Employing slightly less than 50% of all US employees, and accounting for over 99% of US businesses, small and local businesses are a critical part of the US economy and American livelihoods. These same businesses have been disproportionately left behind when it comes to reaping the rewards of digital marketing, putting them at a disadvantage. The complexities and time requirements of digital marketing mean many SMBs have only dipped their toes in the water, or have avoided it all together. But, with advancements in collaborative marketing, it’s time for a renaissance in local marketing that finally unlocks the performance and results of digital marketing for the vast majority of firms.
Why local has been left behind in digital marketing
Digital marketing is incredibly powerful. In fact, US advertisers increased their spending on digital ads last year by almost 15% despite the pandemic—and growth will accelerate this year as digital surpasses two-thirds of the US ad market, according to eMarketer.
But along with that power comes complexity - learning interfaces, ensuring the right data is flowing to the right places, figuring out what objectives to use or how to set up a campaign, testing images and messaging, and figuring out how to measure success. Plus, technology and capabilities are constantly changing, so what worked last week may look different next week.
All this can turn into a full time job. For local businesses, time is one of the most valuable resources, and there’s rarely much left to spare. To tackle these challenges, local businesses have often sought to collaborate with their national brand or other partners like technology platforms they currently use.
Stop. Collaborate and listen
Collaboration in marketing isn’t a new idea, it’s been around since the early days of marketing, when a national brand sent out physical materials to local offices, a CPG worked with a supermarket to do a special display, or when a retailer shared sales trends with a supplier. The practice of distributed marketing, or through channel marketing, has enabled collaboration but traditionally with shared physical assets, like fliers or posters that can be customized and printed for distribution.
But, that’s for physical marketing. When it comes to digital, collaboration at scale has been nearly impossible. Large brands have been able to manually collaborate with a limited number of partners, but this has been time intensive and doesn’t work when there are hundreds or thousands of partners (read: local offices, agents, or representatives).
The renaissance will be digitized
While digital marketing technology can be complex, the recent rise of collaborative marketing platforms (CMPs) now offers a simple and effective path forward for SMBs as well as local offices and representatives of national brands to easily unlock the power of digital marketing without needing to be digital marketing experts themselves. These capabilities mean it’s finally time for a renaissance in local marketing.
CMPs make collaboration easy for all partners involved. National brands or technology platforms can share audience data and create sophisticated marketing programs built on best practices for their local partners that can be easily customized. Local partners can quickly customize programs and messaging and be up and running with effective digital marketing in under 5 minutes. Automation, machine learning, and AI mean that once launched, these digital marketing programs are constantly improving their results to drive more revenue and business outcomes for each local partner and across the network of partners.
The national brand or “sponsoring partner” provides value to their end stakeholders by equipping them with simple and effective marketing they couldn’t otherwise do, that remains on brand and maintains compliance. The local office or representative benefits because with a few clicks they are able to execute digital marketing campaigns that produce real results. By working together, both parties achieve outcomes they couldn’t have on their own.
Collaborative marketing platforms allow expertise, data, best practices, compliance requirements, and local knowledge and expertise to be brought together easily and safely using technology. Digital collaborative marketing at scale means local businesses and SMBs no longer have to miss out on the power and benefits of digital marketing. It’s time for everyone to join the local marketing digital renaissance.