The Core 4 Digital Marketing Challenges Multi-Location Brands Experience — And The Tech Solution

As a marketing executive or leader of a retail franchise or a multi-location retail brand, you need to create a customer experience that breaks through the clutter in order to achieve brand loyalty in today’s complex consumer market. Easier said than done. 

One particular area that’s difficult to navigate is how to best serve highly targeted marketing campaigns to local customers across hundreds or thousands of very unique communities where your retail locations exist. Across the many multi-location brands at which I’ve worked, including national retailer Batteries Plus Bulbs, it’s an issue with which our internal marketing teams and outside ad agencies struggled. 

In this article, I’ll identify four main marketing challenges I believe all multi-location retail marketers can relate to and how to use technology to solve them.

1. Multi-Channel, Multi-Platform

Today, businesses must engage customers across display, mobile, video, email, and social channels using multiple touchpoints. However, with so many platforms providing access to digital audiences, problems arise.

Hyperlocal audiences can become fragmented, data can become siloed, multiple platforms require multiple logins, and marketing local stores on all necessary channels can be a non-starter with minimum budget threshold requirements. This leads to marketing inefficiencies, the risk of oversaturating customers with repeating or conflicting ads, or customers missing your ad altogether. Talk about a win for the competition.

2. Utilizing Local Market Expertise

Corporate marketing teams have limited, if any, knowledge of the local communities where they’re running ads. Maybe they visited some markets once or did some brief research online. However, they don’t live there or interact daily with the local customers their retail locations serve. Leveraging the community knowledge and expertise of local retail store managers who know their local customers, the best selling products, the most attractive price points, and how product inventory levels can be affected by promotions can be a game changer. The challenge is how to get this feedback when dealing with hundreds and thousands of locations.

The ability to trust and empower individual retail locations with the ability to select product images and tailor campaign messaging to customers in their local market, while operating within the brand guidelines and strategy set forth by corporate, will help managers be fully invested in their store’s marketing efforts and thereby more accountable for their store’s sales performance.

3. A Single Large Budget

To get the biggest bang for their buck, most retail brands build larger-budget national digital marketing campaigns that are geo-targeted to local markets around their retail stores. Broad programmatic optimizations guide the spend, eventually steering most, if not all, dollars towards geographies that generate the most clicks, conversions, or other KPIs.

While good for some retail locations, the challenge is that all retail locations in a system won’t benefit equally. There are also scenarios where individual store budget flexibility is needed, but it’s only beneficial when the brand’s national buying power can be leveraged. One example is when higher-performing retail stores in a system need to have larger local marketing budgets commensurate with their revenue. Similarly, corporate may want to infuse additional advertising dollars into individual poor-performing retail stores to boost sales. Setting up individual budgets reflecting prioritization by market or media spend objectives is critical to local marketing success.

4. Individual Location Reporting & Analytics

When you build national campaigns geo-targeted around retail locations, the inability to see the performance of individual locations is problematic. Broad programmatic optimizations aren’t ideal to maximize the impact of marketing dollars at all retail locations.

To help guide optimization and additional funding at the individual store level and drive sales at a specific store, you need to be able to analyze data at the store and market level.

The Technology-Based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Marketing Platform Solution 

For a hyperlocal digital marketing program to be feasible cost-wise while solving the four challenges above, it needs to be powered by technology. One solution is having your current ad agency build a custom multi-channel marketing automation platform in a cost-effective way. However, the most successful retail franchises and multi-location brands are now utilizing sophisticated, enterprise multi-location SaaS marketing automation platform solutions in-house provided by companies like Hyperlocology, and others, to bring big-brand capabilities to their individual retail locations in a unified way. 

As a multi-location retail brand or franchise, you need the ability to customize, analyze and optimize hundreds and thousands of individual digital marketing campaigns with ease. Corporate marketing teams can now leverage the spending power of the national brand to help all individual retail locations benefit from cutting-edge marketing technology both simply and cost-effectively

Build Relationships With Local Consumers While Also Building Your Brand Nationally

The powerful combination of streamlined un-siloed data, seamless cross-channel marketing, and authentic personalization achieved through the use of technology-powered marketing automation platforms can enable retailers to create meaningful buyer experiences to confront the challenges posed by the complex modern consumer while building brand loyalty.

What was once a distant dream for many brands and retail marketers is now a reality. Every retail location can be more successful in building the brand nationally from the community up by building relationships with local customers.  

Jeffrey Lentz is President & CEO of Elevated Franchise Marketing, which provides consulting and marketing services to franchisees, franchisors, and franchise suppliers. A franchise marketing executive, consultant, and business owner with 20 years of experience across retail, quick-service restaurant, fintech and automotive industries, he has held marketing leadership roles across five franchise organizations with a focus on franchise development, consumer, b2b, product, field, CRM, and local store marketing. During his 10 years at national retailer Batteries Plus Bulbs, he led franchise development marketing efforts over a period of rapid growth that saw the company open 250 retail stores in 5 years while also managing marketing vendor programs. He has made multiple appearances on national TV show Fox & Friends and is a contributor to industry trade publications and media outlets. He holds a B.A. Degree in Communications and Marketing from Marquette University. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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