Advertising expert Gregg Stewart is the CEO of Third Act Marketing and co-chair of BIA/Kelsey’s National event March 25-27 in Dallas. He has specialized in localizing national brands since 1985 and has previously served in leadership capacities at Wahlstrom, TMP and 15 Miles. Some of the brands he has advised include FedEx, GE, Hilton Hotels, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, United Van Lines, Brooks Brothers, Farmers Insurance, Target, Bank of America, Aspen Dental, and ADT.
Local marketing used to be an after-thought for national brands and retailers. What’s changed?
In the early days, brands relied solely on their sales channels (dealers, agents, franchisees) to do local marketing for them through co-op advertising programs. Now, brands have taken a lot of the responsibility for local marketing on themselves.
The emergence of digital media has accelerated the need of brands to take control at the local level. Digital requires very specialized resources. It is also highly fragmented and nuanced. It isn’t just two or three things, like newspapers, radio, TV, Yellow Pages and direct mail. Now, there can be 25-30 media options per market.
It is definitely more complicated. But is it better?
If you do it well, it is an opportunity area. Digital certainly has a direct impact on a lot of businesses and verticals. The brands and sales channels that have not embraced digital have seen their market share fade. One example of a brand that has done it right is GEICO. Many insurance brands have a huge local infrastructure, with thousands of agents. But they have not yet leveraged local. GEICO has a centralized organization. But it has embraced the opportunities that Internet and mobile present to get very hyperlocal and target their ad messages specifically to individual markets of opportunity.
We tend to think in simplistic terms about winning the “brand” account. There are actually several aspects to local marketing for brands.
Marketing brands locally is much more complex than direct response focused brands. Many brands have multifaceted sales forces/channels including dealers, agents, franchisees or branches. Dealers tend to be multiple brand focused. Franchisees are usually single brand and are dedicated to that brand locally. Agents can be captive, or they can be independent and sell local brands for verticals such finance and insurance. And branches tend to be company owned like Starbucks and Enterprise Rent a Car. Stitching together brand advertising that is locally targeted needs to leverage these sales channel complexities.
As brands take more control of digital marketing, how will the traditional agency business be impacted?
There is a transformation occurring. Large agencies tend to do things like they have always done. They always hawk TV first; move a lot of dollars; and get paid a small percentage of these media buys which maps up to large amounts of revenue for the agency. That’s their best margin opportunity. It is very mechanized and cost efficient for them. But a $5 million digital campaign targeted locally will involve lots of legwork, with a lot of different ad sizes and overall, a lack of standardization. While the rewards are great, there is lots more “heavy lifting”, and labor costs are much higher. It is highly nuanced. Local specialists including Where2GetIt and Location 3 are focused on these aspects.
You are co-chairing BIA/Kelsey’s National event. Why should brands and marketers join BIA/Kelsey’s local community at this event?
The BIA/Kelsey events really stand out for their content and networking. You get to rub elbows with many of the leading innovators in the market. You don’t get that at the mass shows. I’m looking forward to contributing to BIA/Kelsey’s thought leadership on this one, and providing an opportunity for marketers to learn tactics to help them use digital to become more specialized and strategic.