Thought Leadership

September 29, 2017

Localization and Personalization: What Marketers Need to Know

Katy Hendricks

Most CMOs are concerned content isn’t being localized enough; Manager Katy Hendricks talks about how we got here, and what marketers can do.


Earlier this summer, Jessica Dixon of Spider PR in London visited our New York office. A fellow member of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), Jessica shared a bit about how PR is evolving in the United Kingdom.


She noted that the media coverage landscape shifted following Brexit. “Every company and brand is trying to put a political spin on any and every story. As an industry we need to ensure that our angles remain credible and relevant,” she said.


Shift in National Media Consumption


What the UK is experiencing mirrors what we are seeing in the United States. In recent years — and especially following the Presidential election — there has been a “jump on board” mentality to national news. The media has become increasingly focused on one topic at a time, whether a reporter is covering breaking news or pop culture. In 2016, the presidential campaign dominated every headline. Today, it remains “all Trump, all the time” — whether we’re hearing about his address to the United Nations, his latest tweet-storm or what Melania wore to Houston.


Trend Toward Localization and Personalization


The political polarization has created a divide among consumers. People who were once indifferent now passionately defend CNN or, conversely, Fox News. Many denounce national news altogether. A recent survey by Videa found that 68 percent of respondents said they trust local news over national news, according to MediaPost. And yet even while media trust is eroding, Ad Age reported that consumers are increasingly comfortable providing their information to corporations. One UK survey attributed this to consumers knowing it will increase personalization of their products and communications. We seem to be seeing similar trends in the US.


Responding with Adaptive Marketing


This expectation for localized, personalized content has created a unique challenge for marketers. According to “The Age of the Adaptive Marketer,” a study released by the CMO Council in partnership with HH Global, only 33 percent of respondents reported their companies were advanced or doing well in adapting brand content for different markets, partners and geographies.

The report cited that “most execs polled feel their teams are still creating more generic content assets and then working to localize those assets as campaigns launch, rather than take a personalized / localized approach to content from the start.”


So Where Do Marketers Go From Here?


The CMO Council recommends three initial steps to better localizing and personalizing content.


1. Take steps to better understand your customer’s local context.


From a PR and communications perspective, this is critically important from the news media side as well. Local media want local data, spokespeople and news relevant to their community. There are multiple ways to go about this — including by activating brand ambassadors, local content campaigns or highly-localized PR efforts. West Elm launched “West Elm LOCAL,” highlighting over 800 local artisans since launching the collection in 2013. This has allowed the retailer to connect with both influencers — and shoppers — on a deeper, community level.


2. Determine your core brand identity and define parameters.


What does your company want to be known for? How does that message trickle down locally? Where are these messages relevant — or not relevant — based on demographics and geographies? Choose your priority audiences and take it from there. This approach can help you identify which markets deserve more of your resources.


3. Establish proper platforms and systems to streamline processes and measure success.


The right technology platforms are indeed critical. But tools are nothing without the people behind them. That’s one reason why CooperKatz is part of PRGN, a group of 50 agencies spanning 30 countries and 16 US states (plus D.C.). Platforms only get you so far; invest in the people who make them run.


We’ll add one more –


4. Leverage artificial intelligence.


Artificial intelligence is paving the way for personalization like we’ve never seen it before. Sephora is using AI to allow customers to virtually “try on” cosmetic products. Wayfair allows customers to see how furniture looks in their room before buying it. AI, virtual and augmented reality are at infancy, but poised to change marketing how we know it today.

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