Do you have a growth mindset? Are you looking to learn and grow like me? Do you seek out big, audacious goals or do you phone (today, we’d say text) it in? I always find it rewarding to work in an exploratory environment where the emphasis is on new ideas and innovation. It may come from the start of my career at a variety of agencies, where that was the norm. It is something I took with me when I transitioned to the brand, aka corporate, side of the business.

I was hired to build a function from scratch – local marketing. With a solid plan that included testing and optimizations, I proved that local marketing in tandem with national support met and exceeded goals. Without local marketing support, second and third-tier markets didn't reach their goals. We did such a good job proving this that the national team took it over from a media buying efficiencies perspective. Through the testing scenarios, we also demonstrated that prioritization of the same local markets across multiple time frames were more beneficial than short bursts of activity in varying markets.

I will highlight a few key areas within the four stages of planning that helped with the success of local marketing:

1. Analysis
• Completed SWOT analysis, competitive analysis and determined target audience variances by location. Retained budget responsibilities for media and creative needs.
• Sourced media agency and completed a RFP (request for proposal) with a subsequent contract. In this instance, local marketing required our own agency to avoid competing with national team members for the same agency resources.

2. Development
• Created local branding guidelines including local brand architecture, local brand positioning and local brand identity requirements. Developed goals and objectives. Remember to use S.M.A.R.T. ones.
• Designed strategies with measures of success. Knowing the tactics would include traditional and digital mediums, we tracked items such as: reach, frequency, impressions for traditional media; plus impressions, inquiries, conversions for digital efforts. We were also paying attention to walk-ins and local call volumes.
• Established testing roadmaps with optimizations that varied by medium. The initial testing was in select markets to allow for learning before being rolled out to additional markets. We looked at varying start dates and length of time in market based on enrollment periods (classes ran every eight weeks), medium and budgets to determine the optimal media flight times.

3. Execution – must be done flawlessly!
• Created media plans and developed and produced creative.

4. Measurement
• Collected data and tabulated results. Agency partners created dashboards for our review with optimizations occurring as needed.
• Recapped successes, failures and learnings to apply towards future efforts including images of creative.

There were other fundamental needs to ensure local marketing’s success including internal alignment and support. I worked to educate colleagues on local marketing, created internal processes and secured service level agreements.

Examples of those fundamentals include:
• Initiated Local Media Training - 90 minute meeting with metro/regional colleagues to (re)introduce basic media terms, media planning and guidelines. This also helped set expectations. I also provided educational content for use with location leaders – there were over 95 locations at that time, not all of them had support!
• Developed roles and responsibilities with a RACI matrix. I created new processes to build integration and cross-functional teamwork.
• Communications, communications & more communications – in addition to the agency dashboards we scheduled meetings for performance reviews, utilized our share drive for updates and had ad hoc meetings and emails as needed.

At that time the marketing department was going through a transformation and used a metaphor to help drive that transformation – we were building a house. Local marketing helped build the foundation and a room. I truly enjoyed the experience of helping build that house.


Esposito, Emily. The Essential Guide to Writing S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Smartsheet. November 11, 2015.

Kantor, Bob. The RACI matrix: Your blueprint for project success. CIO. January 30, 2018.


Photo by Amy E Mikel. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain. June 2004.