Brands with a portion or the bulk of their sales coming from an indirect sales model have a unique set of marketing challenges, but this sector of business should be rejoicing in the current age of through-channel marketing automation.
Instead, as report after report shows, a growth-stifling disconnect exists between brand marketers and local channel partners that sell the brand's products or services.
For brands without a real strategy going into the new year, revenue projections may well remain unobtainable in 2016. So here are 10 essential steps to achieving revenue growth, next year and beyond.
1. Go hyper-local
Your customers are already shopping in a particular ZIP code: Engage them right where they are with a co-branded experience they know and trust—you and your local channel partner.
2. Apply brand rules to local marketing efforts
Scalable, customized marketing automation is the key. Set the rules and have the local partner enroll in the available campaigns. Plug-and-play apps offer simplified delivery with sophisticated data and analytics to measure ROI.
3. Retarget with impact
Significantly increase brand and channel partner recall with consistent messages through a variety of channels. Your co-branded efforts become omnipresent and organically connected to the local customer's everyday life: on tablets, smartphones, desktops, laptops, you name it... your brand is there with them.
4. Use co-op and MDF funds strategically
A recent benchmark report by Gleanster Research found that brands that use co-op and MDF programs strategically had better participation rates and revenue growth as a result. When data from the past few years confirms that billions of dollars in co-op and MDF programs go unused year after year, these programs hold great potential. Don't merely settle for what has been done in the past. Brand marketers who are flexible, good listeners, and willing to adapt by changing the outdated "Claims and Reimbursement" process to a new and innovative "Co-Pay" model will be better equipped to increase engagement and adoption for their channel partners, yielding increased participation and brand compliance.
5. Your micro message has macro potential
Your local channel partners have a customer base, and the brand has content to engage those customers. The key is to use automation technology to let the information flow, reaching the local customers on all levels with a co-branded, seamless experience.
6. Details matter
The complex, multifaceted world where brands with indirect sales models live day-to-day is built on and thrives on attention to detail. Remember: GIGO—garbage in, garbage out.
7. Measure, monitor, optimize
The New Year and new applications of technology offer the perfect time to move away from anecdotal measurement to real metrics as a tool to measure marketing success. If you only "think" you are reaching the right audience, you are destined to spend 2016 chasing after goals instead of meeting and exceeding them, both locally and at the brand level.
8. Use triggered messaging
To increase the effectiveness of your outbound marketing. Your local channel partners can achieve greater customer engagement on the local level when co-branded messages reach potential as well as existing customers at key moments in the buying cycle. Customer behaviors dictate these opportunities and can be used as triggers to deliver relevant and timely messages.
9. Show off a bit
Success breeds success. Case studies and success stories are akin to a 2-for-1 sale during the holidays: A real-life example of a hyper-local marketing tactic that is paying dividends puts marketing automation technology in active context for both the brand and the local partner.
10. Be an excellent brand partner
Support the efforts and involvement of your local channel partners. Provide education and expertise that helps them be a success, ensuring they have every opportunity to meet their marketing goals. In turn, their loyalty toward the brand increases, spurring more confidence and effort to grow the local customer base that supports the brand.
* * *
The time is now to shift the focus from the end of 2015 to the revenue-generating strategy your brand will deploy in 2016.
It is difficult enough to manage a single brand experience across an ever-expanding array of online and offline channels. The complexity grows exponentially in a distributed marketing environment where brand consistency and customer expectations for a consistent brand experience are higher than ever. And for those who miss the mark, there is an ever-increasing way for the local buyer to broadcast his or her displeasure and engage a competitor.
Brands with indirect sales models through channel partners have the ability to deliver a true brand experience to an engaged hyper-local audience, employing strategies and tactics that will help them achieve their revenue goals in 2016 and beyond.
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