With today’s global reach, advertisers are faced with the challenge of delivering a clear, consistent message across all communication channels – unified message marketing. No matter if online or offline, delivering consistency in the look, feel, voice and language of the message helps improve the opportunity to build and maintain solid relationships with consumers.
When Apple prepared to launch the iPad in 2010, it very quickly became clear that it understood one of the key elements of messaging – consistency. From every platform, consumers and retailers consistently heard that Apple’s newest piece of technology was “magical and revolutionary,” building a perception of a product to which no other could compare.
Here’s how Apple got it right:
• The company kept it consistent. From press releases to website copy, every communication about the new iPad carried the same message, word for word. Repetition of a powerful message strengthens your brand’s perception.
• The company made it compelling. Apple’s brand promise wasn’t just a clever catch phrase. Though messaging should have tone and feeling, it should exhibit value as well.
• They didn’t let tactics define their messaging. Apple clearly formulated product benefits into a key message instead of jumping into developing marketing materials. Allowing your communication vehicles to drive your messaging needs will almost always result in a message that is, at best, disjointed.
Three years after the launch of the iPad, Apple continues to use this strategic approach to messaging around its products. Press releases and advertising still use the term “revolutionary” to describe the products and App Store. In fact, the unified message marketing is paying off in consistent earnings: the company reported Q2 2013 revenues somewhere between $41 billion and $43 billion (compared with $39.2 billion in that period the previous year).
This is just one example of how unified messaging marketing plays an important role for any brand, across any marketing platform. When done properly, unified message marketing produces a generous return – return in customers, return in market share and return in revenue.
Unified message marketing must work at both the local and national levels. Local is no longer a nice add-on option. Today consumers use 7.9 different media sources when shopping for products or services locally. Brands and national marketers need a comprehensive and integrated local strategy that spans traditional and new media. According to BIA/Kelsey, by 2016 local media advertising will grow from $136 billion to $151 billion. While this total includes local TV, radio and newspapers, as well as mobile and online advertising, it’s no surprise that a major digital shift is happening. In 2012, for instance, 18% of the total local media advertising was digital; by 2016, 26 percent, or approximately $39 billion, will be spent.
National brands recognize this trend and are going local in a major way – utilizing hyperlocal marketing channels as a way to reach consumers in their markets. According to a survey by the CMO Council and Balihoo, half of U.S. brands are now managing their local marketing efforts at the corporate level, and one-third say they expect their local efforts to continue growing through 2013.
The biggest challenge large brands face when utilizing local marketing platforms is keeping their marketing messages consistent. Sixty-four percent of brands surveyed are looking for ways to eliminate the customer confusion that can occur when different marketing messages are sent out across competing platforms, and 81 percent say communicating a consistent brand message is their top priority for the upcoming year. Streetfightmag.com offers five ways that brands can do just that:
1. Maintain unified creative. Maintaining branding and consistency at the local level starts with unified creative. Large brands can generate a corporate-approved template, and then localize information for specific stores. They can even go beyond standard localization by including local reviews and photos. By making creative for each of their locations, large brands can save time and money. They can also maintain consistent branding, as well as control of the message across the board.
2. Understand the motivations of local audiences. As a channel, mobile offers an excellent outlet to reach local consumers at scale. When operating a new channel, however, brands need to think beyond simply reformatting their creative and buying banner ads. Messages need to take advantage of the local medium and their capabilities, including understanding the motivations of the local audiences. Forward-thinking brands should consider the way mobile users consume information, and content needs to be optimized as such. If done correctly, the overarching message can be retained with a strong call-to-action.
3. Engage in a channel- and geography-specific way. The channels over which brands engage with consumers each have unique nuances. For example, local Facebook communities respond well to photos, while Twitter communities are link-oriented. Far more insightful is understanding the sentiment and mood of each channel. Brands can measure things like how Instagram communities respond to brand messaging, versus other channels like Foursquare or Google+ Local. This can inform the marketing strategy for each campaign. This applies similarly to geography. A recent campaign showed how a specific geography received 4x the results of any other geography. Upon investigation, the brand found that the local operator in that area had executed the campaign slightly differently, and those slight localization tweaks had a huge impact on ROI.
4. Set boundaries with local managers. Brands should be clear about how much control local-level managers can have, and enlist the right tools to accomplish that. Giving local-level managers corporate messaging to share, in addition to allowing them to interact on a local level, will ensure basic branding with a local twist. To retain more control, brands should utilize an approval tool where certain content can be sent in for approval to corporate before publishing.
5. Measure what works. As the saying goes, if you can’t measure it, don’t do it. The same is true with local advertising and marketing. Both successes and failures happen on local and regional levels. Brands that are not measuring in a location-specific way are missing meaningful trends and opportunities to do better with each iterative campaign.