What Is Distributed Marketing? (With Benefits and Tips for Marketers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Distributed marketing allows corporate branding to take advantage of local knowledge in delivering its message to consumers. The system provides a multilevel structure to marketing tasks, combining a corporate team with collaborative partners. Learning how to implement a distributed marketing system in your business can help you develop and leverage core messaging while still having targeted campaigns on the local level. In this article, we discuss what a distributed marketing system is, the kinds of companies that use distributed marketing and tips for implementing this system yourself.

What is distributed marketing?

A distributed marketing system is the combining of elements of a centralized marketing system and a decentralized system. In distributed marketing, the centralized marketing team collaborates with local partners and channels empowered to handle some marketing functions. Although there's corporate control over messaging and branding in a distributed marketing structure, the partners can localize it to drive sales.

The centralized corporate marketing team develops core messaging, while the distributed marketing partners and channels devise strategies to drive sales. For example, a nationally distributed product in a grocery store has its branding and messaging controlled at the corporate level. In that scenario, the grocery store is the distribution channel, and it can devise its own marketing and strategy to drive sales of the product at the consumer-facing level.

Related: 10 Steps To Market Your Business

Benefits of distributed marketing

There are several potential benefits of a distributed marketing approach, including:

Better brand consistency

A centralized corporate marketing team can provide messaging consistency. The team can create a consistent brand for a product, including logos, slogans and colors. Once the corporate level of a company makes brand decisions, they can communicate them throughout the distributed marketing system to local channels and partners to create a level of brand consistency.

Related: 4 Steps To Building a Brand

Use of local knowledge

A distributed marketing system can use the knowledge of local partners, who can execute plans and solve problems unique to their market. For example, if a new product is coming out and a grocery store wants to advertise it at the consumer-facing level, the store manager can place it on a display at the end of a grocery aisle so it can stand out. Usually, the store receives branding materials for the product, but it sets up the display, decides where the display is and advertises it to customers.

Another example is the owners of a franchise restaurant sponsoring a local children's sports team. A corporate team has created the core branding of the restaurant, but the franchise handles the sponsorship based on its local knowledge the corporate team might not have.

Less demand for creative resources

In some distributed marketing systems, there can be less demand for creative resources. If core messaging and branding materials originate at the corporate level and get shared with local partners, the partners might not need to make requests for additional labor to create a marketing plan. Marketing materials already exist, and corporate shares them through the distribution channels, which reduces the need for local employees to use resources to make their own materials.

Shared marketing costs and materials

The corporate marketing team and the distribution channels and local marketing teams can share materials and the costs of creating them. Also, if a local team creates a branded marketing material and gives it to corporate for approval, the corporate team can make that material available to other channel partners.

For example, if a local channel partner creates a local print advertisement for a product, corporate could approve the material and send it to other local stores to use if they sell that product. If there is any localized content in the ad, the corporate group might remove it and use the material to create a template other partners can use and make specific to their markets.

Related: 15 Marketing Jobs That Pay Well

Who uses distributed marketing?

Various companies and organizations use distributed marketing systems, such as:

Franchisers

In a franchise, marketing materials and branding can benefit franchisees. When a person buys a franchised business, they are paying to open their own version of the principal business. They have to pay fees to be part of the franchise, and in exchange for those fees, the franchisee receives the benefit of joining the larger organization, which can provide resources and support to the franchisee. Part of those resources and assets is the centralized branding and marketing of the company.

Related: 10 Common Careers in Marketing (Plus Salaries and Tips for Success)

Organizations selling national products

A national company that sells consumer-facing retail products often partners with retail stores that sell their products. There can be a level of coordination in the marketing and distribution of products between the company creating the product and the retail store that is selling the product.

For example, if a new, highly anticipated video game is coming out, the company releasing the game might send marketing materials to the store, such as a display, to highlight the product. The store can work collaboratively to market the product, even doing local advertising to highlight they're selling the game to help bring more customers to the store.

Companies with agents and local sales partners

National insurance companies often have distinguished brands developed at the corporate level. However, the local insurance agents sell the products, work with customers and market themselves. The two efforts are collaborative in that the national company sets the insurance rates, pricing and branding. But it's the local agents who create packages their customers want to buy and provide customer service.

Organizations with multiple brands

Companies that have several brands might use distributed marketing systems to address each brand's needs. For example, auto manufacturers sometimes have several brands or lines of vehicles. Each product line often has its own branding and marketing shared with dealerships that sell the vehicles.

Tips for using distributed marketing

Here are some tips that can help you implement a distributed marketing system:

Have a core message

Having a strong, consistent message across all marketing channels can help a distributed marketing system succeed. A core message can provide brand consistency throughout the marketing network and can help local partners understand the campaign's goals and help them achieve them more effectively. A company can use this core messaging and add to it to appeal to the demographics and audience it is trying to reach with the product.

Create valuable resources

In a distributed system, the corporate marketing team creates and distributes many of the assets sent to partners to ensure brand consistency and encourage local marketing efforts. Ensuring these branding materials are clear and effective can help local partners incorporate them into their messaging better. These can reduce the time a local team has to spend on optimizing their marketing and make the approval process quicker at the corporate level. Assets might include customizable templates, emails, information sheets, advertising and logos.

Create systems for distribution

Having an efficient way to distribute marketing materials can benefit partners. A system that allows for easy access to materials can help increase the reach of marketing materials and make them easier to use. This can help local partners start work on their campaigns quicker and provide them an easier way to send materials they create to corporate for approval.

Highlight localized campaigns

As a local channel partner, if you create a successful campaign, you can share your results with corporate. At the corporate level, it can help to highlight something successful and make it more available to the rest of the distributed marketing network. Part of the benefit of a distributed system is the sharing of successful marketing efforts and materials local partners create and corporate distributes.

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