MarketingLocal3 Areas to Master in 2015 for National Brands Marketing Locally

3 Areas to Master in 2015 for National Brands Marketing Locally

What should national brands who want to market locally focus on in the coming year? Here are three areas to concentrate on.

Throughout the late summer and fall of 2014, I spoke or met with a number of national brands that market locally to get a sense of opportunity areas for 2015. Most of the issues that were common to brand advertisers centered on helping their local outlets (branches, dealers, agents, or franchises) to better leverage changes in local communications and promotions.

Leveraging the Multiplying Effect Co-Op Advertising

In the years past, brands relied on co-op reimbursement to local sale channel outlets for all or a portion of their expenses for advertising and promotions that featured the national brand logo and/or products in their local messaging. Today’s real-time advertising marketplace makes it difficult for resource-constrained brands and local merchants to leverage digital and mobile media opportunities. When print-based advertising production closing cycles were longer (yellow pages, newspaper, direct mail, etc.) the brand would require a “prior approval” process that meant a month-long process of advertising review. Brands that have harnessed software solutions that streamline the review, approval, and validation process report better ability to be nimble and leverage local advertising opportunities. So, number one on the list of areas to master in 2015 is to better utilize co-op to achieve the multiplying effect that local brand-focused advertising can offer. Simply searching “co-op advertising software solutions” on your favorite search engine will provide you with a number of software solutions that can help brands solve the complexities of this issue.

Using Social Media to Reach Local Consumers

Even more daunting than trying to manage co-op advertising messaging in real-time is the task of using social media to reach local consumers. The rewards are high. Consider if a brand has 5,000 local outlets and each outlet reaches a network of just 1,000 local community members (followers, likes, subscribers, etc.) that represents an audience of 5 million. Comparing that potential opportunity to large well-known brands’ “official” social media properties’ reach is interesting. For example, GEICO’s Facebook community represents 410,142 and their Twitter followers number is just 34,700. So it stands to reason that brands that can better leverage the opportunities of social media stand to gain exponentially.

Big opportunities, yes, however there are challenges that need to be recognized. First and foremost, local outlets do not have a lot of time or resources to be posting, tweeting, and responding to social communities. The sheer task of creating engaging content that doesn’t violate brand guidelines or worse yet, damage a brand, can be a huge impediment. However, the challenges are not insurmountable. Social networking content management systems (CMS) can help brands both develop brand-friendly content that engages and help distribute and schedule content for delivery to these locally fragmented audiences. Again, use your favorite search engine and search “content-driven social media management platform” to explore some of the social CMS providers out there. I have utilized several of these systems including SOCi and Hearsay (specific to insurance industry) and they make the task of managing social media for many local outlets much easier.

Local Mobile Searches = Offline Purchases

Seventy-eight percent of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases, according to a 15miles/Localeze local search study conducted by comScore. National brands that market locally have just begun to leverage this audience. And yet, many brands have done little or nothing to attract this purchase-ready audience where they live, locally. In terms of best practice, first, a national brand marketing locally needs a mobile-ready presence. Seems logical, yet now drop down to the local outlet level and very few dealers, agents, or franchises have mobile-friendly or optimized Web presences. The key first step that brands can use to overcome this hurdle is to ensure their store locator and store locator results pages are mobile-friendly. This is a far easier task than trying to get all of your local outlets to update their Web presences to be mobile-friendly and optimized. Once a brand has solved the presence issue, it’s time to consider the mobile media options that can channel mobile searchers to the mobile-optimized local location. There are numerous media options to consider when looking to purchase mobile search leads, from search engines (e.g., Google) to local directories (e.g., to social platforms (e.g., Facebook) to mobile-specific ad networks (e.g., xAd). All of these resources can provide both brands and their local outlets with location-specific mobile sales leads in the form of local search results and phone calls.

No doubt there will be many emerging opportunities that present themselves in 2015. The three mentioned here – better use of co-op, social, and mobile – represent the fastest path to success for national brands that market locally. Now of course measurement is yet another opportunity area, but alas I’m out of space for this month. Cheers to a great 2015!


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