What is Distributed Marketing or Distribution Marketing

Posted by Cole Scott on January 11, 2024
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What is distributed marketingDistributed Marketing/Distribution Marketing: Centralized, Easily Distributed, and Cohesive

Marketing is essential for all businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations. You’ll find an incredible diversity of marketing models out there, too. However, they’re not all created equal. While some can help you remain consistent, build a cohesive brand, and deliver a seamless experience to leads and customers, others create a fragmented experience that drives away sales.


Distributed marketing or Distribution Marketing is all about centralization, streamlining, and creating an authentic brand voice and tone to guide the customer journey, whether they’re interacting with your brand’s primary website or calling a satellite office on the other side of the country. In this guide, we’ll explore distributed marketing and why is it such a must-have for growing organizations.


What Is Distributed or Distribution Marketing?


What’s distributed marketing all about? In a nutshell, it’s “the process of connecting your company’s central, corporate-level work with your network of local offices, franchises, and partners.” In an age of decentralization, where each branch or office does its own thing, it’s a breath of fresh air.


For organizations struggling to create cohesive marketing campaigns that span multiple offices and geographic regions, a distributed marketing platform promises to help you manage marketing assets, printed materials, fulfillment, and shipping centrally for easy collaboration, file access, and connectivity, no matter where your team might be working.


But why does all that matter? Here’s a snapshot, including some eye-opening statistics:


  • 86% of consumers state that authenticity is vital in their decision to support specific brands.



  • 81% of consumers report that trust in a brand is critical in their purchase decision.


  • Consumers are 2x as likely to buy and remain loyal to brands they trust.


  • 60% of consumers report taking an action, either positive or negative, based on a brand’s actions, including actions by local affiliates and satellite offices.


As you can see, brand control is critical, but it’s also vital that your growing business remains agile and adaptable. You must provide a cohesive experience to customers, but you cannot afford to be so rigid that your brand cannot adapt to local-specific situations.


A Brief Overview of Traditional Marketing


Traditional marketing usually follows one of two models: centralized marketing or individual marketing. Both of these can be beneficial, but they have some pretty significant drawbacks. Let’s dig into each one a bit to highlight how they work and why distributed marketing is the better answer.


Individualized Marketing


In this scenario, every branch, satellite office, or franchise location is responsible for all of its own marketing. Each office creates its physical assets, invests in digital marketing campaigns, and builds its collateral. That can be a good thing in some ways. For instance, the local team certainly knows its audience best and how to communicate with them in unique, effective ways. It also offers the ability to create tailored campaigns specific to local pressures, events, demographics, and other factors.


However, it’s highly fragmentary. When every location creates its marketing collateral, there’s no cohesion. Everyone’s doing their own thing, so your brand becomes muddled. There may be no consistency at all, even in terms of logo design and placement. There’s also no guarantee that your local branches or offices will understand industry rules or government regulations that apply in marketing specific products or services, so your business may be in the crosshairs of regulatory bodies.


Centralized Marketing


Centralized marketing is the polar opposite of individual marketing. In this scenario, corporate controls everything. Your corporate team is responsible for creating all marketing materials, initiating and managing all campaigns, and more. Everything is done centrally and the flows outward. Your branches and satellite offices have no control over any aspect.


This can be a good thing in many ways. For instance, it ensures branding consistency and helps create a cohesive experience for leads and customers. It also helps prevent overstepping industry rules and government regulations, safeguarding your business.


However, it’s problematic in a range of ways, too. Centralized marketing is homogenous, which means that there’s no geographic variation. That means there’s no way to customize content to specific audiences or demographics. Your branches and remote teams have no way to change anything and are stuck with what the home office sends to them, even if that’s patently ineffective.


How Distributed Marketing and Distribution Marketing Changes the Paradigm


When it comes to what is distributed marketing (also known as distribution marketing) and how it differs from the two frameworks we’ve discussed, you can think of it as a bridge. It helps span the gap between centralized and individual marketing. Here’s a look:


  1. All marketing collateral is created by your corporate team and then distributed to your satellite offices or branches digitally. This happens through a distributed marketing platform that integrates with your CRM so there’s immediate access for everyone. Because the content is created at the corporate level, your branding is correct and you’re able to avoid any potential rule or regulation violations. Everything is in line with your brand voice, personality, and ethos.


  1. Once the content has been created and delivered, your local teams can log into the platform and access it. They can then adjust it to meet the needs of their local areas, whether that’s changing phrasing to reflect regional dialects, adding support for local youth organizations and nonprofits, and so much more.


Because the content was created at the corporate level, your brand value is spot on. Because your local teams can have a hand in the process, you’re able to benefit from their experience, expertise, and insight into local-specific factors that affect success.


An Example, If You Will


It’s all well and good to talk about the differences between the various marketing methods, but let’s look at something a bit more concrete.


Let’s look at a familiar ice cream retailer that most people will recognize. We’ll call it Bunkin Ribbons, and it’s famous for offering a certain number of ice cream flavors. This company operates across 50 different nations but must maintain rigid control over its marketing so that it doesn’t dilute the value of its brand or its value proposition, which is “high-quality ingredients, innovative flavors, at a reasonable price point”.


So, how does this ice cream giant compete in 50 different national markets while retaining strict control over its brand? The answer is distributed marketing. Here’s how it works.


  1. Central production – The Bunkin Ribbons corporate team creates the company’s marketing collateral.


  1. Local customization – Once created, the various national, regional, and local teams can tweak campaigns and marketing collateral to reflect their unique aspects.


How might this look in the real world? Each Bunkin Ribbons franchise is well-known for supporting local youth organizations through sponsorship of sporting events and educational opportunities. By adding those relationships to their marketing collateral, franchises can tailor the content to their immediate audience.


Here’s another example. Consumers in different countries have varying levels of interest in exotic and unusual flavors and ingredients. For instance, almost 50% of British customers like to try new flavors, but far fewer US customers do. By allowing local teams to customize marketing collateral, it’s possible to introduce flavors and ingredients that appeal to the more adventurous while keeping things the same for those who play it safe, all while maintaining a consistent brand voice across all channels.


What Benefits Do You Gain from Distributed/Distribution Marketing?


In answering the question, “What is distributed marketing and distribution marketing”, it’s important to highlight the benefits that brands stand to gain. Some of these should be pretty obvious at this point, such as control over your branding. However, other benefits may not be quite so clear. Let’s shed some light on the most important.


Brand Consistency


Let’s start with what’s probably the most obvious and important benefit to be gained with distributed marketing: better brand consistency. This is the primary reason that many organizations use centralized marketing.


They know that too many hands in the pot will dilute their brand and message. And maintaining that consistency is critical, considering that most consumers want to feel like they know what to expect from the brands they support. With better brand consistency comes increased customer loyalty, improved profitability, reduced churn, and more.


The benefits are not just on the sales side, however. With brand consistency, you also see improved employee morale and reduced churn. You’ll retain key talent for longer, spend less on onboarding, and attract higher-caliber people.


Because distributed marketing relies on a centralized creative team to create branded collateral, it becomes possible to produce things like logos, blog posts, social content, white papers, and more and distribute them to remote offices and teams. Brand decisions made at the corporate level are communicated through the distributed marketing system to remote locations and local partners.


Brand Alignment


When it comes to maintaining brand consistency, your marketing efforts must be aligned with your brand’s values, ethos, and personality. That’s impossible to achieve if your local teams are producing their own creative collateral. However, the centralized marketing method doesn’t offer the agility necessary to create content that resonates with local audiences.


With the distributed marketing method, brand alignment is not only possible but easier than you might imagine. Your central creative team is responsible for creating all collateral and then submitting it to the distributed marketing platform. Your remote teams will access that collateral through the CMS and then adjust to reflect local factors, such as:


  • Seasonality
  • Local charitable organization partnerships
  • Local youth organization sponsorships
  • Unique local or regional changes, such as specific colors, flavors, materials, etc.


You get the idea. Your central creative team is responsible for the bigger picture, which ensures brand alignment throughout your marketing material. Your local teams are responsible for making the adjustments necessary so that your content resonates with their audiences, without sacrificing alignment with your brand.


Local Expertise and Relevance


Your corporate creative team is made up of experts with deep experience and knowledge. They know your brand inside and out, and they know how to communicate your unique selling proposition (USP) to leads and customers.

What they don’t know are the local areas your branches or franchise locations serve. They don’t know about the local charity supporting childhood mental wellness that’s looking for sponsors. They don’t know the surge of tourists that displaces locals during the summertime at that beach hotspot. They’re unaware of the patois that locals use when speaking to one another and that outsiders can never seem to master.


But your local teams do. You can tap into that incredibly deep pool of expertise to deliver content that resonates with your audience segments. Your local creative teams can take corporate-created marketing collateral, localize it, and create much more relevant content that goes further and builds stronger connections with your leads and customers. And after all, isn’t that what this is all about – building relationships?


More Freedom and Less Resource Constraint


One aspect of both the centralized marketing and individual marketing approaches that we haven’t talked about yet is the impact on your resources. Both of them can be devastating. How’s that? Let’s talk about it.


In both traditional marketing methods, a lot is going on and that ties up your resources, including money, human capital, and time. For example, let’s say that you use the centralized marketing method. You run a tight ship and insist on branding consistency at all times.


Now, your local teams get that, and they want to do their best to build a strong business. They also realize that sometimes corporate marketing collateral is too generic. It doesn’t speak to local audiences. So, they send requests to have their collateral adjusted to reflect local relationships, initiatives, and other factors.

On the surface, that’s great. It means that your collateral will be on point and go further in building relationships than it would otherwise. The problem is that every time a local team requests changes, your corporate team is tapped to make them. It’s easy to see how this could become incredibly time and resource-intensive very quickly.


With a distributed marketing strategy, that’s not the case. Everything flows from corporate down, but local teams are empowered to make the changes they need on their ends (within reason). That frees up your corporate team to focus on more important tasks, while your local teams feel engaged and can create better-performing marketing collateral.


Distributed Costs for Collateral Creation


How much do you spend on collateral creation? How much do alterations and last-minute changes add to that bill? If yours is like most businesses, the answer is “a lot”. Generally speaking, businesses spend between 2% and 10% of their revenue on marketing-related costs depending on whether they’re B2B or B2C.


In the centralized marketing method, all those costs come out of your corporate budget. In the individual method, the costs are borne by your franchises or remote teams. Neither is fair or equitable, though. With the distributed marketing method, you can change that for the better.


The lion’s share of your company’s marketing costs will come from your corporate budget. However, alterations and adjustments can come out of the local offices’ budgets. That helps distribute the costs of collateral creation and creates a more equitable situation.


It doesn’t just mean saving money, however. You can then reinvest that capital in other avenues. Maybe you need to improve your customer service department. Perhaps you want to explore new products or services. You could even reinvest it into your marketing and expand your campaigns.


Improved Agility


We live in an ever-changing world and the scope of that evolution is constantly accelerating. Businesses today must be able to adapt and change with the speed of real life. That’s tough to do with either traditional marketing method.


With the centralized method, everything must come through corporate. Corporate teams are never attuned to local changes so understanding the importance of those changes can be hard. It takes a lot of time to make even small changes with this method.


With the individual method, the situation is different. Local teams are so in tune with changes in their immediate areas that they can make major alterations to branded collateral, effectively losing the message, and disconnecting the content from the parent brand. Depending on the situation, that could sow confusion with customers or even lead to inaccurate messaging that’s not ultimately supported by the company.


With distributed marketing, both corporate and local teams work together. That creates powerful synergies that help ensure the need for changes is communicated quickly and accurately and that both sides can make adjustments that keep all messaging on-brand and effective, but able to get around major localized hurdles.


Enhanced Campaign Effectiveness


How effective are your marketing campaigns? It doesn’t matter how compelling your copy might be or how much you spend on custom graphic design. If your marketing doesn’t move the needle with your audience, that’s all wasted time and money.


Most businesses don’t see massive effectiveness from their campaigns. Some reports put the average conversion rate around 2.35%, although this varies by industry and campaign type, obviously. But why is it so low? You’ll find a range of factors in play, but one of the most common is that the business is using the wrong method.


This ties into a point we’ve made several times so far. Corporate marketing teams are often too far removed from specific localities to create effective collateral for those areas. Yes, they can create content that resonates with the average customer.


However, when you’re able to drill down and tie into what makes a specific locale different, you’ll see a tremendous jump in effectiveness. That’s because your content is more visible and relevant to your audience. They connect with your ads differently.


Easier Access to Marketing Collateral in a Centralized Digital Location


Finally, let’s talk about access to marketing collateral. With traditional methods, it’s problematic and all too often involves shipping hardcopy assets to remote locations while trying to use digital content at the same time.


For instance, the corporate team might ship brochures and flyers to stores and then create digital versions of those same documents for use online. However, if the stores needed to make changes, those had to be communicated to the corporate team, which would then have to make the changes before having the flyers reprinted and reshipped – a time-consuming, frustrating mess.


With distributed marketing, there’s less back and forth because all assists are accessible through a centralized digital location. Changes can be made on the fly without any hassle and printing can be handled at the local level in many cases, saving time and reducing costs.


Finding the Right Distributed and Distribution Marketing Platform


By this point, the benefits of distributed and distribution marketing should be pretty clear. It’s the ultimate balance of control and flexibility. It ensures that you can stay on-brand, all the time, but that your remote teams or franchises can adapt at the pace of change in real time.


The challenge, of course, is finding the right distributed marketing platform and service. There’s a great deal to consider when shopping around, but some of the most important elements include:


  • Single-sign-on capabilities with the ability to set unique permissions for security
  • The ability to remain connected to the brand while providing local partners the flexibility necessary to connect with their communities
  • Access to physical print and distribution architecture and infrastructure
  • Access to business intelligence reports to ensure you can make informed decisions in real-time


At FuseBox One, we understand the challenge of building a brand while managing multiple remote locations. We designed our Distributed Marketing as a Service to deliver best-of-breed capabilities, robust security, and all the features both growing and established brands need, including our state-of-the-art digital asset management (DAM) system.


Interested in learning more? We’d love to give you a tour and highlight just how we can transform your marketing. Go ahead and request a demo – we’ll save you a spot.












Topics: Marketing Asset Management, MarTech, Brand Compliance, Marcom