Distributed marketing is a term that has been floating around the marketing space for quite some time now, but is still a concept new to many marketers.
What is distributed marketing?
Distributed marketing is a model adopted by organizations who have both a central (corporate) marketing function as well as local (distributed) marketing functions. These distributed functions can be separate organizations, business units, departments, or individuals. Both central and local levels have marketing responsibilities. The beauty of distributed marketing is it allows both the corporate and the local level to work together to achieve greater marketing results.
Breaking down the Distributed Marketing Platform
The central marketing department has its brand guidelines, processes, budgets, and data in place; then there are those who are “in the trenches.” No one knows the market better than those at that local level. For corporate to maintain control over its brand, leverage the local level for marketing initiatives, and gain visibility into those marketing activities, a distributed marketing platform is needed. Here is a breakdown of what that solution should entail to ensure brand compliance, locally relevant marketing, and visibility into activities and metrics:
Central marketing maintains control of its brand. These corporate marketers create print and digital materials, including advertisements, fliers, emails, microsites, direct mail, etc., for everyone in the business to use. These assets can be stored, shared, customized, co-branded, localized—you name it! The local level (whether agents, franchisees, partners, distributors, consultants, etc.), can take those marketing assets (which are on-brand and professional-looking) and make them relevant for their business purposes.
Corporate can choose to either provide all the customer data to its distributed network, allow those partners to upload their own data to use, or a combination of both. By storing data in a distributed marketing platform, leads and customers do not “fall through the cracks.” This can provide valuable visibility to corporate.
If an organization chooses to do so, it can fully or partially fund local campaigns using co-op, market development funds (MDF), discretionary marketing spend, enabling self-funding, and even tying funds to specific local entities and uses.
As with any marketing activity, metrics are key. What is the point of running a campaign if you have no visibility into its performance? With a distributed marketing solution, corporate marketing can see how marketing activities performed at the local level and the ROI associated with each activity.
A Real-World Example of Distributed Marketing in Action
Let’s say you are a marketer at a globally-known hotel. You have created marketing assets and campaigns that will be sent out worldwide. What if there is a large concert taking place throughout the year in various cities where you have hotels? You want those concert attendees to choose your hotel over your competitors, so you create a campaign to help entice guests to stay at one of your properties.
Through a distributed marketing platform, you provide all your hotel chains with the fully-designed emails, mailers, and banner ads that are a part of that integrated marketing campaign. You then enable each hotel to tailor the assets to fit the specific needs of each region. For example, marketing $100/night room rates in Columbus, Ohio makes sense, but that price point may kill the bottom line for hotels in San Francisco or in London.
With distributed marketing, corporate can provide campaigns that are on-brand, compliant, and professional for all its hotel properties to leverage. Each hotel can then place the appropriate logos and applicable discounts. Even better, corporate can view the metrics on how the marketing campaign performed in each region, providing endless visibility.
So, Who Needs Distributed Marketing?
Come to think of it, almost any organization needs a distributed marketing strategy, including:
- Restaurants or store chains
- Direct sellers/multi-level-marketers (MLM)
- Agencies with agents/representatives in the field
- Companies with partner networks
- Enterprises with sales reps or field marketers
- And many more!
The Bottom Line
The key is to think of your distributed network not only as a sales channel, but also as a marketing function. Leveraging the knowledge of your connections at the local level can make a huge difference for your business. Customers gravitate toward companies they recognize. Take advantage of your local level and witness more leads pouring in and more sales closing.
Want to learn more? Check out some of these great resources on how Aprimo solves the distributed marketing challenge.