LocalFocusing Your Message from National to Local, Part 1

Focusing Your Message from National to Local, Part 1

How to develop a strategic plan that includes Web site management, paid, organic and mobile search, display ads, Internet yellow pages, local listing feeds, and user-generated content.

How many times have we seen a major national brand’s keywords or advertising venues dominated by a single market sales outlet? Or a dealer or franchisee that can get to a spot faster than the marketing department can identify a potential new lead source?

After speaking with a number of national advertisers that market locally through branch offices, dealers, or distributors, it seems like the balance between franchise and corporate marketing strategies remains a mystery.

The answer lies in creating a comprehensive strategic plan for the brand to leverage the various stakeholders’ core competencies. Once armed with a strategic plan, a process and procedure can be developed and refined for virtually any media type.

To illustrate the point, let’s create the number one brand for selling whirligigs in brick-and-mortar franchises throughout North America. To begin the strategic planning, first make a list of all of the possible online media outlets that can be leveraged for the brand.

Next, we’ll want to review the various media types to determine where the crossover points are between the national brand (corporate) and the local sales (franchise) outlets. For example, which elements are purely related to the brand and which ones are for lead generation on a local level?

Online Media Outlet Corporate Both Franchise
Web site (individual for each) X X
Paid Search X
Organic Search X
Display Ads X X
Internet Yellow Pages X
Mobile Search X
Local Listing Feeds (Mobile, Maps, GPS) X
User-Generated Content (Ratings, Reviews) X
Social Network Sites X


This list should make it easier to envision the messaging that you want. Let’s start by assigning focus points.

Corporate Websites

The brand website should focus on creating positive awareness and perception for the brand’s products and channel ready-to-buy prospects to franchise sales outlets. With this Web site, the keyword and key phrase lexicon should resemble the following:

  • Brand-related terms with no geo designators.
  • Product-related keywords and phrases that are registered trademarks of the brand (again) with no geo designators or generic ones at most.

Franchise Websites

The local Web site should carry through the same brand messaging, but will have a geo focus for the area being served and specific products/services tailored to that location. For this Web site, the keyword and key phrase lexicon should resemble the following:

  • Brand terms that related to a defined geography.
  • Product keywords with clear geo designations.

Now that your Web sites have the proper messaging and are tailored to both your brand and your franchises, you can move onto the media that feeds into your Web sites and storefronts.

Paid Search

Messaging for this will be in the form of targeted general keywords (to build your brand) as well as specific, long-tail (and geo-targeted) keywords that will drive to your franchise Web sites. Here are six tips for aligning your national and local SEM efforts.

Organic Search

By perfecting your messaging across your corporate and franchise Web sites, you’re already making your site more relevant to the user. This is the first step in getting ranked organically on search engines.

From here, can you do a number of things to help you get ranked higher and become more relevant to users. Get to know local SEO and use natural link building practices.

Display Ads

Use an “air cover” corporate display program. Target search retargeting or behavioral elements while using specific market programs coordinated to the franchise sales territories that promote the brand and the local outlet.

Internet Yellow Pages

This media outlet can combine the best of both worlds, but it’s important to leverage the cost savings available to your brand by building these campaigns the right way. You’ll get the best cost savings (brand focused) with a national program. However, having a national program with franchise listing will also drive consumers to physical locations.

Check out dealer programs that allow you to save on bulk listings. Starting at the franchise level just opens you up to a sizeable cost disparity and inefficient and inconsistent messaging.

Mobile Search

This is still new, so it’s best that mobile search be tested by corporate first. However, to drive sales locally while keeping brand appeal, a proper naming convention must be employed to aid in consistent listing structures map and mobile sites use. The naming convention can be as simple as:

Whirligig Authorized Sales — Gregg’s house of Widgets
1313 Mockingbird Lane
Humansville, AR 01234

Leading with the national brand will ensure that your multiple outlets in a market appear together in a more organized fashion and make user selection easier on local search sites or resources (e.g., GPS navigation systems) that alphabetize listings.

Local Listing Feeds and User-Generated Content

The naming convention and messaging for mobile search directly applies to local listings online as well. Having this local business information readily available is just one more way for consumers to find locations or franchise Web sites. For more information, check out “Ranking in Local Listings” and “Consumers Head Online for Local Business Information.

Continue to Part 2, which will explore how to parse responsibilities for social media and how to set up a measurement dashboard for comparing local and national results.


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