In English, the term "distributed marketing" or "distributed marketing management" is already used very often, but sometimes causes confusion or misunderstandings. Translated, "distributed marketing" means something like "distributed marketing", which in German is usually equated with decentralized marketing. This is a “business to business to consumer” chain (B2B2C) in marketing, in which the head office uses individual local sales partners to advertise to the end consumer. In most cases, this means that there is a company headquarters that not only manages the products, but also provides guidelines for the brand identity and general marketing. However, sales are (predominantly) decentralized via individual local sales and distribution partners. These partners are spatially but also organizationally separated from one another and each take care of their own area.
Whether marketing in a company can be described as distributed marketing depends heavily on the company's structure. The higher the degree of centralization, the more decision-making power rests with corporate management and corporate headquarters. They provide guidelines for responsibilities, products and work processes for the entire company. This means that suggestions and inquiries from the partner* or from local branches are always first clarified via the head office and only partially implemented. For marketing, it means that the same marketing is carried out at all levels and in all local branches. This is produced centrally and only distributed locally. However, due to the central decisions, the various target groups can be dealt with less precisely. This can lead to the central marketing department making decisions that are far from realistic, as it has less contact with the end consumer and the needs are sometimes more difficult to recognize.
A decentralized corporate structure, on the other hand, consists of almost independent business units that are united under one brand. There is a central management and many independent, local business partners (e.g. dealers), each of which serves their own local target group. The head office plays a coordinating role and provides guidelines and basic decisions. However, the details and the respective implementation are at the local level. This means that faster decisions can be made locally, in particular, without necessarily having to ask for approval from the head office. This leads to a greater sense of responsibility and more motivated, independent work for site managers. However, it can occasionally lead to problems if too much freedom is given and the central guidelines are disregarded. In marketing, this would be a classic form of decentralized or distributed marketing. The central marketing department plays a pioneering role here, providing guidelines and representing principles such as corporate identity. The implementation and execution is on a decentralized, local level with the individual sales and distribution partners.
In order to skilfully support the sales partners in distributed marketing management and still create a uniform brand image, templates are passed on from the head office to the branches. These templates can be organized in entire campaigns that are relevant and can be used by all partners. So that as many adjustments as possible are possible, these templates are so-called "dynamic content". This means that mostly not only content such as text and images (digital assets), but also size and formats can be adjusted. This scalability gives the partners great freedom in the use of the individual marketing materials. In order to require as little coordination as possible and for each partner*, even without prior knowledge of corporate design, only certain parts of the marketing campaign can be individualized. This ensures that all advertising material produced corresponds to the brand's corporate identity. This means that as few approval loops as possible are necessary and the partners can be given as much freedom as possible. In order to be able to use these templates as directly as possible, they are usually collected in a cloud and made editable.
The local distribution of the individual locations and partners results in some challenges in the management of distributed marketing. On the one hand, communication between people and between partners and headquarters is a challenge that needs to be considered. However, this can be simplified with central software solutions on which the marketing campaigns can be accessed. In addition, it must be remembered that the templates are used by different people with different skill sets, so that handling should be as simple and self-explanatory as possible. The individual approach partners are also confronted with very different target groups that each location should address individually. This individuality harbors the risk of inconsistencies and a neglected general brand image. In addition, it can happen that the individual partners place different levels of value and budget on marketing, which can also lead to differences and tensions.
There are also trends in distributed marketing management, which affect the head office and the partners equally and which should be addressed:
As in almost every area, there is a clear trend towards digital marketing materials in distributed marketing. Although print is still relevant, it is gradually being replaced by digital alternatives.
The social media are more and more tailored to the local target groups and are therefore mostly controlled by local social media management. Thus, social media marketing is an important part of distributed marketing.
Due to the large amount of user data and the advancing artificial intelligence, companies can paint a very precise picture of their customers. Thus, personalization and individualization to the target group are becoming more and more important.
Mobile Internet use has been widespread in Germany for years. Distributed marketing is also adapting to this development and offering more and more opportunities to bring advertising and mobile content to the target group's smartphone.
In a world of remote work and digital workplaces, distributed marketing and coordination offers a good opportunity to communicate with employees and partners at different locations and to simplify processes using a software solution.
An important point in distributed marketing is the processing of data and internal company assets. The security of the IT systems used is therefore a very important point when making decisions about and using the software.
For the best possible implementation of distributed marketing, the use of various software solutions is suitable, which can make everyday work in a decentralized company significantly easier. Different systems can be used depending on the needs of the fire.
Web-to-print / web-to-publish
The simplest and rather smaller solution is to use web-to-print or web-to-publish software. These solutions concentrate purely on the production and publication of print advertising. While a web-to-publish system combines all possible marketing materials and thus makes offline and online marketing possible, a web-to-print solution focuses purely on print. Flyers, advertisements, brochures and mailings can be produced and distributed directly to your own customers.
Digital Asset Management (DAM)
Digital asset management, or DAM for short, starts elsewhere. The focus here is on the exchange of digital assets, i.e. images, graphics, text, music, etc. via a cloud. Via a DAM, the head office can provide each partner* with the same digital assets that they can use for their own local marketing. It is therefore a shared cloud database to which all marketing people involved have access.
Marketing portals, on the other hand, are an all-round package in which both the advantages of web-to-publish and DAM come into play. In addition, an exchange platform can be created with the partners on which budget and marketing plans as well as brand assets can be shared. By using company-wide templates, ideal distributed marketing can be guaranteed using a marketing portal.