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By Pica9 on July 19, 2021

6 Proven Ways to Make Your Regional Marketing More Efficient

The pandemic has cast a whole new light on the importance of regional marketing, as we see communities opening up or locking down on their own unique timelines, creating challenges and opportunities that marketers are struggling to master. These unpredictable ups and downs can make the difficult job of measuring regional marketing success even harder, as year-to-year comparisons now come with large asterisks—and are likely to do so for at least the next year or two.

But even with the noise in the numbers, there are some steps that brand marketers and regional marketers can take to make sure they spend their regional marketing dollars wisely, and assess those investments in a disciplined way. Here are the techniques that seem to be most popular with the Pica9 brand community these days: 

1. Set up a “laboratory location” in each of your major markets.

This is a technique borrowed from big-brand behavior, where marketers will use a smaller city as a laboratory for a larger, major market. For example, marketers have used Syracuse for decades as a miniature of the New York metro, and Grand Rapids as a look alike for the greater Chicago area. Depending on the density of your local store community, you may be able to find a few or perhaps as many as a dozen stores to use as your brand laboratory locations.

When you’ve identified your laboratory locations, go all-in with them. Learn the details of their media environment. Which websites and demand generation tools have worked for them? What is the competitive environment? How much of their marketing spend is planned beforehand, and how much is opportunistic? And of course, which offers have resonated with customers, and which have fallen flat?

The point here is to detect patterns in your laboratory locations that seem likely to recur across most or all of the other locations within the region. The benefit to the laboratory location is that they have an outsized opportunity to drive demand generation activity from the brand—and to benefit earliest from the impact of that activity. To that end, here are some criteria to consider when choosing laboratory locations. 

    1. Fairly fluent in the discipline of marketing. This will help to ensure that you aren’t just learning lessons you already know, but are uncovering issues that are unique to this particular moment in the life of the brand.

    2. Strong belief in the brand message and culture. You want your laboratory locations to see themselves as ambassadors of the brand, so that you have the greatest opportunity to apply your solutions throughout your marketing community.

    3. Historical perspective. You want your laboratory locations to have experienced at least a couple economic cycles with the brand, so that you aren’t overly influenced by the panic or complacency that can set in during the extremes. In the effort to produce proven marketing campaigns with a high degree of efficiency, this perspective is invaluable.

2. Organize your creative library in terms of the problems it solves.

By listening to your laboratory locations, you’ll see the unique challenges that your local marketers face. Venturing into a new market, where the brand, and perhaps even the offering, are completely unknown. Developing an audience after you’ve gained initial traction. Differentiating your brand and your store in cluttered markets. Winning back customers who have drifted to the competition. Far too often creative assets are served by to local marketers by creative and design professionals who think that the business purpose of a campaign is obvious. But often, it isn’t—at least not to general managers and franchisees who have to wear six different hats every day. So, take the time to make sure your brand portal is organized according to principals that these occasional marketers will find familiar and recognizable.

If you take the time to empathize with your local marketers, and reflect back to them the assets you’re offering, you’ll find that adoption goes up markedly, and asset reuse does as well.

3. Give your local marketers as much freedom as you can within the brand framework.

If there is one thing we have learned from deploying hundreds of brand-to-local portals, it’s that local marketers always feel that they need (and are deserving of) more freedom than the brand at first thinks. As you create marketing tactics for your laboratory locations, think about ways in which each store could take the tactic and make it their own.

This could be as simple as customizing contact and address (listing information). In a more advanced case, you might populate a landing page with a unique combination of products, or a store-specific offer. One level beyond that, you might give your local marketers the ability to combine your brand-supplied content, with locally generated testimonials or case studies.

If you're interested in giving local marketers the freedom to customize brand assets, but never want to jeopardize brand consistency, here are our best tips on achieving consistent messaging across regional channels.

4. Create local buying groups to take advantage of local advertising discounts.

In their efforts to maximize advertising sales, many media outlets will quote one set of prices for national brands, and a very different set of prices for local stores or outlets. During your discovery process with laboratory locations, try investigating this topic, and if local discounts are available, look into creating co-op groups of local stores that can benefit from greater reach at lower overall cost.

If your objective is to drive foot-traffic, this kind of co-op can be easy to manage. If your customer journey includes web visits, or a more considered purchase, you may need to devise a method for allocating leads to the members of the buying group. But don’t let a small logistical challenge rule out the benefits of cooperative activity at the local level. The savings for your local marketers can be substantial indeed.

5. Use a distributed DAM to put brand assets at the local marketer’s fingertips.

Digital asset management technology has been around for a long time, but it has been going through a renaissance in the past few years—because it has finally gotten to the point where brand and regional marketers can set up and deploy a DAM to hundreds or even thousands of users at very low expense—and without getting the IT department involved. These days, local marketers expect that their brand portal will have a DAM at its heart. If you’re looking for a DAM, here are a couple things to keep in mind

  1. Make sure you can define your own brand language (known in DAM world as a “controlled vocabulary”. This will allow you to guide users to the right images and templates using the industry specific terms they already know.
  2. You will want to give users the ability to transform assets at the point of download, so they can tailor the file to their immediate needs. Users should be able to convert files from one file type to another, and from one color space to another. They should also have the ability to create a low-res version of a high-res asset, so that it can be used on landing pages, emails, and other digital delivery vehicles.
  3. Make sure your DAM gives you the ability to skin the interface so it matches the look and feel of your brand. Remember that you are trying to transform local marketers into brand ambassadors, so it pays for your tool to act that way as well.
  4. Make sure that your DAM can be connected easily to other systems that need brand assets, and that it can receive data from other sources (like your employee directory, or LDAP, system). More and more these days, marketing technology systems need to be seen as inter-connected pieces.

The Benefits of Executing a Successful Regional Marketing Strategy

If you take the time to understand the needs of your local marketers, build tactics based on those learnings, and delivery those tactics through a modern technology system, you can take turnaround times for local and regional marketing initiatives down from weeks to days, and reduce costs by 60-70% and more. You can also free up your creative resources (whether in-house or external agency), so that they can concentrate on the highest-value challenges of brand strategy and messaging, rather than one-off mechanical requests. You’ll also find, at the end of this process, that you have developed a valuable feedback loop with your local marketers, so that you can see, in real time, who’s doing what, and what’s working best. Those insights alone are worth the time and effort that the journey requires.

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Published by Pica9 July 19, 2021