The Top Three Pitfalls in Local Marketing, and How You Can Avoid Them

February 1, 2013 Jared Shusterman

In a recent article on Channel Marketer Report, I identified some problems brands can face if they don’t optimize their local marketing. In this space I will flesh out the top three problems, including their root causes, the risk they pose to your brand and what you can do to avoid them.

Problem #1: Branding Inconsistency When Local Marketers Advertise On Their Own

I see this one constantly when I look at local advertising. Maybe the wrong color or font is used for the brand’s name or logo. Issues also arise when trademark and brand design elements are rearranged to accommodate an ad layout. Or the local marketer is suppressing a more recognized brand in favor of their own. Local marketers may rely on brand names to attract customers, but they aren’t invested in protecting the brand. Brands spend millions to develop and protect their logos, trademarks and design elements, only to be undercut by local marketers putting their own “flavor” on the promotion.

Think about it. Many small businesses representing the channel are entrepreneurs. They chose to work for themselves rather than someone else. They are proud of what they have built. This entrepreneurial quality drives them to think they can market your national brand their own way. Use a technology that automates the brand compliance process while still meeting the needs of local marketers. Distributed marketing enables you to design print ads, email blasts, direct mailings and other assets, incorporating your brand and style guidelines, and then lock them down so local marketers can’t change or edit them. Now, the local marketers have a high-quality, dual-branded advertisement and the brand is exposed to the local marketer’s customer base while knowing all assets are brand accurate.

Problem #2: Local Advertising That Contradicts National Marketing Plans

Brands may commit large budgets to national product roll-outs, a limited time offer, or a seasonal campaign. But many times, when you interact with the local business selling the brand’s product or service, they might as well be located in a different country. Whether it’s through traditional advertising, social media, or an online presence, local marketing must be in alignment with the national strategy of the brand.

Consumers need to be informed where the sale is happening. It’s all about local. A recent Pew survey finds that 58% of all mobile phones owners used their phone in a store this past holiday season to help them make their purchase decision. A separate study showed that 50% of all mobile searches in travel, restaurants and automotive resulted in a purchase – 85% in restaurants alone. 85% of mobile phone and tablet users searching about restaurants made a purchase as a result of their search. If you don’t think local search matters, you’re missing out. It is essential that brands and local marketers maintain shared message calendars. Content should all be aligned down the channel. Before launching, or even planning a national campaign, the local strategy should be part of the conversation. Local marketers should have access to all upcoming brand-level local marketing plans so the messages can be coordinated, and the local marketing efforts can reinforce national spend.

Problem #3: National vs. Local Product Misalignment in Marketing

Brands often wonder why their programs go unused, or why their co-op budgets fail to get spent. How can you fix this? It’s really simple. Get aligned.

  • Give them what they really want… co-op funds. Unless you share the same brand with your channel partner, such as a franchise, local marketers’ brands are equally if not more important to them as your own. The more you subsidize a marketing program, the more you can feature your brand over the local brand. A general rule of thumb is that for every percentage point of the cost you pay for in a program, you earn a percentage point of coverage in that promotion, i.e. if you pay for half the program, give at least half coverage to the local brand. Why would a local marketer pay 50¢ of every dollar for your promotion when you give them a tiny spot on the ad for their logo?
  • Stop giving them what they don’t want or need. Understand their economic incentive behind what you are asking them to sell. Then talk to your partners on what would make their lives easier to sell that product or service. I can guarantee you it doesn’t mean stocking a library of thousands of print ads that will sit unused.
  • Incorporate digital and social media. New technologies have emerged in recent years to make sure more sophisticated placement can be penetrated at the local level.
  • Automate the marketing and make it easy.
  • Automate the tracking of ROI. Need information on how your marketing spend is influencing local transactions? Automate it. That’s the only way you’ll get what you need.

At the end of the day it’s about making the local marketer want to sell your brand. Small business owners are not going to expend time, effort and money to trudge through a complicated, manual process they have to keep on top of every day. You have to show them how pushing your brand is going to be faster and easier, and make them more profitable. Automation is key. Alignment is key. And an attractive co-op program is key. Work smarter to build a strong relationship between your brand and your local marketers, and you’ll see the benefits pay out before long.

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About the Author

Jared Shusterman

Jared is the Chief Executive Officer of SproutLoud. Since 2006, he has been primarily responsible for strategic direction of the Company, as well as the oversight of SproutLoud's Partner ecosystem. Prior to SproutLoud, Jared worked in Thomas Weisel Partner’s internet and online advertising investment banking practice in San Francisco. He served as the lead analyst on a number of Corporate Finance and M&A deals including Newscorps’ buyout of Intermix Media ( Jared graduated with a B.A. in Finance and Marketing from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. Jared has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and is a member of the Young President's Organization (YPO). Jared has been honored as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Entrepreneurs by South Florida Business Journal and a Top 50 Entrepreneur by Business Leader Magazine. Jared lives in South Florida with his wife and two sons.

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