All advertising (just like politics) is local!

I realize that at the very upper tier of multi-billion dollar industries, there is ‘formulaic’ type of advertising that can be applied with a very broad stroke, and effectively communicate that company’s message. It is the epitome of what we in the advertising world call ‘branding’.

I saw a title of book once called ‘branding only works on cattle’. That message was so strong; I actually didn’t even have to read the book to ‘get it’.

One of our most recent accounts has over 20 optical stores in 11 different states. Since its launch about 6 years ago, the company has applied a marketing strategy that uses the same message / commercial or advertising campaign in each market.

The hi-gloss commercials with cool visual effects are well done, the offers are great and the message is clear, however sales are soft, and some markets are losing share rapidly. Why does this approach work in some markets and not in others, when the media mix and support is practically the same?

Well, as it turns out – all advertising just like politics is local. America is a vast nation with many different personalities. There are stark contrasts even within the same communities, let alone across borders and regions. That same slick commercial that works in upper-income pockets of Sacramento has very little appeal to hard working blue collar towns in Ohio.

It doesn’t make any one market better or easier to reach, it proves a point that until you reach a critical mass, based on a saturation of stores with identical products and services, you will need to appeal to the psyche of each market that you are in.

As an agency we always start with the ‘target market’ as in who are you primarily trying to reach. Too often the answer is ‘everybody’ or ‘anybody willing to buy’, but that’s a futile approach. In every business, finding the target market, the ‘heavy user’, the ‘decision maker’ is like tapping into a source of loyal customers and leads that your business can plan around.

Once you have determined that target market, you need to drill down to their tendencies in each particular market. While Soccer Moms from Sacramento share similar traits to Soccer Moms in Ohio, you may still need to appeal to other factors such as price, style, value, selection, convenience, customer service, and so on. Additional considerations include location, competitive offers, reward programs, social awareness and community involvement. This takes a great deal of effort, but the results can create customers for life. I am reminded of the saying ‘people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you’. You may get them in with a great offer, or low price, but keeping them requires a connection.

All of these factors create a profile that allows a brand to plug into and develop a campaign based on connecting on a personal level with its target market. Strategies to quickly ramp up include endorsements by trusted, local personalities, fund raisers, community events, job-fairs, even sales that offer more than just a good price, but add value to the community by accepting donations for a cause, or by partnering with other merchants will take your company from a place to shop or buy from to a place that is part of the fabric of that community.

Locally, Publix a very successful supermarket chain has been using the tag line ‘knowing what you need is important, but knowing who we serve is even more important’, or something to that effect. The commercial shows a local ‘dad’ who’s turn it is to cook dinner again, and other everyday members of the community who count on Publix, and Publix recognizes them by name…Love it!

It may seem a little shallow at first, but if you stay committed and deliver on your word, you will exponentially increase the return of your marketing and advertising efforts, as long as you keep in mind that all advertising is local.