Ask any brand manager what the keys to marketing success are and you'll likely get more answers than what you probably bargained for. Among them, however, you'll hear about the need to stay on top of the latest trends. In 2018, with technology leading the way forward, marketers will try to find new ways to achieve and sustain growth for their network of locations.
Many of these marketing trends directly contribute to the growth of the distributed brand, but not without bringing their own challenges. This year, one of the greatest local marketing challenges brands will face is the need to conduct marketing across more channels than ever before. Additionally, local marketing partners will continue to face pressure from corporate marketing teams to comply with the brand's marketing requirements and aesthetics. Furthermore, corporate marketing teams will be tasked with creating more impactful and engaging campaigns for widespread usage across their full networks.
To tackle some of these marketing challenges head-on, brands need to establish a clear foundation. You need to know what trends will make a difference for your company, and which ones you should beware of.
The Top Local Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018
Building a solid marketing foundation in 2018 for both HQ and affiliates in the field starts with having an established process for all branded activities. Increasingly, corporate marketing teams are waking up to the importance of having a unique localized marketing strategy. The campaigns they create will run across the entire retail or franchise network and must be tailored to capture the attention of each locale's unique audiences. Unfortunately, as has been the case for so long, the primary barrier to delivering a successful local marketing campaign is often the local affiliate or franchisee themselves.
Can you blame them? From traditional media to new digital platforms, there's an increased pressure on local affiliates to understand the unique in's and out's of each marketing platform. Remember, your local affiliates aren't marketing professionals. They often rely heavily on corporate teams to show them the way to marketing success.
However, as more and more locations are added to the affiliate network, it becomes increasingly important for teams at headquarters to provide consistent support. It also becomes more difficult than ever. More inbound requests for marketing help, more field visits for the team to make and more questions from management. It can feel like it all means more chaos.
But to be truly effective in 2018 corporate and local affiliates have to be better aligned than ever before. That's why staying ahead of the upcoming trends in local marketing is job #1. So let's take a deeper dive into some of the latest marketing trends, predictions and challenges you'll face in 2018 and how your brand can adopt or overcome them.
Brand Inconsistencies Disrupting The Customer Experience
We know that today's customers value personalization and cohesive customer experiences from one franchise or retail location to the next. However, any inconsistency in how your crucial brand and marketing assets are used will stifle customer experiences in 2018. The top challenges marketers face when it comes to brand inconsistencies include:
- Misuse of assets: Even something as minor as a blurry image, low-quality logo or an off-brand color swatch can devalue your brand. These are the unique features that your customer picks up on in an instant. Without proper and consistent usage across the whole network, consumers will likely be confused and frustrated, or worse, they could abandon the business altogether.
- Limited bandwidth: Aside from running day-to-day operations, local affiliates are also responsible for executing local marketing campaigns planned out by corporate marketing teams. Very often, the local affiliates just don't have the time to create their own on-brand marketing materials.
- Lack of design expertise: When franchisees or dealers set off to create their own marketing materials, it usually ends up as a very watered down version of the brand's creative (to put it nicely). Naturally, local affiliates haven't got the same design and marketing chops that the team at HQ does. But of course, that's exactly what's needed to execute an effective and consistent brand campaign.
How are the world's top franchises preventing brand inconsistencies? It turns out that 9 out of 10 CMOs will invest in marketing operations technologies in the next 12-18 months. Why? When you give them access to easy-to-use templates, local affiliates are empowered to create their own marketing pieces while simultaneously adhering to established brand standards and guidelines.
Adopting an Authentic Multi-Channel Approach
In 2018, the media landscape will require a multi-channel approach to reach the same audiences marketers have been after for years. More so, local affiliates are now being tasked with creating a more authentic and personalized approach in their marketing, which means showing up on each of these channels. But local affiliates simply don't have the data to make good personalization possible, nor do they have the skills they need to interpret that kind of data. With consumers expecting a more thoughtful, tailored and engaging multi-channel experience, corporate marketing teams will be working hard to get local marketers the resources to be more effective across all these many channels. Top brands in 2018 are planning to invest in:
- Powerful imagery: Businesses are increasingly leveraging the power of visuals to enhance the brand's marketing strategy. By capturing high-quality images that come from the local storefront, brands can add a touch of personalization that helps consumers better identify with the subject matter.
- Faster content: Did you know that Generation Z (that's right, after Millennials) could make up 40 percent of all consumers in just a few years' time? When cultivating a multi-channel and personalized marketing approach to connecting with these newfangled consumers, brands need to deliver their content more rapidly. Major advertisers are already investing in things like six-second ads. The push in 2018 will be to help local affiliates and franchisees find the right way to approach this high-velocity marketing environment.
- Promotions: Special incentives still go a long way towards building a deep relationship with your target consumers. Established brands like the Melting Pot have long offered things like birthday and anniversary promotions to keep their customers engaged. These companies are investing in ways to help local affiliates collect visitors' pertinent information so they can improve these and other programs in the year ahead.
In 2018, personalization of all online and offline experiences will be vital in local marketing as more and more consumers demand authenticity and less marketing noise.
Marketing Technology on the Rise
In order for brands to stay ahead of brand inconsistencies and the increased demand for more personalized multi-channel marketing, many brands are increasing investments in Local Marketing Automation (LMA) tools. In fact, nearly 62 percent of top-performing brands have already invested in the power of Local Marketing Automation tools to bolster local marketing effectiveness.
Tools such as CampaignDrive are enabling brands' local affiliates to put their best foot forward when it comes to digital and traditional marketing. In 2018, as more brands focus on improving the customer experience and "protecting the brand," Local Marketing Automation will be an ideal solution to build with. To establish a firm foundation for marketing excellence, CMOs are looking to use LMA to deliver in the following key areas:
- Rapid marketing deployment: With the old manual way of doing things, brands often have to go through complicated and lengthy internal processes to get local marketing work done. Top CMOs are using systems like Local Marketing Automation to streamline these procedures and increase their brands' use of multi-channel marketing technology and tactics.
- Corporate and local collaboration: Enterprise companies are looking for more ways to enhance collaboration between corporate and local stores. Without a collaborative online marketing portal, corporate marketing teams are often burdened with one-off creative requests submitted by local affiliates. Meanwhile, local affiliates don't have reliable ways to provide feedback to the brand about what they're experiencing in their markets. A good MarTech system can go a long way to helping solve those problems.
Interested in learning more about the power of LMA to drive local marketing excellence? Check out 7 Signs Your Brand is Ready for Local Marketing Automation Software.
Ready to Jumpstart Your Brand in 2018?
This year, tackling the biggest marketing trends head-on — like brand consistency or multi-channel marketing — will be key to your success. Additionally, today's corporate marketing teams have to stimulate the distributed network's growth and improve customer experiences locally at the same time. Meanwhile, local affiliates are expected to participate in and execute local marketing flawlessly like never before.
How do the top enterprise brands maximize their chances for success? From Marriott to Polaris, leading multi-location organizations have seen the value of Local Marketing Automation as an effective brand management solution. Are you ready to take your local marketing to the next level with LMA in 2018?
Give your local affiliates the tools they need to succeed. Check out The Local Marketing Playbook: The Templates, Campaigns, and Tools That Help Multi-Location Brands Become Local Marketing Champions.