Location: The Evolution Of How It Became A Vital 4th Dimension for a CMO

A CMO’s responsibility has been to merge three dimensions, her brand, its customers and the technology to add value to its customers.

These heads of marketing have had to continually struggle with changes in the marketplace in an effort to maintain this value. She has been confronted with maintaining brand control throughout her country across its many geographies, demographics and economies. And in many cases her brand extends internationally further complicated this brand control need.

Of course her customers are ever fluid, growing up and reacting to forces outside of her control. These forces cause her to many times go back to step one and rethink her decisions, strategies and tactics to stay on point with her customers.

When you add in the daily introductions into the technology space, it demands new skills of this marketer to regularly consider and evaluate them and protect, if not claim, new land in advance of her competition.

In the digital space we have seen this play out so clearly in hindsight. The introduction of search engines into the customer’s journey added new demands on the CMO. SEO became critical to her brand.

Next the search engines went from a universal approach to localizing their value to the searchers and now the head of marketing needed to consider her presence on a local basis throughout her geography.

GPS and smartphones untethered her customers and gave the journey a new dimension by allowing them to be virtually anywhere in their interaction with the CMO’s brand. Now the context of where her customers were could be used if not forced upon her.

Introduce now ad tech and mar tech to the mix and the CMO can combine the previous advances to surgically target her customers, their needs and wants at nearly every point in their journey. This creates a new level of value to them they haven’t seen before.

The CMO now has the challenge, and advantage her predecessors never had of adding a fourth dimension to her customer value goal:

Location!

Merging location with her brand, her customer and new technology will set her up to add significant value to her customers throughout their life as a customer of the brand.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

How many brands really manage their presence well from their initial touch point with the consumer while at the top of the sales funnel all the way through to the consumer’s conversion?

I rarely see it happen to be honest.

The best practitioners I’ve seen are those in the automotive space. There the brand coexists with a regional or DMA level entity which also coexists with each individual dealer.

Go ahead Google ‘prius’. I did just now and this is what I got.

Brand and Dealer Coexistence

All three coexisting harmoniously.

But at what expense? I’ve heard second hand how little coordination is going on here between the three groups who really number in the thousands throughout the US.

In this case, Wesley Chapel Toyota is cutting a check to Google directly. They’re also paying some fixed percentage into their local co-op, Southeast Toyota Distributors, who is advertising with these funds. And finally they bought the car from the manufacturer, Toyota, who in turn used some of the margin to advertise the Prius.

Is it that competitive in the automotive space that they must own all three of the top spots on AdWords? To do this they are competing against themselves right? That’s the only way you can own all three spots!

Isn’t there a better way to solve this problem?

How to Fail at Multi-Location Online Marketing

The Dilemma of Multi-Location Online MarketingI’ve worked for two large national brands to solve the dilemma of marketing multi-location, local businesses online in a cost-effective manner, Sylvan Learning Centers (1,100 locations) and Coast Dental (200 locations). And next week I start a new gig for a third, PowerChord Systems (thousands of client locations).

Those experiences have highlighted to me the biggest challenges facing multi-location businesses.

The Rub

Only when banded together, can local businesses get the economies of scale needed to implement the online marketing tactics and strategies that will crush their mom & pop competition.

But at the same time, they expect these tactics and strategies to be designed and customized for their and only their local customers.

But you can’t do that in a cost-effective manner if each local business were to hire a local agency. You need to design your multi-location online marketing in a way that solves the sometimes competing requirements of the corporate parent/franchisor AND the local dealer/franchisee/branch.

Corporate Requirements

  • Consistent Brand – protect the brand’s equity
  • Professional imagery – no stretched logos, clip art or incorrect use of colors
  • Approval and oversight – legal and business
  • Implement Best Practices – communication frequency, correct use of channels
  • Reporting – detailed breakdown of why some local businesses are seeing great results compared to others
  • Optimization – how can we better use our investments to get more leads per dollar?

Local Requirements

  • Hyper-local variations – keyword bidding, use of languages other than English
  • Customization – local name vs. corporate brand
  • Local Channels – local websites
  • On-Demand/Impulse Campaigns – weather-based, tragedy-based, event-based
  • Expense – want the Corporate rate but with local control
  • Reporting – how many customers did I get last month for my investment?

How to Fail

Considering these requirements you may think the solution is easy.  But here are three obvious solutions that will actually fail if implemented.

  1. Implement your corporate strategy as though it was developed for each local business.  The same banner ads, email newsletters and online offers are deployed in each location.  In doing this you just portray yourself to your prospects as a cold corporate machine.  Coca-Cola can get away with this.  You can’t.
  2. Hand over the keys to the local businesses.  Letting them solve the online marketing needs on their will guarantee you end up with 1,000 different strategies developed by 1,000 different local agencies. And your brand will slowly disappear as you know it.
  3. Develop your corporate strategy, tactics, campaigns and editorial calendars and then customize each of them for each location. You will quickly run out of money and time once the changes and demands from the local level overwhelm you and your budget. Your campaigns will never see the light of day due to a lack of funds.

How to Win

How to Win at Multi-Location Online MarketingI’ve found there is a solution that sits in between the requirements of the two parties. It’s a complex one, but when done right gets you closer to winning than any other method I’ve seen.

But I want to hear from you first.

  • How have you approached solving this dilemma?
  • How have you figured out how to solve the competing requirements of Corporate and the local businesses?

Let me know in the comments below.

Who Do You Love?

Who Do You Love

Pick One

When you get in a personal relationship with someone in real life, you know who you’re getting involved with.

But when you get into an email marketing relationship with a business (aka email newsletter), are you making the deep dive with the right brand?

Brand or Location?

For example, if I sign up for Starbucks emails, am I getting an email from the SBUX giant in Seattle or is my local coffee shop going to reach out to me through email?  The same goes for the multi-location McDonald’s.

How about IKEA?  Am I going to read emails authored by the Scandinavian Marketing Team, the US arm of the Scandinavian giant or one of their multiple locations here in Tampa?

Who Am I Connecting With?

Let’s turn this around now.  Say you manage a multi-location business.  You solicit email subscribers everywhere you can.  Your website, social media even your print materials and in-store collateral.

And you succeed at not failing your customers: Best Buy Email, University of Florida,

Who do your customers want to hear from?  The Corporation?  The Brand? Or do they want to know and learn about their local brand torch bearer?

There is no single answer.  Rather I believe you need to ask tough question about your customers to learn what they want from an email relationship.  Who knows maybe you’ll learn a thing or two.

Ask  The Questions

  • How many of my locations would my customer likely visit in one year?
  • Are my locations close to my customer’s homes or likely visited while traveling?
  • Is there a chance that my customers might like our brand so much that they want to visit other locations?

Asking questions like this of your brand and its customers will help you decide whether you speak to them as a single brand or whether each of your locations has its own brand that needs to have a dedicated and personalized email relationship with them.

Who Do THEY Love?

So it’s not who do YOU love, the right question is Who Do THEY Love?

Answer that and your customers will appreciate your email relationship more.

Are You Torn?

Do you struggle with the problem of how to develop a relationship between multiple locations and your customers?

Speak up in the comments below!

Foursquare 3.0

Foursquare Campaign WizardJust in time for SXSW, Foursquare has rolled out a new release of features and their focus on multi-location businesses sings to me.

For those of you managing multiple venues in your Foursquare account know well how hard it is to kick off a campaign, deploy specials and aggregate your venue’s check-ins.

Foursquare 3.0 addresses each of those needs and then some.

Benefits to Enterprises

Greg Sterling does a great job of analyzing the release, here are some of his highlights:

  • You can now initiate a campaign once and apply to any or all of your claimed venues.
  • You’ll be able to aggregate your stats across venues to see track demographics as well as campaigns analytics.
  • While not new, it’s key to note that all of this data is real-time.  So you can quickly react, deploy, correct and reward based on what you’re seeing happen.

Imagine deploying a Flash, Swarm or Friends Special across all of your sports bars during the heat of the March Madness.  Are you listening Beef ‘O’ Brady’s?

To me this brings Foursquare to the big kids table by courting the enterprise users.  A single point for management and analysis is key if you’re going to think about having large companies and their extensive reach and deep pockets.

Foursquare Analytics

Deaf Ears

Now if only Facebook and Twitter would take notice and provide an enterprise portal so I can manage over 100 online presence through a single tool.

Next Up

Is you’re listening Foursquare I’d like for your analytics and tracking to better integrate with my web analytics packages.  You don’t have to do this directly for each vendor, but at least allow me to better tag my venues with their website sibling.

This will allow me to roll up Foursquare’s role in my customer relationship and compare it to my other initiatives.

Vendors in the Multi-Location Space

When I look around at vendors targeting the space of multi-location online marketing, they are few are far between.

Searching for the organically you find a lot vendors for telecommunications products or restaurant back office software for chains.  But what I consider online marketing for multi-location businesses really focuses on the management of a business or brand that has many brick and mortar locations.

While that seems to be dominated by B2C, there are also many B2B companies out there with this same need.

So I’ve down research lately to identify those vendors who might be able to help those of us managing this unique challenge.


Expion.com

Expionhttp://expion.com/

Expion is a SAAS that allows you to “dashboard” your individual location’s online presences.  From one console you can manage multiple Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts etc. This saves you from having to copy your updates to each portal as well consolidating the monitoring of them.

FishBowl

Fishbowlhttp://www.fishbowl.com/

Fishbowl is really a turnkey solution specifically for the restaurant space.  Not only do they cover the trendy social media aspects of a multi-location business, they also incorporate email guest management with analytics thrown in as well.  Depending on your restaurants’ other operational tools and how Fishbowl integrates with them (and therefore simplifies it for your frontline people), this could be a real silver bullet for you.

Awareness Inc.

Awarenesshttp://awarenessnetworks.com/

Similar to Expion, but really getting into the corporate workflow of auditing, approvals and multi-user involvement in the day-to-day management of a business’ online properties.

Valuevine

Valuevinehttp://valuevine.com/

Valuevine really focuses in on the brand management of a business.  Bringing in sentiment measurement and location-based aspects of monitoring their offering looks great for those who want to look at each location’s reputation and compare against each other.

GramercyOne

GramercyOnehttp://www.gramercyone.com

I included this one here to help contrast one  a different type of approach.  With GramercyOne and its tools you can focus on integrating everything in one place: appointment book, membership & loyalty, point of sale, gift certificates and, oh yes, marketing.  Facebook and Twitter are really a bolt-on to their turnkey solution.  Rather than build around the relationship, monitoring and participation of social media, it approaches them merely as another marketing channel.  Another outlet for your advertising campaign.  Not the way I would approach it.


I’m sure there are more out there that compete with these vendors, but they haven’t hit my radar.

Disclaimer

I am in no way associated with these vendors.  I also have not used any of their products or services (yet!) myself.  So I could be way off in my claims.  If so, let me know and I’ll be glad to update it.

Do You Have This Problem?

I would love to know what the many franchisor/franchisees use to solve these problems.  Likewise there are plenty of corporate-managed retail businesses that have either solved this problem in-house or use a similar product.

If that’s you, I’d love the hear from you.  Share your thoughts in the comments below.