Distributed Marketing, as we know, is the term for a marketing model where marketing decisions are decentralized, meaning the local marketing decisions are deferred to a network of a brand’s local partners - franchisees, affiliates, dealers, and the like.
When the decision maker at a brand chooses to support its local entities with a distributed marketing platform, the initial focus is often on the features and functionality of the platform - and rightfully so. In other words, “What are the marketing capabilities I will give my channel partners through this platform?”
Secondarily, but just as important, is the way that the marketing services will actually be executed.
Determination #1 -- Type of Distributed Marketing Platform
There are generally three categories of distributed marketing platform providers:
- Ad Builders - This category describe platforms that are usually limited to creative customization. Local-level execution or distribution of these marketing assets does not exist or is extremely limited. I have detailed the problem of platforms that have no turnkey way to broadcast the customized messages, instead deflecting responsibility of the fulfillment and distribution to your local partners.
- Software Only - These platforms include software to the brand with last-mile local marketing services - but brands are largely left to integrate their own marketing providers to service the platform - which often leads to kludge and ineffective implementation.
- Full Service - All-inclusive platforms give clients well-integrated service offerings combined with a software platform for the execution. Full Service solution providers are rare (according to industry analysts) because of the time and expense to create well-integrated, comprehensive services from start-to-finish.
For the most part, most buyers ultimately find a Full Service provider and choose this category as their best option. But what often gets less examined is how the services on the platform are locally executed.
Determination #2 -- Marketing Service Fulfillment
Simply put, marketing providers power the services enabled by the software. Yet recently, some distributed marketing platforms have developed these services themselves, in the attempt to keep profits in-house. The result? Brands become beholden to the singular solution and miss out on the ability to utilize best-in-class providers. This is especially undesirable in a rapidly-changing, diverse service landscape such as local marketing.
Decision makers should always consider functionality and the feature-set of a distributed marketing platform first, but equal consideration should be given to the service provider environment. Brands must ask the question of “Who is actually going to perform the services ordered by my channel partners on the platform?” to gain a firm understanding on the quality, scope and effectiveness of the execution of their marketing programs.
The adage of “jack of all trades, master of none” applies here. Various technology and service companies are the best at what they do because they are specialized in their core areas. Applying this same concept of speciality ensures the best possible outcome for local and brand marketing. The best distributed marketing platforms integrate various marketing service providers and have the ability to add new ones as brand needs evolve. The flexibility of choice is something that every brand deserves from their distributed marketing platform.
About the Author
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 (Myspace.com). 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.More Content by Jared Shusterman