‘Head Office’ seems like such an old-fashioned phrase today, but in the world of network, franchise, dealer or regional marketing, it’s more relevant than ever.
The network looks to Head Office for the broader marketing activity, it has responsibility and the budget needed for brand- and campaign-awareness, brand development and, vitally, brand perception.
To properly leverage its spend on national-level advertising and promotions Head Office has to make it easy for its network of outlets to be consistent with their own, local marketing messages. This is where a Local Marketing Hub can be the difference between success and failure. Imagine if your whole network is advertising at local or regional marketing level using on-brand and on-message materials…the compound effect of that huge marketing footprint creates massive spikes in visibility, awareness and sales.
But there are ‘rules’ and ‘best-practises’. We Are Acuity has been around Local Marketing Hubs (also known as Marketing Asset Management platforms) long enough now to have seen the best and worst of these, let’s share a few with you now.
Set some rules - be as determined as possible here
All brands have rules around their marketing – tone of voice, colourways, layouts, messaging – whatever you see as important in building and maintaining your image.
To really make an impact with your prospects and customers at both regional marketing and local marketing level you want your network to ‘stick to the rules’ because consistency is the key to visibility.
The stronger the brand, the easier this bit is, ironically. Powerful brands and products are usually the most profitable and if there are riches to be had then your network will follow every instruction you give them, naturally. But this big-stick approach doesn’t work for all brands. Emerging companies and those challenging for greater recognition often have less command of their network’s marketing activity coupled with a greater need for brand asset management.
So if you can’t fully impose your rules and guidelines on your network, try making it easier and cheaper for them to do their marketing your way – provide them with an online Local Marketing Hub. Anything that makes their lives easier will nearly always result in positive behaviour, and once they are used to using your templates they very rarely go back to their ‘old ways’.
Use your superior marketing techniques ON the network
Your network of local partners, whether branches, retailers, dealers, franchisees or affiliates operates on what we call your frontline. Your frontline is the transactional end of the customers’ journey and the network of local businesses that delivers here are also your brand’s ambassadors.
Most brands are only as strong as the people representing them, which is why it’s absolutely essential that you engage with your network in the same way that you engage with your customers. Communications with your network must be well considered and ON BRAND too - don’t just tell them to do something, explain why it’s an important part of the brand-building process. Remember they aren’t as marketing-savvy as you.
We’ve seen a number of ways that brand asset management can be done.
Training, training and training.
A good Local Marketing Hub will always require an element of technical training, although we’re delighted to say that we’re seeing increasingly more intuitive systems now that are virtually plug and play. See our blog "What makes for a great Marketing Asset Management System".
But the technical side isn’t really the issue.
Marketing is very rarely a natural skill for the managers out in the network. With the increasingly fragmented, multi-channelled media opportunities in front of them today, is it any surprise?
So, developing their skills is one thing, but providing the tools and the team to make it all happen for them is almost always a more successful and easier option for Head Office AND the network. For example, if you use a field team, make regional marketing a part of their portfolio and ensure they’re all fully conversant with the Local Marketing Hub and how it works so that they can sell it in on a day-to-day basis.
Better still, put a small team in at the heart of the system to manage the relationship between head office and the network. We’ve seen this work brilliantly for some big, blue-chip brands and they’re reaping the rewards of very high engagement with their networks and the resulting compliancy that comes with proper management and distribution of marketing resources and assets.
If you want to read more about what makes a great Local Marketing Hub, check out our paper:
If you'd like to learn more about Local Marketing have a read of our Blog: Local Thinking here or to have a chat arrange your FREE 30 minute Marketing Review here.