Marketing has changed.
This statement probably won't come as a shock to you initially. You're probably thinking to yourself, "Well, duh. Of course marketing has changed. Marketing changes every day." There are always new channels and creative ways emerging for how to reach your audience and sell your product.
But let me explain what I mean.
For hundreds of years—even during the "Mad Men" days of only a few decades ago—marketing was done by highly-skilled professionals creating mass marketing for a large audience.
Today, however, there are many people who create marketing and sales materials on behalf of your company. Vendors, salespeople, partners, employees, etc. all create content across a variety of channels for an increasingly fragmented audience.
In essence, marketing as a whole is becoming more local... and that's a good thing. Why?
Local marketing is relevant marketing, and relevant marketing is good marketing.
Customers expect it and it works, meaning you get a better ROI on your marketing investment—more visibility for less money.
Think about some marketing that has caught your attention recently as a consumer. Most likely it did so because it was relevant to you. We've learned as a society to tune everything else out.
So, what is local marketing anyway?
Here's my definition, and you tell me if you agree or not:
Local marketing is customizing your marketing for the different channels and audiences you serve.
That might mean that if you're a local plumbing company, you figure out how to show up in Google search or Google maps—the channels your customers use to search for you when a kid tries to flush a whole roll of toilet paper down their toilet, for example. (Full disclosure: I have a 3-year-old, and this may or may not have happened to me.)
It might mean personalizing your marketing materials for different audiences with the right logo, brand colors, contact information, etc. in an easy, scalable way.
Or even tailoring your product assortment for your local audience.
A whole aisle of Spam I saw at grocery store in Hawaii a few weeks ago. Hawaiians love their Spam!
The hardest part of local marketing is figuring out how to do it successfully.
The 4 "C" keys to successful local marketing
Key #1: Be consistent.
I love this quote from former Disney CEO, Michael Eisner:
A brand is a living entity—and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.
Your brand is being shaped every day by the thousand small gestures your customers (or potential customers) are getting from your company. A gesture might be an interaction with one of your employees, a post on your company's Facebook page, or even a direct mail piece you send out.
If all these things contribute to building your brand, it's vital to be consistent with the message that each gesture is communicating.
Don't believe that marketing consistency actually has a tangible impact on your business? Think again.
A few months ago Lucidpress published a report called The Impact of Brand Consistency with the research firm Demand Metric. Together we surveyed over 200 senior marketing leaders at companies of all industries and sizes, asking them how consistent their marketing was—especially at the local level.
Among some of the most impactful findings were the following:
- 90% of study participants experience inconsistent branding at some level in the marketing and sales materials their company creates.
- Study participants estimated a 23% increase in revenue if they could always ensure marketing and sales materials were created on-brand.
- Organizations that focus on marketing consistency (and do it well) attribute 14% of their growth to maintaining brand consistency.
In summary, maintaining consistency in your local marketing is a big challenge most organizations face that, when done right, can increase your revenue and fuel your growth. But how do you do it right?
How to have more consistent local marketing:
Tip #1: Establish brand guidelines.
If you don't yet have brand guidelines, create them. If you do have brand guidelines, revisit them and make sure they are up-to-date.
Here are some suggestions of what to include in your brand guidelines:
- Brand purpose & positioning
- Color palette
- Supporting graphics
- Sample applications
To make it even easier, we've created this brand style guide template in Lucidpress. You can easily update this template with your own brand colors, fonts, logos, etc. then download it as a PDF—or better yet, publish an interactive version of the document online that automatically updates when you make any changes. No more searching for the most current version of the brand guidelines PDF. You're welcome.
The most effective method is to offer your brand guidelines in the actual tools where your employees are creating content. Brand assets saved in Lucidpress function essentially as "living brand guidelines."
You, as the administrator, set the brand colors, fonts, logos, etc. for your team in Lucidpress. Those brand assets are then served up whenever anyone on your team goes to change a color, font or image while working in Lucidpress. No more searching for that hex code or the most current version of your logo.
Tip #2: Make your brand guidelines easy to find.
The issue at most organizations is simply that their brand guidelines are too hard to find. The best brand guidelines are useless if they're too difficult to find.
Going back to the survey data, we asked these senior marketing leaders this simple question:
"Are your brand guidelines easy to find?"
Only 40% of organizations who had previously said that their brand guidelines were effective answered yes to this question.
Compare that to the 9% of organizations who, after admitting that their brand guidelines were not effective, said that their brand guidelines were easy to find.
Again, if employees can't find your brand guidelines, they are not going to be effective. It robs them of their power to help drive brand consistency.
Tip #3: Pick the right brand champion.
I'm curious: how would you answer this question?
Initially I would've thought that, for most organizations, the designer or senior creative person has primary responsibility to manage and protect the company brand. I mean, they're the ones doing all that "branding stuff" all day, right?
In our survey, CMOs/CEOs won far and away.
The interesting thing was that, for survey respondents who previously stated that brand consistency is important to their organization, 60% of them said the CMO or CEO should have primary responsibility to manage and protect the brand.
Compare that to less than 35% of respondents who said that brand consistency is not important to their organization.
If brand consistency is important to your organization (which it should be), primary responsibility for managing and protecting the brand should fall to the CMO or another member of the executive team. When senior management recognizes the importance of managing the brand, it sends a clear message to everyone that the brand is worthy of protection and investment.
Key #2: Be customizable.
This is all about tailoring your marketing to the needs of the local market. But how do you do that?How to make your marketing customizable:
Tip #1: Know the differences between local audiences.
This is all about knowing your customers. Once you know your different customer segments, you can understand the differences between them.
For example, if you own a car dealership and have one location in a more affluent neighborhood than your other locations, you might notice that the affluent buyers are looking for something different than the buyers at your other locations. Maybe they want to see cars with leather and sunroofs. Your marketing at this location should highlight these things.
In the brand style guide template I introduced in Key #1, there is a page that contains a short customer persona template.
This is one way to start organizing customer data as you capture it. Once you create a few of these for various types of customers, you'll start spotting the major differences between them and how to tailor your marketing to address those differences.
Often I've found that, when it comes to doing customer research and creating personas, the best place to start is with your own customers. Again, you're probably thinking, "Duh, Garrett"—but too often, many people forget that.
So, going back to our previous example: if you own that car dealership, find the last person who purchased a car from you and ask them a few questions about their background and why they decided to purchase. It only takes a few conversations like this to start spotting the trends.
Tip #2: Empower employees to create their own marketing and sales materials.
Unfortunately, many companies believe the best way to enforce marketing & brand consistency is to run what I like to call a "brand prison."
On the flip side, sometimes companies operate like the the Wild West.
That isn't the solution either. The right answer is to empower people to create and customize their own materials but also have the right controls in place to ensure consistency.
Which leads us to our last tip.
Tip #3: Create a library of templates for employees (and lock them down).
This is all about setting your employees up for success.
Remember this stat I shared before: 90% of organizations experience some level of marketing inconsistency. That means only 10% of companies claim to never have rogue marketing or sales materials created. (And honestly, I wonder how many of those just don't know about the rogue content being created in their companies.)
By creating a library of templates that employees can easily localize, you can help eliminate this problem at your organization.
Better yet is to create templates in which you can lock down and enforce your brand guidelines.
Lucidpress is one tool you can use to create templates and then share them with different groups across your organization. You could create flyer templates for your events team, social media templates for your social team, and proposal templates for your sales team. The best part is that you can lock down the style, content, size and position of elements in each of those templates.
For example, if I was creating this flyer template for Lucidpress, I could lock down the logo so that no one could remove it, change it, or cover it up. I could also lock down the font style—which still allows others to change the text, but it ensures that only my brand font is used. Pretty slick.