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How to manage the multi-local communication of a networked brand?

Marketing a network business usually involves a complex balance of centralization and decentralization of communication

The marketing of a network business generally involves a complex balance combining centralization and decentralization of communication. This issue concerns retail brands, but also agency networks (banks, insurance companies, brokerage companies, or even travel agencies).

On the one hand, communication must be harmonized to contribute to the construction of the brand, and respect a common framework. Any local campaign participates in a more global communication effort of the brand, and benefits from a shared investment.

On the other hand, for effective, personalized and agile communication, the brand must rely on the different levels of the network to delegate the adaptation and execution of campaigns. This is due to the consideration of local parameters (media, events, competition, etc.) but also to a better knowledge of the field and customer profiles.

It is this balance that multi-local marketing must promote, and in particular through the implementation of “distributed” or decentralized marketing.

What are the main use cases of distributed marketing? Concretely, what are the prerequisites and the solutions to implement it?

1. What is distributed marketing?

Distributed marketing (or decentralized marketing) is a marketing approach in which the responsibilities for planning, implementing and managing marketing campaigns are distributed among multiple stakeholders, rather than being centralized within a unique marketing team. This can include departments such as sales, partners, subsidiaries, and separate business units, as well as outside partners such as sales agents, resellers, and affiliates.

2. What must be centralized in a multi-local communication device

2.1. Dissemination of brand identity

In a context of communication of a company with a network, the priority is to disseminate and preserve the codes of the brand: its identity, its graphic and editorial charter, its communication codes. This branding work must be centralized, to guarantee sufficient investment, a global vision, and brand consistency.

2.2. The marketing strategy

The marketing strategy must be broadly defined at a national level. For example, the positioning strategy in terms of price, image, communication angles or audience targeting are common to the entire network, as they are generally not subject to variations in local parameters.

2.3. Campaign concepts

As the marketing strategy is generally defined at the national level, so are the campaign concepts.

For example, in 2022, the Aldi distribution brand, which is developing in France and in particular in the Paris region, has chosen to emphasize the multiplication of points of sale, and therefore the proximity between consumers and an Aldi store. . This concept responds both to a national strategy (development of the network in certain cities), while having an obviously local parameter (the message is only broadcast near new points of sale).

2.4. Asset production

Once the concepts have been defined, the production of the campaigns is generally handled by the central entity. The different formats that local entities may need are anticipated, and all the main assets are produced centrally: visuals, films, emails, banners, etc. The challenge is then to make these assets accessible and allow their customization with very specific rules.

3. What needs to be decentralized: the use cases of distributed marketing
3.1. Customer relationship management

The customer relationship is an eminently local marketing subject. Knowing customers is first and foremost a field affair: agents and local sales managers meet customers, have regular contact with them, and are better acquainted with their problems, both at individual level and at the level of the whole local customers.

The management of the customer relationship must therefore leave a significant degree of autonomy to the local, whether for the commercial relationship or the customer service after the purchase.

Communication scenarios can be designed centrally, in order to disseminate best practices in relational marketing and allow each local manager to benefit from the experience of the network. But on the one hand, these scenarios must be designed with the input of field managers during workshops, and on the other hand, a certain latitude in the execution must be left to the sales and customer relations managers in the network.

The triggering of a message must be able to be blocked (inhibited) by the customer relationship manager if it interferes with an action in progress with this customer. Conversely, customer service must be able to trigger a pre-conceived scenario at the national marketing level.

The “attention gesture” solution designed for La Banque Postale and made available to its network of agents is a perfect example. Each agent can trigger the sending of a gift to a customer, to thank him or compensate him, with a level of value chosen by the agent: the latter is therefore autonomous (he decides to whom and when he sends a gift , and it sets the value). But certain rules are set at the national level: creation of the email for sending the gift, value levels and catalog of gifts, and maximum number of gifts that can be sent by an agent over a year.



3.2. Localized communication campaigns

The communication campaigns of a network can sometimes be personalized to enhance the proximity of the points of sale, the local service. This involves personalizing messages with local data, or highlighting local customer managers, or “real” customers. This type of campaign assumes the participation of each agency or point of sale, with a common campaign objective.



With the “Rebons” campaign, the insurance company AXA also offers a good example of a national communication campaign concept with personalization and strong local involvement. Rebons are €20 vouchers distributed by agents to their private customers to be used at local merchants. The general agents personalize the vouchers by referencing the merchants themselves:


AXA - 05


3.3. Partnerships and sponsorship

Partnerships or sponsorship are also a recurring use case for localized communication. To really personalize the marketing strategy to the context of each region, the choice of partnerships is often based on local units, while meeting criteria defined at the national (or even global) marketing level.

Thus, the MGEN mutual has designed a program of benefit offers reserved for its members, integrating both national and local partners. Local partners often have historical relationships with local sections of the mutual: theatres, cinemas, museums or cultural centres, etc. The framework is that of a global benefits program with a selection of offers on defined themes (in particular, culture and leisure), but the negotiation of offers is done by each section.

We find this logic in sports marketing. For example, the retail chain U de Pleurtuit communicates on the sponsorship of the Dinard Triathlon. Communication assets are specific and localized (triathlon arrival gate, content insert in an email to participants, etc.), but they are produced in full compliance with brand guidelines.



4. Distributed Marketing Solutions Prerequisites

Several solutions meet distributed marketing needs. Among the major solutions, there is of course Salesforce Marketing Cloud. But there are also more specialized solutions in this area, especially in France: SmartProfile, Scal-e, or The Ramp.

The prerequisites of a distributed marketing solution depend on the context of the brand, but generally, we find the following needs.

4.1. Centralize communication assets

The first condition of distributed marketing is to centralize communication elements: content, templates, assets. These can then be exploited and adapted by the network.

4.2. Network Distributed CRM Architecture

Marketing includes the relational component: PRM, CRM. Relationship marketing must also be taken in hand by the network, and for this, the PRM/CRM data architecture must correspond to the organization of the network. Thus, for example, each point of sale has the data of its prospects and customers, in a compartmentalized way. In the case of a network with franchises, it is even common that the head office does not have access to the PRM/CRM data of the franchisees, who own this “capital” data.
On the other hand, the marketing scenarios designed by the head office must be able to be executed locally, with the PRM and CRM data associated with the points of sale and franchises.

4.3. Manage roles with a rights tree

The rights tree makes it possible to define, for each administrator of the solution, the rights which are given to him: functionalities of the back office, level of edition, scope of data (local, national, etc.). Due to the multiplicity of entities involved in marketing campaigns in a network, the rights tree is central.

4.4. Trigger campaigns on different marketing channels, globally and locally

The distributed marketing solution must make it possible to plan marketing actions on a large number of channels: direct marketing channels (email, SMS, letters, etc.), but also advertising levers (social ads, display, etc.).

5. Local marketing management

5.1. Budget management

In multi-local marketing, the budget is usually divided between a national component (brand communication campaigns) and a local component (tactical acquisition campaigns, CRM campaigns or local events). The distributed marketing system must allow this hybrid management.

In some marketing systems, budget management can be more complex: for example, in the case of sponsorship for a network of agencies (bank, insurance, etc.). The cost of the sponsor reward must generally be taken from the budget of the agency that converts the sponsored person into a client.

5.2. Performance management

Multi-local communication also requires a suitable performance management tool, allowing administrators at headquarters to manage all performance, and administrators in subsidiaries to manage the performance of their campaigns.

To meet this challenge in the case of retail brands, the Dékuple agency has developed a management tool to monitor the performance of a store network, in multi-levers.


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