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When building a centralised marketing model, global marketers face many challenges. Trying to implement a consistent way of working across regions, and getting local markets on board to a centralised process is not easy. From why companies look to this type of model, to how they can implement it – we’ve put together a quick guide to take the stress out of centralising the marketing process.  

Why go central? 

Global companies looking at centralising global marketing activities are typically seeking the following benefits:

  • Consistency in the way technology is used, and in ways of working. A constant process provides global teams with much more clarity when it comes to understanding local market activity, and allows them to track and monitor the effectiveness of marketing activity across regions.
  • Global brand consistency across all channels and markets can be significantly enhanced. As a result, brand awareness is strengthened across the globe.
  • Leveraging from a global resource can result in a significant cost reduction across all areas and regions of marketing. 
  • Global campaigns produced centrally can be delivered to markets fast. 

Shifting to centralised marketing

It goes without saying that changing from a decentralised to a centralised strategy is often complex. The difficulty comes from the assumption that local markets will easily adapt to a centralised way of working, which is not always the case.

Regional teams have typically had full control over their own budgets and marketing activities in their region. They’ll often have local marketing suppliers with local brand knowledge and experience, in the same time zone, who they trust. And when it comes to centrally produced marketing campaigns, local teams will have a lot of questions… Will the campaigns really be produced on time for local launches? Will they actually resonate in the local market? Will small and fast requirements for single markets take forever to go through the centralised process and end up costing the earth? Will the global agency or agencies really be capable of coping with production for all forms of web, TV, print, digital, HTML5 banner ads and social media in multiple languages? Will communication with the local markets be possible in the local language?

Typically, local marketers will have their ways of working with trusted technologies and platforms. They are unlikely to hand control to global teams at the drop of a hat. These are typically some of their concerns:

  • “My needs are different from this centrally produced work.”
  • “I can print faster right here.”
  • “You’re making my life harder, not easier.”
  • “We need quick response times, and our local suppliers are just down the road.”
  • “I will lose control of my projects.”
  • “Our markets have different requirements from others.”
  • “We have our own campaign tools which work perfectly for us.”
  • “We trust our local agency and we prefer to work with them.”
  • “Local suppliers cost less than this centralised service.”
  • “My distributors tell me what they need.”
  • “Global doesn’t understand our market.”
  • “Global projects always run late.”

These regional concerns are frequently overlooked or underestimated by global marketers, the philosophy being that regional markets will easily accept the new ways of working due to the already identified benefits. As a result, a move from decentralised to centralised marketing can cause considerable suspicion and resistance amongst regional marketers. There have been times when local marketers have refused to take global campaigns, secretly using local suppliers, local technology platforms and local ways of working without informing the global teams. Their defiance can fragment global marketing initiatives, reduce the effectiveness of campaigns, waste money and cause unnecessary friction between global teams and regional markets.

Overcoming resistance

So, what is the best way to overcome these concerns and ensure a smooth transition from decentralised to centralised marketing activities?

At Freedman we believe the key is to properly understand the marketing objectives of all relevant stakeholders in both the global and local markets. Listen to the objectives and concerns of the local marketing teams and make sure their voices are heard. Show them how they too will benefit from the centralised process and that their concerns have been addressed. Make sure they know that the right people are in place who’ll ensure that centrally produced marketing content will resonate in their region. Use advocate regions and markets to support the more sceptical markets. 

The transition to a centralised way of working will go smoothly provided there is careful planning and risk assessment. Using internal teams, or an agency with prior experience, can help to ensure this smooth transition. Create a considered training plan for local marketers who will use the central technology and it’s related processes. Above all, remember, communication is the key!

We hope this guide to changing to a centralised marketing process proves useful. For more on how we’ve helped brands optimise their marketing models or for some one-to-one advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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