For some global and national brands, marketing is just that: globally and nationally driven.
That’s a mistake, if you ask us.
Over a decade ago, Brandmuscle was created from the idea that this mistake was an opportunity for the industry: brands benefit when they focus their marketing on local audiences and work to make connections within the community. And in this day in age, it’s no longer just an opportunity. It’s imperative to a brand's success.
If there’s one thing that our research for the new State of Local Marketing Report (SOLMR) taught us, it’s that major brands who make local marketing a strategic corporate priority for 2017 will find greater success and a stronger ROI than those who do not.
In 2017, the seismic shift to local marketing cannot be ignored.
In fact, Brandmuscle’s Chief Digital Officer Paul Elliott recently stated: “national brand marketing is dead.”
That’s a pretty powerful statement, but it’s a statement that Brandmuscle stands behind because we can prove it. Don’t believe that 2017 is the year of local marketing? Read these four reasons, then let us know where we got it wrong in the comments below.
1. Consumers’ use of mobile technology has elevated the importance of location
"The proliferation of mobile technology has fundamentally changed the consumer journey,” Elliott says. “For years, many national brand marketers have refused to acknowledge this drastic change in consumer behavior and have continued marketing as usual. Simply put, the brands winning consumers at the local point of decision have adjusted to the mobile, local shift.”
In other words, the way consumers are buying and shopping is changing and is increasingly locally driven and mobile-focused. Mobile is local. In 2015, nearly two-thirds of Americans owned smartphones, according to Pew research. And, since Nov 2015, “near me” searches have increased by 76 percent, according to Google. With numbers like that, ignoring the mobile and digital revolution in 2017 will leave you behind your competitors who have already discovered its importance.
How do you implement location technology with local affiliates?
Our SOLMR showed that 93 percent of local affiliates plan to maintain or increase digital marketing spend in 2017. Digital opportunities are available and local affiliates (dealers, agents and franchisees) are standing ready to capitalize on them. What they need from their global and national brands is the support and funding to make the most of their marketing dollars.
Taking a look at the State of Local Marketing Quadrant™, most of the digital marketing tactics, like SEO, Paid Search and Online Directories, fall under needing support, meaning local affiliates find the tactics effective but difficult to implement. With the right resources and an increase in the localization of digital spending, corporate brands need to look for ways to involve local affiliates with digital and mobile marketing to ensure their brand shows up for the new local mobile consumer.
2. Small businesses recognize the value of marketing
Local affiliates recognize the shift in the media landscape and are ready and willing to participate. But they need the proper support.For example, an area that local affiliates are planning to increase spending on is social advertising. 78 percent of Americans have a social media profile, meaning that a massive potential audience is active on social media every day. Affiliates know this, as the SOLMR states that one in four affiliates plan to increase spending on social media advertising in 2017 (the second largest increase in spend for 2017, next to event marketing). However—help is needed: 21 percent of affiliates said that receiving more digital and social content from their corporate brand topped their wish list for 2017. Guidance on where to post, who to target and when to launch also came up in affiliate comments.
It isn’t just digital and social media marketing, though. Local affiliates realize that they must strike a balance between online and offline local marketing to properly reach their audiences. Brandmuscle suggests an integrated approach to local marketing using traditional forms of media in nontraditional ways. To do that, affiliates are asking for assistance beyond content.
How can you help affiliates own their local marketing with integrated campaigns?
While the main priority for local affiliates in 2017 is obtaining more marketing dollars from their corporate brand, affiliates are also asking for more education, training, communication and support. As local marketing continues to grow, your affiliates want to grow with it. In 2017, streamline communications and promote educational opportunities for your affiliates to maximize your brand’s presence.
Moral of the story: your local affiliates understand the tremendous significance of local marketing for the upcoming year. Do you?
3. Co-op dollars will be invested more strategically
So, local affiliates are asking for more help, specifically in monetary form. But rather than just increasing the amount of co-op funds you make available in 2017, brands should examine the allocation of their current investments to ensure funds are strategically aligned with their marketing goals. This means choosing the right marketing channels to invest your co-op dollars and helping affiliates develop and launch their campaigns. As the SOLMR states, “By pairing co-op funding with execution support and education, local marketing leaders can achieve a much stronger return on investment.”
Half of the respondents in the report said that more than 50 percent of their marketing budget comes from co-op. Reliant on this funding and short on time, affiliates typically turn to the marketing tactics that are cheap and easy. When corporate marketers reallocate funds from outdated tactics with dwindling ROI (think printed yellow pages) to a new approach in today’s digital-first culture (like mobile-targeted paid search), it will open up a whole new world of local marketing to your affiliates.Think of it this way: event marketing and local marketing go hand-in-hand. You can’t get much more local than getting out in the community and participating in real-time, face-to-face marketing. Not to mention, the SOLMR reported that local affiliates find event marketing effectiveness to be off the charts with 85 percent saying hosting events are the most effective tactic they use. On the opposite end of the spectrum, they also find it the most difficult to implement. However, in 2017, event marketing will be the largest increase in spending with 31 percent of affiliates planning to spend more on the tactic next year.
Co-op spending on local events has seen the most drastic increase since 2011. In 2009, events were just 9 percent of overall co-op spend and in 2015, that number jumped to 22 percent. In 2017, we expect the trend to continue, and to see that even more corporate marketers will shift funding to local events. Knowing that hosting or attending an event can be costly, this becomes an excellent place to invest co-op funds to maintain a consistent brand and get the desired face-to-face time with current and potential customers.
How can local marketing leaders spend co-op dollars more strategically in 2017? Affiliates want the money and they want to use it as best they can in 2017. That’s where you step in—both with funding and execution to support to ensure you get the most out of your co-op dollars.
4. Global and national marketing leaders recognize the critical importance of going local
The local marketing leaders we profiled in this years' SOLMR were united. Local marketing is becoming increasingly important and, at the same time, more challenging than ever.
“Years ago, it may have been enough to place a billboard or run an ad in a local newspaper to establish a local presence,” said Allison Woodin, Marketing Manager at Allstate, a Brandmuscle client. “Today, local marketing is about so much more. Establishing a digital footprint is equally, if not more, important than a physical one. On the flip side, it’s not enough to show up online without actually showing up in the community beyond a storefront.”
How corporate marketing leaders can help affiliates "own local"
As affiliates recognize the importance of capitalizing on local marketing opportunities in 2017, national brands should be prepared to reciprocate with education, funding, communication and content. That starts with identifying the right local marketing partners and technologies to kick start the initiatives.
You can build up your national brand’s presence as much as possible, but as the saying goes, you’re only as good as your weakest link. Don’t let a local affiliate be your weakest link. Strengthen the last mile of marketing in 2017 with a focus on local marketing and watch your brand succeed in the years to come.