The brand-to-retailer relationship is complicated. We talked a little about this in our post: Brands & Retailers: A Marriage on the Rocks (TMZ Style). As brand marketers, we know our retailer affair is symbiotic, but in many cases, not simpatico.
Because “it’s complicated,” getting your retailers to participate in anything – from annual conferences, to in-store events, to brand marketing initiatives – can be difficult. Your retailers are overwhelmed, overloaded, and time-starved. They’re also jaded with brand-sponsored initiatives that suck their time, but never seem to make an impact on a local store level. In their day-to-day, your brand’s message and initiates are, for all intents and purposes, lost.
Sound familar? If so, you might have a few tried-and-true tactics when it comes to getting some of your retailers to do what you want. But, let’s face it, something’s missing.
3 Key Reasons Why Your Retailers Don’t Care and What To Do About It
1. Broken Promises: Brands tend to over promise and under deliver. That’s dangerous. If you promise your retailers you’re going to help them be a better business by supporting them with timely new product launches, marketing materials, and sales training – you need to do just that. If you can’t deliver, consider making promises you actually can deliver on. If you mess up, acknowledge the misstep asap and ask your retailers how you can do better. If you’ve already alienated your retailers by not delivering on your promises, it’s not too late. You’ll find they’re pretty forgiving if you approach them with an acknowledgment, apology, and an open ear. Just listen. Your retailers will tell you how you can support them better.
2. Lack of Quality Time: Once a retailer becomes “your retailer,” they tend to get lost in the shuffle. In the beginning of the courtship – there’s a ton of time spent together. You’re getting to know their business, how you can help them become more successful, and why a partnership matters. Once the store says “yes,” they’re often forgotten. Because let’s face it, it takes a lot of your time and resources to keep up this level of engagement.
Don’t under-estimate the value of a quick phone call. Even if it’s just once a month. Or put together a team of your best dealers and ask them to mentor other dealers, committing to monthly chats. This is a good way for you to keep your ear to the ground. Time spent with your retailers is important. It’s the only way you’ll know what they want from you and how to discern the best ways to support them. The better you support your retailers, the more they’ll talk about your products, which means more sales for you both.
3. Unrealistic Expectations: Do your retailers constantly let you down? It could be because you have unrealistic expectations of how much time they should allocate to your brand, or you haven’t done enough to earn their time. Here’s the reality: Your stores are time-starved and resource-limited. If you’re perceived as just another drain on their time, you need to set the record straight. Be clear as to how you plan to support them, and why it’s going to take little effort on their part to partner with you. Stop launching complicated initiatives and expecting that your stores will drop whatever they are doing to participate and start launching simple, impactful programs that help them become a better business.
Now that we have mentioned common responses why retailers are less and less brand-engaged, what’s your experience?