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Communication Strategies for Keeping Corporate and Local Aligned


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In the era of easy email, enewsletters, instant messaging and digital everything, getting communications out to local marketers quickly and affordably is easy.

The challenge is that most corporate marketers are really good at these one-way communications. But, to explode brand value at the local level, corporate marketers must communicate WITH local marketers, not TO them.

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Communication Strategies for Keeping Corporate and Local Aligned

  1. 1. Saepio Learning Series Exploding Brand Value at the Local Level Part 7 of 7 Communication Strategies for Keeping Local and Corporate Aligned
  2. 2. About This Series When we first published the Distributed Marketing Leadership Series guidebook “Exploding Brand Value at the Local Level,” we had no expectation that it would quickly move to be one of the all-time most downloaded content pieces from the Saepio library and sustain that position for the next three years. But we probably shouldn’t have been surprised. Exploding brand value at the local level is the objective of every distributed marketer. And it’s not an easy task. In this DMLS Guidebook series, we both revisit and expand on the concepts laid out in the first guidebook and the subsequent industry-specific versions of this popular paper. In this revisit, we find that much has changed since our first publication date. However, we are frustrated by how much remains the same. In particular, we are frustrated by the fact that while expansive, innovative distributed marketing platform solutions are now fully market-tested and proven, many corporate and local marketers are still struggling with basic relationships. Thus, we have chosen to provide an expanded take on the Five (now Six) C’s of the win-win brand marketing strategy. There’s nothing inherently profound about these six C’s. Yet, they so often remain overlooked or minimized and a less-than-optimal brand value results. We trust this expanded view will provide valuable insights that will help you build the effectives of your distributed marketing efforts and truly explode brand value for your organization at the local level. Part 1 (available here) explored how to explode your brand’s value a the local level with the 6 C’s of corporate + local marketing. Part 2 (available here) explored the importance of common objectives between corporate and local marketers. Part 3 (available here) explored the unique challenges faced by corporate marketing managers of distributed marketing networks and outlines why consistency matters. Part 4 (available here) explored the need to have coordinated corporate and local marketing messages at key “moments of truth”. Part 5 (available here) explored the need to have an effective shared customer program with clear definitions of a customer and the relationships of the corporate brand and the local brand or delivery point to that customer. Part 6 (available here) explored how to engage the competition to help maximize the resources the corporate marketer provides to local marketers. Part 7 explores communication strategies to keep corporate and local marketers aligned. Communication Strategies for Keeping Corporate and Local Aligned
  3. 3. Introduction In an era of easy email, enewsletters, instant messaging and digital everything, getting communications out to local marketers quickly and affordably is easy. Perhaps too easy. The challenge is that most corporate marketers are really good at these one-way communications. But successful communications for a distributed marketing network isn’t rooted in communicating TO someone, it’s anchored in communicating WITH someone. Often, when corporate and local marketing messages are out of sync, people examine the breadth and depth of content, formats used, focus of the messages, and timeliness of campaigns. However, the root cause of the dysfunction is often simply due to a lack of quality communications. In an environment absent of quality communications, local marketers decide corporate marketing is out of touch, and corporate marketing that local marketers simply want to go rogue. In most cases, however, the reality is that intelligent, well-skilled individuals are found at each end of the spectrum. The missing ingredient isn’t a lack of well-organized, well thought-out resources. It’s communications. To explode brand value at the local level, corporate marketers must communicate WITH local marketers, not TO them. And this process begins, progresses and ends with listening. When great listening is happening, powerful messaging can occur. When it’s not, brand messaging and customers are confused and marketing performance compromised. Communication Strategies for Keeping Corporate and Local Aligned 1
  4. 4. Chapter One Looking for the “Giant Ear” Most successful distributed marketing management programs have a common characteristic …a giant ear. While listening is obviously the starting point for good communications in any type of relationship, it is flat out critical for the corporate marketer who must depend on local marketers to bring a brand to life in a local context. Good listening skills keeps corporate in tune with local needs, keeps corporate marketing responsive and coordination of local and corporate marketing initiatives growing. Good listening habits, those of giant ear status, however clearly won’t happen by accident. Instead, they are the result of structured programs designed to continually seek, aggregate and analyze input. They go far beyond the occasional survey or the quarterly advisory board. Good listening begins with good observing The first step in creating a program for listening to distributed marketers is to create a system for monitoring actions. Local marketers do, as the cliché says, speak louder through their actions than their words. Design a system that monitors all local activity, flags variances and constantly watches for pattern trends. Listen closely for silence. One of the easiest pitfalls for the corporate marketing manager of a distributed network is to listen only to those who are talking to you. Good listening continually seeks to clarify The second step of a listening program should involve implementing defined processes for continually clarify what local marketers are telling you through requests, questions and comments you receive. Similar to the active listening practices of everyday life, this communication process must have multiple clarifying steps until the meaning of a word or phrase is clear. Because corporate and local marketers start from such differing perspectives, the risk is high for both parties to assume the other party is in sync based on the marketing phrase used. But even something as simple as the word “campaign” can have different meanings in the corporate and local worlds. Design your feedback forms, your phone calls, your company meetings, et cetera, in a manner that makes laddered, clarifying questioning easy and natural. Communication Strategies for Keeping Corporate and Local Aligned 2
  5. 5. Good listening requires absolute objectivity Marketers are schooled in the principles of selective perception. But like everyone else, they’re most skilled at hearing what they want to hear, especially when it comes to programs they’ve designed. The third step of a listening program should be a process to ensure objectivity and a broad representation of input. In addition to the pitfall of hearing what you want to hear, it is easy to hear only from those whom you want to listen to or those most willing to speak with you. Design your feedback/input systems in a manner that helps ensure both objectivity and an inclusiveness. Communication Strategies for Keeping Corporate and Local Aligned 3
  6. 6. Chapter Two Communicate WITH, Not TO, Your Local Marketers In today’s connected world, communicating TO someone is far too easy. Within minutes, an email can be broadcast, a newsletter created and sent, or an announcement posted. But to believe that these actions represent communication is clearly incorrect. Communication occurs when you talk WITH the local marketers. Talking WITH your distributed network does include all of the outbound TO messages. And, it religiously includes easy, if not mandatory, ways for them to talk back. Getting to this state of dialogue is more about a mindset than a formal program. As a first step, complete a quick audit of your current practices (see Worksheet #1). Write down a quick inventory of all the ways you currently communicate with your local marketers. Next, identify if the communication is TO or WITH focused. If it is WITH focused, look at the breadth and depth of feedback being received. Finally, note how each of the communications could be improved to create better engagement with your local marketers. Worksheet #1 Current Communications TO or WITH Breadth & Depth of Feedback Ways to Adapt Communications to Improve Feedback Naturally, if the listening processes outlined in Chapter One are in place, these elements should be embedded into each and every communication with the distributed marketing network. Exploding brand value at the local level is a joint effort between the corporate and local marketer. How “joint” the effort truly is will largely depend on how much communication is WITH rather than TO the local marketing teams. Communication Strategies for Keeping Corporate and Local Aligned 4
  7. 7. Chapter Three Implementing Systemic Communication Processes That Matter To explode brand value at the local level communications with local marketers must become systemic. Start with an audit of your current communication practices from the perspective of the local marketer: How often do you communicate? Is your communication consistent in timing and format? Something that’ s easy to spot? Do you have an easy to digest, organized format? Is the content timely and fresh? If the local marketer missed the message, would he/she care? As they complete this audit, many corporate marketers find that the communications is largely organized around a corporate perspective. Often messaging is too factual and not actionable as local marketing tactics. One way to make communication actionable is to tie outbound communication to takeaction tasks within a distributed marketing management platform. The communication can then focus on why a local marketing activity is important and immediately provide a way to turn that information into a completed project. Another key consideration is message cadence. Sending frequent communications just to send it more often than not will lead to overlooked messages. Less frequent but more meaningful communications is preferred by local marketers, and required if you want dialogue to occur. Finally, don’t hesitate to require confirmation that key communication has been received. This acceptance/feedback process can help set the expectation of an ongoing conversation between corporate and the local marketer. Where possible, tie measurement to actions in the distributed marketing management platform so that outbound communications and actions taken within the platform become a habit pattern for the local marketer. By structuring your communication process and making it engaging, you can build a systemic communications culture for the benefit of corporate and local marketers alike. Communication Strategies for Keeping Corporate and Local Aligned 5
  8. 8. Summary While many factors go into creating strong communication between corporate and local marketers, three key considerations stand above the rest. Key # 1: Listen, Listen, Listen Clearly this bears repeating. Few corporate marketers listen well to the needs of the local marketer. In building an active listening program, keep the following in mind: • Listen to the data. Observe what is and is not happening within the local marketing community. • Work on clarifying. Corporate marketers and local marketers have a tendency to speak past one another. Keep clarifying until you know you are on the same page. • Demand absolute objectivity. Every corporate marketer is at risk for selective perception; hearing what he or she wants to hear not what the local marketers are telling them. Be adamant about objectivity. Key #2: Make Two-Way Communication Your Culture The successful corporate marketing manager of a distributed marketing network will understand that communication must be WITH and not TO local marketers. To make this happen: • Review your current communications. Complete an audit of your communications targeted at local marketers. Is it TO them or WITH them? • Force dialogue. Structure communications in a manner that requires two-way communication. Then share what you hear and act on it. • Be inclusive. Make sure all voices are being heard - and heard clearly. Sometimes the silent local marketers have the most helpful information to share. Key #3: Build Communication Systems Strong communications between corporate and local marketers can’t be dependent on a charismatic communicator. Good communications must be systemic. To attain this, consider these key elements: • Design from the local perspective. Too many communications systems are built from the corporate marketing perspective. Flip that and watch the results follow. • Connect action steps to messages. Don’t just send words, send ways to take immediate action on those words. A distributed marketing management system can be helpful here. • Consider your cadence to optimize relevancy. Nothing will scream “pay no attention to me” more than too frequent and/or irrelevant content. Make your messages count and let your local marketers guide you to the right cadence. Communications is foundational to a corporate and local marketing synergy. When active, organized and with focus, a solid communication strategy can help brand value absolutely explode at the local level. Communication Strategies for Keeping Corporate and Local Aligned 6
  9. 9. About Saepio Saepio makes it easy for corporate and local marketers to build and run effective and engaging all-channel marketing campaigns. Saepio’s powerful MarketPort marketing platform starts with easy … • Easy to Build and Run Cross-Channel Campaigns because everything – email, landing pages, social, mobile, digital banner ads, signage, print ads, direct mail, and much more – are all managed in a single, integrated digital marketing platform. • Easy to Maximize Brand Value at the Local Level because local and corporate marketers share a single platform but experience the same platform differently based on their roles. Brand control, speed to market, and content localization is all easily accomplished whether messages are for local, national or global audiences and corporate marketers can easily assign campaign tasks to local marketers. • Easy to Engage Customers with personalized, relevant messages because corporate intelligence gleaned from CRM data, customer analytics, consumer actions and more can determine what content is served when, where and how. • Easy to Automate Marketing Fulfillment because robust workflow enables every cross channel customer touch point to happen automatically whether launched by corporate marketing, initiated by a local marketer or triggered by a customer’s action. This robust yet simplified approach to today’s complex marketing challenges is in use at hundreds of leading companies and organizations, including many of the world’s most powerful brands. It is transforming the way corporations focus and manage their marketing efforts in a world that introduces new channels, new competitors, new regulations and new opportunities at every turn. Visit, email or call 877-468-7613 to learn more. For More Information Share This Document with your Network Follow Us: Contact Us Saepio Technologies 600 Broadway Suite 400 Kansas City, MO 64105 Email Call Toll Free 877-468-7613 to learn more Communication Strategies for Keeping Corporate and Local Aligned 7