If you’ve ever felt like your local marketing tools are an absolutely perfect fit for your brand, you’re in a very small (lucky) minority. The vast majority of CMOs at distributed brands are less satisfied with their marketing tech. In fact, 90 percent plan to invest in new technologies for operational efficiency in the next 12-18 months because their existing tools don’t support their needs.
Whether you’re in the restaurant or financial industry, you probably have some things in common with your peers that are massive barriers to a rock-solid customer experience at the local level. Distributed brand CMOs and marketing managers today struggle against a lack of marketing expertise at the local level (81 percent), poor brand consistency (70 percent), and stress around omni-channel messaging (65 percent). If any of these struggles hit home, you’re definitely in the right place, and there’s a pretty good chance that many of your problems could be solved with Local Marketing Automation software.
What is Local Marketing Automation Software?
Local Marketing Automation (LMA) Software is technology designed to enable multi-location brands to execute consistent and scalable local marketing. More specifically, LMA is defined by its ability to support customized local marketing execution that’s brand compliant. It achieves this purpose by enabling corporate marketing teams to deploy assets to local affiliates, while providing local reps with the tools to customize assets without paying a professional graphic designer or breaking the integrity of brand standards.
Corporate marketers at multi-location brands are tasked with protecting brand standards while also supporting the efforts of their local marketers who often lack sophistication and expertise in marketing. LMA makes it easy for local affiliates to execute sophisticated marketing actions without needing a sophisticated set of skills. With tools like local marketing templates and integrations to email service providers (ESPs), online advertising tools, and web-to-print interfaces, LMA can be a one-stop-shop for local marketing.
Not only does LMA support point-and-click editing capabilities for local marketers, it also allows corporate teams to scale their expertise with responsive design templates and the ability to lock certain template fields, such as brand logos, colors, or legally-required disclosures.
Learn more about Local Marketing Automation and how major brands manage distributed marketing in: Distributed Marketing on Steroids
95 percent of multi-location brands are currently using some form of automation to manage assets, local execution, and workflows. However, what these tools actually help you to accomplish can vary quite significantly. If your brand management team is drowning, and your locals are getting frustrated, there’s a good chance you may benefit significantly from adopting a more streamlined, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for end-to-end local marketing management.
7 Signs You Really Need Local Marketing Automation Software
A majority of CMOs believe the multi-location network will grow rapidly in the next five year, some even expect it to double by 2022. But marketers also cite local customer experience as the biggest barrier to achieving this growth. Delivering the kinds of local marketing executions that build brand affinity and deliver ROI on the local level requires, to put it simply, good local advertising. So how do you get there?
The best-performing multi-location brands are 15 times more likely to invest in SaaS-based LMA software than their less-effective peers. To learn whether your brand could also benefit, read on. If you laugh, cry, or get a strange feeling of deja vu from any of the following, there’s at least a good chance your distributed brand could be in need of Local Marketing Automation software.
DISCLAIMER: many of these signs have been exaggerated slightly to get a laugh, but all of them are based in fact that many major brands experience every day.
Sign #1: You Might Need LMA if You’ve Ever Been Shocked by Your Brand Audit Results
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a truly unwelcome surprise when you’re conducting a local branding audit. Perhaps recent on-location visits revealed that most stores have a handwritten sign posted in the front window with scrawled hours of operation. Maybe your local dealerships regularly send out direct mail campaigns created in PowerPoint. Perhaps you’re lucky enough that no one’s misspelled a product name in the field, but you’ve still seen local advertising executions in print, digital, or social media channels that really miss the mark. If so, your brand could definitely benefit from LMA software.
If you’re squirming in your seat thinking of the one time someone used Comic Sans on their in-store signage, you may feel better after reading Misadventures in Brand Management: 6 Ways Brand Marketing Can Fall Apart.
Bonus Sign #1.5: If your response to this sign was “Who the heck has time to do a local branding audit?” you most likely need LMA.
Sign #2: Your Design Team is Getting Hammered with One-Off Requests from Locals
Your design team claimed they were working on next quarter’s campaign, but your initial deadline flew by like a Formula One race car. Turns out the issue wasn’t a lack of productivity or clocked hours, it was the fact they’re getting no less than a dozen requests a day from your local marketers for “just a little help” with totally custom-built marketing assets.
One-off requests carry a pretty big opportunity cost — every custom request from the local level delays your design team’s ability to create assets that can be used more broadly. The deluge of custom design projects also clogs up work pipelines, leading to delays across-the-board in getting local advertising out the door. The next thing you know, you’re stuck in a vicious cycle where local marketers aren’t seeing results and start begging for more custom designs. The cure? Local Marketing Automation.
Sign #3: You’ve Had That Really Awkward Conversation with Your Legal Team
No brand manager wants to be called in for that meeting about regulatory compliance issues because a local brand representative decided to exclude required disclosures from a brochure. Not only is it a really awkward way to spend 30 minutes, the fines associated for misleading advertising are pretty steep. If your local marketers aren’t following Federal Communications Commission guidelines for truth in advertising, it’s a sign of a disconnect between corporate and local representatives — and also that you probably need an LMA.
Sign #4: You’ve Got 31 Tools and None of Them Talk
If your local affiliates are using all kinds of technology, including platforms you’ve never heard of, for what should be simple marketing tasks, you may need an LMA. For instance, if your locals are using a range of email service providers (ESPs) from Constant Contact to Emma to iContact to MailChimp, you’re running a very high risk of non-compliance and total confusion. But fear not, you’re not alone. A recent Pica9 survey report revealed that 54 percent of distributed marketing leadership consider redundant technology investment a key barrier to corporate and local marketing communications.
Sign #5: You Spend Staggering Amounts on Assets That Don't Get Used
Calculating ROI on a local marketing asset can be a sobering indicator that your brand needs more of the right technology for automating local marketing. The most effective way to determine the value of each asset is to sketch out the cost per local execution:
Cost Per Local Execution = Total # of Local Executions/Total Asset Cost
By understanding the number of times an email template was actually used, divided by the total cost of creating the asset, you may discover that you’re in desperate need of a platform that increases asset lifetime value. If you’re unsure of whether locals are using your resources at all, technology can help with built-in capabilities for reporting on asset usage.
Sign #6: Freelancers are the #1 Local Marketing Expense
If the biggest cost center for local advertising execution is the cost of freelancers, your local representatives aren’t spending enough on paying for things like printing direct mail campaigns, or purchasing billboard space for out-of-home (OOH) ads. Less advertising budget for actual advertising means less exposure, less direct response from customers, and lower sales. If your local marketers’ options when it comes to actually using your brand assets are limited to either paying a graphic designer or going rogue in Microsoft Word, you definitely need a technology that’s easier for your representatives to use than Adobe Creative tools.
Sign #7: Your Custom Software Failed Before it was Completely Developed
Your marketing team is now 3 years and 2 million dollars into a custom local marketing tool development project. Your requirements have changed several dozen times, beta tests among local marketers have failed horribly, and you’re still missing some core functionality. This description of an in-house development project gone horribly awry is at least a little bit exaggerated, but you may feel the pain of expensive, custom software that just isn’t what you need. If you feel trapped by tools that don’t meet your needs, you may need to liberate your marketers with a lightweight, Software-as-a-Service LMA tool.
Could LMA be the Cure for Your Multi-Location Marketing Pain Points?
If you’ve identified with at least one of the dire signs that your multi-location brand could benefit from LMA listed above. How exactly can technology help you?
LMA can solve many of the unique pain points associated with multi-location marketing execution by lending critical brand compliance protections, improving the independence of your local affiliates, reducing regulatory risks, and helping to consolidate your marketing tools. Here’s how:
- Brand Compliance: LMA reduces the risk of encountering particularly cringe-worthy local marketing executions by helping your locals comply with brand standards across all sorts of print and digital marketing. With templates that can be locked to protect brand standards and support easy local customization, you’ll start seeing significantly fewer local print and digital ads that are wildly off-brand.
- Local Marketer Independence: When your local marketers are able to log into an LMA and see plenty of options for templates that can be customized, they’ll stop requesting so many custom projects from your design team. This will enable your design team to work on creative new concepts, which means more cool assets for your local marketers to pick from and turn into local ads within the new, self-service LMA system.
- Less Regulatory Risk: LMA allows brand managers and designers to lock critical template features, such as legally-required disclosures, resulting in happier legal counsel teams and fewer regulatory fines.
- Local Marketer Adoption: When all of your local marketers are using the same SaaS LMA technology as your corporate marketing team, you’ve reached a sweet spot. Not only are your locals spending less on software, your average asset value is likely to significantly increase as executions go up, and your design team can reuse and recycle layouts into new templates.
Adopting technologies for automation in multi-location marketing management is a critical success tool for distributed brand managers and local affiliates. Surveys of distributed marketing pros indicate that selecting a pre-packaged SaaS option for Local Marketing Automation software allows brands to centralize their technologies, improve consistency, and drive ROI on advertising at the local level. While LMA can’t solve every single headache experienced by distributed brand managers, it can help your organization achieve meaningful steps toward consistent tech, brand compliance, risk mitigation, and local profitability.
Did you know that well-known multi-location brands like Marriott, Melting Pot, and Polaris have embraced SaaS local marketing automation software? Learn the secrets of their success strategies in the free eBook The Local Marketing Playbook: The Templates, Campaigns and Tools That Help Multi-Location Brands Become Local Marketing Champions!