Local Events, Sponsorships Becoming Synonymous with Local Marketing

Study Finds Advances in Local Marketing Are Helping Small Businesses. Local dealers, agents and franchisees are looking for help with online marketing from national brand counterparts. Small businesses with tight budgets are finding success with online marketing, but with limited resources and a rapidly changing local marketing landscape, many say they are often left feeling confused and in need of help.

These of are just some of the findings from Brandmuscle‰Ûªs State of Local Marketing Report, an annual barometer for national brands and small businesses planning their marketing strategies for the coming year.

Statistical and anecdotal feedback by local affiliates shows that education and support with digital and social marketing are major opportunities for national brands. Reallocating co-​op funds to support online marketing and creating education and opt-​in programs for tactics like websites, paid search, social media and email will help local affiliates overcome current hurdles of cost and confusion.

Local affiliate marketing habits:

  • Nearly half of local affiliates (48%) spent less than $5,000 on marketing annually
  • Marketing budgets increased or stayed the same for 90% of affiliates
  • Local affiliates don‰Ûªt have time for marketing: More than half spent less than 20% of their time on marketing. One third spent less than 10% of their time on marketing
  • Nearly two-​thirds of affiliates (63%) were eligible for co-​op or MDF funds

Key findings include:

Local Events & Sponsorships Are Becoming Synonymous with Local Marketing

  • Local events and sponsorships enjoyed the highest use (76%) and satisfaction ratings (111 on our satisfaction index) amongst all categories evaluated.
  • Local events, last year‰Ûªs #1 tactic on the satisfaction scale, ranked third on this year‰Ûªs list of 29 tactics with a satisfaction index of 119. Local events were also the second most-​used with 87% of respondents.
  • The amount of co-​op allocated to local events and sponsorships continues to grow, but at a modest pace relative to their high use and satisfaction. Additionally, local affiliates complained that certain sponsorships, like local business bureaus, professional societies and industry conferences, do not qualify for co-​op funds even though they have proven successful in the past.
  • The amount of co-​op allocated to local events and sponsorships continues to grow, but at a modest pace relative to their high use and satisfaction. Additionally, local affiliates complained that certain sponsorships, like local business bureaus, professional societies and industry conferences, do not qualify for co-​op funds even though they have proven successful in the past.
  • Local affiliates stated that they find significant value in talking to customers face-​to-​face at events to build trust in the local community, convey value and sell.

Co-​op Marketing Spending Doesn‰Ûªt Always Align with Local Affiliates‰Ûª Preferences

  • National brands that provide co-​op marketing funds to their local channel partners, agents, dealers and distributors tend to direct those dollars toward traditional marketing tactics, while overlooking tactics that rate higher and are more affordable.

Small Businesses Still Rely Heavily on Traditional Media with Varying Results

  • Traditional media continues to capture the largest share of co-​op investments (64%) and has only declined 1% overall since 2011.
  • Promotional signage, television, radio and flyers all ranked high for overall satisfaction.
  • Yellow Pages continue to have high usage (77%) despite ranking second to last in overall satisfaction.

It‰Ûªs Getting Harder for Local Affiliates to Use Social Media Effectively

  • Social media ranked last amongst the overarching categories we evaluated for use (63%) and satisfaction (88 on our satisfaction index).
  • Overwhelmingly, local affiliates still believe social media is just ‰ÛÏtoo complicated.‰Û
  • While the category as a whole lagged, Facebook ranked well with 84% usage and a 106 satisfaction index rating.

Digital Marketing Use and Satisfaction is Growing but Local Affiliates Need Help

  • Unfortunately, co-​op investments in websites and email do not align with local affiliates‰Ûª satisfaction and use. Only 2% of co-​op spending was allocated to websites (up from 0 in 2011) and 1% for email (the same as 2011), representing little to no adjustment in co-​op programs to support these channels despite an increasing reliance on these digital tactics at the local level.
  • Digital marketing had the second highest satisfaction rating (105 satisfaction index) of any category evaluated and use is growing (68%).
  • Co-​op funding for digital marketing has increased 8% since 2011; a modest gain when compared to the increase in adoption and high satisfaction rating.
  • Websites ranked first for usage (90%) and overall satisfaction (121 satisfaction index).
  • Local affiliates are more satisfied with websites than any other tactic on the list, an impressive feat considering 9 out of 10 respondents use websites as part of their marketing mix. Receiving a satisfaction score of 121 means 85% of local affiliates were either satisfied or highly satisfied with their website as a marketing tool
  • Email also delivered some of the highest ratings overall with a satisfaction index of 115 and 86% of local affiliates using email.
  • Use of online display and paid search advertising increased significantly from 2014 to 2015 and both tactics earned a high satisfaction rating of 108, meaning 3 out of 4 local affiliates who used these tactics reported success.
  • Local affiliates who avoid using online advertising (online display or paid search), cite cost as the main concern this year. With a good measure of co-​op spend increasing in both areas, local affiliates are supported financially, but feedback from affiliates expressed a need to receive education, guidance and creative materials to support these tactics.
  • ust over half of local affiliates (55%) said they are using mobile/​SMS text message marketing, which boasts a higher than average satisfaction index of 105, yet no co-​op funding was allocated to this category.

‰ÛÏDigital usage is growing along with satisfaction, but local affiliates are struggling. Many find it‰Ûªs just too complicated in general for them to market their businesses online,‰Û said Clarke Smith, chief strategy officer for Brandmuscle. ‰ÛÏSocial media requires a lot of care and feeding and requires a commitment of time to respond quickly. But most of the local affiliates we surveyed are spending less than 10 percent of their time on marketing. Finding the right balance can be a real challenge for local affiliates.‰Û

Now in its second year, Brandmuscle‰Ûªs State of Local Marketing Report analyzes trends, media satisfaction, opportunities and challenges facing national and global brands that sell through a distributed network of local affiliates (franchisees, dealers, agents, distributors, channel partners, etc.). The report is based on survey responses from 850 local affiliate small businesses and a multi-​year analysis of hundreds of millions of dollars‰Ûª worth of co-​op investments.

You shouldn't ignore the co-​op funds that are abundantly available for your advertisers, nor should you ignore the tremendous opportunity that event marketing offers for them. AudienceSCAN reports that a quarter of Event Marketing Responders plan to attend auto shows in the next 12 months. Another 17% will buy tickets for film festivals and another 14% will motor in for boat shows. Your marketers need to be sponsoring these events, exhibiting at these events and tying in with them to take advantage of the local aspects! 27.5% of Event Marketing Responders say they learn about nearby concerts, shows and events from television.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.