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Executives from two well-known brands talked about how they are attacking local, social and mobile in the panel, National Advertisers and Local Search.

Moderator Andrew Shotland walked the two marketing execs through a series of questions aimed at understanding how these companies are using new media options to support their brands and drive leads.

The panelists are:

Elnora Palms, director, local search initiative, U-Haul

Matthew Marko, marketing process manager, Progressive Insurance

Both companies work with large networks of dealers or independent agents, which means accurate data about their locations is a constant challenge.

Here are a few highlights from the dialogue:

How should vendors approach you?

Elnora Palms: “Come prepared. Have an understanding of what we are trying to accomplish. Know we are more than moving trucks. That allows us to say this is a business that seriously wants to partner because they have done the legwork.”

This year, where are you prioritizing your online marketing efforts?

EP: “We manage data in-house. We have centralized all listing and data management. Once data is clean, then we are in a position to look at ad words, getting ourselves out there, but accurately. That was the objective this year. Now partnering to make sure we are managing where we are listed. Our objective this year is a good selection of partners.”

What are the challenges with getting agents to engage in local search?

“They [agents] have no idea it exists,” Palms said, adding that U-Haul’s dealers are confused about all of their media choices. “We are coaching and consulting with them at all times.”

Marko said Progressive is aggressive about trying to educate its dealers through webinars, white papers and so on. It is hard, and it takes a lot of time, he said.

Are your dealers aware of or interested in reputation monitoring?

Palms said U-Haul is looking at it seriously.

 “At this stage, we have more than 100,000 reviews on our website. I do need a tool [to manage this].  We allow unedited reviews, which has built credibility for us. We have to know what our customers demand and need — and where we are falling short.”

Reviews are faster than a focus group for understanding how consumers view the company, she said.

Marko said Progressive prefers Net Promoter scores to understand how consumers view their agents.

How engaged are they in mobile apps?

Progressive has apps to find an agent, apps to get a quote, apps to file a claim.

U-Haul, by contrast, is not currently active in developing mobile apps.

How about location based services?

Palms said U-Haul has a social media manager that handles the company’s Facebook initiative, “We haven’t put a foot in yet. This year is all about testing.”

U-Haul is doing Facebook pages for dealers. We are assessing impact this will have organically, in search, and as way of communicating with customers.

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