There are all kinds of brand management software systems out in the marketplace today that offer a way to provide marketing materials to channel partners. This basic function is enhanced by allowing local customizations so that any partner in the channel can edit the marketing piece to reflect their particular business while maintaining brand compliance.
Features that enhance these core capabilities are the difference between basic and comprehensive brand management software platforms. These differences can make you a brand marketing superstar, so we will review what features you should look for in brand management software.
- Multiple Medium or Multi-Channel Marketing Offerings
Most brand management solutions are specific to either print or to digital offerings, not both. This is problematic in that it requires uploads of the creative and assets to both platforms, with the possibility of inconsistent rendering. It also means that you and your channel partners will have to manage two separate platforms. Not only does this create a higher barrier to entry for your local partners, it also creates confusion when two platforms are in place instead of one centralized platform.
Make sure that any platform you choose is able to fulfill all of your marketing needs, both digital and print. Branded local websites, online paid advertising, social media, customized collateral, localized print ads, and the list goes on. Everything should be able to facilitate local customizations across your network. Your organization will hopefully grow over time and your marketing needs to scale with it.
- Budget Control
Follow the money… This statement is meant to find the truths in a complicated situation with many entities, and your channel marketing ecosystem is no different. Where are your marketing dollars spent and what is it spend on? These are two simple questions that your platform should be able to answer. But what good is that information if you have no ability to quickly adjust budgets in reaction to irregularities, inefficiencies, or success stories? You should be also able to do these four functions with your software:
- Monitor Your Partner Participation Levels -- See who is spending money on your marketing, and what they are buying. You should be able to determine what your brand spends on marketing, and what your local partners spend as well. This data will help you adjust spend at the national and local levels depending on need. You can also see which local partners are participating and which ones are sitting on the sidelines.
- Offer Co-op or MDF Funds to Stimulate Participation -- Provide incentives for specific marketing programs or assets. If your business is generating a lot of revenue on a specific product, but you notice that you have not spent a lot marketing it, entice your channel partners to use specific marketing assets or campaigns by funding them. Your brand should be able to fund 100%, 50%, or whatever you designate for the assets that feature your profitable product. By providing this funding up front on an asset or campaign basis, you can better control what your brand’s marketing focus and change it on a dime if needed.
- Review local marketing spend and compare with available revenue data- Because the platform is comprehensive, you can see the TOTAL spend, from your fund additions to the spend of the local partner all in one place. You have access to revenue per store, the platform has access to the total marketing spend of each location. With this information you can adjust the budget at a store level to make sure your marketing dollars are efficiently spent.
- Adjust co-op funding to compensate for geographical advertising cost disparities -- The price of a home in the rural midwest is not the same for a similar home on beachfront Los Angeles. This simple function of supply and demand also applies to marketing, especially local media buys. Your platform should allow you to create groups of your partner locations to address this disparity head on. Provide more funding to your expensive areas to ensure that your message can go out in densely populated areas, and a little less for partners that don’t need to spend so much to go loud with your message in their more rural areas.
Many platforms provide fulfillment for marketing assets, but then stop short of telling you how those marketing assets actually performed. A robust Brand Management platform should tell you which marketing assets are having an impact at the local level. By adding redemption codes to coupons, call tracking numbers to paid online advertising, or QR codes to gift certificates you can measure results and adjust accordingly.
Those options above are only a few of the many methods to track your marketing initiatives. You should also be able to look at data specific to a particular medium. If your nationally syndicated social media campaign is converting into sales, but your other tactics aren’t gaining traction, you can adjust based on customer behavior. Comprehensive analytics allow you to change tactics in real time to meet your business objectives, without it you are shooting in the dark. The big picture of the entire network data combined with the ability to inspect specific asset or location performance enables your brand to become a marketing powerhouse.
Purchasing brand management software is a big decision for a company. The investment usually takes time to implement new templates, creative elements and enrollment programs for your network members.
As your business grows over time, your software will either need to grow with it, or you can select a comprehensive solution from the beginning.
About the Author
Gary Ritkes oversees all Business Development and Marketing at SproutLoud. He has been a pioneer in the emerging vertical of Distributed Marketing Technology and is an industry leader and innovator with 20+ years experience in graphic communications and marketing strategy. Gary has been involved with SproutLoud since the inception of the company. Prior to joining SproutLoud, Gary was VP of Marketing for Rex Three, Inc., SproutLoud’s first and largest vendor among its network of providers. He has served many Fortune 1000 clients and worldwide advertising agencies in providing marketing technology direction and optimization. He was an original founder of U.S. based Earth Color Group and a co-founder of Advanced Digital Services (ADS) which was sold in 1996 to publicly traded Katz Digital Technologies. He is a current board member of the local Advertising Federation chapter and has served as a member for other national industry associations including the DMA, AGA, and the CMO council.More Content by Gary Ritkes