localBy now you’ve heard it everywhere — from television to magazines and beyond — buy local. It’s a philosophy that works for retail and restaurants, but can it work for your media buys, too? The answer is yes: Right now, national brands and businesses are getting even greater exposure with the same budget by buying media locally first.

How? Customizing your message to fit a local culture is a smart way to connect with your audience, allowing you to create and promote the most resonant message for that particular market. Something that works in one market will most likely work in others, so using a local media buy to test what works and what doesn’t on a small scale can help you to tailor the right message across different markets for even better results.

Buy Locally, Think Nationally

Here are some of the reasons a local media buy can make your marketing message – and budget – go even further:

  • Lower costs: Generally, you’ll save about 20 to 30 percent when you buy local over national.
  • Additional promotional support: Sometimes you’ll find that local media outlets will offer other kinds of exposure beyond traditional advertising for a lower cost — or possibly for free. (Think Facebook posts, email blasts, on-air mentions or event participation.)
  • Control of advertising accountability: It’s easier to see whether or not a media outlet is working for you when you’re measuring on a smaller scale.
  • Greater flexibility: Instead of waiting for a month or greater to make adjustments to your media buy, changes can often be made within a week.

Of course there are drawbacks to a local approach. There’s no way around it: Buying locally takes consistent attention and support from senior-level executives. And crafting a locally tailored message takes thought, care and market knowledge. Processing your results after the fact can be labor-intensive as these local-market experiments can contain an exponentially high amount of data; it can be tough to determine best practices and the best messages.

But the rewards are high. Recently, my company picked up an account with a national buying firm that was taking a cookie-cutter approach to its media buys. When we tailored each one to an individual market, we saw a 30 percent higher exposure for the client by using mediums that were once deemed too expensive. The result: Better exposure, better results and a local investment in the product and the company.

Going Local: A How-To

You already know that local media is a smart way to make your media buy dollars go even further. So, how can you get started?

  1. Look at each market as a distinct entity. What works in Indianapolis might not work in Myrtle Beach. You’ve got to create work that’s sensitive, thoughtful and insightful. Take into consideration what makes each market different, and tailor your message accordingly.
  2. Staff up. Putting your message in the right place for the right people takes time. You’ll need more staff time to buy locally. But if you do it right, it will pay off in increased exposure.
  3. View media as a partner, not a vendor. Work with them. Collaborate with them. And use them to your advantage. The media team you’re working with should be expected to play a part in the success of your advertising.
  4. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice a great idea if it doesn’t work. Be quick to adjust your message when you aren’t reaching your goals — no matter how good you think your idea is. The best ideas are the ones that work.

Of course, some of the best advice is also the simplest: to buy local you’ve got to know local. Always get a local representative. You can’t get the detailed information you need from someone who isn’t connected to the market that you’re working in. And when you’ve established the right connections in a local market, you’ll be able to build a thriving, tailored campaign.

Creating a local campaign first is a smart financial choice, but it’s a smart strategic choice, too. And best of all, local is closer, more connected and more meaningful: all of the qualities that characterize good advertising. Find out how starting

Originally published Apr 23, 2013 1:00:34 AM, updated July 28 2017

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