Put Your Money Where Your Market Is


ADOTAS — Sin City. The Big Apple. The Gateway to the West. Different cities and regions have their own cultures, personalities, and nicknames — and it follows that their residents act, think, and consume media differently, too. That’s why it’s so important that your messaging matches your market. The “local” factor is trending, and those marketers who get it will stay ahead of the curve. Here’s how to match your message to your region for optimal engagement.

Get Personal

An understanding of local demographics is key for resonating with your audience on a personal level. Conduct market research to ensure you understand things like the political views of the population, as well as its ethnic distribution, media consumption patterns, and sources of pride (sports teams, landmarks, businesses, etc.).

Depending on your market, try using one of the following resources to find those answers:

Take the time to talk with local media reps and gain their insights. They have most likely spent years understanding what works and what doesn’t, and they know who’s already spending on local media. You’ll get a much clearer understanding of your target than you would through a testing center.

Leverage ‘Local’

For maximum impact, the look, feel, and scenery displayed in your ad should match that of the region. Localizing the phone number and website on your ad can increase traffic and conversions. When consumers see imagery they identify with, they automatically become more engaged with your message because they can relate to it. In fact, large brands are now doing what was once unthinkable: They are hiring ad agencies that understand the concept of buying local and can customize each message and offer for the market.

The automotive industry caught on to this trend a long time ago, establishing local dealer association groups dedicated to executing on marketing initiatives locally. These groups buy a large portion of local TV advertising with customized creative that matches each region’s landscape, cultural elements, and demographics. McDonald’s is another company ahead of the curve; it hires local advertising agencies in each designated market area to find the best media and creative strategy for the region.

Another company that seems to “get it” in terms of marketing on a local level is Pepsi. When Pepsi Bottling Company’s account was handled by an agency called TracyLocke, they were getting the best promotions, the best buys, and the best messaging. Pepsi would meet in person with each of the top stations, provide them with fantastic giveaways, and let the media come up with the best promotion for the market — the entire message was completely customized. For the stations, it became more than a “spot buy,” and that’s how Pepsi won local support.

Local sports teams know how powerful local messaging and advertising can be for brands. A lot of brands are now going directly to the teams for marketing programs and implementation, rather than investing in league-wide sponsorships. Taco Bell, Geico, and other brands have followed this trend. Remember that a large portion of media companies’ revenue comes down nationally; if you can negotiate local deals and customize local messaging, you can garner a lot more support from the community.

Our agency, for example, is currently handling a national HVAC and plumbing company’s advertising. We have entirely different jingles for different markets; some are more country-sounding, while others utilize pop music. We also buy more TV placements in certain markets; in others, radio boosts the number of leads.

In order to find the right messaging and placement for local media buys, you should:

  • Show your support: A popular trend in local markets is to support small business and community initiatives. It’s easy for large brands to be perceived as “outsiders” in the minds of consumers — but consumers will start to see your brand as “one of theirs” when you’re involved in the things they care about.
  • Make smart media buys: Local advertising not only allows for better audience engagement, but it also offers cost savings and easier negotiation with local reps. Finding buyers through a local representative firm is easy, but having local contacts is worth the effort in the long run when you consider cost, insight, and implementation.
  • Focus on follow-up: Each market is different; in one, TV might work better than radio, but the opposite might be true a few hundred miles away. Monitor sales and conversion, and continue to optimize the messaging and media mix.

We live in an age where consumers see 3,000 to 5,000 promotional messages a day. Localizing your message is one way to strike an emotional chord that will resonate with your audience despite the clutter — whether they call Las Vegas, New York, or St. Louis home.


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