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5 Digital Marketing Lessons of Local Retail (As Told By Retailers Themselves)

Brand marketing efforts are increasingly focused on the consumer’s local retail experience, and although retailers are key to ensuring in-store purchases, they have their own way of marketing. To make your retailers better marketers, brands must first understand how local retailers are currently promoting products.

That was the goal of our recent Local Retail Marketing Panel, led by three stores spanning the outdoor sporting goods, major appliances, and home improvement industries. Each retailer talked tactics for succeeding in the digital marketing sphere (knowledge that could only come from those that know their local audience best) and how brands can capture the retailer’s mind-share.

Lesson #1: Most Impactful Marketing Efforts Combine Earned, Owned, and Paid

“I do paid search display and just started video advertising. Then, there’s Facebook, Houzz, Mobile ads…YouTube. I pretty much try to do everything and probably spend five to seven hours per week on marketing.” – Jessica Burzycki, GM of Keith’s Appliances, Norwich, CT

Jessica’s efforts at Keith’s Appliances remind brand marketers that not all retailers are digitally unsavvy. Even independents know that shoppers interact with lots of touch points throughout the path to purchase. For Jessica’s business to be front and center at key moments means that earned, owned, and paid efforts are key.

Like Jessica, Barbara Clements (VP, Al’s Carpet Flooring and Design, Machesney Park, IL) and Galen Mook (Marketing and Advocacy, Landry’s Bicycles, Braintree, MA) have their hands in an array of marketing efforts, from the usual suspects (Facebook, Twitter, Google) to special events and charity endeavors — they have their hands full just navigating the digital marketing landscape.

By refusing to limit marketing efforts to a single channel, these retailers allow for exciting opportunities to increase awareness and look to brands to lead the way.

Lesson #2: Navigating the Ever-Changing Digital Marketing Landscape is Difficult, but Necessary

“I’d say one of the biggest challenges would be staying up to date with Facebook and Google and their algorithms. We need brands to help.” – Barbara Clements, VP, Al’s Carpet Flooring and Design, Machesney Park, IL

With the digital marketing landscape constantly in flux, it’s no wonder that Barbara finds it difficult to stay ahead of the curve. And she’s not alone. With so many other responsibilities, independent retailers find themselves overwhelmed by the constant array of new marketing opportunities and tools. Barbara realizes, though, that despite the challenge, navigating these waters is necessary to her business’ success.

Like Barbara, Jessica and Galen also face digital marketing obstacles. Jessica finds it hard to simply find the time, particularly when it comes to going through and checking all of the reports for her various marketing vendors. The biggest demand for Galen, on the other hand, comes with content variation and avoiding using the same content for each of his 7 stores.

Retailers all experience different challenges. Brands must find a solution that fits their retailers’ core needs. That’s why many brands (Mohawk, Electrolux, Trek) value the tenacity to push ahead and find solutions like Promoboxx.

Lesson #3: Driving In-Store Traffic Boils Down to the Store’s “Secret Digital Passageways”

“It used to be said when we first started our website that, ‘It’s the second door to your business.’ If that’s true, then I feel that digital marketing offers secret passageways into your business.” – Barbara Clements, VP, Al’s Carpet Flooring and Design, Machesney Park, IL

Barbara’s metaphor rings quite true. When it comes down to it, all digital retail marketing efforts work to bring consumers through the door. And the ways to do so are endless. The key for brands and retailers is focusing on the most impactful secret digital passageways.

For Jessica and Keith’s Appliances, attracting that crucial Millennial demographic is key, while Galen at Landry’s Bicycles connects with local-commuters (in the digital sphere and while they are out and about and no matter the age) to create awareness with potential customers.

By recognizing the true end game of their digital marketing efforts, retailers can begin to utilize the tools available to them to drive that drive digital reach and in-store traffic.

Lesson #4: Successful Marketing Strategies Thrive on the Personal

“Personal stories are the best. We’ve gotten our biggest reshares and likes on Facebook by posting about events and tagging people in them. We went from seeing 200 or 300 people liking a post to 10,000+ by tapping into people’s social connections.” – Galen Mook, Marketing and Advocacy, Landry’s Bicycles, Braintree, MA

Galen’s point about it keeping it personal highlights the undeniable connection that retailers have to their local audiences, and brands should learn to take note. Like Galen, other retailers have found similar success when regularly incorporating the personal into their marketing strategy.

Local stores remind us that consumers still want to interact with real, genuine people. By bringing the community into local retail marketing strategies, retailers benefit from increased reach making authenticity a necessary part of the customer experience.

Lesson #5: You Gotta Be Creative to Drive Consumer Engagement

Manufacturing brands asked attending retailers about their most creative and successful marketing campaigns. Each local store shared some hilarious anecdotes about the ways in which they get creative in their marketing. Sure, they spoke of the content around typical holiday sales, but outside of that, they find wonderful ways to inject personality and flavor into their content.

Jessica at Keith’s Appliances spoke of her “dirty dishwasher” contest, in which she invited people to submit photos of their most disgusting dishwashers. The contestant with the “dirtiest” dishwasher would receive a brand new one for free. The community went wild and ended up submitting some hilarious photos that garnered lots of comments.

Barbara at Al’s Carpet Flooring and Design creatively push for cross-promotion. To market a Mohawk Flooring “animal-proof” rug, she held a cutest dog contest, and the amount of pictures they received led to skyrocketing engagement. To further cross-promote, she teamed up with a local woman who runs a dog bakery, offering bags of her dog treats at the store. Barbara gave props to the brand that supported the efforts: “Thanks to Mohawk for helping us with it all.”


Read more about awesome retailers: Online Marketing Insights from Tracey Norvell at Jackie Cooper Nissan >