The Local Search Association (LSA) recently published a report about their outlook on SMB’s marketing activities. Here are some of the highlights:
- SMBs expect their marketing budgets to increase over the next year.
- SMBs are focusing more on digital solutions, especially those for websites and social media.
- SMBs need more guidance on digital media.
- SMBs want to be able to track and measure their marketing activity.
- Marketers that focus on the SMBs’ needs will rise to the top.
This last highlight is especially important for you, the brand marketer. Your SMB partners sell more than one brand, so you have to make sure that you pay the most attention to their needs. This is how you stand out with them and build relationships that help your brand grow. How do you do that?
1) Offer co-branded digital solutions to your channel partners.
The LSA’s findings send a clear message: Your partners want to get more involved with digital marketing, but they don’t know enough about it. This is where you can use your marketing expertise to give them what they need.
When you offer co-branded digital solutions, you create the content and then let your partners modify it based on their business needs and local markets. Since you create the content, you’ll know the right words to capture customers’ attention. For example, you can offer local websites that partners can customize with logos, photos, videos, and blogs. You can do the same thing with social media: Write compelling content for social channels and leave areas open for partners to add their business information.
2) Provide accountable marketing tactics.
Your partners don’t want to waste money on marketing that doesn’t work. Since you know what works, you can guide them towards those effective tactics. One way to do this is with co-marketing funds. Whether with co-op funds or MDF, you can allocate more funds towards tactics that work for your brand. This will entice partners to use these tactics. Another way to get your partners involved with accountable marketing is through call tracking. By incorporating trackable phone numbers into traditional and digital advertising, you can easily see which marketing messages are resonating the most with your customers. If partners can see the return on their marketing in real time with call tracking reporting, they’ll be more likely to stick with it.
3) Make the co-marketing fund process as easy as possible.
Considering that SMB marketing budgets are expected to grow this year, it might sound counterintuitive to simplify your co-marketing fund process. If the marketing budgets are increasing, then there will be more money to pay upfront for marketing, right? This may be true, but that won’t be the best experience for your partners. Even if they have more money to pay for marketing, they still might not want to go through the hassles of claims paperwork and waiting to get their refund. What’s a marketer to do? You can distribute your funds in real time through a co-pay model. Your partners will have their money as soon as they order. With instant access to funds, partners can feel more in control of their marketing budgets. Instead of feeling constrained by refunds that take months to receive, they have more money to put towards marketing their businesses and building your brand.
Your channel partners are playing a bigger role in their marketing -- and so should you. Be a great brand partner by educating them and helping them meet their marketing goals. Whether you do that through funds or co-branded marketing content, your partners will be grateful for your support. In turn, they’ll do what they can to grow your brand’s local customer base.
About the Author
Gary Ritkes oversees all Business Development and Marketing at SproutLoud. He has been a pioneer in the emerging vertical of Distributed Marketing Technology and is an industry leader and innovator with 20+ years experience in graphic communications and marketing strategy. Gary has been involved with SproutLoud since the inception of the company. Prior to joining SproutLoud, Gary was VP of Marketing for Rex Three, Inc., SproutLoud’s first and largest vendor among its network of providers. He has served many Fortune 1000 clients and worldwide advertising agencies in providing marketing technology direction and optimization. He was an original founder of U.S. based Earth Color Group and a co-founder of Advanced Digital Services (ADS) which was sold in 1996 to publicly traded Katz Digital Technologies. He is a current board member of the local Advertising Federation chapter and has served as a member for other national industry associations including the DMA, AGA, and the CMO council.More Content by Gary Ritkes