By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.
Joe Schultz from Sweden is the Senior Vice President of Global Sales for Adplorer. Apart from their headquarters in Cologne, Germany where they were founded, they also have offices in Paris, France, and Atlanta, United States.
Though he’s quite new to the company, he has experience working for different startups. He joined the latest episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur and shared how Adplorer helps business owners get noticed.
Helping Franchise Organisations and Multi-Location Businesses
A lot of Adplorer’s clients are franchise organisations. They help multi-location businesses maintain the same brand voice across the different markets that their clients are working with.
They guide business owners on how to live up to their brand guidelines. This allows their customers in different places to get the same feel around their brand. They do this while providing local business owners certain freedom: They let them run lead generation the way that they see fit for their situation. This helps them focus on business areas that they consider to have great potential. It further ensures them that they can adapt to local competition and the local culture.
Joe is passionate about this because it allows small local business owners to run state-of-the-art marketing campaigns. He has been in this space for a while now and he has seen several small business owners go to marketing agencies. While these agencies may be good and may be trying their best to help these business owners, the digital marketing space can be rather complex. They need to spend a lot of time learning the business and setting up campaigns before they can drive leads to their clients.
Adplorer works by helping central offices provide templated campaigns to local business owners. These local owners can also select which campaigns to use and adapt. This way, they can start generating leads more cost-efficiently.
It’s a great way of allowing franchisees to embrace the franchisor’s corporate identity and messaging. It also helps them keep all assets up to date.
The Case of a German E-Bike Manufacturer
Adplorer works with different businesses — from large companies such as Volkswagen down to franchises with only a handful of locations.
Joe cited e-motion technologies, a German manufacturer of electric bikes as an example. The company has had a really good growth journey in the last few years. However, they were struggling with their local marketing as the different local owners tried to find their own way of doing it. They started competing against each other and because of it, they weren’t able to see the results that they wanted to see.
When e-motion sourced the markets, they found Adplorer and started working with them. About 90% of their franchisees jumped on board, helping them continue to grow.
In this kind of work, Joe also emphasised that you have to incorporate geographical targeting into your digital campaigns. This is to make sure that there’s no overlap. Because, unlike the franchisees’ physical geographical boundaries, the internet doesn’t have those.
If there’s an overlap, the only entities that would gain are Google and Facebook. Though they’re considered a great partner, you don’t want to give them more money than what is necessary. Therefore, there should be no competition among your franchisees. Every pound spent by a local business owner should maximise the return of investment (ROI) of their marketing campaign.
How it All Started
Adplorer’s current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) started the company as a small agency in 2008. At the time, they were selling digital advertising to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
They were passionate about helping these SMBs compete against big organisations. However, they encountered scalability problems: It wasn’t easy to manage hundreds of campaigns. This prompted them to build a technology that will automate parts of the process and make them more efficient.
When Google found their technology, Adplorer got introduced to other like-minded agencies. And partly because of this, they realised that there’s a lot more potential in working with other SMB agencies. It will be more beneficial if they help them through their technology rather than compete with them as agents who sell digital advertising.
This is how Adplorer morphed into a technology company. Initially, they focused on reselling their technology to the SMB space. But when they started building a self-service interface, they realised that their technology is perfect for franchises and other multi-location businesses. Now, they’re growing more quickly in their multi-location side than their SMB reseller side.
But while they have two business areas, the end game for both is being able to help local business owners drive marketing with good ROI.
How Adplorer Works
With increasing demands, Adplorer now has partners in multiple locations. When helping clients, either their headquarters or one of their partners works with a franchise store to develop assets and templated campaigns (e.g. for Google search or Facebook advertising).
Each franchisee can log into their own dashboard and select among the available templates. Then, they can adapt the template within the guidelines set by the franchisor.
The franchisor can also choose to subsidise the marketing budget and share the cost or let their franchisees pay for it themselves. However, based on experience, Joe said that it typically works better if the budget is subsidised. This way, the franchisees will be keener and more enticed to log in.
Once a franchisee chooses a template and activates a campaign, Adplorer generates and manages the campaign on an ongoing basis. They do this with the help of the Application Programming Interface (API) of Google, Facebook, and Bing among others. Whenever the franchisee logs in, they can see the exact results achieved.
Adplorer prides themselves on working closely with their clients. Additionally, if they get integrated into their client’s customer relations management (CRM) systems, they’ll be able to determine which part of the revenue they can directly attribute to their campaigns.
By doing that, they can automatically tweak and move the budget to the campaign elements that generate the best ROI. For instance, if they see that a certain keyword generates better value than other keywords on their search campaign, then they would steer more of the budget towards that.
For Joe, the beauty of working with a franchise system is that they get to work with very similar campaigns. Instead of simply looking at the post-click performance data for one location, they can aggregate all the data. This allows them to be quicker at responding to different search behaviours and trends, ensuring that all the different franchisees benefit from that.
If you have a new franchisee who goes online and if they haven’t done any local marketing before, Adplorer can utilise their learnings to better serve that new franchisee. They call this “Collective Intelligence Marketing.” And this very term is one of the reasons that compelled Joe to join Adplorer.
On Local Franchisees’ Web Presence, Language Use
In most cases, the local franchisees that Adplorer works with have local websites of sorts. It comes in the form of a standalone landing page or a subdomain of the main website.
If you’re a local consumer looking for a local business to help you with something, a local-looking page will be good for you. It will provide you with images and references that are local.
Adplorer also has clients in countries with a different language. And when working with a client in Greece, for example, they have to adapt to the Greek alphabet.
Joe shared that it’s a privilege to work with a different alphabet. He’s also working hard to adapt to other languages because it’s important when finding clients in other parts of the world. For instance, in Arabic, everything is written and read from left to right, rather than from right to left.
While the different languages are not a big deal for their engineers, he considers it beneficial to work on those from a business development standpoint.
How Aplorer Markets Itself
According to Joe, the best marketing for them is by word of mouth.
They typically see clients who bring Adplorer’s technology with them when they move from one organisation to another.
They also have clients who are multi-brand franchisees. These franchisees get to utilise their technology through one of their franchisors. Then, they also introduce it to another franchisor.
This works in the kind of markets where they already have a presence. The downside, however, is that it takes a long time to build that.
In the UK, which is a new market to them, Adplorer joined the British Franchise Association (BFA). The BFA pulls together a large number of franchise systems and gives support to them. Adplorer feels welcomed to have joined it and now, they’re looking forward to taking part in their annual event to be held in November in London.
Joe said he’s also hopeful that they can start attending events again as the world copes from the pandemic. He noted that events have always been good for them because, in that space, you can meet, talk to, and connect with people. You get to know the problems that they’ve faced and how they’ve come up with solutions for those.
A More Proactive, Dedicated Strategy
An agency reached out to Joe on LinkedIn. As he tends to get a few of these enquiries, he didn’t reply at first. After a couple of days, he received a follow-up, which was apparently done by the CEO of the agency. Because he thought it was quite good to receive that, he set up a call with him. However, he ended up talking to someone else. It turns out that the agency was using the CEO’s LinkedIn profile to do outbound activities.
He learned that the agency has a whole program that they use to qualify prospects, do outbounds, and generate calls. This is something that Adplorer is working on now.
Joe shared that it’s a good strategy because if you’re a business owner, you need to do something to stand out. The world is getting smaller and more crowded. And to be able to personalise and be persistent is what counts.
Also, as sales get more specialised, he said that it’s important for sales and marketing people to also specialise in the areas that they are best in. According to him, it’s rare to find salespeople who are really good all the way — from opening the door to making it close and working with the client afterwards. He considers himself as not much of a door opener, and this is why if you’re as such, it’s good to surround yourself with people who are good door openers (whether they do it via email, phone, events, or whatever avenue).
When it comes to the marketing and sales process of a business, it’s important to bring in the right people and technology to help you to amplify your message across multiple markets. Today, there are tools that can help you automate outreaches in platforms (e.g. ProspectIn for LinkedIn). There’s also Adplorer, which you can use if you’re looking for a multi-level, franchise marketing platform.
This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.