How to Win The National-to-Local War with Technology and Services

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Screen-Shot-2013-05-23-at-12.23.32-PMMore than 30 years ago, I started working in the traditional advertising business at Young & Rubicam in New York. Our client, KFC, required a huge field service team across the U.S. to support national advertising efforts and bring campaigns into local markets with in-store, radio, TV and newspaper advertising. KFC and Young & Rubicam knew the importance of brand consistency, implementation and local entrepreneur buy-in for a successful marketing program that generated results.

Fast-forward to 2013 and the national-to-local marketing objective is still the same — drive sales and/or leads at the local level. But the opportunity is much more significant. Marketing tools like content management systems, national-to-local SEO, social media and content marketing strategies provide a huge opportunity to dominate local markets without comprimising brand consistency. Even better, audience and lead tracking, smart customer resource management (CRM) systems and centralized call centers are more powerful and affordable than ever before.

But enterprises still face the same issues as they did 30 years ago — namely, ensuring a consistent national-to-local implementation at “the last mile.” With more moving parts in digital media today, it is much harder to implement a successful national to local digital marketing program unless dealers (or franchises, contractors, physicians, etc.) are onboard, active participants and investing in the program.

Previously, traditional marketing and in-store promotions were about “write once and run everywhere.” The first generation of national-to-local website platforms simply ported the traditional media model online, creating websites with local pages that use the name, address and phone number (NAP) information or map to the nearest location. These implementations were just scratching the surface in terms of visibility for the brand in local markets, and lacked ways to engage with potential customers to create brand preferences and generate leads.

But imagine if a brand could harness the power of the entire national and local network to crowd-source resources at the local level, leveraging the dealer network to advance brand visibility nationally and locally. Likes, content sharing or commenting, blog posts and other social media, search engine optimization as well as content creation and distribution all benefit nationally when there is coordination locally.

A few elements are necessary for a brand to implement a cohesive national to local approach:

  1. A brand’s website should have a consistent look and feel with customization opportunities at the local level for local specific campaigns

  2. SEO, social media and content architecture should be turnkey and created with a national to local approach in mind.

  3. Data and analytics need to support the national and local levels so enterprises can evaluate programs and leads.

  4. Consistent coaching and implementation of digital marketing technology should support local dealers that typically have little time and resources to manage marketing and advertising programs.

Enabled by technology, digital marketing has opened a new frontier of national to local marketing strategies for lead focused businesses. But implementation will determine whether these programs recreate the past, or become a powerful lead generation tool for brands, businesses and their constituents.

chrisChris Marentis is the founder and CEO of Surefire Social, a provider of local digital marketing services for SMBs. He previously served as CEO of Clearspring Technologies (now Add This) and senior vice president of AOL’s Interactive Marketing group.