National Brands Need Local Marketing Teams, COVID-19 Shows

If marketers learned anything during the past few months, it’s that all brands need local marketing strategies to support the diverse conditions that consumers endure.

Forrester Consulting surveyed more than 154 multi-location marketers working in the retail, entertainment, hospitality, and restaurant industry and found that many brands have work to do when it comes to having a local strategy, no matter what their size.

The survey -- The Localized Marketing Imperative Study, commissioned by SOCi in March 2020 -- found that few marketers use their multiple locations to their advantage.

Among consumers, 86% look for local business information on large search and social platforms.

While there is work to do when it comes to structuring marketing teams, 77% said they find executing a localized marketing strategy across all of their locations challenging. 

Only 40% of multi-location businesses have defined localized responsibilities for local and national teams, although 75% of marketers believing doing so would significantly impact their ability to achieve better results.

Some 45% of those surveyed coordinate marketing efforts between corporate marketing teams and local franchise owners.

Improving the effectiveness of marketing at the local store level is a high or critical priority for 61% in the coming year, on par with the priority 62% said they will place on the same efforts at the national level.

Marketers said they expect to gain a variety of factors.  

  • 38% -- greater alignment between brand promise and our customer experiences
  • 34% -- improved marketing performance and effectiveness locally
  • 34% -- increased store traffic
  • 34% -- greater brand trust and reputation in the markets served
  • 32% -- greater brand visibility and strength at the local market/location level
  • 31% -- better understanding into how to service, market, or create products for specific customer needs

Consumers search for local business information with help from Google my Business, Yelp, Bing and other directories, regardless of whether a brand has a local strategy, find incorrect information it could have a dire effect on a brand’s credibility, SEO ranking, awareness and foot traffic.

Some 38% found that an optimized localized marketing strategy is associated with aligning their brands, while 34% realized increased foot traffic, 34% see improved marketing efficiencies at the local level, and 34% found to have better brand trust locally.

Many firms are stringing together multiple solutions into a disjointed toolset that makes it difficult to ensure coordination across local and corporate teams. Some have transitioned to using platforms that can aggregate and manage local content and advertising across locations and external sites in one platform, but few have been successful, despite 79% of multi-location marketers believe customers are more inclined to engage with brands that establish a personal connection with them.

Challenges also differ.

  • 36% -- corporate marketing lacks the resources to effectively and efficiently manage all sites, posts, and reviews across all locations
  • 35% -- organizational silos
  • 31% -- digital marketing strategy with national rather than a local focus
  • 31% -- difficult balancing local custom projects with consistency of national/overall brand level
  • 30% -- corporate marketing lacks location-specific data to properly support localized marketing
  • 25% -- struggle to oversee the brand's overall localized marketing efforts with individual locations
  • 24% -- struggle to properly assign local questions, reviews, etc. to appropriate parties within our organization
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