zor can set up a Zee for success is to perform market research for the Zee and help them understand what that means for marketing effort/budget. This works best when Zors are building this first step into their onboarding process. This isn’t just about a Trello board or templates available for download; it’s about the data-backed approach to the local market.

Factors such as seasonality and community should be considered, both from a marketing and a sales perspective. The poop-scooping franchise wanted to break into more pet services, like walking, shuttling, and pet sitting. We had an eye-opening discussion about understanding whether the location was a pet-walking area (sidewalks, dog parks, urban/no or small backyards) versus a rural location where it was typical to let the pet out to do his business in the yard. This led to a segmentation strategy of positioning the brand services based on the location and thereby messaging it in a flex hierarchy.

SBM: For franchise owners aiming to achieve their goals, what are some of the most effective strategies they can implement? 

Jenn: I would first recommend they do a market analysis and align that analysis with the brand plan. Then, from a sheer tactical standpoint, based on a 2023 benchmark report I just read, PPC remains the best marketing tool for Zees with Meta a close second. This feels Captain Obvious to me, but the validation supported with data is always welcome. 

PPC is that mid-market mindset where you’re making sure those looking for you or your service find you immediately—usually the most cost-effective [tool] and strong on conversion. Then Meta serving as that upper-funnel brand awareness mechanism is great for local brands. Getting in front of their local audience with a strong targeted strategy is the most effective and efficient way to spend their marketing dollars. 

SBM: From the franchisor's perspective, how should they consider supporting their franchisees in achieving their marketing and sales objectives?

Zors should make market analysis a mandate of onboarding and part of the annual fee structure. Then they should consider building out, defining, and providing these two digital efforts (PPC and Meta) for the Zees (as well as any pertinent offline marketing templates) and leveraging brand fund dollars to defray/pay for the cost. 

SBM: In your experience, are there any notable success stories or best practices within the franchise industry that you can share? What can other franchise businesses learn from these examples to enhance their digital marketing and sales efforts?

Six years ago, when I started my journey with Mosquito Shield, the company was spreading its marketing dollars [thin]—specifically searching throughout the entire year. Sometimes I find one thread of data to pull on, and the rest starts to unravel thereafter. This was Mosquito Shield’s thread: a timing misalignment.

For PPC, as the budget was set for the year, the daily and monthly caps were also amortized over the year. Mosquito Shield knew when the phones and sales each year would begin but wasn’t applying that knowledge to the search campaign. The pitfall: clicks happening in December when the mosquitoes weren’t biting and people weren’t converting. Clicks would cash out/hit the ceiling in the months bugs were biting. A shift in budget allocation in which we only did PPC in the busy months allowed Zees to capitalize on the buying season and resulted in 40 percent growth YOY and a 20 percent decrease in marketing spend. We also continued to fine-tune that [strategy] based on mosquitoes hatching regionally (e.g., the warmer climates have a longer buying season).

Ongoing timing issues were things like re-ups for the following year. Mosquito Shield was asking its customers to sign up for the next year long after the mosquito season was over (fall/winter time frame). Again, mindset is important, so I instructed the team to ask while customers were still slapping mosquitoes off them (still using the same $ off offer for early birds). This resulted in a 32 percent higher re-up the following year.

The lesson: You simply can’t discount the benefits of having a marketing (and sales) team that does the work to understand consumer mindset and how that changes from market to market—and then consistently checks in to ensure the plan is working. 

Ready to revolutionize your approach to franchise marketing? 

We hope that Jenn’s insights will inspire you to run your next franchise marketing initiative with confidence. You'll be well equipped to navigate the intricate landscape of digital marketing for franchises, overcoming challenges and seizing opportunities with confidence. 


Innovators. Problem solvers. Go-getters. We handle all the nitty-gritty details of franchise marketing so you can focus on the big picture.

Drive Awareness, Leads, and Revenue for Your Franchisees

Check It Out
Topics: Marketing Strategy, Digital Strategy, Digital Marketing