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8 Steps to Local Marketing Automation Selection and Implementation


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National brand marketers know: Localized marketing is essential to growth and profitability. But a gap exists between the control and effectiveness of brand marketing versus that of local marketing, …

National brand marketers know: Localized marketing is essential to growth and profitability. But a gap exists between the control and effectiveness of brand marketing versus that of local marketing, especially if you sell through a local distribution network. This is why 30% of national brands have embraced local marketing automation and another 27% are actively investigating LMA solutions.
Download our whitepaper to learn how to successfully roll out a local marketing automation platform—from finalizing local marketing strategy to selecting the right vendor for your company and actual implementation and roll-out. Several comprehensive questions are included to assist throughout all stages of the process, including a planning timeline.

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  • 1. LOCAL MARKETING AUTOMATION WHITEPAPER8 STEPS FOR SELECTION & IMPLEMENTATION PAPER INTENDED FOR: BUYING STAGE: • Education • Implementation of LMA System AUDIENCE: • Sponsors or Program Managers of LMA Initiatives FOCUS: • Local Marketing Automation Best Practices • Local Marketing Implementation Planning ROLE: • Decision Maker • Influencer • Program Manager » STRATEGY DEFINITION » VENDOR SELECTION » INTERNAL IMPLEMENTATION » IMPLEMENTATION PLANNING TIMELINE
  • 3. 11111Local Marketing Automation: 8 Steps for Selection & Implementation R EXECUTIVE SUMMARY According to a 2011 CMO Council study, 62% of national marketers are not yet incorporating local marketing automation platforms. If you’re one of them, this paper is for you. Implementing local marketing automation (LMA) is not effortless, but if you know the right steps to take it’s not as difficult as you might think. The goal of this paper is to educate national marketers on the process of rolling out a local marketing automation platform – from project kick-off to launch to ongoing management – including a timeline from vendor selection to post-launch. WHY LOCAL MARKETING AUTOMATION? If you’re a national brand marketer, there is little doubt that you recognize the gap in control and effectiveness between brand marketing and local marketing. At the national level, you’re able to control everything – strategy, brand message, creative execution, media tactics and measurement –because regardless of whether the work is done in-house or with a combination of marketing services partners, you have oversight and are involved. Most likely, you also use some type of marketing automation technology to help you manage and measure your national-level marketing campaigns. But when it comes to your brand’s local-level marketing, especially if you’re a national brand that sells through a local distribution network (e.g. dealers, distributors, agents, franchisees or retailers), marketing control takes a turn for the worse and the challenges of maintaining your brand’s strategy and effectiveness multiply. You have to rely on local affiliates – often hundreds or even thousands of independent businesses with competing responsibilities, motivations and loyalties – to carry out your brand’s marketing across a highly fragmented landscape of media outlets. And you have little visibility into how marketing is executed, much less how well it performs. A 2011 study published by the CMO Council called“Localize to Optimize Sales Channel Effectiveness,”reported that CMOs at national brands who sell through local outlets recognize the importance of gaining more control over local marketing – they believe that localized marketing is essential to the growth and profitability of their business, particularly as it relates to demand generation and sell-through of products and services. Thus, CMOs are looking to make significant changes and improvements in how they implement local marketing activities. According to the study, one of the ways national brand marketers are looking to improve their local marketing is by using local marketing automation (LMA) platforms, but more marketers need to become familiar with them: • Just 30% of marketers have embraced local marketing automation platforms, resources and tools compared to 62% who either don’t have them or are only now evaluating these options What is Local Marketing Automation? Local marketing automation is a software-plus-services solution that enables national brands with distributed marketing organizations to translate national marketing strategies into local execution. The national brand provides all required tools for local marketing success, including brand guidelines, creative assets, marketing planning, best practices and customer data. The brand also delivers the mechanism by which affiliates can easily localize strategy and creative assets –across all mediums – to quickly and easily execute a campaign to reach consumers.
  • 4. 2Local Marketing Automation: 8 Steps for Selection & Implementation PART I: STRATEGIC PLANNING & VENDOR SELECTION STEP #1: DEFINE YOUR LMA STRATEGY UP FRONT Prior to reviewing local marketing automation platform vendors, make sure you’re clear about why you’re looking for an LMA solution. Is too much of your distributed marketing process still manual? Does your current system require affiliates to work with multiple vendors and platforms to execute a single campaign? Is your current marketing process too brand-focused, making it difficult for affiliates to tailor your brand materials for their market? Are affiliates not adopting current systems and/or marketing strategies? Many national brands already have some form of LMA in place, but find they need a more comprehensive solution that 1) supports all types of media relevant to their strategy, 2) enables consolidation of multiple systems into a single solution, 3) provides higher levels of customization to their affiliates and 4) delivers aggregated local marketing analytics and reporting so they can identify what is and isn’t working and make adjustments. After you’ve clarified your needs, define the objectives and strategy for your new local marketing automation system. The questions in the sidebar will help get you started. Your answers will provide a guide for your project team and the LMA vendor you select throughout the implementation process. The more you define up front, the better prepared you’ll be to make decisions along the way and the more smoothly your implementation will go. Local Marketing Automation Planning Questions •What are your objectives for implementing local marketing automation? •Which processes are you looking to automate? •What benefits will it provide to your corporate organization? •What benefits will it provide your local affiliates? • How will you define and measure success? •What is your projected timeline for vendor selection and implementation? •What is your budget? Local Marketing Return On Investment National brands need to make many strategic decisions regarding local marketing investment, including how much of their overall marketing budget to allocate to local marketing. Most brands find that reserving a small percent of their overall marketing budget for local marketing reaps huge rewards. Using ROI (Return on Investment) metrics is a useful way for brands to manage and measure program success. It’s helpful as a benchmark in the early stages of planning, and over time, it enables brands to identify which programs and tactics perform best and which ones need to be modified or eliminated. Try out the Local Marketing ROI Calculator to help set goals and budgets for your national/local marketing efforts.
  • 5. 33333Local Marketing Automation: 8 Steps for Selection & Implementation STEP #2: INTERVIEW CAREFULLY TO SELECT THE RIGHT VENDOR FOR YOUR NEEDS After you’ve defined your strategy, it’s time to research and interview local marketing automation vendors and their software platforms. Start by researching the local marketing automation market and then make a list of potential vendors. Shorten the list by eliminating those that clearly don’t fit your basic criteria. Next, contact the vendors that you want to interview and provide them with information about your local marketing automation objectives. Be sure to ask each vendor to conduct a live software demonstration to understand how their solution works. Before the demonstration, create a list of questions like the ones in the sidebar to learn more about each vendor’s solution. (see Figure 1 for Interview Questions) STEP #3: ENGAGE THE RIGHT STAKEHOLDERS TO KEEP THE PROJECT ON TRACK Before you begin implementation, identify other groups that will be impacted by the new system or that will have some influence on the implementation process. It’s important to consider this early in the process and get buy-in because if a new stakeholder is brought in after a lot of the implementation work has been done, it can extend timelines, increase costs, and adversely affect end users if an existing system is planned to go offline by a certain time. Be sure to position the LMA provider being chosen as another partner because some stakeholders, particularly marketing services partners or agencies, could feel unnecessarily threatened if they don’t have a clear understanding of the LMA provider’s role. Recommended Stakeholders • InformationTechnology (IT) – Since there is underlying technical data that will be necessary to run the system, a liaison from your IT department should be involved during implementation and ongoing management of your LMA system. Including IT from the beginning of the project will allow them to intervene and provide data when it’s needed. (See Step #4 for more information on IT involvement.) • Channel / Co-op Marketing – If the local marketing automation project is being driven by your corporate communications or brand team, then a stakeholder from your Channel / Co-op Marketing team should be identified. • Corporate Communications / Branding – Conversely, if the project is being driven by your channel / co-op team, then someone from your corporate communications / branding team should be involved. • CorporateTraining – If you have a corporate training program, consider including a representative during the implementation process so they can become familiar with the system and put together a training curriculum if you choose to have them conduct training rather than the LMA vendor. (See Step #6 for more information on training.) • Influential Affiliates / Affiliate Marketing Council Members - It’s a good idea to include a few key affiliate representatives who you consider to be influential to adoption success. If you have an Affiliate Marketing Council, choose a few key members to involve during implementation. • Marketing Services Partners / Agencies – Include contacts from any of your marketing agencies who participate in creating or executing your local marketing materials.
  • 6. 4Local Marketing Automation: 8 Steps for Selection & Implementation Questions for Interviewing Potential LMAVendors Product Functionality / Implementation • What are the primary automation and management features of your product? • For which media channels can our creative be customized and distributed? • How does your software enable or restrict creative template customization/ localization? • What types of data would you need us to provide about our affiliates? • Can your system automate co-op marketing funding and reimbursement? • How do you manage the implementation process for your LMA system? What are the steps involved? • How long does it typically take to implement your LMA system? • What resources are required to implement your LMA system? • What level of ongoing account management is provided, both for our corporate marketing contacts and our affiliates? • What type of metrics, analytics and reports are provided, and on what frequency? • What types of customers do you serve best? • Who are some of your key customers and how do they use your product and/or services? • Can you provide customer references? Pricing • How do you price your software? Is it subscription-based or do you provide seat- licenses? • Do we have to pay for software updates? • How do you price your services? • Do you mark up or take commissions on any of your creative production, printing or media services? • Are you vendor agnostic when it comes to working with creative agencies, printers and media service agencies? Support/Training • How much training do you offer and how much is typically needed? • How do you conduct training? • Can your training be customized? • What types of customer and technical support do you offer post-implementation? Figure 1
  • 7. 55555Local Marketing Automation: 8 Steps for Selection & Implementation PART II: IMPLEMENTATION THROUGH ONGOING PROGRAM MANAGEMENT Once you’ve selected a vendor and rounded up your stakeholders, it’s time to begin implementation. Depending on the local marketing automation vendor that you select, Steps 4 – 8 will vary in their details, but the typical steps should be similar to what’s outlined here. STEP #4: GATHER GOOD DATA TO GET THE MOST FROM YOUR LMA SYSTEM A good LMA vendor will assess your existing data and guide you in gathering additional information needed to enable you and your affiliates to get the most out of the software and your local marketing in general. The higher the level of data integration, the more intuitive and effective the LMA system will be. Your IT department will be able to provide your LMA vendor with your existing data. Comprehensive data about your affiliates will allow the LMA software to pre- populate creative templates with the information to customize and localize campaigns. This includes business names, locations, phone numbers, websites, hours, logos, maps, products available and services offered. Comprehensive data also enables you to automate your co-op funding and reimbursement processes. By integrating and automating the strategic planning, creative execution and financial aspects of your co-op program, you can increase affiliate usage and reduce manual tactics. By taking the time to gather good data up front, your LMA software will reduce the efforts required of brand marketers and affiliates to coordinate tactical campaign logistics so they can concentrate on more strategic campaign elements, such as which offers to provide, which calls-to-action to use, what the media mix will be, and so forth. On the more technical side, be aware that the information and process by which your affiliates access your LMA system is an important upfront data consideration. This is another area in which it will be important to have a direct contact from your IT department involved. Questions you and your IT department will need to consider: • Who in your organization will use the LMA system? • Will they have to install any special software or modify their network access settings in order to use the LMA system? • How will affiliates access the system? Direct access, single-sign-on (SSO), or self-sign-up? • How will affiliate access be provisioned and maintained? • How are affiliates identified in your organization’s ERP/CRM system? • How is affiliate data managed, updated, exported? • What subset of affiliate data is used in marketing materials? • How do affiliates identify themselves? For example, is the ID# they use to sign in and identify themselves different from the ID# that the brand team uses to identify them?
  • 8. 6Local Marketing Automation: 8 Steps for Selection & Implementation STEP #5: DESIGN YOUR CREATIVE TEMPLATES FOR LOCAL MARKET SUCCESS When providing branded creative templates to your affiliates, you must balance your needs to control the brand’s creative design and message with the needs of your affiliates to manage their marketing in a way that works best for them locally. Too often, brand control outweighs local relevance to the extent that the creative is not seen as useful by affiliates. Offering only national ads defeats the point of implementing a local marketing automation system. Local marketing is most successful when the promotion and affiliate(s) are featured more prominently than the brand and affiliates are usually happier with this balance. A good rule-of-thumb is to devote 2/3 of the ad space to the promotion/affiliate and 1/3 to the national brand. With this in mind, brand marketers implementing LMA systems often find there is work to be done with regard to adapting existing creative to make it successful in local markets. During the LMA implementation process, you will need to make decisions about how your brand’s creative elements will be modified for localization. You’ll need to consider: • Which vendor(s) will update the creative? (E.g. national agency, LMA vendor, another creative shop?) • Who in your brand organization needs to approve the creative before it can be delivered to the vendor? • What is the timeline needed for the creative changes to be made? • What specific media types will be made available to affiliates? (E.g. local websites, online display ads, email, direct mail, in-store, traditional broadcast, etc.?) • What specific creative pieces exist for those media types? Are the source files readily available? • How do the creative pieces correspond to the strategy as it relates to local marketing efforts? • If the strategy is to drive leads to local affiliates, is the creative designed to accomplish that task? • Do the creative pieces provide sufficient space for localization (dealer name, address, maps, geographically specific content)? STEP #6: ESTABLISH TRAINING TO INCREASE ADOPTION OF YOUR LOCAL MARKETING AUTOMATION SYSTEM Proper training increases adoption and utility of a local marketing automation system. The transformation from one-off, ad hoc marketing efforts to a process-oriented system will require an adjustment for both your brand team and your affiliates, but the results are well worth it. Ensuring that both groups understand the capabilities of the new system and the mechanics of its use will ease the transition period and increase adoption. Prior to launching your new LMA system, it is important to train marketing and sales staff (e.g. sales managers, account managers, field marketing managers) that directly support affiliates so they are available to answer questions, provide guidance and share best practices. You will also need to determine which training formats and support materials will work best for your affiliates. Training can take the form of live and recorded webinars, on-site group or individual training at affiliate Optional Step: Run a Pilot Program Prior to launching, consider running a pilot program with a small number of selected affiliates who will provide active feedback.While not always necessary, some companies prefer the pilot approach because it helps them test the product and adjust their requirements and guidelines prior to full-scale roll-out. An added benefit is that affiliates who participate in the pilot often become evangelists who share positive user experiences when the LMA system launches.
  • 9. 77777Local Marketing Automation: 8 Steps for Selection & Implementation locations or at national conferences or conventions, and printed training materials such as PowerPoint decks and other documents. After your new LMA software system is launched, you’ll also need a plan for ongoing training. This will include training for new affiliates as they join, in addition to continual training for existing users to make them aware of new features as the software evolves. Training can be conducted by your LMA vendor, or you can have them train members of your corporate staff so they’re able to provide ongoing training services to your affiliates. STEP #7: LAUNCH BIG – ENSURE AFFILIATES TAKE NOTICE Treat the launch of your new LMA system like a product launch. Do it right so that your affiliates will not only be aware of it, but will understand the benefits and adopt it. New marketing initiatives often roll out too slowly or too quickly without fanfare. Busy affiliates don’t have time to fully embrace what is available to them and may not understand why it is there. Make it clear that this effort is going to improve their bottom line. Educate your affiliates with marketing materials and training. Be clear about their role and any actions they need to take. Make sure they know who to call when they have questions. Also prepare your internal organization for the launch. Create presentations and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to educate executives and the broader marketing staff to ensure they are aware of the LMA system, can tout its benefits, and know who is in charge of it. Consider promoting the launch externally through a press announcement, too. Let the world know that you’re implementing innovative technology that helps you and your affiliates grow leads, market more efficiently and increase your competitive edge. STEP #8: REVIEW, REFINE AND IMPROVE POST LAUNCH; PLAN ONGOING MANAGEMENT Within 120 days post-launch, set a date to evaluate system performance and affiliate adoption to determine if any strategic adjustments need to be made as you move forward and the program evolves. User feedback is an important part of this process and will provide information such as: • Does creative need to be modified? • Do additional creative pieces need to be offered? • Are there any issues with pricing and ordering? Consider how your LMA system will be refined and who will be in charge of its ongoing program management. What’s great is that the local marketing automation system should reduce the time it takes your team to manage distributed marketing programs. Depending on your strategy and the size of your company, managing the LMA system itself may be a portion of one person’s job or it may fall to multiple people, but it should not be burdensome. MOVE FORWARD WITH CONFIDENCE Better localized marketing is essential to growth and profitability of your national brand. Implementing a local marketing automation system will help you make significant local marketing changes and improvements. While it takes some planning and time, now that you understand the steps involved you should feel empowered to move forward confidently.
  • 10. 8Local Marketing Automation: 8 Steps for Selection & Implementation TIMELINE: LOCAL MARKETING AUTOMATION SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION
  • 11. 99999Local Marketing Automation: 8 Steps for Selection & Implementation ABOUT BALIHOO Balihoo is the premier provider of local marketing automation technology and services to national brands with local marketing needs. Balihoo enables enterprise-class marketing at the local level and gives national brands full visibility into all local marketing activities and results. Providing a combination of web-based software and services, Balihoo enables national brands to dramatically reduce marketing expenses and immediately increase local sales revenue. For local affiliates, Balihoo takes the complexity out of local marketing—making it easy to quickly implement an expert, integrated marketing strategy that is consistent with the national brand. Let Balihoo help your brand assess its online local marketing effectiveness. 866-466-9914 @Balihoo 2011 Balihoo, Inc. All rights reserved. ©