When you have a number of sales reps or multiple offices spread across the country, maintaining a consistent marketing message can seem like a nearly impossible task. There are so many people and different forms of collateral to keep tabs on; who has the time to keep up?
To fully understand this, let’s use a hypothetical scenario. It may seem like a good idea to have a decentralized marketing system – allowing these different agents and offices to develop their own marketing collateral and messaging. While tempting, going this route puts your business at unnecessary risk.
Keeping up with Demand
Imagine you’re in charge of marketing a growing industrial lighting business. You’re located in the Midwest and you have 40 sales agents spread across the country. Each of your agents works in a different market with slightly different customers, though their overall buyer profile is similar.
You have a library of marketing collateral and messaging that was given to each agent when they first started out, but finding the time to update the materials and share them with your agents on their schedules has been a challenge.
As a result, your agents are starting to get annoyed. They need marketing materials, and the delay has started to concern them. You’re getting more and more requests from them to create marketing on their own, and you’re starting to consider letting them do it just to avoid being a bottleneck. But a few key issues keep going through your mind that will, ultimately, lead you to strengthen your centralized marketing efforts instead.
This is the big one. Having consistent messaging, design and information is essential to maintaining the integrity of your brand. After hours spent developing messaging based on careful research, structuring it to sound just right and ensuring all key branding themes are covered, everything can be undone in one misguided edit.
Let’s assume you have messaging that perfectly sums up your business and aligns with your current campaigns. You share it with your agents, directing them to use it with every piece of marketing collateral. If, after falling behind, you allow your agents to create their own collateral, perhaps a few of them think they can come up with something more beneficial for their own marketing efforts. So, they modify the messaging, in some cases changing the meaning substantially.
At this point, there are a number of things that can happen. Prospects who notice the disconnect may be confused or disenchanted with your brand. Agents may feel increasingly emboldened to change collateral and deviate further from the brand guidelines. Loyalty among agents and customers to the brand can erode.
All of these outcomes can be poison for a brand; all of them can be avoided with centralized marketing.
Beyond inconsistent branding, it’s not too difficult to imagine a scenario in which one of your agents, acting in good faith, makes a slight change to messaging or creates their own marketing collateral from scratch, only for it to contain typos, incorrect contact info, poor design or offensive material.
The mistake may have been created by your agent, but it’s the brand as a whole that suffers.
Using Technology to Simplify Centralized Marketing Efforts
Fortunately, new technologies are making it easier to centralize your marketing without falling behind on the demands of your agents.
For example, powerful distributed marketing solutions now allow companies to provide their teams with the material they need through easily accessible online portals that enforce branding while allowing for personalization. By housing all marketing and sales collateral in one central location, brands can reduce workflow redundancies, improve collaboration between teams, reduce the time needed to introduce campaigns to market, and optimize results through comprehensive reporting.
Regardless of what tools you use, keeping your marketing collateral centralized will ensure the marketing that is distributed fits your company’s messaging and values – while preventing the risks that come with the loss of brand control.
And you can’t put a price on that.