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Earlier this week LSA hosted a webinar with RIO SEO and Hallmark. Among other topics, it explored how national brands interact with and manage local marketing campaigns on behalf of independent retailers and franchise affiliates.

Hallmark’s Carlos Corredor had some fascinating things to say about the national-local relationship. There were several things that stood out for me:

  1. Some of Hallmark’s independent retailers owned up to 60 stores, while some owned one or two
  2. Roughly 2/3 of Hallmark’s local retailers did not have websites
  3. The company managed SEO/presence/listings on behalf of its local retailers but it didn’t seek to manage social at all

It goes without saying that in helping its independent retailers market their locations, Hallmark is dealing with vastly different levels of sophistication and the high and low ends. Some of these retailers have in-house marketing personnel and some are typical, time-starved SMBs.

It’s accurate to say that there are an increasing number of ways to find local businesses and, arguably, the SMB website is going to be a secondary or tertiary source for discovery. Search engines and third party sites/apps such as Yelp are going to be much more common and primary.

LMTS most helpful sources

Yet the fact that only 1/3 of these retailers have sites is still surprising, given the emphasis that both SMBs and consumers place on the utility and value of company websites. As our Local Media Tracking Study data above indicate, company websites were second only to search engines as “helpful” sources of information for consumers.

Hallmark’s Corredor explained that the firm provides store locator information and claims profiles on third party sites, such as Yelp, for its local retailers. So the visibility issue is probably covered on behalf of these local retailers — even absent an individual store website.

There’s also the interesting search vs. social dichotomy mentioned in the headline. While claiming and managing local profiles and listings, Hallmark takes a hands-off approach regarding social media management. Corredor did say that the company provided lots of instructional support to local retailers about how to manage a social presence. Yet it didn’t get directly involved in monitoring social media or creating content for local retailers.

I would imagine, although we didn’t have time to explore this on the webinar, that some stores are very effective on social media, while others are not as successful. Another fascinating point: Corredor said Hallmark encourages its smaller retailers to hire store staff who already have social media skills (e.g., millennials) to effectively bring that expertise in house.

What do you think about Hallmark’s different approach to these channels? Do you think it’s wise? Do you believe it may have to change as social media becomes a more important local discovery tool over time?

Originally posted at LSA 

Greg Sterling headshotContributed by Greg Sterling: Greg Sterling (@gsterling) is the vice president of strategy and insights at the Local Search Association.