By DAVID SPINOLA | SproutLoud Chief Financial Officer
Now is the perfect time to reflect on the past and look ahead to the coming year. For Finance teams, that’s par for the course, as you close the books. It’s also the right time to ask questions that can give your company a financial edge next year.
For too many years, Brands who sell their products through Local Partners have often accepted process inefficiencies, redundancy and lack of visibility as “the way it’s always been done.” Today, leading-edge marketing technology and Through-Channel Marketing Automation Software solutions have raised the bar. Now more than ever, it’s time to keep a watchful eye on those Channel Marketing red flags you can’t afford to miss.
Red Flag No. 1: Vendor Sprawl
Chances are, your vendor list has been growing in recent years. In fact, a recent study by Lynn University revealed that 70 percent of Brands surveyed use more vendors today for local marketing execution than they did just two years ago.
When you ask your Brand Marketing team why, you will likely hear about all the new marketing tactics — especially Digital — that require specialized expertise to produce. While this is true, what they won’t tell you (or what they may not know) is that other departments or divisions within your company are also deploying many of the same marketing tactics as your Brand Marketing team, but with a different set of vendors. Whether it’s caused by growth in acquisition or a lack of visibility across your organization, there’s a term for this. You can call it unfettered duplication, or just call it what it is: Wasteful Spending. And it’s just one example of the kind of under-the-hood view you get when you start asking questions.
And now that you know there’s an issue, the question is: Who’s going to fix it? If, in the name of fiscal efficiency, you’re tempted to volunteer to aggregate all your internal departments and limit them to one vendor per tactic: Don’t. You risk tying up your Finance team from now through Tax Day. Luckily, it doesn’t need to come to that. In fact, leading Through-Channel Marketing Automation Platforms have already done the heavy lifting, by integrating best-in-class Marketing Service Providers to easily execute every imaginable Digital and Traditional marketing tactic from a single platform.
Red Flag No. 2: Too Much Headcount
Let’s face it: vendor sprawl doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
If you’ve got more vendors, your company also has more people managing them. The question is: How much time (and therefore, money) does your Brand Marketing team dedicate to vendor management? Along with the answer, you’ll probably also hear about the all the manual processes involved in providing Local Partners the support they need to execute Brand-compliant local marketing campaigns. And they’re right. Vendor management is time consuming and often a headache: enforcing Brand guidelines, denying ads, fielding questions about Brand guidelines from Partners, approving ads, and green-lighting the use of Co-Op and MDF funds.
But there is a better way.
Today, leading Through-Channel Marketing Automation Software solutions not only integrate best-of-breed vendors right into a SaaS platform, but they also handle all vendor management issues, saving Brands headcount, time and of course — money.
Red Flag No. 3: Co-Op and MDF Breakage
Who leaves free money on the table? Local Partners do, to the tune of $33 billion a year. That is about half of the $70 billion that Brands make available annually to Partners through Co-Op and MDF funds, according to a recent Gleanster Research report.
Analyzing Co-Op and MDF breakage for an individual Brand is typically a manual, time-consuming process that can’t deliver real-time data with any kind of relevant segmentation by region, Partner type or marketing spend. For a competitive edge, Brands prefer using Through-Channel Marketing Automation Software that captures data in real time:
- Which Partners use Co-Op and MDF?
- How much of the available funds is each Partner using?
- How much of the Brand’s total allocation for Co-Op and MDF goes unused?
Red Flag No. 4: Lack of Visibility on ROI
Knowing who is taking your money — and who isn’t — is important, but it’s still only part of the picture. The next question is: What are they spending it on? And are they investing in high-ROI tactics? Are your Partners spending your Co-Op and MDF dollars on Promo Items and Newspaper Ads when you want them to use Social Media Content and Reputation Management? It may be easy to get proof of performance for Promo Items, but that does not necessarily make it the most effective spend.
Obtaining the answers your Brand needs requires visibility on which tactics are optimizing ROI:
- For an individual Partner
- For Partners segmented by group or region
- Across your entire Partner network
This level of granular data is available to Brands who opt for leading Marketing Automation solutions.
Red Flag No. 5: Stopgap Guesswork
When you don’t know for sure, it’s tempting to guess.
That’s exactly what Brands are doing when they invest Co-Op and MDF funds in local marketing campaigns without true performance metrics and real-time analytics.
Brands need performance metrics on individual tactics and campaigns. They need to compare how a PPC ad performs for one Partner, for a specific group of Partners and for your entire Partner network. What’s even better is comparing a PPC ad to a Direct Mail piece by Partner, by group and across the entire Partner network. Getting this level of relevant data — comparing Digital Tactics to Traditional Tactics — without the right tools is next to impossible. That’s why top Channel Marketing Automation solutions capture data with embedded analytics that deliver real-time performance reports on both your Partners and the campaigns and tactics they run. Having accurate data segmented by Channel Partner and by product empowers Brands to invest only in what works.
This is crucial if your Brand wants to invest in high-ROI local marketing campaigns and incentivize your Partners to do the same.
About the Author
As Chief Financial Officer, David Spinola oversees all the finance and accounting functions at SproutLoud. He brings over 15 years of experience working with fast-growing businesses in operating, investment, advisory and board-level roles across a number of industries, with expertise in setting growth strategies, forecasting and analyzing financial performance, and managing operating costs. Prior to SproutLoud, David spent 10 years pursuing investments in high growth, lower middle market businesses at leading private equity firms, including Code Hennessy & Simmons, Brockway Moran & Partners, and Millpond Equity Partners. David also served as Chief Financial Officer at Academy Medical, LLC. He began his career in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group at Salomon Smith Barney, the investment banking division of Citigroup. He earned a BBA from the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in finance and sociology, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. David is also a CFA Charterholder.More Content by David Spinola