Recent advances in technology have made what were once enterprise-level-only business tools available for small businesses, most notably those for marketing. Never before have small businesses been able to control marketing outreach as they can today, putting themselves in front of customers in a targeted fashion and maintaining dialogue with customers via various touch points.

New ways to find and talk to a customer base pop up everyday, but how do small business owners find those opportunities and procure the best tech tools to take advantage of them? Brands that sell their products & services through channel partners (small business owners) have a duty to help them find the right technologies and automate their usage over a single integrated marketing technology.

Below are notable local marketing opportunities for 2014 that brands can test to generate more sales with their channel partners.

Opportunity 1 – Improvements in Local Marketing Spend Accountability

The familiar resignation expressed in the famous quote, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half,” will continue to diminish. Small business owners will be able to take advantage of the opportunity analytics provide to better understand the performance of their ad dollars.

How Will Brands Help Provide Solutions

Channel Marketing Managers and CMOs will work closer with their partner networks to audit print, display, TV, direct mail, and radio. Digital marketing, which is easier to track because of the unambiguous nature of clicks and completed actions, will centralize on integrated marketing software used by brands and their partners. Both brands and their channel partners will capture more analytic data on the real-time results of local ad campaigns.

Opportunity 2 – Online Content Marketing For Small Business

Content marketing has been so hyped lately that local channel partners are eager to get onboard, creating an opportunity for brands to supply valuable content.

How Will Brands Help Provide Solutions

Anyone in business these days needs to have a website. Period. Whether its a stand-alone website, or a local page on a brand level domain, these local webpages should already be optimized for local search – at the very least, to validate the business. Now brands can help their local partners by regularly providing content for those pages.

Opportunity 3 – Mobile Optimization of Channel Partner Pages

With the growth of mobile search (20% of all search queries originate from cell phones according to Statcounter), its critical for important business information to render on both mobile and desktop devices. The fact that one-fifth of all search queries originate from mobile phones is substantial enough to make bands ensure channel partners are set up to handle the volume, but that is only the beginning; BIA/Kelsey predicts that mobile search queries will overtake desktop queries by 2015. What’s more, major search engines will fail to return partner pages that are not optimized for mobile devices.

How Will Brands Help Provide Solutions

Brands will set up mobile versions of channel partner webpages that lead customers to Click-To-Call buttons. There is huge incentive for brands to do this for their partners as 73% of mobile searches lead to subsequent actions and conversions according to the Life360 Mobile Search Moments Study by Google and Nielsen. Another Google Think Insights study, The Role of Click to Call In the Path to Purchase, found that 70% of mobile searchers have used click to call, while 47% percent said “if a business does not have a phone number associated with their search results, they will be more likely to explore other brands.”

Opportunity 4 – Co-Op Marketing Fund & Market Development Fund Performance Continues to be Sub-Par Thus Drawing More Scrutiny

There is an opportunity here alright – for improvement. Two years ago Sirius Decisions reported that between $5 and $7 billion dollars was being wasted or unaccounted for in channel incentive programs. Sirius now reports that suppliers and incentive platform vendors say that the amount has doubled.

How Will Brands Help Provide Solutions

Everybody is looking for more transparency in relation to marketing spend and how it generates sales. Brands will also experiment with more robust engagement strategies to get partners to take advantage of promotional funds (think touch points and triggers to take advantage of context). Specialized technology tools to manage co-op and market development funds will gain more ground in 2014 over outdated legacy systems.


Distributed organizations have a lot of experimenting to do in 2014. There are lots of new local marketing dynamics to test using different technologies, and partner collaboration strategies to run in attempts to maximize the value of those technologies. Finding the right mix will require trial, error, and relationships with honest service providers that can guide channel networks. Those who are hungry, critical, and maybe even willing to take a risk, will come out on top in 2014.