Why a Distributed Marketing Strategy Might Not Be Right for Your Business

April 4, 2013 Gary Ritkes

Sometimes we spend so much time talking about what a distributed marketing program can do for your business that it is easy to get the impression that distributed marketing is the solution for every channel business. The honest truth is, not every channel business is the right fit. Distributed marketing is a big undertaking – one that not every business is in a position to take on.

And you know what? That’s OK.

I have no problem telling prospective clients that we’re not the solution for them, at least not now anyway. Why, you ask, would any company tell customers they don’t want their business? You’d be surprised how often it happens. I conduct an in-depth interview with every one of our top leads so I can get a feel for whether or not they are ready to truly commit to distributed marketing. Here are some of the questions I ask them, and ones you should ask yourself before deciding if distributed marketing is right for your business.

Are You Ready To Commit To Distributed Marketing?

Think long and hard about this one. Are you ready to make a real investment in marketing? Do you have buy-in from the top? Have you budgeted for this? And I don’t just mean have you budgeted funds for our service. Have you budgeted for the resources and the man-hours required to make this happen?

Distributed marketing is not a quick fix. We’re not consultants who come in, write a report on what you’re doing wrong, and then leave a month later never knowing whether or not our advice was taken. We’re going to show you how to make your channel marketing more effective and more efficient. We’re going to give you the tools you need to be successful. And we’re going to support both you and your network members for the long haul, ensuring that your local marketing continues to roll out properly.

Are You Ready To Commit To Your Network Members?

First and foremost, are you ready to provide them with co-op funds? This one is a deal breaker. I’ve seen it before. Clients expect network members to cover the full cost of local marketing, and then see zero adoption of their marketing initiatives through their network. Without participation from your network, nothing we do for you has an opportunity to succeed. Co-op funds are a no-brainer investment. Without them you have no local marketing. Without local marketing you will never drive demand at the level you are capable of. Offering co-op funds demonstrates your commitment to the program you’re asking them to buy into. It also makes it easier for your network members, who are small business owners with tight budgets themselves, to engage in local marketing, bringing customers through their doors and making money for you both.

Also, are you ready to automate your channel marketing process? Some companies aren’t. They find comfort in the physical forms and receipts of a manual process. But like the ones who don’t offer co-op funds, they wonder why they have low adoption rates down the channel. Again, network members are small business owners. If your process is taking them away from running their business, they aren’t going to waste their time. Think about it this way. A network member has two marketing programs they can launch. Your sign-up process requires forms to be filled out and faxed back. Your competitor’s requires a few clicks of a mouse. Put yourself in their shoes. Which program do you implement?

Are You Ready For A Consolidation Of Your Tech Vendors?

I see this all the time. Your local marketing wasn’t where you wanted it, so you brought in an email marketing company. Then you needed a list management company. Then an asset management company. Then a social media company. Each time the problem wasn’t fully fixed you applied another band-aid. And if all those solutions were working for you, that would be fine. But if they were, you wouldn’t be looking for another solution. So are you ready to tell the company that’s been handling your emails for the past five years that you’re moving on? If not, if a distributed marketing solution is just going to be one more band-aid for you, it won’t be any more successful than all of your other band-aids.

Are You Ready To Hear Hard Critiques?

This is one you really need to ask yourself. Not everyone can handle a third party coming in and suggesting sweeping changes. They take it personally. I’m not in this to tell you how you’ve been doing it wrong. I don’t get some silly power trip from it or anything like that. I’m in this to tell you how you can be doing it better.

A distributed marketing provider worth partnering with should be ready to recommend and implement proven, best-practices and processes that will help you grow your brand. What you have to ask yourself is, are you ready to let them?

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About the Author

Gary Ritkes

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.

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