National brands are going local in a major way, utilizing hyperlocal marketing channels as a way to reach consumers in their native markets. According to a survey by the CMO Council and Balihoo, half of U.S. brands are now managing their local marketing efforts at the corporate level, and one-third say they expect their local efforts to continue growing through 2013.
The biggest challenge large brands face when utilizing local marketing platforms is keeping their messages consistent. Sixty-four percent of brands surveyed are looking for ways to eliminate the customer confusion that can occur when different marketing messages are sent out across competing platforms, and 81% say communicating a consistent brand message is their top priority for the upcoming year. Here are five ways that brands can do just that.
1. Maintain unified creatives. Maintaining branding and consistency at the local level starts with unified creatives. Large brands can generate a corporate-approved template, and then localize information for specific stores. They can even go beyond standard localization by including local reviews and photos. By making creatives for each of their locations, large brands can save time and money. They can also maintain consistent branding, as well as control of the message across the board. (Victor Wong, PaperG)
2. Understand the motivations of local audiences. As a channel, mobile offers an excellent outlet to reach local consumers at scale. When operating a new channel, however, brands need to think beyond simply reformatting their creatives and buying banner ads. Messages need to take advantage of the local medium and their capabilities, including understanding the motivations of the local audiences. Forward-thinking brands should consider the way mobile users consume information, and content needs to be optimized as such. If done correctly, the overarching message can be retained with a strong call-to-action. (Todd Dipaola, inMarket)
3. Engage in a channel- and geography-specific way. The channels over which brands engage with consumers each have unique nuances. For example, local Facebook communities respond well to photos, while Twitter communities are link-oriented. Far more insightful is understanding the sentiment and mood of each channel. Brands can measure things like how Instagram communities responds to brand messaging, versus other channels like Foursquare or Google+ Local. This can inform the marketing strategy for each campaign. This applies similarly to geography. A recent campaign showed how a specific geography received 4x the results of any other geography. Upon investigation, the brand found that the local operator in that area had executed the campaign slightly differently, and those slight localization tweaks had a huge impact on ROI. (Neil Crist, Venuelabs)
4. Set boundaries with local managers. Brands should be clear about how much control local-level managers can have, and enlist the right tools to accomplish that. Giving local-level managers corporate messaging to share, in addition to allowing them to interact on a local level, will ensure basic branding with a local twist. To retain more control, brands should utilize an approval tool where certain content can be sent in for approval to corporate before publishing. (Aaron Everson, Shoutlet)
5. Measure what works. As the saying goes, if you can’t measure it, don’t do it. The same is true with local advertising and marketing. Both successes and failures happen on local and regional levels. Brands that are not measuring in a location-specific way are missing meaningful trends and opportunities to do better with each iterative campaign. Venuelabs recommends getting a local listening baseline in place before investing heavily on local campaigns. (Neil Crist, Venuelabs)
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.