Commentary

Get Your Local Marketing House In Order

Many of us resolve to put our houses in order at the start of a new year, both personally and professionally. But some challenges can seem so daunting -- we don’t know where to start even though we know we need to make a change. Sometimes it takes tough, direct feedback on what we’re missing and what we could gain by taking even the smallest steps toward doing things differently to get better results.

For example, if you’re a national brand that relies on local sales and marketing channels, chances are you’ve got your work cut out for you. Competing priorities, a plethora of new media channels and digital tactics, and little-to-no time to explore new processes, tools and technologies can seem like insurmountable obstacles hindering your efforts to grow sales and your brand presence at the local level. 

But you know if you don’t do something about it, your brand will lose valuable sales to competitors. So there’s no time better than the present for a fresh start and to get your local marketing “house” in order to increase top-line business growth in 2013. Here are three must-do tips to help you jump-start your local marketing efforts and stop missing revenue opportunities at the local level.

1.  Stop putting demand generation first. It sounds counterintuitive, but many brands jump in headfirst to demand generation activities when engaging in local marketing. However, lack of demand is usually not the issue. The issue is capturing the customers who are already looking for your brand’s products in the local marketplace, but instead end up buying from your competitor. You need to first help your affiliates (dealers, retailers, agents, etc.) get found when people are researching a purchase or ready to buy. But that’s only half the battle. You also have to ensure that your affiliates have the marketing materials and tools they need to effectively represent your brand. It’s also important to build the infrastructure to scale local efforts across multiple markets and track aggregated metrics. Demand generation should come only after you have captured the lower-hanging fruit and are ready to accelerate.

2.  Stop building programs solely for your top-tier affiliates. Once you take the time to understand the needs of all segments of your sales channel, you will see that while the top-tier players need some component-level support, it’s the 75 percent of your affiliates in the “meaty middle” of your revenue base who need your help the most. Although this large group of resellers or agents may not individually make a large revenue contribution, together they represent a real opportunity to grow the top line. These partners are looking to grow, but don’t have the resources or knowledge to execute effective co-branded local marketing activities. And they are desperate for your help -- especially in digital channels that require significant technical knowledge. Make them the focus of the majority of your efforts. Deliver true automation to them. While you may only see incremental gains from individual affiliates, in sum they will represent significant growth.

3.  Modify outdated co-op programs. Most national brands’ co-op efforts today are not keeping pace with the evolving marketing landscape -- and it’s hurting their bottom line. It’s time to elevate co-op programs from an expense line-item and instead implement them as measurable, strategic marketing investments that are integrated and coordinated with the national marketing strategy. These programs must embrace digital tactics in order to take advantage of the tremendous revenue-generating potential that digital offers. Educating your local affiliates on how to use digital effectively is also important. Give them the tools, technologies support and ROI incentives to encourage participation so that they stop leaving local sales revenue on the table.

Brands that realize the importance of enabling effective local marketing with strategic planning and a focused infrastructure will win out in the New Year.

 

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