Decentralization is the hot thing in the 2010s and for the foreseeable future. We’re seeing it everywhere: in currency (Bitcoin’s cryptocurrency that requires no banks), in food (the booming artisan, local food movement that requires no centralized industrial methods), and in entertainment (peer-to-peer sharing on the user end; on the production end: artists independently crowdfunding projects that require no major record labels or film studios).
So why should marketing escape the clutches of this macro-narrative that is, before our very eyes, defining the shape of the 21st century?
It shouldn’t. And it won’t. Thus we have a new term to add to our jargon: localized marketing.
Although I will admit, my set-up was a little deceptive. In truth, marketing is experiencing decentralization in a different way than the industries described above. The marketing entities themselves — the companies, the heavy hitters, the big brands — are not in jeopardy. It’s their old-school approach and attitude toward the consumer that must now crumble. The Old World of marketing is making way for something new.
The Revolution of Localized Marketing
On June 30, 2015, Max Gladwell, one of the first pioneers of localized marketing, wrote the following words in an article for The Huffington Post: “All brands need to prepare for the localization of marketing…or get left behind.”
That’s a dramatic statement, for sure. But there’s truth in it. As TechCrunch reports, global smartphone use is projected to expand from the current 2.6 billion users to 6.1 billion consumers by 2020. Smart phones will outnumber basic fixed phone subscriptions.
In comes localized marketing, which, through the use of location-specific mobile data and other analytics, will react in real-time when you are:
- using your mobile device to search for information because, for example, you want to learn more about something you saw in a commercial
- searching on your mobile device to find a type of local business because you need to go purchase a product of some kind
- using your mobile device to find “how-to” videos to learn how to complete a task that you’re doing, or will be doing
- using your mobile device to consult a website while you are browsing products in a store
It’s these four categories of “wanting-to-know,” “wanting-to-go,” “wanting-to-do,” and “wanting-to-buy,” as illustrated in Gladwell’s article, that gives you a sense of where localized marketing is going. Using real-time data from your phone — it’s location and what you’re doing with it — localized marketing shapes its messages for what you need at that moment, why you need it, and where you need it.
In other words, the local activity of a consumer drives the marketing plan, not the top marketing brass in a distant city theorizing what might work. It’s no longer a top-down approach. With mobile devices, geolocation technology, and analytics, a highly personal one-on-one approach — a tailor-made, real-time marketing message made just for you, just for this particular moment based on your needs — becomes an automated, continual process 24 hours a day.
Toyota Goes Local with Snapchat
A June 2015 article from Advertising Age examined Toyota’s new campaign that will be one of the first car companies to try localized marketing. Their new ad campaign is set to begin August 1, 2015.
According to the article, Toyota has bought ads on Snapchat to run in their Live Story feature, and the ads will only run in Los Angeles. In addition, the car company has joined with Google to customize banner ads in 15,000 cities across the United States. Google will employ an API that analyzes information about each city and ties it into the ads — as AdAge.com noted:
For example, a localized banner ad running in Chicago for Corolla might state that “there are 22 stadiums in Chicago. Grab your coworkers and head to a game,” according to a hypothetical example shared by Saatchi. The ad unit would feature a Chicago-specific background and a photo of a Corolla.
Saatchi & Saatchi’s chief creative officer for the Toyota account, Justin Schragger, said this about their campaign: “Whether it’s a hyper-targeted ad that tells you there are 18 ice cream parlors around, or a TV ad that gets you off your coach to start the next chapter of your life — wherever it is, we want to unlock the explorer in you.”
The Death of Mass Communication; The Birth of Customized Content
So what does this mean for B2B content marketers? Fortunately, succeeding in this new environment is within the reach of any company who approaches the problem correctly.
To summarize it in one sentence: you have to know exactly who and where your clients are, exactly what they want, and communicate relevantly to them in a timely manner — the same golden principles that have informed marketing practices since ancient human civilization began trading goods.
But with a localized marketing approach, this means that content marketers have to be aware and responsive to real-time client activity in their local areas and respond with useful content.
EContentMag.com, in recent June 2015 article on localized content marketing, offered a few practical suggestions for doing this:
Even B2B companies are finding they need to create more content and update more often. A growing number require real-time social media monitoring and need to respond quickly to customer comments posted on blogs and the world’s growing variety of social platforms…The human touch is critical to make the machine sound less like a machine. It absolutely takes a savvy and experienced human writer — one who can write fast like a journalist and think strategically like a seasoned PR pro — to make sure the response doesn’t inadvertently lose a customer or ignite an online firestorm.