Local Marketing Automation: A Powerful Tool – But Misunderstood

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The CMO Council is preparing to release Brand Automation for Local Activation, a report that promises to connect customer engagement into measurable local strategies. In working closely with the organization to compile the final results, all involved have been surprised to discover there is still confusion-even among leading marketers-about local marketing strategy and automation as well as how to get started. So, we felt it necessary to provide a high-level view of these topics via our commentary in the CMO Council’s e-journal, Marketing Magnified. Read on for part one of the article:
 
Challenges and Rewards of Local Marketing Automation
 
At the national level, brands are able to control just about everything: strategy, brand message, creative execution, media tactics and measurement. Whether the work is done in-house or with a combination of marketing services partners, national marketers have oversight and are involved from beginning to end. Most brands also use some type of marketing automation technology to help manage and measure national-level marketing campaigns.
 
But when it comes to a national brand’s local-level marketing, there is a dramatic shift. In this space, the challenges of controlling the brand’s marketing and effectiveness multiply. Brands, especially those selling through local outlets (e.g. dealers, distributors, agents, franchisees or retailers) must rely on these local affiliates – often hundreds or even thousands of independent businesses with competing responsibilities – to carry-out the brand’s marketing across a highly fragmented landscape of media outlets. And most national marketers have little visibility into the execution of these local campaigns, much less how well any of them perform. Therefore, creating a local marketing strategy is an absolute must.
 
Local Marketing Strategy: What and Why?
 
A local marketing strategy is the infrastructure (sales channels, software), processes, and campaigns a brand needs to successfully execute in local markets and capture local market demand. A successful local marketing strategy must:

  • integrate with the brand’s national strategy
  • be measurable
  • address the objectives/needs of the non-corporate-owned sales channel (independent retailers, resellers, VARs, agents, franchisees, etc.)

Local marketing automation is an important component of the local marketing infrastructure, as it enables national brands to capture local market demand, automate campaigns and track and measure performance in hundreds or thousands of local markets.
 
Unfortunately, we’ve found that the majority of brands appear to not understand WHAT a comprehensive local marketing automation solution is (as mentioned earlier, upcoming findings from the report clearly demonstrate this). We frequently see national brands (even brands with solid local marketing strategies) hitting roadblocks when they go to select and implement a comprehensive local marketing automation solution-all because they are acting upon their misconceptions. Let’s address these misconceptions.
 
What It Isn’t
 
Local marketing automation is not an automated email system, an ad builder, or even a co-op management software. These are all important tools and solutions, but they are point solutions. A point solution is a solution that does one thing, and does it well.
 
And while many companies have invested in point solutions for lead or campaign management, marketing fulfillment, and financial management, it’s necessary to integrate these solutions. If they function independently, the resources required to manage the solutions and the time required to assemble aggregated measurements and track to the ROI level becomes prohibitive. Automation makes integrating these solutions, and reducing resource demands, possible.
 
What It Is
 
A local marketing automation system refers to both the process and the technology used for building, distributing and enabling local marketing execution across multiple markets simultaneously. It allows national brands to own the brand strategy and tactics while allowing their local affiliates (channel partners, distributors, franchisees) to strengthen their message by easily integrating localized data-resulting in highly targeted, better-performing campaigns and increased affiliate adoption. Plus, national brands receive comprehensive and aggregated analytics and reporting for all local markets and mediums.
 
The Benefits
 
When national brands invest in software that automates local marketing, they experience a number of unique benefits, including:

  • ensuring brand control and integrity
  • executing sophisticated and effective local campaigns, powered by local data
  • improving time-to-local market for national campaigns
  • reaching prospects closer to the point of purchase
  • increasing channel engagement and success
  • access to aggregated local marketing analytics
  • increased revenue and decreased complexity

Both national brand and local affiliate win when a local marketing automation system is successfully implemented. The overall brand message is strengthened by local content, affiliates benefit from sophisticated campaigns in their specific markets, and each party realizes growth and profitability-all at a significant cost savings. In fact, according to Gartner, “By 2015, companies that focus on integrated processes for local marketing enablement will increase revenue by 15 to 20 percent.”

The above information is only part one of the full article. Check back on our blog next week when we’ll share part two: best practices for implementing a Local Marketing Automation solution. In the meantime, download our white paper to learn more about Local Marketing Automation.

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