National brands have learned that, if they play their cards right, marketing on a local level increases sales and earns the community’s loyalty.

Some 91% of marketing professionals surveyed at nearly 400 national brand companies expect to spend more or the same on local marketing in 2013 as they did in 2012.

As an example, Walgreens over the last year began the process of innovating through its store formats by matching product, merchandising and services to the needs of the local communities. The strategy, termed “differentiation through mass localization,” has led to 160 planograms so far and began with in-depth research into the demographics and needs of the people living around its stores.

According to Gartner’s Top 10 Marketing Processes for 2012, companies that focus on integrated processes for local marketing enablement will increase revenue by 15-20% by 2015.

The survey, from Balihoo, also found that, in addition to traditional advertising vehicles and methods like websites, national brands ranked mobile, local blogs and online customer reviews as their top three priorities for local digital tactics they are not currently using and would like to implement in 2013.

When asked about local digital tactics they’re currently using, national brands ranked other social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), Facebook and SEO as their top priorities.

Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores is one brand putting the focus on localization through social media, specifically Facebook. Every one of its 1,238 franchisees has a Facebook page that was set up by corporate, but must be administered by the local storeowner who pushes out deals, store events and other promotions exclusive to the community. SHOS see this as a key competitive advantage.

A larger percentage of smaller national brands ($100M-$250M) are using Facebook and other social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) than the larger national brands ($500M.)

The survey also discovered that national brands have a lot of work to do in digital when it comes to relying on their affiliates. This sub-segment shared their opinions about the effectiveness of their affiliates in representing the national brand in local marketing efforts.

Only 4% of this sub-segment ranked their affiliates as excellent at marketing, with the majority (47%) ranking affiliates as moderately effective.

Eight-seven percent said that their national brand is not well represented on affiliate web sites. When asked what areas their local affiliates lack expertise and the ability to execute effectively, respondents identified mobile marketing (53.4%), SEO (49.4%), and pay-per-click (46.6%) as top weaknesses.

The study also found that only 22.6% of respondents are currently using local search registration and only 19.5% ranked it as a priority for 2013. Larger national brands ($500M+) are using a wider mix of digital tactics than smaller national brands ($100M-$250M).

(Source: Promo Magazine, 11/01/12)

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