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Independent Retailers Matter: A Look Back at the Fourth Annual Aligned Conference

Wow… what a week! We are almost speechless here at Promoboxx… almost! 😉 Last week, marketers came to Boston’s seaport district from all across North America to be a part of the fourth annual Aligned Conference, the only national conference that focuses on strategies to develop alignment between brands and their local retailers.

We are so honored to have brought together this year’s speakers and attendees for record attendance at Aligned — They shared incredible brand marketing stories, discussed significant milestones in retail marketing, and had a blast out on the town together… all around a theme of ‘Back to the Start: Why Your Independent Retail Channel Matters.’

Believe it or not… we’re already planning Aligned 2018! Sign up to be notified about key conference updates, and tell us if you’d like to be a featured speaker!

In case you weren’t able to attend, we pulled together an overview of the 2017 conference sessions.

Thursday Welcome — Why Your Independent Retail Channel Matters

Aligned kicked off with a welcome from Ben Carcio, CEO, and Co-Founder at Promoboxx, reviewing the current state of retail marketing and the challenges that go along with it. The future of eCommerce is changing, with Amazon investing in brick-and-mortar bookstores and Whole Foods locations. Ben offered three main takeaways:

1. In-store experiences matter.
2. Person to person matters.
3. Local retailers matter.

Keynote: The Future of Local Commerce in Retail is Person to Person

Ben led a panel session with Gary Amborsino, CEO at TimeTrade, and Greg Higgins, VP of Accounts at Splash. The panel featured open Q&A, a great opportunity for attendees to ask tough questions, and also highlighted the new role that in-store events and appointment-setting activities are playing in driving foot traffic. It also reinforced the importance of the small business and the level of trust that only they can provide customers.

Aligned Conference

Session: Why Retailer Enablement is Critical to Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Sheldon Bailey, Consumer Business Manager at ADM Animal Nutrition, highlighted how the four pillars of retail enablement (listed below!) can help your brand successfully reach customers at every level. Sheldon emphasized how important it is to provide retailers with what they need to successfully engage the consumer throughout the buying process.

The Four Pillars of Retailer Enablement:

1. Identify complementary needs.
2. Embrace the consumer.
3. Support the retailer.
4. Develop a responsive learning process.

Session: Price isn’t Everything – How GE Appliances Drives Local Sales

Erica Bovard, Senior Field Marketing Manager at GE Appliances, gave attendees an exclusive look at GE strategy in her session. Erica’s session covered customer marketing at GE Appliances, provided specific case studies of effective campaigns targeting local sales, and listed her top recommendations to win at supporting local retailer sales:

  • Identify consumer need states.
  • Focus on customer support/partnership.
  • Create a base program that can be scaled.
  • Fund.
  • Track results and sales.

Brainstorm Session: Strengthening Ties with Your Retailers

A highlight of the conference was a brainstorming session led by Marilyn Barefoot from Barefoot Brainstorming, who has delivered marketing strategy and consulting to Fortune 500 brands like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, General Mills, Nike, and Microsoft. Marilyn’s enthusiastic and interactive approach to brainstorming had the audience on their feet and getting their creative juices flowing in minutes! Attendees tapped into their creative side and worked as a group to find new ways to connect with their retailers. One really creative idea was for brands to visit their retailers and host ‘fireside chats’ around actual bonfires that can open communication in a more casual setting and connect to their values.

Aligned Conference

Session: 5 Reasons Your Retailers Aren’t Engaging (and How to Fix It)

Shelley Kanther, Marketing and Digital Strategist at the New England Appliance and Electronic Group, led a talk about the reasons retailers aren’t engaging, and how brands can fix misalignment and miscommunication. Shelley offered insightful takeaways, including providing clear digital ROI and expectations to help brands and retailers measure success together.

The Reasons Retailers Aren’t Engaging:

  • Over-communication.
  • Digital doubts.
  • R-O-Why are we doing this?
  • Motivational malaise.
  • Co-op confusion.

Retailer Panel: Adapting to a Shifting Retail Environment

We capped off the first day of Aligned with a retailer panel featuring three New England retailers who answered questions on impactful communication and the support they really need. We learned that retailers want more content that truly represents their local communities and the people who actually come into their store and buy the products.

Our panelists included Amy Parulis, Community Relations & Events Manager at Denali; Drew Petrizzo, Marketing Specialist at Connecticut Appliance and Fireplace Distributors; and Erin Engelson, Marketing Manager at Marathon Sports. These retailers are pushing the boundaries of local digital marketing and are great pillars in their communities.

Aligned Conference Tweet

Awards Ceremony

Thursday night wrapped up with an awards ceremony, Taste of Boston event, and a whole lot of dancing. We feasted on local food selections representing New England’s best flavors with an incredibly popular raw bar from Island Creek Oysters. We also announced the winners of the Aligned Awards and the Local Business of the Year. Congratulations to all of the brands and retailers that entered, and thank you to everyone who voted!

The Aligned Award Winners:
The Aligned Awards recognize the best digital campaigns that connect a brand with its local retailers. Across industries, these digital marketing efforts excel at garnering retailer and consumer engagements. Winners were chosen through open voting. You can see the full descriptions here.

Best Overall Campaign – GE Appliances
Best Product Launch Campaign – The North Face
Best Inspirational Campaign – Salomon

Aligned Conference Awards

The Local Business of the Year Winner:
Earlier this summer, we opened up our 2nd annual “Local Business of the Year” contest by asking local businesses to submit a short story answering the following question: What makes your business special? We were blown away by the incredible history, anecdotes, photographs and videos, and local community efforts that businesses from across the nation submitted. Winners were chosen through open voting, but the choice was not easy! The 2017 Local Business of the Year winner is McLain Cycle & Fitness!

Friday Welcome — The Keys to Retail Marketing Success

Friday focused on platform success, with speakers from Promoboxx’s leadership team taking the stage to share tactics for the upcoming year.

Promoboxx Product Roadmap: The Future of Retail Innovation

Joe Bracken, VP of Product at Promoboxx, shared his personal connection to retailers (he used to be one!) and shared a preview of the exciting updates that are coming to the Promoboxx platform over the next few months.

Aligned Conference

Local Ads: Rewarding Promoboxx Users

Evan Brett, VP of Marketing at Promoboxx, gave attendees an exclusive look at an upcoming promotional opportunity for Promoboxx users around Small Business Saturday. The promotion will be unveiled in full detail via press release in October, so stay tuned!

Sonciary Honnoll, VP of Brands and Co-Founder at Promoboxx, revealed a new Local Ads incentive for Promoboxx customers that encourages them to use key platform features that drive the most results. Now with Givebacks, brands launching 2 or more campaigns over any 30-day period will receive $1 back for every engaged location. If that brand also runs a local ads campaign, they’ll receive an additional 2% in Givebacks on that spend. Once we discovered that brands launching 2+ campaigns per month were seeing a higher return on investment while regularly hitting their retail marketing goals, we decided to reward them!

Read more about Local Ads here.

Session: SMARKETING – Setting SMART Goals for Marketing Alignment

Evan Brett led a session on how to accomplish marketing team goals through clear metric identification and motivation based on real-time data and results.

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Session: Taking a Stand – Integrating Advocacy into Your Marketing Campaigns

Josie Norris, Communication and Grant Manager at The Conservation Alliance, shared with attendees how they can incorporate advocacy into their marketing campaigns and how The Conservation Alliance helps brands do this through Promoboxx.

Read more about how The Conservation Alliance uses Promoboxx to support conservation efforts.

Session: 3 Things Your Sales Reps are Dying to Tell You

Our final session was led by Johanna Fiedler, Director of the Retailer Team at Promoboxx. Johanna shared feedback she receives daily from working with sales representatives at national brands, highlighting the representative’s desire to be included, motivated and listened to. Johanna brought Promoboxx Enterprise Sales Representative Chris Unger, who used to be a brand sales rep, on the stage to answer questions and share his thoughts on the process.

Hear What Attendees Had To Say About Aligned 2017!

“#AlignedCon was the perfect balance of brand/retailer awareness. It was great to network with industry professionals and learn the challenges and successes that each face on a day-to-day basis.” – Jake Wylonis, Commonwealth//McCann

“Wait 5 minutes, and the retail landscape will change again … at Aligned you will learn how to see the future and adapt!” – Marilyn Barefoot, Barefoot Brainstorming

“Aligned gives marketers the chance to network, share best practices, and learn new strategies. The Aligned speaker sessions encourage new ideas, and provide tips and tricks for the best retailer success.” – Hannah Fleming, AMER Sports, Salomon

Aligned Conference Boston

Thank You!

This year’s Aligned Conference was our most widely attended to date, and we can’t wait to continue to grow with you next year! Stay tuned over the coming weeks for more in-depth Aligned recaps and other related content.

Are you already so excited you can’t wait to register for Aligned 2018? Do you think YOU would be a great speaker for next year? Fill out our form, and we will put you on the pre-registration list to make sure you receive all the information as soon as possible!