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Distributed marketing: towards local teams' autonomy

Distributed marketing involves decentralizing marketing decision-making by granting more autonomy to local teams in the design and customization of campaigns. This organizational model is increasingly favored by networked brands. And for good reason, distributed marketing has several advantages for both businesses and consumers, as we will see.

This article provides the essentials about distributed marketing. We will define distributed marketing, outline its main benefits, and detail the steps to implement it within your organization.


What is distributed marketing?

Distributed marketing involves decentralizing a networked company's marketing strategy by offering more decision-making and operational leeway to local teams. Distributed marketing is a form of decentralized marketing.

Distributed marketing stands apart from traditional marketing organizations characterized by total control of initiatives by the headquarters. It contrasts the hierarchy of traditional organizations with a more horizontal model.

This organizational model is based on the idea that each local market has distinct characteristics, whether they be cultural preferences, specific buying behaviors, more or less significant local competition...

Distributed marketing seeks to capitalize on these differences by allowing field teams, retail outlets, stores, subsidiaries, branches, franchises to tailor the marketing strategies defined by the headquarters to the needs and peculiarities of their environment.

In principle, distributed marketing can be likened to decentralization in politics, which aims to give more power to regions, departments, and municipalities, or to the concept of “glocal,” which involves a multinational company adapting its strategy according to different national markets.

What are the advantages of distributed marketing?

The advantages of distributed marketing can be summarized in four key terms.


The main effect of distributed marketing is to make local teams more autonomous in their marketing actions. This organizational model offers more freedom to teams in campaign design, based on the principle that they know the market better than headquarters teams.

The autonomy granted to local teams encourages stimulating creativity: field teams are no longer limited by a “one size fits all” approach dictated by headquarters. Distributed marketing offers teams the possibility to experiment with innovative marketing approaches tailored to their audience.

This unleashing of creativity made possible by team autonomy often leads to marketing strategies that are more authentic and engaging, presumed to resonate better with local customers.

Autonomy is both the main characteristic and the main advantage of the distributed approach to marketing.


Distributed marketing enables the personalization of campaigns and marketing operations to better meet the specific needs of local consumers.

Thus, distributed marketing is an advantage for local teams, making them more liberated, and for customers, who are approached in a more personalized manner.

Personalization could involve, for example, launching email campaigns celebrating a local event or a festival specific to a given territory.

Distributed marketing allows for the adaptation of communication content, offers, and solicitations based on local particularities.

That said, a marketing strategy personalized at the local level is not necessarily the result of distributed marketing. A company that entrusts its central marketing department with managing Facebook campaigns personalized according to the geographical area of the audiences is not practicing distributed marketing.

The fundamental principle of distributed marketing is the decentralization of marketing initiatives to local teams.


Proximity is a fundamental value for consumers. Distributed marketing enables the implementation of proximity marketing, for the reasons mentioned above: the content of campaigns, or even the choice to deploy one campaign over another, is no longer defined by the distant headquarters of the company but by local teams who know the characteristics and preferences of local customers.

Distributed marketing brings the decision-making process closer to the consumers.


Distributed marketing is not an anarchic system where each local team, subsidiary, franchise, or retail outlet defines its objectives and communication means independently. Autonomy is not independence.

The art of distributed marketing lies in allowing local teams a margin of freedom while ensuring the coherence of marketing initiatives at a global level. This coherence, this harmony in marketing practices, is essential for preserving brand identity.

Beyond personalization, messages and campaigns must reflect the fundamental values of the company, its brand identity, and its overall objectives.

To ensure this harmonization of marketing practices beyond local differences, brands often establish guidelines, charters, and use centralized marketing solutions containing libraries of content and templates that can be locally adapted.

The use of templates (for emails, for example) offers a certain flexibility to local teams in content creation while ensuring that each communication respects the standards and identity of the brand.

Distributed marketing is the art of implementing a skillful balance between local autonomy and headquarters control.

Key steps to successfully Install implementing distributed marketing

Let's move from the why to the how. Here are, broadly outlined, the steps to follow to implement distributed marketing within an organization.

1 - Define the strategy

The first step should not surprise you, as it's the classic initial phase of any project: defining the objectives and strategy:

  • Why do you want to deploy distributed marketing?

  • What type of distributed marketing?

This involves defining the long-term objectives of the company and how distributed marketing can contribute to achieving them. These objectives could be increasing brand awareness, improving customer engagement, boosting sales in specific markets, etc. The objectives must be articulated and prioritized.

Next, there are several ways to implement distributed marketing, and this is a topic that should be addressed at the start of the project. Essentially, there are two questions to consider:

  • What degree of autonomy should be granted to local teams, and where should the line be drawn between autonomy and control?

  • What tools and processes should be used to facilitate communication between local and central units?

Finally, from the outset, we recommend considering the performance management system that will allow you to measure the impact of your distributed marketing strategy.

2 - Segment the data

Data segmentation involves identifying the different local market segments targeted by the company. Who are the local customer groups you are targeting? Residents of a certain city, urban area, department, or a particular administrative or cultural region?

You need to define the territories and scales at which marketing will be decentralized.

This is the same exercise as segmenting customers based on socio-demographic or behavioral criteria. The difference here is that the criterion used is entirely geographic and must take into account the company's organization.

Indeed, choices in terms of segmentation are partly determined by the company's organization, its network of sales points, and its geographical footprint.

3 - Create the tools

Using common marketing tools is the best way to ensure harmonization of marketing practices in a distributed marketing context. Most of the time, marketing tools remain centralized.

If you do not have suitable marketing tools, you will need to consider implementing new tools. The most important criterion is to choose tools that offer advanced rights and access management features.

Implementing distributed marketing then involves designing a number of templates, creating content libraries, and setting up dashboards.

Templates are models for messages, designs, and layouts that ensure consistency (visually, in particular) across campaigns. The same goes for content libraries, which can include image banks, video banks, editorial guidelines, examples of texts, slogans, guides, case studies, technical sheets, etc.

Dashboards allow for measuring the performance of marketing campaigns at both a global and local level.

In a distributed marketing logic, at least two levels of dashboards should be set up:

  • Dashboards for local teams to allow them to monitor the performance of their campaigns.

  • A dashboard for the headquarters or top management to provide an overview of the marketing actions' performance and to compare the performance of different territories.

4 - Define the roles and access for each level (central vs. local)

Distributed marketing is based on a policy decision. Should a significant level of freedom be granted to local teams, or should a substantial level of control be maintained by the headquarters?

Autonomy does not exclude control. The best solution usually involves finding a middle ground between full autonomy and strict control: the headquarters defines the broad outlines of the strategy and provides the tools, while local teams might have the responsibility to design and execute campaigns specific to their local presence.

This raises a whole set of questions you will need to answer: Who does what? Who checks? Who decides? Who can create content, who needs to approve it, who has to publish it? Who manages the reporting? How do central and local levels interact in decision-making and execution?

These choices are highly political. Once made, they must be translated into a clear distribution of roles and access.

As we have seen earlier, it is essential to choose tools (like Actito) that allow for precise management of rights (both read and write) as well as access for different users.

Beyond production and reporting tools, it's important to identify the collaborative tools that will be used to facilitate communication between teams and between levels (headquarters/local).

5 - Train local teams

A characteristic of distributed marketing is to entrust greater autonomy and responsibility to local teams in defining and designing marketing actions.

Local teams are the main players and drivers of the distributed marketing strategy. It is therefore crucial to train them well for this new role and the new mindset the company wishes to spread.

The training must include all elements that will enable the functioning of distributed marketing:

  • A detailed presentation of the strategy the company wishes to implement.

  • A clear definition of roles and responsibilities.

  • Training on the tools that will be used by local teams to manage campaigns (use of templates...), reporting (use of dashboards...), communication with headquarters.

  • An introduction to target processes, rules, the method of designing, producing, and overseeing local campaigns.

6 - Analyze the results and monitor the budget

It's crucial to closely monitor the results achieved through the decentralization of marketing initiatives. What is the performance of local campaigns? What is the impact on the budget of the new organization? What is the return on investment?

Measuring results is essential. It allows for the evaluation of the effectiveness of distributed marketing, identification of areas for improvement, and adjustment of the strategy accordingly. It is advisable to consider the indicators and dashboards to be used from the project's planning phase.

Which tool to choose?

Choosing the right tool is crucial for successfully orchestrating distributed marketing strategies.

Actito presents itself as a preferred solution for companies wishing to have a powerful, flexible, and intuitive tool. Actito's optional Distributed Marketing module gives you access to a new interface, called DMA (Distributed Marketing Application).

Through this specific application, you can delegate the sending of campaigns to local operators (point of sale managers, clubs, workshops, etc.) who know their clientele well, as they interact directly with them. These campaigns are based on preparations made by your central teams who will have determined the brand identity aspects, the fixed or customizable components of the contents, and the targets to address.

This optional module of Distributed Marketing thus allows you to minimize content and targeting errors when sending your campaigns (especially when your local teams have an extensive network, with local marketing teams having little time to dedicate and being unaccustomed to preparing campaigns).


Success Story : David Lloyd and Actito

David Lloyd, Europe’s largest health and fitness group, was looking to optimise its distributed marketing strategy to better meet the specific needs of its dispersed sport clubs.

Indeed, at the club level, communications were not coordinated resulting in individual interpretation of local branding and/or inconsistent tone of voice and digital knowledge was weak resulting in targeting and content mistakes.

600+ users from local PoS were onboarded started sending campaigns via ADM. HQ team was able to centrally define content, campaign templates and targetings. Final campaign sign-off right was reserved for club’s General Manager.

Thanks to Actito, David Lloyd has benefited from the following advantages :

  • Achieved homogenous branding and tone of voice of marketing communications across all clubs

  • Removed 90% of targeting and content mistakes when deploying campaigns

The experience of David Lloyd demonstrates the significant impact that Actito can have on a company's distributed marketing strategy. By providing the necessary tools for targeted, personalized, and coherent communication, Actito enables companies to stand out in their sector and achieve their objectives more effectively.


Key Takeaways

Distributed marketing allows a networked company to adapt its strategy and marketing actions according to territories by granting more autonomy to field teams.

Distributed marketing is timely. And for good reason, it has numerous advantages for businesses, consumers, and local teams.

The main question concerns how to balance the autonomy of local teams with the control of the management at the headquarters. This requires using the right tools.

The most advanced SaaS tools (like Actito) facilitate the implementation of decentralized marketing by offering both great accessibility for local teams and a good level of control for the headquarters.

Are you considering decentralizing your marketing? Are you looking for an online marketing tool that offers precise management of access and rights? Do not hesitate to contact us; we may have just what you need!

About the author


Isabelle Henry

Head of Inbound and Growth

Always on the lookout for new skills and always ready to launch new marketing projects at Actito, I rely on my personal experiences but also on everything that is happening in the digital world to continue to learn, educate and share with you through inspiring content. My little extras? Video editing and photography!

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