How To Leverage The Best Local Content Source For Multi-Location Brands

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Toward the end of 2014, one of the questions I started hearing repeatedly from marketing executives at brands with many locations is this: “How do I make my content more relevant and findable to local audiences?”

Increasingly, my answer is, “Look to your own workforce.” Your people are not only your eyes and ears on the ground, they are also crucial resources for maximizing the value of the converging worlds of content and local search.

If you are a brand with multiple locations, your own people understand local cultural nuances that can make your content more relevant to local markets. When Chicagoans refer to “the Bean,” they aren’t talking about food but rather a popular sculpture by Anish Kapoor that graces the city’s Millennium Park. In New York, the second Sunday in June means celebrating Puerto Rican Day with one of the largest parades in the city.

The Importance Of Understanding Local Nuances

Understanding local nuances is important because local search is a content play. The more authentic your local content is, the more credible your brand is at the local level. And credibility is essential to building the kind of trust that creates enduring customer relationships.

Let’s say you are a national restaurant chain with locations in Auburn and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. If you want to gain customers in Auburn, you had better customize your content to appeal to fans of the Auburn Tigers football team, and your Tuscaloosa locations absolutely need to fly the “Roll Tide” banner to appeal to the home campus of the University of Alabama. And every year, you need to circle the date of the Iron Bowl, a football game between the Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide that dates back to 1893.

To be sure, there are methods and tools that exist to help automate research, planning, and publishing local content in a scalable manner. But your local workforce adds that extra layer of understanding to ensure that:

  • You speak the language of your local customers and realize the differences in vernacular (e.g., the word “Tiger” has a special meaning in Auburn).
  • You can create more inspiring calls-to-action at the local level.
  • Your content is timelier. In New York alone, local businesses have many opportunities to plan content that capitalizes on the many celebrations and parades that occur throughout the year in the city’s five boroughs.
  • Ultimately, your content is more relevant to your local markets.

Harnessing Your Local-Savvy Workforce

The outcome of relevancy: more links, more engagement, and more leads on your local sites. But how do you harness your workforce for your local search efforts? Here are five tips:

  • Identify Your Ambassadors. Find out which people in each office have the time and enthusiasm to help you create content at a local level. Your ambassadors might be the ones most active on social media or the employees who participate the most in local town hall meetings. Find them and create a virtual team.
  • Create A Process For Planning & Creating Content. Just as you might plan a marketing campaign, create a process for regularly tapping into the expertise of your local workforce. The process might be as basic as regularly scheduling meetings to brainstorm on ideas for campaigns that can be customized locally or content that resides at only a few locations due to their hyper-relevancy to those few markets.
  • Have A Governance Model. Give your local workforce the tools and guidelines for creating content — ranging from the technical tools needed to create localized messages for the Seattle location page on your website to the guidelines for creating content that adheres to your brand standards. Make employees aware of compliance issues specific to your industry (e.g., HIPPA for healthcare) that affect the content you create and use tools that provide moderation workflows to ensure only compliant content is published.
  • Create Metrics. Help your local ambassadors understand what success should look like, such as an x increase in visits to your local sites and x increase in incremental leads or revenue.
  • Inspire. You want your brand ambassadors to remain engaged in creating content with you throughout the year after the initial excitement of a brand new undertaking begins to wear off. To create a culture of content creation, find ways to inspire employees. For instance, celebrate the efforts. Reward your most dedicated performers with employee shout-outs. Or ask employees to identify local charities and causes they care about and encourage them to tap into those opportunities to create content that is meaningful to them as well as important to your brand.

Finally, it’s important to realize that making content more relevant at a local level does not mean ignoring your national branding efforts. Local markets need your national reach and brand equity as much as you need their local relevance.

So, ensure that all your content at a local level is integrated into a national marketing efforts and content plans.  Local markets need to know well in advance about national product roll-outs that will affect them, and both you and your local ambassadors need to ensure that your content creation at a national level (e.g., your blogging calendar) is in sync with your local markets.

To thrive in 2015, know how to think — and act — locally.

The post How To Leverage The Best Local Content Source For Multi-Location Brands appeared first on Search Engine Land.