Through the centralization and automation of messaging, distributed marketing can offer communications without borders.
What exactly is distributed marketing? It focuses on enhancing collaboration between a company’s central marketing function and its locally distributed marketing teams. This ensures that you can reach your target audience wherever they live, through whatever channels they prefer, without compromising your brand message or your business objectives.
Of course, as promising as all that is, it’s nothing without a successful rollout. It requires the careful alignment of several disparate components, which can feel like spinning plates.
Here are six pillars of a successful distributed marketing rollout:
- Customer experience
Contrary to popular wisdom, the customer isn’t always right, nor do they always know exactly what they want. That doesn’t mean they’re not important.
In fact, if the customer isn’t at the heart of everything you do, you’re doing it wrong. Look at how to improve the way they interact with your brand. If it becomes a dry exercise focused on incremental improvement to existing processes, your campaigns won’t achieve the desired results.
If you don’t know how something will improve customer experience, ask why you’re doing it in the first place. Will it build trust? Will they have a better idea of who you are, and will what they know make you their first-choice vendor?
- Multi-level brand management
You’re selling products and services, but you’re also selling your brand. The image that you cultivate and project is just as important to your customers as your particular offering.
Every level of the business should contribute to creating and sustaining an appealing corporate identity. Marketing campaigns and messaging plays an instrumental role in this. In the course of pursuing a brand management strategy, key decisions around audience reach, execution and personalization must be made. Local employees will be essential for certain components of any campaigns, and should be empowered to communicate with customers, compile their own segmented lists, and liaise with corporate stakeholders.
- Removing legacy systems
Out with the old, in with the new. It’s not an ironclad rule, but the more stubbornly an employee or department clings to an old methodology, the more swiftly that methodology should be replaced. A distributed marketing solution is the sort of ambitious, wide-ranging endeavor that leads staff members to employ convoluted workarounds and avoidance techniques—and that attitude isn’t in the spirit of the endeavor.
You must find ways of acclimatizing them to the new normal. Use on-site visits as a means of gauging employee response to the technology. If processes are unintuitive or complicated, a little explanation will often go a long way.
If they’re persistently refusing to use perfectly functional tools though, you may need to take a slightly blunter approach. When legacy systems become a crutch for employees, it becomes necessary to remove them. Decommission anything that’s getting in the way of using the new software, provide a rigid timeline for onboarding new software, be loud and public about it and then migrate at the advertised date. It sounds harsh, but it’s better than wasting internal resources.
- Digestible reports
Reporting and analysis are a critical part of any digital marketing strategy. Regional offices should be capable of tracking campaign performance, and referring it back to HQ in a simple, digestible fashion that clearly outlines the unit’s contribution to business objectives.
If satellite offices are doing well, they should be able to communicate this through easily-understood graphics, tables, and reports. All software should have an intuitive, uncomplicated dashboard, and an easy way of quantifying findings and identifying areas that need extra attention.
- Online portals
Regional offices have a number of concerns, and the distributed marketing application is only one among many. They may require materials infrequently enough that they forget how to use new marketing software.
Having an online portal for support, refresher training and advice can be extremely helpful in terms of improving campaign performance and messaging. Provide this service and you’ll increase your chances of a successful rollout.
- A full rollout schedule
Don’t go too big, too soon. A distributed marketing strategy should begin with a small sample of eight to 10 test offices—choose locations where they’re comfortable with experimentation and iteration, and won’t be too frustrated if it isn’t an immediate success.
If they’re sufficiently open-minded about the technology, you should soon have a clear idea of what works and what doesn’t before embarking on a larger rollout, giving you time to make key tweaks before your next deployment. By the time you’ve brought change to the entire business, these early adopters may well be the most ardent champions of this new system.
Distributed marketing can revolutionize the quality of your communications, your campaigns, and your customer experience. It encourages friendly competition between regional offices and greater understanding of your target audience. But it isn’t a silver bullet or a one-size-fits-all solution. Your rollout should be done with the care and attention you’d apply to any other transformative commercial initiative..