Local marketing continues to heat up, and Brands continue to show great interest in providing local marketers a way to get involved. The largest complaint that continues to resonate at the local level is; “Is the Brand listening to me?” “Do they really know what my needs are?” or “Are they just putting a cookie cutter approach out there,” hoping the Local Marketer (their clients) will engage in the program? Why do Brands expect local marketers to adopt a marketing program if all of the communication between the two moves in one direction.
We continue to hear frustration at the local level that the “Brand” just doesn’t understand my needs. In order to combat that, here are a few things the Brand can consider when building their 2013 Local Marketing Plan for their customers.
1) Make yourself a contributor to their success.
By now, your customers know when you are giving them special hand holding services, or when you are simply doing the standard follow up in time for them to consider placing their next order with you. Support is a year-long engagement. Don’t just speak to them when you want more business. Show them you support them by asking them what their marketing plans are for the coming year; ask them how you can help them? Ask them if they have considered using some of the tactics and tools you have provided, if not why? The more you engage in this up front conversation, they more value you are to them, let them know you care and are interested in their success.
2) Look for new ways to engage your customers to participate.
Time to get creative. Re-vamp your current funded programs whether they are Co-op or Market Development Funds. No Local marketer likes to lay out their own money, submit receipts and wait to get reimbursed. There are tools in place that allow you to automate that process and make it easier for the Local Marketer. Secondly, look towards allowing them to use their earned funds for digital advertising. Take off all the restrictions; if they earned a dollar, let them spend it. Don’t tie them to 50/50% co-op programs. Nobody wins. (Unless you are trying specifically not to have them use the money. If so, you shouldn’t offer it in the first place.)
3) Show them you appreciate the brand equity they have built at the local level.
I have seen too many Brands provide various assets with limited amount of room for Local Marketers customization. Throw out the old stuff! Create new pieces that allow the Local Marketer to create and alter elements to show their local flair and business. You can maintain brand integrity and allow the Local Marketer to be creative.
4) Give them easier ways to measure success.
Providing automated programs with reporting will allow your Local marketers to see the results. Especially with new digital advertising programs, the tools are out there. Provide them these tools and you will be working harmoniously in growing the business together. Don’t expect them to measure and report back to you. You need to be the proactive one to make sure their programs are working. Let your partners like SproutLoud reach out, engage and bring more value from your Brand. Which leads us to…………
5) Take some of the heavy lifting off your back.
Finally, look for Vendors (partners) to take the “heavy lifting” off your marketing department’s shoulders. Look for partners that can be your Brand extension, speak your language to your customers and provide unparalleled customer service. The only way to really do this is to have a partner that truly gets it, and can show you daily metrics on engagement with your Local Marketers, things such as; the amount of phone calls, emails and live chat sessions? How many tickets per day are opened? Response time, resolution time, happiness index and overall resolution success are just some of the factors that you need to make sure you are providing the best service to your customers possible.
When looking at how you can enable your Local Marketers to become your brand advocates, remember to make it simple and just do more for them than what they have been used to in the past. It’s quite simple, but it starts with a plan. SproutLoud does this everyday; let us know if we can help you to enable those Local Marketers to build your business.
About the Author
Gary Ritkes, President of SproutLoud, oversees all Business Development and Marketing for the company. Gary, a pioneer in the emerging vertical of Distributed Marketing Technology, 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 co-founder of Advanced Digital Services (ADS), which was sold in 1996 to publicly traded Katz Digital Technologies. He has served as a board member of the local chapter of the American Advertising Federation chapter and other national industry associations, including the DMA and AGA.More Content by Gary Ritkes