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Local v National Growing your ethical brand

Online or footfall, the customer growth challenge is real

It is well known that ethical brands are born out of personal experiences or an observed dissatisfaction with what decent people see around them. Thank goodness for the action that keen minded social entrepreneurs bring and their energy and enthusiasm for innovation and for creating positive impact. For some this entrepreneurial drive is innate, for others it is learnt or comes from a growing consciousness to simply do good or better.

Fortunately for us all, wherever it emanates from, this consciousness often manifests itself through a vision and deep desire to bring about lasting social or environmental change.

The growth of ethical businesses is often to be found in the ground where the first seeds of change were sown. As a result, for many, local marketing is the loudest mantra either through necessity or by design. However, with commitment and determination the most successful ethical companies are presented with the opportunity to expand from their local roots into regional or even national markets. It is also a fact that for many this can be both exciting and challenging; not least because investment is hard to find, another story entirely, but also for a variety of practical marketing reasons.

For local businesses there are structural and emotional bonds that are easier to implement. Operating in a confined geography makes problem solving more intuitive, deliveries faster, referrals more impactful and provides consumers with a degree of automatic relevance. For some early adopters loyalty can be activated simply through the emotional influence of localism itself.

Local brand stories always create resonance in their community whether it is locally sourced honey or sustainable fashion and local authenticity often leads to faster advocacy. However, as many local businesses know, there are also inherit risks and dangers if operational issues are not rapidly and efficiently addressed. Whilst word of mouth can be a massive brand marketing play in a local market there is also the potential for serious brand negativity if shortcomings are not resolved with a high level of immediacy. This harsh reality provides the focus and impetus for many local brands to succeed because in a great many cases frankly their product and service quality often surpasses that of their incoming competitors.

Local area marketing is obviously a cheaper exercise and much can be done for little or no cost. For example sale or return opportunities can be founded through goodwill and personal networks, with the necessary relationships that are required to service these arrangements being more easily sustained. Carefully targeted advertising at relevant locations is a boon for the local marketer where unique local knowledge is a valuable asset. Simply matching advertising placement to locations where target audiences are likely to congregate or pass by is a matter of local knowledge. And then there is the knowledge of local media, both online and more traditional, knowledge of the streets where leafleting will inspire response, and a familiarity with local events where ‘locals’ embrace great ‘invented here’ products. All this makes a local ethical brand an exciting and often successful venture.

So what lies in store for an ambitious local brand as they turn their attention to new regional, or national marketing opportunities?

Firstly, there is the inevitable reality that general advertising and marketing costs will soar when the market is expanded. Controlling these costs is essential but there will be wastage that needs to be minimised when messaging is spread into unknown territories and through unfamiliar channels.

Decisions like where to start investment, who to target for most impact, and how to create most advocacy and virality, are central to the early decision making process. Why for instance, does a particular cohort or segment of prospective customers suddenly provide huge practical challenges? This may be because the brand’s authenticity is now diluted and it no longer benefits from the same emotional ties and resonance of localism. How to address and solve these complex issues through creativity, targeting, data intelligence and thoughtful messaging is essential and is at the very heart of our strategic approach at Good Karma Media.

Big questions like; how to measure success, when to pause or even stop marketing investment can be costly if not carefully game planned. In almost every case the principles of ‘test and learn’ apply as new channels, media and customers are targeted. Ethical business owners need to predict what threats might exist at local level in geographies that they are not familiar with. Big commercial decisions need to be made like does the product need to be modified? Does the price point need to change? Does the marketing proposition need to change or the benefits be re-explained if social demographics or affordability issues reside in the new geography. We all know how standard-of-living metrics vary across the UK, even within quite small geographical areas, and how every region can at times behave differently due to its environmental, economic and historical composition. And then there is the small matter of culture and consumer attitudes and behaviours…

Deciding where, when and at whose door you land your brand is an art and a science

Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is making sure that the ethical brand message is reaching consumers with the same conscious mind-set to make the brand a selling success. We understand that without great sales business potential will remain unfulfilled. Good Karma Media can help definitively with solving this issue through our unique ethical targeting approach called Karma People. This is a data driven solution to help identify and communicate in the most effective way with the perfect audience for a specific brand.

Discover for yourself how we can help you accelerate your brand growth.

In summary, there is a world of complexity in reaching out and expanding the market for any brand, but especially for an ethical brand which is looking to connect with a specific consumer mind set which may only exist within a fraction of the market. However, the opportunities and markets for ethical products and services are expanding constantly and with collaboration with specialists (like Good Karma Media) the rewards are huge.

Most importantly, the opportunity to expand the positive impact that your brand can make is clear. By bringing our deep experience in data-driven marketing into play; assisting with accuracy, ensuring safe channels are used, reducing wastage and potential brand backlash from irrelevant messaging and critically providing a clear view on performance we are doing our part to help accelerate the sector at this critical juncture.

At Good Karma Media we would love to join your mission and help you achieve your goals. Email or call 01737 448018

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