Paul Elliott Offers Mid-Year Local Marketing Trend Assessment

Ned Weingart Written by: Ned Weingart

As we close in on the end of Q2 2018, BrandMuscle President Paul Elliott forecasts the three major local marketing trends that every brand should know for the rest of this year and into next.

1.) It’s Not “Either/Or” it’s “And”

The digital/traditional gap is closing.   

“In our State of Local Marketing Report, we analyze the market every year,” Paul said. “Continued growth and investment in digital marketing has been a huge trend and will continue to be one. The nugget that we found most interesting was while we’re seeing very steady, continued growth in those local businesses that are currently executing or want to add digital, we also now see the budget paradigm where they do not want to stop spending dollars on what they are currently executing. They want to add all these new tactics in, and don’t necessarily have increasing budgets to do it.”

For brands, this means that local business partners are stepping out of that single-channel tactic comfort zone. They are ready to adopt digital tactics, but they still understand the value of the traditional tactics they’ve historically implemented. It’s no longer a question of “either/or,” but rather “and.” Brands need to help their local business partners choose the right blend of traditional/physical tactics to blend with digital for the maximum, measurable ROI. This allows local business partners to cut out the wasteful spend and focus on an optimized media mix. 

2.) Co-op Strategies that Drive Behavior

When it comes to choosing the right blend of traditional and digitals tactics, we can look to a thoughtful, prescriptive co-op strategy to drive the behavior the brand wants at the local level.  

 “Historically, how co-op funds are utilized has been largely up to the program participants’ discretion, but more and more brands are seeing they have to guide behaviors by selecting which tactics co-op can be used for,” Paul said. “For example, brands are no longer making funds available for tactics like yellow pages or branded merchandise, and instead the corporate partner is doubling down in areas like paid social media or programmatic display, then providing further recommendations and training when it comes to where these local businesses use their dollars.”

It’s important to remember that program participants are spending time with consumers day in and day out, so what corporate predicts will generate the highest ROI, may not necessarily align with ever-evolving consumer behaviors. Your co-op/MDF program can provide invaluable data on what your program participants are doing. Link that data directly with overall sales, and you will truly be able to connect the dots and continue encouraging your program participants to put their co-op/MDF dollars where you see the greatest impact.

3.) Don’t Rule Out Facebook

People often think of large search engines, like Google, as the future of digital advertising, and for good reason. Google pulled in $73.8 billion in ad revenue in 2017, ranking first in the world. However, Paul sees this trend shifting away from paid search to a different direction.

“In the large digital agency world, clients couldn’t find enough dollars to put into paid search, but when we talk about small businesses, the cost and the return on investment just aren’t matching up,” Paul said. “If a local insurance agent wants to try and play in the local auto insurance space, those key words are $50 to even $60+ per click, and there’s just no way an agent can afford to play in that space.”

What is the new online advertising playground for the small business? Paul says social media. Facebook may have ranked second in digital marketing ad revenue in 2017 behind Google, but is growing at a much faster clip. Facebook grew their ad revenue by 48.6% last year compared to Google’s only 19.5%.

“We’re seeing a shift of dollars out of paid search and into paid social media, and by social media, I predominantly mean Facebook,” Paul said. “We’re also seeing a continual funding of display advertising. These dollars aren’t new, they’re just a shift from what’s historically been paid search to the better returning paid social and display.”

Interested in learning more about trends in local marketing? Check out our 2018 State of Local Marketing Report here!

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