Marketing problems: Is the UK industry failing to represent regionality?

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Much as writing in dialect is shorthand for ‘desperate attempt to be original’, unless you’re Irvine Welsh, here in Britain we are blessed with some of the strongest regional accents, and identities, the world has ever seen.
Take us here in Manchester, for example. The locals, born and bred Mancunians, sound pretty different to those who were raised in the outlying towns, or even Salford, The Other City next door. When someone from Liverpool arrives, which is roughly 30 miles away, they sound completely different again. Same with Leeds, Stoke, York- and all are within relatively easy reach of where we’re currently writing from.
These aren’t exceptions to a rule, either. Head to London and there are clear distinctions between East and West tongues, same with North and South. Similarly, Suffolk sounds removed from Norfolk, Edinburgh and Glasgow have little in common aurally. The list could go on, but what’s important is that accents reflect how many identities the country has- one place moulds people quite unlike another spot.
With this in mind, you’d think media professionals would have long since cottoned on to the fact that regionality counts for plenty in the UK, and it could be a potential goldmine for those looking to hit a specific audience with product and service offers. Tap into their identity and you could well be tapping into their disposable income, too. However, according to MediaCom’s Britain Decoded research, the industry is failing to do this.

What does that mean?

Put simply, what this means is that the media- particularly creative marketing- is yet to fully exploit regionality as a means to attract attention to a campaign. Media consumption- according to this article over on Marketing Week– changes dramatically from place to place, just as our accents and turns of phrases do, and so what works in one area could easily fail in another.
Picture the scene. You’re walking through the streets of your hometown and see a billboard. The billboard is advertising something, but it’s generic. Will you feel emotionally engaged with that product? Will you even remember the ad, unless you want or need that specific product?
Now imagine the scene is the same, only different. This time, the billboard has a direct message that has been created specifically for its location. For us that could be ‘Manchester, meet your new iPhone’, or similar. This is far more likely to get you to take full notice of the product than if all ads are obviously the same in every region.
 
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But isn’t colloquialism old hack?

It really depends on what you mean by the term. Of course we need to look at the bigger picture in this connected age- one place cannot exist in isolation to all others. But then the trend for localism and personalisation within the media is something that has only really come about thanks to technological developments. Even ten years ago, many of these concepts would have been impossible to roll out, now being able to target specific demographics with advertising messages aimed at them and them alone is a realistic option.

This doesn’t sound relevant to anyone other than big brands

Perhaps not, but then that’s quite shortsighted. Although the bigger brands with greater ad spend are likely to have the most options for regionalised campaigns- they can afford different creative outlay for different areas- it is possible to work around the potential costs of this type of marketing, and come up with something that is directly tapping into regional identities, interests, and customers.
Let’s take the humble blackboard, for example. Mainstay of the hospitality industry- from pubs to cafes- this is a great way in which a business can focus on where, not just who, it’s selling to, without much effort aside from that which was required with or without the regional focus.
Social media also has plenty of options. Choosing who will see your paid-for Facebook campaign is just one of many; if you’re targeting people in one specific area, then make sure the content is actually relevant to them, without alienating others. It’s not the easiest task, but it will be far from thankless once the conversion figures start to come in.

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