Tradition has always been that head office holds the purse strings and spends its marketing budgets on national appeal and image building. (Remember when the men in suits did not soil their hands on anything less than national - let alone even think of Frontline Marketing?)
But, as with all things, common sense wins out over time, and so it has with marketing. Marketing falls generally into three areas: national, regional and local. The structure of your organisation will usually determine the approach you adopt, with the actual minutiae depending on how your network is organised.
What's different for marketing in the regions compared to national?
It obviously makes sound economic and strategic sense for head office to handle the national branding and the central marketing plans. But what about the Frontline Marketing and promotional plans of the individual outlets? It’s all too easy to forget that your head office overhead is actually being paid for by all those customers who walk into the outlets and are persuaded to purchase product or services by their staff and managers.
Too big a gap between the two leads to lost opportunities, the weakening of the brand image and the potential squandering of marketing budgets. When head office sees itself in effect as an ivory tower it tends to pay sparse attention to the outlets. They become to all intents and purposes like little solitary outposts on the end of empire. There is little or no communication, no sharing of strategies or resources. The local outlet begins to feel disenfranchised and starts to act on its own initiative. It hires local marketing agencies who won’t or cannot follow corporate design manuals and produce materials that bear little or no resemblance to that expensively-created national branded imagery. And as to marketing spend, there is little in the way of economies of scale in the quantities that a local outlet can commission.
The obvious solution is for head office to get involved at the local level, to share resources and to part-fund local initiatives that reflect both national and local values so that everyone is singing from the same spreadsheet.
But there could still be something missing, something that is needed to bridge the gap between head office and local outlet. Your CEO, for example, is too busy managing the overall enterprise to know every single outlet. It’s Sales and Marketing who are closest to the network but even they cannot be expected to know every single outlet. What you need is some middle ground that bridges the gap.
What you need is some regional marketing, to delegate outlet relations to maximise operational efficiency.
Reflect local issues
Top-down integration is an integral part of effective Marketing Asset Management (MAM), where head office becomes not standalone but the repository of all the operation’s assets and markets them right across the network. This means head office needs to listen to its regions, who in turn listen to their outlets, and runs cooperative marketing initiatives using central funding. Your regional marketing centre becomes the eyes and ears of that group of outlets. It knows more about the local conditions, the local demographics, it keeps its fingers on the pulse of the region’s economy and can therefore reflect local issues back to head office to create more precisely targeted marketing initiatives. Regional marketing budgets are targeted on regional campaigns that work for the local outlets. They share a common parochial theme, enjoy economies of scale from bulk purchasing and remove the need for local outlets to go to local marketing agencies for work that can only help dilute the brand.
Leverage local co-marketing opportunities
And, of course, by reflecting local and territorial issues means you can work collaboratively with other businesses in the area because it is so compact. A sales offer can include a reward from another local business that is actually attainable because it is right on the doorstep.
Personalise and localise communication
And because they are close to the ground, and know their market and their customer base, there are more opportunities to personalise local initiatives and target them more specifically. It really brings home the true meaning and results of utilising the ‘local touch’.
React faster to opportunities
And remember that the closer your marketing is to the outlets, the faster it can respond to local opportunities and steal a march on competition that could still waiting for its own head office to respond. Communications can be localised, personalised and better targeted.
MAM is all about maximising the resources at your command to increase revenues and improve the bottom line. It makes every marketing pound work harder because the same fundamental marketing principles can be applied universally throughout the network; there is no leakage because there is nowhere for anything to leak to. It’s a watertight marketing environment.
Your regional marketing becomes the essential connect between head office and the outlets on the frontline. It identifies with the outlets and builds confidence and trust with them that they are not alone and are being fully supported. It gives them a brand to identify with and helps cement loyalty. And coming the reverse way back up the chain, your regional marketing acts as the communications hub between head office and frontline to create a seamless marketing environment. It makes life easier for head office, it makes life easier on the frontline: it’s a win-win situation.
So, in conclusion, we leave you with this thought: what’s the best way to run your networks? With a big big dose of o-regionality!