When it comes to retail locations and multi-unit brands, the struggle to choose between quality local SEO or pay-per-click advertising is real. You can set up your website as a large site that generates SEO value for the brand as a whole or you can set up individual websites for each of your locations to grow local SEO value. Both have their pros and cons.

As franchise brands move away from co-op advertising, national ad campaigns, and exhaustive branding efforts, savvy franchisors are empowering their franchisees to send the majority of their advertising dollars locally. Holding companies like Winmark Corporation recently launched a new website for their major brands that build primarily on the national brand’s SEO value. This strategy has less impact on local SEO at the granular level however, this is not a problem taking into consideration their whole strategy. The publicly-traded company also empowers the local franchisee to put over 95% of their marketing dollars into pay-per-click and social media advertising. Their brands include Plato’s Closet, Play it Again Sports, Style Encore, Music go Round and Once Upon A Child. Their results may surprise you.

8 years ago Winmark shifted away from traditional advertising, national advertising and co-op advertising. They encouraged their franchisees to run local pay-per-click advertising throughout their 1,250+ locations. The results have been simply put, quite amazing. I’m not sure they had any idea’s on the impact they were about to experience.

Previously, looking back 9-25 years prior, many retail brands ran national advertising including radio and TV later moving towards local radio advertising, tv, and print at the DMA level. That was the “best way” to reach the consumer, and it worked. But as consumer’s attention became more fragmented on brands like Snapchat, Google, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Waze, etc, the rise of the internet and social media has made it possible for local brands to compete in their market where their customers spend their time because of the ability these platforms allow for psychographic targeting in small highly targeted areas. 

Continuing to advertise as a large organization a broad message to a national audience is not having the same impact it once had. Forward-thinking brands empower their locations to be the brand to their local community. This has served them well and we don’t see that changing. Once Upon a Child Niles, OH does a Facebook Live at 5pm every Friday to highlight what’s new in their store while Domino’s Pizza in Duluth, MN runs YouTube ads to their local website page highlighting the most recent promotion. Consumers lose interest if they have to click more than 3 times. Pay-per-click advertising makes it easy for the consumer to get the information they need to give you their money.

Where day time television becomes antiquated and hours upon hours are being spent on social media. Reaching consumers with persuasive messaging from their local retailer has proved to be the best way to market a business in 2021. Not relying on SEO but paying for impressions, clicks, and engagements is the best way to market your business. Don’t take my word for it, just look at how Winmark’s stock grew from $64/share to over $170/share since their mindset shift (stock updated as of 1/27/21). Brands either adapt or die. It’s time to put your marketing dollars locally or roll the dice on doing things “the way we’ve always done it.” with fingers crossed hoping the retail apocalypse skips you.