Editor’s note: Ansira Chief Client Officer Andy Arnold sat down with Facebook U.S. Global Solutions Vice President Michelle Morris recently for a chat at the annual Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Masters of Marketing conference in Orlando, Florida. They discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by brands that rely on partners for local sales. This article contains highlights from that conversation.
New technologies and disruptive brands have heightened consumer expectations, forcing all companies to reevaluate the way they do business, especially as it relates to the customer experience. For brands with a distributed sales model, it’s harder to control the local experience, because their partners — franchisees, dealers, and retailers — own that customer relationship.
Now more than ever, brands have to pay as much attention to their partners as they do their customers if they have any shot at creating the kinds of local experiences today’s empowered buyers expect. In a nutshell, brands have to turn their partners into customer experience experts to thrive in the face of experience competition.
But coordinating efforts across sales channels and touchpoints isn’t easy. And marketers — both B2B and B2C — are feeling the pain. This is what prompted Ansira to commission a study from Forrester that looks at multichannel engagement strategies across industries, including consumer packaged goods (CPG), automotive and transportation, restaurants and retail, technology, and financial services. Among the many insights uncovered in the research: 72% of marketers are looking to improve orchestration across sales channels.
Three factors are critical to that orchestration:
The bottom line? A brand’s sales partners should be its fiercest advocates, bringing to life the best brand experiences at the local level. But that only happens if partners have access to the right tools and intelligence and they’re properly incentivized for desired behaviors.
Consider this example: A national auto brand wanted to be where car buyers are: online. So it needed dealers to put more co-op dollars toward digital media. By modernizing the co-op program to reimburse digital at a higher rate, within 18 months, dealers increased digital spend from 8% to 75%. With the help of automation technology for trade fund management, not only did the auto brand shift the dealers’ mindsets, but it also better met local customer expectations by speaking to them in their channels of choice.
To see better returns from your distributed sales channels, you have remove friction in your brand-partner relationships. Be the coach, not the referee. Treat them as insiders, not outsiders. If you wouldn’t enforce a rule on your top performer, then maybe it shouldn’t be a rule at all. Set up your novices for success in the same way you would your veterans.
In this new world we live in, consumers don’t distinguish between your brand and your partners. Offline or online. National or local. So every interaction has to be seamless — and as good or better as the experience competition.