What distinguishes a decentralized company structure?
Decentralized companies are companies of one brand that operate independently at different locations. The best way to visualize this is through a sales landscape - in the middle is the headquarters, which makes all general decisions for the brand and passes it on to the local entrepreneurs. Every further building on the map leads through road connections to such a local sales or sales partner, who usually has relatively great freedom in the management of his location. Nevertheless, there are regulations that are passed on from the head office to each decentralized location, which creates a uniform corporate image despite the spatial dispersion.
Centralized or decentralized marketing
The question of whether a central or decentralized marketing structure is the right one for a company largely depends on how the company is structured in general. In companies with a high level of centralization, decision-making competencies generally lie with central corporate management. This specifies the important guidelines for the products, management and responsibilities. This results in simple control and coordination of the individual activities, but decisions that only affect parts of the company can take a long time. In addition, the expansion of a large headquarters means that customer proximity to decision-makers is lost and the company runs the risk of making decisions that are far from realistic. The decentralized corporate structure, on the other hand, offers many independent business units that make their own strategic decisions; the head office only plays a coordinating role. A strong decentralization thus enables quick adjustments to the local market and a higher motivation of the sales and sales partners, as they are given more responsibility. However, occasionally decision-making powers may not be clearly distributed. This distinction also applies to marketing. In decentralized marketing, the centrally organized marketing department only plays a trend-setting role; ultimately, the competence lies mainly at the local level.
For whom is decentralized marketing relevant?
Decentralized marketing is relevant for all companies that are organized in a decentralized way but still receive guidelines for their local marketing from the head office. Industries in which this is predominantly true:
Since all these industries and corporate structures live from being represented at many different locations, but still want to appear as a single brand, it is very important to do a centrally controlled but locally adapted decentralized marketing.
Why is decentralized marketing becoming more and more important?
As digitalization and globalization continue to advance, the world in general is increasingly interconnected and connected. The Internet not only makes friendships across different regions or continents possible, the corporate and working world is also adapting to this trend. Location-independent work and projects that operate across different locations of a company are becoming more and more everyday. So also in marketing. With online marketing becoming increasingly cheaper, many different channels and platforms can be used. In addition, many companies are no longer represented at a single location, but are increasingly decentralized. However, these individual local partners are still expected to implement a unified marketing strategy. To make this possible, they also need a constant exchange and good networking.
Vernetzung durch das Internet und soziale Medien
Individualisierbares (Online-) Marketing
Together or everyone for themselves?
With decentralized companies in particular, the question often arises as to what extent the marketing campaigns can be adapted locally in order to still leave a uniform brand image. Should all locations pull together or should everyone fight for themselves? The brand itself should, of course, be known nationally and create a clear brand image. However, products and services are mostly bought locally. The local sales partner must therefore also be found for the end customer (especially online). In this dilemma, companies have to decide for themselves to what extent they give their various locations a free hand. General decisions, such as operating your own account on social networks, must be made by the head office. For example, some large brands such as Apple or BMW only operate a corporate account, while others let their sales partners decide whether they want to use this platform for themselves. The head office also specifies the correct use of the corporate design. This compliance and the right balance between together and individually can be particularly beneficial from decentralized marketing.
What are the challenges?
In decentralized marketing, especially due to digitization, the requirements are changing more rapidly and the processes are becoming faster, more networked and more technical. The target groups, which are addressed with marketing in general and the individual campaigns, are becoming more and more demanding and are more enlightened than before. This means that marketing must also work in a more innovative, direct and target group-oriented manner. In addition to this external pressure, companies and local partners are also exposed to enormous internal cost pressure. More and more campaigns should be carried out, which ideally cost less. All of this should be done in the decentralized structure at the local level. However, some of the employees here do not have in-depth marketing knowledge. That and the international mergers of large companies make it increasingly difficult to deliver efficient, decentralized marketing. In retrospect, the question of general measurability of marketing success remains open.
- Target groups are more enlightened and more demanding
- High cost pressure
- Little marketing expertise at local level
- Lack of measurability
- Faster time-to-market
- Uniform brand appearance
Networking and support
In order to simplify the exchange between the head office and the local sales and sales partners, standardized communication software is available. These can be used to consult or general information can be passed on to all those involved in a simple and structured manner. A uniform system offers the advantage that communication always follows the same scheme and is regulated. In addition, past information exchanges can easily be traced back and used for any queries. Another advantage of communication software would be to give the partners the opportunity to exchange information. This enables them to talk about the current situation in their environment as well as general challenges and to create solutions together. Ideally, this exchange takes place easily and without additional effort. This is guaranteed by a uniform company-wide communication software.
An efficient way of working at different locations and with different contact persons also means that, if possible, everyone has the same access to the existing systems in order to enable the same starting situations for all local sales and sales partners. Interfaces mean that the established systems can be consolidated and the least possible restructuring and training of the user is required. The use of interfaces therefore means that the individual systems, such as databases and communication systems, can be combined and used in an integrated manner. This simplifies the work of all partners and allows them to directly access the connected systems. This completely eliminates work steps such as importing data and copying from different systems. This means that work can be carried out particularly efficiently and error-free at all locations.
CRM / PIM
In decentralized marketing, it is important to provide all local partners with access to relevant customer data and the product information that is important to them. Through the use and maintenance of customer relationship management (CRM) and product information management systems (PIM), this data and information can be activated easily and in a structured manner for the responsible employees. These central databases form the complete information overview of the company. In order to be able to access certain information in the future, local sales partners do not have to inquire at headquarters, but can access the data and media at any time. This means that the same data basis can be made available to every location. This generally leads to a very time and cost efficient way of working, in which more authority is ascribed to the individual locations. In decentralized marketing in particular, these management systems offer the option of providing images and media files and storing customer data centrally for the entire company.
By using a marketing portal, all of these functions such as communication software, the integration of databases using interfaces and the sharing of information can be carried out in one portal. In addition, it is also possible to provide the individual campaigns and marketing materials and to make them customizable for the respective partners. By adapting the marketing materials in the system, the company's corporate design is automatically preserved. Nevertheless, the local sales partners at the various locations can adapt the materials so that they are most successful for their customers (local marketing). In addition to the fixed templates that are already created in the corporate design of the company, marketing portals usually also offer the option of publishing a brand guide to point out all important guidelines regarding the design. Thus, especially in decentralized marketing, a marketing portal is a successful overall concept that significantly simplifies the work of marketing-driven partners and the head office.