Your customers see one brand, and so they expect consistency at every touchpoint. But for many marketers, consistency isn’t always easy to deliver. Many large organizations—specifically those with branches, dealerships, franchises and the like— struggle to maintain brand image when marketing teams are spread across both corporate and local entities.

Consumers interacting with such “distributed organizations” expect specific messaging that is tailored to their geographic locations. This calls for a strong corporate marketing team that sees and serves customers in a broader context while local sites hone in on the particulars of their customers’ unique expectations and needs. For the best customer experience, both approaches must work in tandem.

The Challenge: Achieving Balance

All distributed organizations must find the proper mix of local knowhow and corporate guidance. Too much governance from a central office may complicate local marketers’ efforts to create tailored content, stifling the personalization that local players bring to customer experiences.

That’s a mistake; personalization is a competitive advantage. In 2011, Gleanster research “showed a positive correlation between use of more advanced personalization (segmentation, product centric, custom field inserts, and cross-channel preference management) and revenue growth.”

Meanwhile, concerned with local results and conditions, branches may jettison the larger goals of the organization, veering from corporate’s branding vision and campaign strategies. That can cost companies, too. Local outlets must preserve and protect the personality and values of the larger brand for their own sakes.

Distributed Marketing Works for Distributed Organizations

Avoiding such local versus central conflicts in a distributed organization takes an organized approach called distributed marketing. Distributed marketing combines localized and personalized marketing with broader corporate efforts, drawing on the strengths of each. The corporate office, like the federal government, is best at things that need to be consistent throughout the organization, things that deal with the big picture and that are best centralized.

For instance, the corporate marketing team can prepare customizable templates that can be used in different ways by every franchisee. Providing templates to franchisees increases their efficiency, letting local marketers get to work on campaign particularization as driven by customer differences and context.

The supplied templates can use standardized, approved assets such as logos and content, helping to ensure consistent brand messaging and quality throughout the organization. The corporate location can serve as a central repository for such assets.

With the right marketing infrastructure and software solution such as MRM (more about that here), franchisees will have ondemand access to campaign materials. All this enhanced consistency, efficiency, quality control, and communication elevates the customer experience. Another distributed marketing plus: scalability. Once in place, distributed marketing solutions work for one branch or ten or one hundred. Taking the Leap Is a Competitive Necessity In the Gleanster research, “top Performers were 7x more likely to invest in centralized multi-channel marketing tools across corporate and regional marketing. These technologies are designed

to address the unique needs of a distributed environment.” So why isn’t every distributed organization running toward a distributed marketing solution? Several reasons that mostly come down to wariness. New systems mean worrying about trading something familiar for something disruptive. New systems cost money and mean scrapping the old systems. New systems sometimes create unforeseen problems. New systems mean retraining. That’s a lot of resistance to change.

Look Before You Leap

Making a case for a distributed marketing solution takes information. You’ll want to show decision-makers how the current system is costing the company. Expose redundancies in spending and efforts, look for disorganization, monitor how long communications take, and then compare your situation to your competitors’. It’s important to have numbers that stand up against the cost of implementation versus the cost of stuttering along in the status quo. Don’t forget to note that a centralized, standardized system allows for better measurements, which, in turn, lets companies better gauge return on investment.