Local Digital Marketing For National Brands: A Quick How-To Guide

Amanda Knauer Written by: Amanda Knauer

How national brands can simplify social media and digital marketing for local dealers, agents, distributors and franchisees

NOTE: We’re currently analyzing responses from local dealers, agents and franchisees about their marketing behaviors for this year’s State of Local Marketing Report –– an annual endeavor to learn more about distributed local marketing. While we put together this year’s report, we’re also revisiting some findings from last year that deserve a second look.

The digital marketing world is continually bringing local marketers new opportunities to reach their target audiences (think Snapchat marketing or Pokemon GO).  But not every new opportunity is a good one. To make digital and social media marketing profitable, national brands need to  educate local affiliates and provide them with the right resources to take advantage of the growing digital revolution.

The truth is, traditional marketing avenues like print newspapers and terrestrial radio are reaching fewer and fewer potential customers. It's something local marketers are realizing too: we found a 10-point difference in the Satisfaction Index between Traditional and Digital marketing tactics on last year’s survey. Our 2015 State of Local Marketing Report also unveiled that local affiliates know how important digital and social marketing is in the evolving marketing world, but they struggle with to implement these tactics successfully. Because of this, we found the affiliates either avoid using social media and digital marketing tactics altogether or are turning to their corporate brand for help -- with mixed results.

Local affiliates who avoid using social media do so because it’s too complicated, but that doesn’t mean affiliates who simply have a business Facebook page have it all figured out, either. There is much more to social media than simply pushing out content, and affiliates are asking for education, content and advice.

It’s also the complicated nature of digital marketing that keeps the time-strapped small business operators from efficiently and effectively executing marketing online. Affiliates are seeking education on paid search, SEO and other digital tactics.

Why is it so important for your local marketers to be use social media and digital marketing?

The numbers say it all:

Despite the overwhelming evidence, a large number of affiliates are still hesitant to jump into digital and social media marketing. Why? We asked last year’s survey respondents and have broken down exactly why they are struggling when it comes to local marketing with new media:

ebrochure_time1.     Managing digital and social media takes time

Many time-strapped local affiliates simply do not have the resources to manage social channels. From maintaining the Twitter account with daily posts, to responding to customers on Facebook, some small business owners feel they need to put their time elsewhere. Affiliates also said they don't have the time to explore and experiment with digital tactics on their own. The constant changes and upkeep needed for effective SEO and paid search campaigns, for instance, are difficult for most local business owners to keep up with.

ebrochure_education2.     Local affiliates don’t have the expertise

Local dealers, agents and franchisees want education about digital and social marketing. What's the difference between SEO and paid search? Why should local marketers have a strategy behind the type of content they post to Twitter vs. LinkedIn? Affiliates need a better understanding of which tactics are which, what online tactics are most effective and how to execute campaigns properly within each channel to create effective campaigns.

ebrochure_money3.     Digital media can be expensive

Specifically, paid search and online display advertising was perceived as being too expensive by many local affiliates last year. This cost is compounded when campaigns aren’t set up correctly and/or focused strategically -- two issues that stem from a lack of time and expertise. Digital and social media should be considered a crucial part of the marketing budget for local affiliates from national co-op programs all the way down.

ebrochure_content4.     Local affiliates need digital and social media content

To move forward with digital and social campaigns, local dealers, agents and franchisees need material (copy, images, templates, etc.) that is designed and sized for online use. In last years survey, affiliates were asking for engaging and relevant content they can use on websites, Facebook, LinkedIn, email campaigns and other social and digital media to help drive their local marketing goals while remaining brand compliant.

ebrochrure_roi5.     Measuring ROI from digital and social is unclear

Many local affiliates have had a bad experience with digital and social media that has left them wary of online marketing tactics.  Without guidance, it is difficult for a local affiliate to execute a digital or social media campaign and see results. Understanding how to use each (i.e., PPC for acquisition and social media for awareness) could help level set expectations.


There are always opportunities for brand marketers and local affiliates to work together to create successful local online marketing campaigns – including giving local affiliates the education, support and resources they desire. To incorporate local marketing approaches that align and support your corporate digital marketing strategies, we’ve suggested a five-step-guideline for national brands to help their small business partners succeed in new media.

For insight into how national brands can help local affiliates simplify social and digital media at the local level, download the interactive eBrochure:

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