Large brands have historically enjoyed an advantage over small businesses because of their ability to build awareness and drive sales with national advertising that reached a large audience at the best advertising rates. Although today’s consumer spends 4% more time on media, as revealed in a study by eMarketer last year, their attention is divided among different media channels, platforms and devices. In addition, consumers use more than 10 sources on their path to purchase -- an increase of 50% from just three years ago, according to Google's 2012 ZMOT Study.
It seems that this increased complexity would benefit large brands, but according to a report released in February 2013 by the Chief Marketing Officer Council, only 29% of national brand marketers say they have a “reasonably effective” program in place to activate local audiences. For large brands with multiple locations or service-based industries, this failure to activate local audiences could translate into a competitive advantage for small businesses. Here’s why.
Today, local businesses can easily run highly targeted mobile and digital campaigns because companies such as Yelp, YP, Dex and SuperMedia have developed turnkey solutions that deliver high-quality traffic/leads with little advertiser effort. In addition, mobile geo-search enables small businesses that may not have a Web site or advertising budget to garner traffic from customers who are looking for a business that is nearby. Finally, small businesses are more nimble, which enables them to more easily evaluate and respond to user reviews and deliver localized, relevant, and timely content. For large brands, customizing content and reviews for each location is cumbersome, labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive.
The challenges associated with fragmentation will continue to increase, so in order to be successful, national brands need to shift both strategy and focus to a localized approach. This method requires advertisers and their agencies to deliver highly relevant, localized content that resonates with their target audience, thereby leading to higher conversion rates. And although individual campaigns might be relatively small, powerful results are achieved as the campaign grows in both complexity and reach.
Solutions vary by the advertisers’ business structure and goals. It is easy to test small, local campaigns. First, agencies and advertisers need to work closely together to define campaign objectives and determine how performance will be measured -- especially online/offline. Next, advertisers must be willing to trial new opportunities, adapting and changing campaigns and/or vendors if performance is not acceptable.
Finally, it is important to pinpoint partners who are experienced in delivering performance-based campaigns that execute at the local store/agent/dealer-level, with the goal of driving business to the location by a click, phone call, or walk-in. Successes can be modeled out to fit the national footprint, ultimately resulting in campaigns that are compelling, relevant (nearby) and fulfill an immediate consumer need.