Local shoppers trust local businessesAsk any national consumer-facing brand what their strategies are for growth or increased sales in the next few years, and I suspect you will hear something about increasing their local market share. According to a 2015 Gatepoint Research study commissioned by Balihoo, 77 percent of national brand marketers invest in local level marketing initiatives. Within that group, 50 percent expect the ROI at the local level to be higher than the ROI derived from national campaigns. When it comes to gaining market share at the local level, websites play a critical role for national brands to represent themselves via dealers, agents or franchisees.

Unfortunately, life in the Corporate – Dealer/Franchisee world is not always harmonious. There are sometimes competing objectives between the national brand and the local market representative with the website acting as the battleground. If only there was a way that to deliver a controlled, national brand message to specific geo-targeted areas, while also allowing the local representative to actively contribute content that will improve their online presence and drive more leads.

If your national brand is struggling with this scenario, a localized website platform may be the answer.

• What is a localized website platform (LWP)? A LWP is a hub that allows the corporate office to centrally manage a network of sites (ranging from a few to several thousand) thereby ensuring brand, message and product consistency, while also affording local managers the ability to add content as frequently as they wish. The key to the solution is that all of the content submitted will contain local market references (copy, images, events, etc…) and unique content for index authority.

• How important is the local reference to the decision to buy? According to a 2014 Google/Ipsos Media CT/Purchased study, when using search engines, 4-in-5 consumers want ads/content customized to their immediate surroundings. This simple insight dates back to the early days of Yellow Pages; from food to banking, consumers feel more confident in a brand, product or service when it is facilitated at the local level.

• What’s the difference between a LWP and a regular, local website? I think the greatest benefit that LWPs offer a multi-dealer brand is scalability. Imagine introducing a new product or product specifications and you need all of your dealers to update their respective websites with the same information? Ensuring the work is done accurately across a large number of websites could be a daunting challenge for your marketing team. The scalability offered by a LWP translates to countless hours saved in maintenance and updates. While this does not mean you will eliminate any time creating original, relevant content, it does mean you will dramatically lower the amount of time it requires to assign, localize, publish and monitor the content across all sites.

As any experienced marketer knows, there is no magic wand to capture the hearts and wallets of the local consumer. It takes a plan, a blended media strategy, persistence and a healthy dose of patience. However, if you are a dealer/agent/franchise organization and are beginning to think ahead to next year’s marketing challenges, localized websites may be worth investigating.