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#AlignedCon Highlights: Todd Callaway from Shaw Floors Speaks to Building (and Keeping) Great Relationships with Your Retailers

todd callawayThe Aligned Conference’s second presentation was a conversation between me and Todd Callaway, Director of Digital Content for Shaw Floors. What an inspiring and motivational session!  Todd shared his wisdom about what it takes to forge and maintain strong relationships between a national brand and its regional dealers.

Here are some highlights of our talk, edited for this blog post.

Ben: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Shaw?

Todd: First, thank you for letting me be here. I am Director of Digital Content for Shaw Floors. As part of our brand-building efforts, my team and I have a dual role. We talk directly to consumers, but we also talk to consumers on behalf of the retailers.

Some of the things that Jason described in the previous session are the exact same issues for the flooring industry.  How do we convince customers to go to independent retailers?  How can we help retailers?  That last question is ingrained in our culture, because if they don’t succeed in their local marketplace, we won’t succeed either.

In many ways, individual retailers’ brands are more important than our brand is in their local communities. They have been in business for decades, and generations of consumers have come to their stores. Those stores have a history of word of mouth, recommendations and referrals.

Ben: What initiatives do you have in place to build closer ties with your retailers?

Todd: We have marketing representatives in the field who have that high level of contact with the retailers. They are in the stores more frequently than we from the home office can be. They are able to work more closely with retailers because they are in the same cities and in the same locations. That interaction has been invaluable.

We also have a Dealer Council, and that brings in many different types of voices. Some of the members of the Council may have a single store that they have owned for 40 years. Some of them could have 20 stores. And through the Council, we learn that so many of them face the same challenges. We think that the Council has been essential to help us understand more, and in a better way. We are literally dealing with thousands of different retailers and we need to have that interaction and that conversation with all of them.

Many times, all we have to say to members of our Council is, “What issues are you facing?” and we get a flood of information. We have learned how important it is to develop new programs. And Promoboxx is certainly an example of one of them.

We also hold webinars with our retailers, and they have been extremely valuable. In them, we dive deep into one topic. It could be how to use Google search, Facebook or Twitter.

Ben: How do those insights shape your social media strategy?

Todd: We have wanted to build social media. But ultimately, we wanted to do it in a way that serves the retailers. Through Promoboxx, we are able to offer a true solution for them. We realize that they are trying to juggle 70 things and they just don’t have the time or the inclination to try to tackle that area.  By providing that media, that photography, we are delivering a service to our dealers.

In general, our social media strategy follows our overall digital strategy, which developed as we built websites for our dealers. We are sharing best practices and techniques that can best guide them as they navigate those waters. And when Promoboxx came along, we were able to offer them tools that they can use in their local markets.

I think that we have to think in terms of long-term strategy. It is all about trying to figure out how we can help local dealers.

Ben: What are the first steps a company should take to build stronger relationships with retailers?

Todd: I think that everybody in this room is fully appreciative of what retailers are trying to do and what they’re facing in the world right now. This is the start of a movement, because I do think that the passion to help retailers is where we have to start. Having that passion will lead us to think about the issues they are facing. We need to walk in their shoes. If we do that, we are honoring those retailers in a special way.

Ben: Can you boil that philosophy down into just a few words?

Todd: There are three main points. First, make that commitment to help retailers. Second, listen to them. Third, recognize that what you are doing is important to them.

About Todd Callaway

Todd Callaway is Director of Digital Content, Shaw Floors. He has helped introduce a new world of digital marketing for Shaw Floors and its valued retailers. Todd has helped plan and launch many significant milestones for Shaw, including the original launch of, Shaw’s first digital advertising, a service called Shaw Web Studio that provides websites for retailers, and the launch of Promoboxx for Shaw’s retailers.

More from #AlignedCon: How GE Appliances Helps Busy Retailers In a Noisy Market >