The positive perception of a brand is priceless. Thanks to investments made in improving the customer experience, multi-location organizations — like 7-Eleven, McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, The UPS Store — have positioned themselves as industry leaders. Consumers prefer these brands over the other guys and perceive them to be credible and consistent.
However, building and maintaining that clout can be quite the challenge. By running effective brand awareness campaigns, deploying a multi-channel marketing strategy and delivering superior customer service, companies can start to build up their brand equity. Additionally, with the right support strategy in place, distributed brands have the firepower needed to help their local affiliates deliver exceptional customer experiences.
Better customer experiences means happier customers, and happier customers means better brand equity! So how do leading brands find that sweet-spot with local marketing?
BMW is one of the best examples of a brand doing this right. As one of the most well-known brands in the automotive industry, today BMW is synonymous for car-buyers with both refined elegance and blistering performance. Featuring a diverse line of luxury sedans, convertibles and coupes, BMW offers the very finest in automotive engineering. You're probably thinking of one or two of their "Ultimate Driving Machine" ads just hearing about it.
But the true piece-de-resistance for BMW's brand equity is the customer's dealership experience. Through powerful local marketing — advertisements, on-premise marketing materials, direct mail campaigns, co-op programs and more — the organization's unique values are delivered right to the brand's customers where they already are. In this article, we're going to dive right into how BMW makes this all happen to learn how a great brand builds up brand equity through exceptional local marketing.
How BMW Builds Brand Equity
This automotive giant is constantly on the move. In fact, continual innovation is one of the reasons BMW has managed to top the automotive industry's charts for so many years. But innovation doesn't stop in the factory. The company provides their dealership network with the great tools, insight, guidance and marketing materials that are needed to drive innovation locally as well as globally.
For example, BMW knows that their customers value design and technology. To enhance the local customer's brand experience BMW recently remodeled their official dealerships. These new showrooms feature large video screens, warm beige interiors and elegant displays to make customers feel like they're in a friendly and luxurious space.
BMW also understands consumers' desires to drive exceptional cars. With a continual array of all-new models, BMW remains competitive with other automotive leaders including General Motors and Ford. Customers know there's always an awesome new model at their favorite local dealership. Sometimes that can be enough to bring them into the store all on its own.
With this kind of firepower coming from HQ, dealers definitely have the ability to manage and maintain BMW's sleek, energizing and exciting brand experience. These kinds of positive experiences are key to building brand equity.
BMW Boosts Brand Equity with Local Marketing
When it comes to marketing, BMW employs a tactical and multi-channel approach to reinforce the brand's unique values and increase brand equity. In fact, BMW leverages a variety of print and digital activities to maximize marketing coverage, entice prospective consumers and keep current customers coming back for more. BMW's secret to local marketing starts with the right marketing mix:
TV and Radio Advertisements. Long-range and mid-range television and radio advertising are one of BMW's go-to tactics to increase brand exposure. Special promotions like the BMW Road Home Sales Event encourage customers to take advantage of a limited-time offer for select models. Here, BMW's advertising budget helped light up the airwaves with impression-generating spots. The value in local marketing is obvious. More impressions from ads about BMW's great car lineup means dealers don't even have to do much marketing to already have a step up with customers.
On-Premise Marketing Material. The BMW brand team makes sure that local dealerships are dressed up with on-premise marketing materials including stanchions, banners, fact sheets, table toppers, warranty cards and more. These materials always showcase BMW's distinct sleek look and feel. Using high-resolution photos, the brand's choice of modern fonts and fresh messaging, the brand captures the true spirit of automotive engineering even in something as humble as a brochure.
Direct Mail & Email. BMW dealers really get involved in the marketing game when it comes to direct mail and email. These channels are an exceptional local marketing and brand equity boosting tactic. To pull this off, BMW invests in creating high-quality direct mail pieces such as postcards and door drops. BMW also equips local dealers with convenient and easy-to-use email marketing templates.
BMW dealerships can then use these direct mail and email marketing programs to announce new car models, highlight specific features and promote new offers. These pieces also always remind the reader to visit the dealership for more information.
Co-Op Programs. For a quick boost to brand equity, BMW offers cooperative advertising programs to their local dealerships. By sharing some of the advertising costs with their dealers, brands can give the store-level marketers access to more sophisticated media placements. These co-op programs enable dealers to extend their advertising presence across print and digital channels without having to spend exorbitant rates all on their own. Dealers who feel the brand is behind them and helping them sell the products they have on the lot are more likely to go back and do business with the brand in the future.
Brand Equity is Difficult, Even for "The Ultimate Driving Machine"
Of course, not every franchised organization has the budget or resources to create the same kind of brand equity that BMW has achieved overnight. Younger brands haven't necessarily proven their product, service or value to the customer quite yet. To combat this, many marketers naturally front-load brand equity building through large-scale campaigns that are produced by a third-party agency or the central marketing team.
But if the brand isn't gaining traction locally, the brand equity that those efforts produce can evaporate quickly. Instead, the focus really needs to be on the unique and personalized customer experience brought to the customer by the franchisee.
In fact, the local store is where customer value is actualized and where any impression formed by advertising has either paid off or been lost. So marketers need to pay attention to that local delivery just as much as the bigger, more visible campaigns they're usually comfortable with. The fact that BMW does such a good job with both sides of this is a testament to the fact that their marketing teams know the importance of branding that goes all the way out to the "last mile" of the brand's network.
Use Local Marketing Automation to Boost Brand Equity
While brand equity building presents a real challenge for distributed brands, corporate teams can work with their franchisees to construct better local experiences. With continuous support from corporate teams, BMW is able to achieve maximum velocity and build valuable brand equity.
For an extra boost to brand equity, many of the most successful franchised brands invest in Local Marketing Automation (LMA) software. Why? With access to easy-to-use marketing templates, local affiliates are empowered to deliver a good brand experience at scale. The result? When franchisees adhere to the brand's approved standards and guidelines, franchisees strengthen the value of the brand and lock in that brand equity that is the foundation for long-term success.