Localize Brands For Success

A new study from the Chief Marketing Officer Council shows that many companies, dissatisfied with the effectiveness of local channel and field sales partners, are seeking new digital media avenues and localized engagement activities. The report, “Brand Automation for Local Activation,” finds that only 8% of the 296 brand marketers surveyed were extremely satisfied with the way new product, pricing or promotional campaigns are executed and leveraged by local field sales, reseller, franchise or partner networks. To improve these ties, 52% of marketers say comprehensive brand campaign automation is necessary to strengthen ties between the head office and local customer-facing resources and touchpoints.

Despite 59% of national marketers noting that local demand generation was essential to their business growth, only 7% feel they have highly evolved campaigns and measures in place that can activate consumers at a local level.

Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council, notes that “... according to the U.S. State Department, American businesses lose $50 billion annually in potential sales because of problems with localization... this localization gap has a significant lost opportunity cost to any business willing to allow 30 days to pass before driving relevant content into a local marketplace... “  

So it is even more confusing that the CMO Council’s report shows that nearly one in four marketers is spending more than 50% of budgets on local programs and promotions, and a staggering 61% are not tracking the impact of national advertising on a local level. And as 49% of the respondents agree that localized marketing is critical to business growth, only 30% have embraced localization automation tools or platforms.

When asked what elements in the media mix were being localized to address local market segments or better drive interactions at the local level, marketers are focused on localizing strategy, segmentation and messaging (68%) and direct mail and emails (53%). However, fewer than 50% of respondents are focusing on localized media buys, social media interactions, website or even adjusting sales literature or collateral.

Measurement is also fitting into a more advertising-driven set of traditional metrics around clicks and views. While 30% of marketers are measuring local marketing campaign success by virtue of their impact on bottom-line success and sales, only 6% are measuring at a store-by-store or individual agent level. Yet even in a time when marketers are being asked to measure marketing impact in the language of the business, many of the top measures are campaign- or channel-focused, including cost per click, cost per lead and the volume of lead flow. Few marketers identified customer lifetime value, reduction of churn or lower acquisition costs as a key measure.

Local Market Data Collection (% of Respondents)

Insights & Data

% of Respondents

Images gathered from field and business development teams


3rd party market research


Customer service feedback


Monitoring competitive activity & outcomes


Customer profile data


Viral buzz & social conversations


Insights from franchisees, partners & resellers


Agency partners


Academic analysis


IT aggregated data from organization


Source: CMO Council, February 2013

 Notably absent from the list of data resources, says the report, is IT as only 6% of marketers indicate that a key point of intelligence comes from partnering with IT to aggregate data from across the organization. Also under-represented are the local customers themselves as only 29% are including online voice of customer intelligence, and only 28% are monitoring and aggregating social conversations. A contributor to this issue could be marketing’s ongoing challenge to develop an accurate and comprehensive profi le of the customer. According to respondents, only 31% of marketers are able to develop a customer profile based on a combination of both structured and unstructured data.

The report suggests several conclusions to executing a local comprehensive strategy:

  • 1 A strategy cannot continue to be connected to a resource-sapping manual process that lacks the measures and intelligence-gathering that are so critical to optimization, concludes the report. Collaboration is the key:
  • Marketers are clearly committed to advancing localized marketing strategies. By collaborating with key stakeholders across the sales network, and the organization, best-practice leaders have been able to transform their processes and operations when connecting to the customer.
  • The key to enabling this collaboration is connectivity, says the report. Marketers who achieved the highest degrees of satisfaction both with their ability to activate the local customer and in their working relationships with their local sales networks have been able to fully connect and enable brand assets, strategies and campaigns to be delivered, measured and optimized with full partnership at the local level and visibility at the corporate level. What is achieved is a unified brand that has a deeper understanding of the needs and expectations of the customer and can exceed those expectations with a flawless, connected customer experience.
  • 2 Leverage social, local and mobile. Despite the numerous headlines touting both consumer reliance on mobile, it seems that marketers have invested in social but are not moving as quickly to mobile. But even more problematic is the idea that corporate social connections can easily double for truly localized engagements. Instead, best-practice leaders are learning that local social connections that are tightly coupled with corporate messages, and brand social engagements can actually create tighter personal bonds.
  • As consumers continue to rely on mobile and social for everything from search to selection and transaction, marketers engaged in localized campaigns cannot assume that a national presence will effectively translate into a local one. As new data shows, social can drive local business. According to a Forrester study of local restaurant businesses, social exposure resulted in a likelihood of transaction that was 1.5–2 times higher.
  • 3. Invest in automation, not just technology: Looking across the pile-up of platforms that promise to automate, monitor, measure and optimize marketing, is marketing too intent on investing in technology that automates a single process, rather than the operational effciencies that automating the process will bring?
  • As marketers raise the issue of an overly taxed in-house team that is manually collecting advertising and branding implementations placed by local agents, partners or teams, the thought of expanding localization efforts becomes a challenge. Localization is not just a matter of customizing content, translating or having assets available, it is about enabling and localizing the customer experience to become a highly relevant and far more targeted engagement, says the report.
  • When strategy is enabled by technology,versus trying to catch up to technologies,  the customer is greeted with a brand experience that is not local or corporate, but rather just a seamless experience with the brand that is more relevant and sticky, concludes the report.

For additional information from the CMO Council, please visit them here, or here for the PDF report file.



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