The majority of today’s brand managers at multi-location organizations have a positive outlook on the future. Recent surveys of marketers at large brands have revealed that, on average, they expect the growth in the affiliate network to accelerate rapidly over the next five years.
Despite this positive outlook, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), VPs, and other senior leaders at distributed brands who are responsible for supporting a geographically-diverse network of local marketing representatives, are facing significant challenges in local marketing execution. The most commonly reported barriers to delivering a great customer experience in corporate and local marketing are familiar to most marketers.
Research has shown that the top seven challenges faced by multi-location brands include:
- A lack of local marketer expertise (81 percent)
- Brand consistency (70 percent)
- Omnichannel messaging (65%)
- Redundant technology investments (54%)
- Divesting legacy tech (49%)
- Campaign performance visibility (43%)
- Fragmented customer data (38%)
How can multi-location brands solve these issues at scale? Read on to find out.
Why Multi-Location Marketers are Choosing Local Marketing Automation Software
95 percent of multi-location brands are investing in tech for automating the local marketing processes. The most effective distributed brand managers today are selecting technology that can act as a centralized, end-to-end solution for both corporate and local marketers, specifically Local Marketing Automation software.
Local Marketing Automation (LMA) software supports the success of brand managers and local marketers at multi-location organizations. LMA introduces efficiency into the creation, storage, localization, and measurement of brand assets and local marketing executions through the customization of brand-compliant templates for local audiences.
Let's dig into the top seven challenges faced by multi-location brand managers, and see how LMA helps:
1. Lack of Local Expertise
More than 8 out of 10 (81 percent) of multi-location CMOs believe their local affiliates’ lack of expertise in advertising and technology is a significant barrier to revenue growth. Not only do local marketers lack the knowledge to effectively personalize multi-channel marketing campaigns, they often don't have the time to learn new marketing platforms or best practices.
Local affiliates are generally business owners first and foremost, not marketers with the time or knowledge to focus on innovative campaign development. The challenge is often more than just skills and background; local marketers haven't got time for intensive education on marketing best practices as they balance their roles as operators and store managers with getting customers in the door.
LMA enables local affiliates to execute professional-grade, customized marketing assets without having to skill up on Adobe Creative tools or other marketing tools. With easy-to-use, customizable templates, local marketers can add relevant content or tweak the messaging and execute marketing fast.
2. Brand Consistency
7 out of 10 multi-location CMOs feel that brand consistency issues are a barrier to profitability and growth.While consistent customer experiences are among a brand’s greatest assets, misaligned goals between corporate and local stores can kill consistency. Local affiliates are usually focused on sales and service delivery instead of marketing — marketing is just something they know they have to do. The result is that they can go wildly off-script with local campaigns, leading to an inconsistent experience of the brand for customers.
LMA makes brand consistency much easier to achieve; it can even become the path of least resistance for local affiliates if done well. Local marketers can log in and access design resources that are on-brand. LMA also simplifies the local marketer experience by acting as an end-to-end solution for local execution — from customization to ordering print collateral, even helping to publish customized ads to social media.
To learn more about how LMA, templates, and management techniques that support multi-location brands get The Local Marketing Playbook:
3. Omni-channel Messaging
“Omni-channel” customer experiences are ones that involve marketing to a customer seamlessly across platforms and devices. But corporate brand marketers often lack visibility into how effectively local affiliates are engaging local customers across different channels. Local marketers aren't usually thinking about optimizing their media mix and cross-touchpoint experiences; they just need to make multi-channel marketing happen so they can get on with the rest of their jobs.
LMA supports consistency across marketing channels by letting local affiliates use assets across print, digital, and email platforms. They can access all the templates necessary for executing a single campaign from the LMA — from print collateral to landing pages to animated banner ads. Because all of these templates provide editing controls that the brand determines, local affiliates are sure to stay on brand the whole time. HQ teams also benefit from data insights into local marketing execution, including the ability to see which templates are being used and how it translates to local marketing performance.
To learn how the digital asset management capabilities of CampaignDrive appear through the local marketer’s eyes, check out 3 DAM Tips You Can Steal to Streamline Your Campaign Creation.
4. Redundant Technology Investments
54 percent of CMOs believe that redundant technology investments are a growth barrier. The issue associated with redundant, excessive tools isn’t limited to multi-location marketing, one study revealed that up to 37 percent of enterprise software isn’t used on a regular basis. Even if local affiliates are using every tool in their own marketing technology stack, differences in the platforms being used at the local level can lead to confusion, unpredictable customer experiences, and generally means that at least some part of local marketing budgets are going to waste.
Redundant technology happens because local marketers don't want to wait for the brand to tell them what to do, and they often have autonomy in how they spend their local marketing budget. If the brand management team isn't providing a tool that local affiliates think they need, odds are they're going to go out and find it on their own. There’s often plenty of harm in this patchwork approach, as local marketers end up using marketing tools that weren't designed for highly branded content and they create non-compliant local advertising executions as a result.
Local Marketing Automation software is an alternative to this Wild West approach to marketing technology – these systems offer a full solution for local marketing execution. It enables brand managers to standardize how locals should access design assets, customize advertising, and when/how to publishing those assets. When The Melting Pot adopted CampaignDrive for their network of 130+ franchisees, they eliminated redundant tech and achieved 100% LMA adoption within 3 months of implementation.
To learn more about how LMA revolutionizes marketing for one well-known multi-location restaurant brand, we recommend How The Melting Pot’s Commitment to Quality Impacts Their Local Marketing.
5. Divesting of Legacy Tech
Nearly half (43%) of multi-location enterprises are aware that their legacy technology is more of a barrier than a tool for success. However, divesting of legacy tech can be a lengthy and complex process that doesn’t always occur overnight. For many organizations with homegrown, niche applications for local marketing execution, there are entire teams of staff dedicated to making those tools work. In other cases, brands have heavily invested in legacy solutions via major vendors, such as heavy end-to-end Marketing Resource Management (MRM) tools. However, customer behavior is changing quickly, and yesterday’s applications are rarely built to handle everything that brands need in today's omni-channel marketing world.
LMA tools that are delivered via software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications offer some trade-offs for multi-location brands. Organizations may not have total control over their LMA when they go with a SaaS application because it’s a standard product, but they’re no longer responsible for maintenance, lengthy update times, or costly custom implementations. SaaS LMA allows brands to pivot quickly, receive automatic access to new features, and achieve record speed-of-implementation.
To learn more about the pros and cons of SaaS compared to legacy technologies, more insights can be found in Why Brand Managers Need SaaS Local Marketing Automation.
6. Visibility into Campaign Performance
43 percent of CMOs report difficulty maintaining oversight into local marketer success. Visibility has long been a core challenge for multi-location brands who have struggled to understand which campaigns perform well at the local level. Fragmented technology and inconsistent tech adoption at the local level make oversight even more difficult, leaving corporate brand management teams struggling to understand what marketing actions local affiliates are taking and how they translate into sales results.
LMA helps to solve the age-old distributed brand challenge of reconciling sales data against limited marketing insights, or having to collect data from four different applications to manually prepare a single report. LMA offers a consistent picture of the local market activities, including an understanding of which assets, templates, and campaigns are being used. Reports on local marketing activity can be used to supplement insights from local sales performance to gain a true understanding of how local marketing resonates with customers.
7. Fragmented Customer Data
Today’s marketers are drowning in data, but struggling to translate this data into actionable insights. It’s not uncommon for brand managers to be left sorting through data on customer behavior on dozens of points like social media engagement, out-of-home (OOH) advertising response, in-store sales, market research results, and more, and be unable to make conclusions from the large data dumps.
LMA enables brand management teams to collect new customer insights from their local affiliates, including data on how local customers are being targeted with email and direct mail. It can also enable corporate brand management teams to share data-informed recommendations with their local affiliates, including recommendations for templates based on prior performance in similar markets. LMA is not designed to serve as a system of record for enterprise customer data, but it should support brand managers' need for oversight into local marketing activities and elevate the use of data-driven marketing practices at the local level.
How Local Marketing Automation May Remove Barriers to Multi-Location Brand Success
Despite their confidence about the future, 54 percent of multi-location brands missed their revenue targets by at least 10 percent in the last twelve months, while just 12 percent exceeded their performance objectives. Analysis of the most effective multi-location brands revealed that the best performers are 15 times more likely to adopt SaaS-based LMA than their peers. However, these high performers are also likely to make a few key investments, which include but aren’t limited to:
- Using LMA to balance brand consistency and local relevance, by supporting local affiliates’ need to customize templates into authentic, hyper-local advertising for digital and print channels.
- Improving time to value by divesting of legacy technology for SaaS LMA and prioritizing LMA technologies that are user-friendly to local marketers who lack design and advertising backgrounds.
- Moving away from niche tools to pre-packaged LMA solutions that operate as an end-to-end solution for local marketer success.
In order to move towards more consistent, higher-quality local customer experiences, corporate brand management teams need technologies that support certain types of brand consistency at the local level while allowing local customization. Local affiliates need lightweight tech that supports ultra-fast advertising execution across multiple channels. Many of today’s leading distributed brands are discovering that end-to-end LMA solutions delivered via SaaS applications can solve some of the most pressing distributed marketing challenges.