By Philip Alexander, President & CEO, BrandMuscle, Inc.

Changing trends in consumer behavior, proliferation of new media, and the advancements in technology are all driving a complex network of opportunities for national brands to engage one-on-one with consumers at the local level. According to the CMO Council’s “Localize to Optimize Sales Channel Effectiveness” report, nearly 50 percent of marketers believe localized marketing is essential to business growth and profitability, yet only 12 percent believe they have highly evolved campaigns and analytics in place to execute and measure their local marketing efforts.

National brands with decentralized marketing organizations are increasingly turning to local marketing automation platforms to meet the needs of local affiliates (stores, agents, dealers, franchisees, and resellers) who desperately need an easy way to create and deploy more targeted, personalized and interactive sales and marketing materials and campaigns. Fulfilling these needs was a challenge for decentralized marketing organizations when media options were limited to print and broadcast. The stakes have only become higher as CMOs look for ways to achieve greater customer relevance and seamlessly deliver the brand promise across dozens of new digital media channels.

By the time the consumer enters the local store, it’s likely he or she has already made a decision based on some form of online research. This presents a significant opportunity for marketers to improve the value of their creative and marketing assets by impacting consumer demand prior to purchase. As the report suggests, BrandMuscle has also seen an escalation in demand across its client base for tools that allow local affiliates to easily create local microsites, social media content, electronic messaging, local events, and online advertising. As the search industry grows, the drive to innovate and optimize local efforts continues to increase demand for technology that can streamline how these new forms of media are used to produce results in a way that complements the national brand rather than competing with it.

Three particular trends we see dominating marketing communications today:

1. Large, national advertising campaigns are being replaced by activities that are locally focused This trend is being driven by media fragmentation and an increase in consumers who want to connect one-on-one with brands and support businesses that will boost their own local economies.

2. Significant shift in spending from traditional forms of media to digital Local businesses are embracing email and other forms of online marketing (microsites and landing pages, paid search, banner advertising, and now SMS) because they deliver a relatively low-cost way to reach consumers quickly via smartphones and mobile devices.

3. Considerable shift from mass production of marketing materials to advertising on-demand Economic challenges have forced marketers to re-analyze expenditures to ensure every dollar invested is generating the best possible return. While long-run printing still has valid applications, many have found that recent advancements in digital printing is allowing for cost-effective production of more personalized and effective pieces while reducing the cost and waste associated with warehousing materials that quickly become outdated. Digital media further accelerates the shift to personalized one-to-one communications.

Web-based local marketing automation solutions like BrandMuscle’s make it possible for corporate marketers to support brand-compliant local customization and deployment of marketing campaigns by local affiliates to address geographic, demographic and local competitive considerations. From customizing a print ad to delivering an email containing a link to a personalized landing page, BrandMuscle’s solution provides a cost-effective way for marketers to ensure global brand compliance, improve operational efficiency, and increase speed-to-market.

While having the right technology in place is critical to executing local marketing in a decentralized environment, it’s equally important to provide ongoing professional support to ensure local affiliates adopt and use the solution vigorously. While ease of use remains a key consideration, BrandMuscle also provides tactical and strategic local marketing support to both the corporate marketer and local affiliate to achieve optimal ROI. A key challenge many local affiliates face is understanding what types of advertising or campaigns will work best for their businesses and limited budgets. BrandMuscle addresses this by providing an option for local affiliates to work one-on-one with local media planning and buying specialists who can make recommendations and execute more strategic buys that will generate favorable returns.

As Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council notes, “Localization is the name of the game for national brands with significant field, channel or network marketing organizations.” With today’s consumer driving the conversation, marketers are forced to rethink their messaging and how it’s delivered to increase relevancy and speed-to-market. Local marketing automation platforms deliver a way for brands to centralize the origination of localized content while providing significant cost savings, global brand compliance and increased participation, interest and enthusiasm by the field to drive channel, and field sales performance. As new forms of media emerge and are tested with favorable results by corporate marketing organizations, it becomes even more critical to leverage technology that allows the brand to quickly scale high-performing tactics across sales channels to secure a competitive advantage.

Click here to download the full report from the CMO council.