Study Finds Advances in Local Marketing Are Helping Small Businesses

BMI Icon Marketing Written by: BrandMuscle Marketing

Local Dealers, Agents and Franchisees Looking for Help with Online Marketing from National Brand Counterparts

CHICAGO - Small businesses with tight budgets are finding success with online marketing, but with limited resources and a rapidly changing local marketing landscape, many say they are often left feeling confused and in need of help.

These of are just some of the findings from Brandmuscle’s State of Local Marketing Report, an annual barometer for national brands and small businesses planning their marketing strategies for the coming year.

Now in its second year, Brandmuscle’s State of Local Marketing Report analyzes trends, media satisfaction, opportunities and challenges facing national and global brands that sell through a distributed network of local affiliates (franchisees, dealers, agents, distributors, channel partners, etc.). The report is based on survey responses from over 850 local affiliate small businesses and a multi-year analysis of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of co-op investments.

Key findings include:

Co-op Marketing Spending Doesn’t Always Align with Local Affiliates’ Preferences

  • National brands that provide co-op marketing funds to their local channel partners, agents, dealers and distributors tend to direct those dollars toward traditional marketing tactics, while overlooking tactics that rate higher and are more affordable.

Small Businesses Still Rely Heavily on Traditional Media with Varying Results

  • Traditional media continues to capture the largest share of co-op investments (64%) and has only declined 1% overall since 2011.
  • Promotional signage, television, radio and flyers all ranked high for overall satisfaction.
  • Yellow Pages continue to have high usage (77%) despite ranking second to last in overall satisfaction.

Local Events & Sponsorships Are Becoming Synonymous with Local Marketing

  • Local events and sponsorships enjoyed the highest use (76%) and satisfaction ratings (111 on our satisfaction index) amongst all categories evaluated.
  • Local affiliates stated that they find significant value in talking to customers face-to-face at events to build trust in the local community, convey value and sell.

It’s Getting Harder for Local Affiliates to Use Social Media Effectively

  • Social media ranked last amongst the overarching categories we evaluated for use (63%) and satisfaction (88 on our satisfaction index).
  • Overwhelmingly, local affiliates still believe social media is just “too complicated.”
  • While the category as a whole lagged, Facebook ranked well with 84% usage and a 106 satisfaction index rating.

Digital Marketing Use and Satisfaction is Growing but Local Affiliates Need Help

  • Digital marketing had the second highest satisfaction rating (105 satisfaction index) of any category evaluated and use is growing (68%).
  • Co-op funding for digital marketing has increased 8% since 2011; a modest gain when compared to the increase in adoption and high satisfaction rating.
  • Websites ranked first for usage (90%) and overall satisfaction (121 satisfaction index).


“Digital usage is growing along with satisfaction, but local affiliates are struggling. Many find it’s just too complicated in general for them to market their businesses online,” said Clarke Smith, chief strategy officer for Brandmuscle. “Social media requires a lot of care and feeding and requires a commitment of time to respond quickly. But most of the local affiliates we surveyed are spending less than 10 percent of their time on marketing. Finding the right balance can be a real challenge for local affiliates.”


Categories covered by Brandmuscle’s State of Local Marketing Report include:

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  • Traditional Media: Billboards, Coupons, Direct Mail, Door-to-Door, Flyers, FSI's (Free Standing Inserts), Magazines, Newspaper, Promotional Signage, Radio, Telemarketing, Television, Yellow Pages
  • Local Events/Sponsorships: Community Sponsorships, Local Events, Major Event Sponsorships, Tradeshows
  • Digital Marketing: Content Marketing, Email, Mobile/SMS Text Messaging, Online Display, Paid Search, Webinars, Website
  • Social Media: Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter


Complimentary access to Brandmuscle’s State of Local Marketing Report:





About Brandmuscle Offering a comprehensive local marketing automation platform backed by 24/7 on-demand support, Brandmuscle helps national brands capitalize on opportunities and local market conditions with brand-compliant, customized marketing across all mediums and formats. Headquartered in Chicago with offices in Cleveland, Austin and New Jersey, Brandmuscle employs more than 650 talented professionals and serves nearly 200 of the world's leading brands. Brandmuscle is the only software provider ranked "Best" in all categories of Gleanster’s 2014 Local Marketing Automation Vendor Benchmark report and has appeared on Inc. Magazine's 500 | 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America List multiple years. For more information about Brandmuscle call (866) 464-4342 or visit

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