This is the latest in BIA/Kelsey’s Vantage Points series. On a semi-weekly basis, it will tap the perspectives of various lookout points from around the local media and tech sectors. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect that of BIA/Kelsey. Please contact mbolandATbiakelsey if you have insights to share.
Local: The New Personalization for Big Brands
by Alex Nocifera
Building and maintaining successful customer relationships all happens at the local level. Historically, “local” has mostly been a term for small businesses, such as “Mom and pop shops”, “SMB’s” and “Main Street”. And even when large brands executed a local opportunity, it would be considered a store-level or regional-level with high costs, high-touch and not a scalable, sustainable solution. Even the big traditional agencies have tended to stay clear of hyper-local executions for these reasons.
So why aren’t more brands executing local level at scale? No one can argue that local is truly where long-term customer relationships are cemented. The data proves local relationships yield the highest lifetime value. And how can a brand, specifically one that operates in hundreds or thousands of local neighborhoods, continue to deliver that high-touch, personalized experience at such scale, frequency and consistency?
As brands grow their footprint and markets they serve, they begin to invest in local and regional marketing resources – people. So what about infrastructure? When organizations grow their sales resources, they invest in a CRM platform, like Salesforce, for more efficiency and effectiveness at scale. For consumers, the opportunity to discover, engage, share and communicate with your social network needed a platform – Facebook. For professionals, being able to collaborate, communicate and interact with other professionals needed a platform – Linkedin.
And for brands to execute local across hundreds, if not thousands, of stores around the globe, they’re going to need a local platform to organize, discover, document and measure – so how hasn’t there been a network, like Salesforce, Facebook or LinkedIn, to do all the needed functions in a central platform?
So how can brands solve this problem?
Let’s start with centralizing all the needed data. Brands KNOW local events, such as weather, marathons, festivals, concerts, professional sporting events, collegiate and even high school events, like football games, prom and homecoming can dramatically impact their business. Local communities rely on their local retail and restaurant brands to provide goods and services for their events. How about B2B outreach to local businesses in your trade area? Another great opportunity to centrally, more efficiently, outreach for local business and consumer sales.
Another area and opportunity to leverage a central system – institutionalizing local marketing and operational activities. Over the years we’ve learned that marketing and operational roles within these large multi-unit brands see a ton of churn within these organizations. Mostly due to an extremely challenging job, aged systems and methodologies and challenges in attributing success for the sweat equity and relationships built at the local level. How can these organizations start to map by geography and time, document centrally and measure against sales? If employee (x) was a rock star in a certain market, wouldn’t they want to distribute his or her magic across the system? If this rock star leaves the organization, can we ensure his or her replacement hits the ground running with the prior rock star’s playbook?
Now if brands could have this internal and external data centralized – activating local marketing campaigns would be much more efficient. Having this central visibility across hundreds, if not thousands of disparate markets, would create an agile environment to launch campaigns on moment’s notice. Plan, discover, analyze local marketing efforts and prior investments to attribute what works, or more importantly, what doesn’t work.
It feels like it’s officially time to get serious about centralizing data and activation capabilities for improved local execution and measurement. It’s time to invest in infrastructure to really take local to the enterprise level. Agility and modularity aren’t exactly ways to articulate traditional local methodologies.
Related: Alex will speak about this topic at BIA/Kelsey BRANDS, March 22nd in New York.