Marketing Content Strategy

Learning to Harness the Power of Local Marketing as a Global Enterprise

I am the stereotypical Bostonian. I drive like a Masshole—aggressively and banging U-eys when I please, most of the time, and largely where prohibited. I’m a fierce defender of my hometown teams, especially when their character is in question, and I stubbornly refuse to listen to anyone talk down to my boys (yes, we like to speak about our teams like proud parents). I’ve become snobbish toward any non-New Englanders—my city is the best. “Dirty Water,” “Sweet Caroline,” Dropkick Murphys, and “Boston Strong” bring me to my feet. I have lived in four other major cities both here and abroad, and no matter where I go, I always feel a tingling pride when I say where I’m from.

Contrade, Il PalioThis pride of provenance is nothing new. Think about the historic Palio, where Sienna’s countrymen parade around town with regalia from their ontrade, or districts: What if we, as content marketers, could elicit this same passion in our audience, appeal to their personal sense of belonging within a community, or tap into the meaning of “place,” whether that means accent, food, culture, or politics? We don’t like when people talk about us in sweeping generalities, so why, when we’re crafting brand messaging, do we get marketing-brain and try to mean everything to everyone? The Internet has made it simple to broadcast ideas globally, at the expense of what it means to connect on a local level.

Here are a few industry examples of businesses using local marketing flair to reach diversified audiences online:

Local Marketing Gems from Boston

As much as it pains me to admit, furniture companies do an incredible job generating local brand awareness. I challenge you to find anyone from the greater Boston area who hasn’t heard of Jordan’s Furniture, can’t sing you the Bernie & Phyls jingle, or doesn’t know about a Bob-o-pedic mattress.

Car dealerships are another annoying, but effective example of local marketing. Ernie Boch’s famous saying “Come on Down” has compelled car buyers from all over Metro-west Massachusetts to flock to the auto empire:

Boston-based Herb Chambers reinvented his branding to differentiate himself from the over-saturated marketplace by doing away with car imagery altogether in his advertising. This mostly car-less ad campaign aims to dispel any greasy associations with the trade by using slogans like “We won’t [strong arm] you,” “Absolutely no [bull],” and, of course, the local weather appeal, “After this winter, you deserve a medal—or better yet, a new car.”

Since these examples are not global brands, they don’t face the challenge of differentiating their messages to serve multiple markets; however, the specificity and nuance of their approaches is certainly something global brands can use as a benchmark for creating local marketing campaigns.

Global Brands Going Local

A Boston native, New Balance is a great example of a global brand that still finds ways to connect to its local audience. Its all-weather running campaign strikes a chord with the city’s die-hard athletes who run every season, whether rain, shine, or blizzard. The company gained visibility—and loyalty—from Boston locals by sponsoring the plowing of the sidewalks around the Charles River during the worst winter the city’s ever seen.

It’s one thing to think about adapting messaging to cater to the local US markets, but what about optimizing content so it has the legs to run across a continent? It’s not as simple as translating one piece of content into a dozen languages; it’s about shaping individual stories for each market, paying attention to the nuances in dialect, and finding writers for your program who actually inhabit the spaces brands are trying to reach. Ultimately, it’s about seamlessly spreading a message that is consistent with your brand voice throughout the world.

For more on how to take your global program local, check out the recording from Skyword’s webinar on How to Launch a Successful Global Content Marketing Program.

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