How to Market Your Brand Locally

Posted on February 21, 2013

I frequently advise brands on how to adapt their national communication strategies to fit local audiences. Here’s 5 quick and easy tips if you’re looking to localise yours.

Although 80% of marketing budgets are spent on national campaigns, over 90% of consumers base their choices on local factors. Recent research by the Newspaper Society and The Future Foundation demonstrating how consumers shop locally backs this up even further. And, just in case the point isn’t clear enough, findings in McCann Erickson’s ‘Moodier Britain’ showed quite clearly how consumers are increasingly looking to brands that offer local credentials.

It’s not surprising then that local marketing is one of the most effective ways of engaging consumers. However, almost everything about it flies in the face of modern marketing theory. It requires a level of flexibility, diversity and devolvement that marketers at head office find very difficult to comprehend.

If you’re a supermarket or retail business with hundreds of branches across the country, the thought of allowing local managers to control their own marketing is frightening. But the fact is that, when implemented correctly, local marketing campaigns outperform national ones by a significant margin. They build stronger empathy with local customers and drive employee engagement and enthusiasm by actively involving them in the marketing process.

So, how do you take a national brand and make it local? Here’s 5 tips to help you on your way:

1. Turn Your Marketing on its Head

Most organisations have heavily centralised marketing structures built around a team sitting in head office and operating on a top-down basis. But central marketers are cut off from the cut and thrust of consumer opinion and behaviour.

They might have access to expensive research but they’re not on the shop floor and not experiencing critical local market factors that have a huge influence on purchasing behaviour. Instead, turn marketing into a bottom-up process driven by consumer need.

This means tapping into your local management for local market information and using it to build communications that make your brand relevant to each community that it serves.

2. Data, data and more data

We all know how important data is but many brands still don’t know how to either collect or use it properly. Incentivise and educate your branch staff to collect as much of it as they can and, crucially, let them know why it’s so important.

But that’s only half the story – it’s what you do with it that really counts. I’ve worked with countless clients who have proudly shown me reams of customer data carefully collected but wasted on meaningless mass direct mail campaigns that pay little attention to either purchasing habits or local demographics. It’s no wonder why they don’t get the results they expect.

3. Use Technology

Recent developments in marketing technology have probably done more to facilitate local marketing than any other single factor. This includes online marketing toolkits that allow marketers to create locally relevant and brand compliant collateral across multiple channels simultaneously and data warehousing platforms that can slice, dice and analyse customer data to improve ROI.

Most importantly, the cost of the technology has reduced dramatically taking away one of the biggest barriers to entry.

4. Engage Employees

Often the most overlooked factors when it comes to local marketing, branch employees can play an enormously important role in determining the success of a campaign. It’s just plain common sense – no amount of beautiful, creative marketing will encourage a consumer to purchase a product when it’s sold in an ugly, stressful and negative environment by staff who don’t give a hoot.

Involve local staff in marketing decisions by inviting feedback and acting on it. It doesn’t mean that you have to do everything they tell you, but the resulting benefits to your bottom line through more enthused and engaged staff will far outweigh the effort made.

5. Pick the Right Agency

The problem for most marketers is that they’re engaged with agencies whose business models can’t deliver either the flexibility or diversity demanded by local marketing.

Although they deny it, most agencies are obsessed by a single ‘big idea’ communicated as efficiently and consistently across as many channels as possible when what consumers want are multiple messages that are relevant to them and their environment. Furthermore, as very few agencies are involved with the delivery of marketing where it matters most (i.e. in the branches) they’re out of touch with the demands of a modern retail network.

Do your research and source those agencies that have the appropriate technology and experience of delivering successful local marketing campaigns.

(This article first appeared on Utalk Marketing on Aug 10, 2009)

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