Monday, June 16, 2014

Rise of the Millennial Influence in Retail

Millennials are poised to be the largest consumer group, forever changing the way we need to market and sell goods and services. This group, as defined by the dictionary, are a “generation, born from 1980 onward, brought up using digital technology and mass media; the children of Baby Boomers; also called Generation Y.”
Millennials – growing influence
Millennials tend to have a bad reputation with older folks like me (if you’re not sure what I mean, watch this Millennials in the Workplace Training Video – then you will understand.) Whether you buy into these stereotypes or not – Millennials are here to stay.   By 2014, Millennials are expected to be the largest consumer demographic and nearly a third of the U.S. population. 
Millennials – the skeptical, involved technocrats
Millennials understand technology and social media better than any other generation; as digital natives, they probably used a mobile device as a binky growing up.  Millennials like to know their voice is heard and respond better when they can directly influence a brand, in fact – 64 percent think companies should offer more ways to share their opinions online. They also tend to be skeptical of traditional media and sales approaches, only 19 percent found traditional media is an effective method of promoting a brand.  Millennials are also more environmentally and socially-conscious, taking pride in being a generation championing positive change and good in the world.
Millennials – the worker
In addition to growing in consumer influence, Millennials are also beginning to dominate the sales force. According to a study by Sibson Consulting, Millennials are interested in sales positions with growth and commission opportunities. The number of sales organizations where Millennials make up (on average) one-third of the workforce will more than double in the next five years.  Are you ready for this change?
Ready or not, the more important question to ask is – are Millennials motivated to promote and sell your product, in particular, when they represent multiple brands as in the case of the retail store associate?
Millennials – how do we engage the worker?
In our experience, to capture mindshare, the Millennial retail store associate needs an outlet to discuss, review, and interact directly with your brand in an authentic way.  While the desired outcome is to ultimately educate the retail associates and drive sales, the path to get there is through an authentic voice and positive interaction with the brand.
MarketStar helps clients create interactive, social communities where retail store associates could interact with one another through games, training modules, and participate in promotions for branded merchandise.  The community is staffed with community managers that work to create a direct, trustable dialogue for the brand.
Clients have found success with this tool, and some have experienced a 20 percent sales uplift within stores that are actively participating in the community.
Watch how this community tool works, and increases mindshare among retail associates: Connect+.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Partner Management - using Marketing Automation to Managing the Unmanaged

In the channel, why do we classify partner groups using names of precious metal and then ignore our less precious?  Are we missing that diamond in the rough?  How can we groom the next shining star if an entire group of partners isn’t receiving personalized attention?
Most companies end up ignoring the bottommost partner tiers because the time and cost of supporting those tiers using partner managers is prohibitively expensive.  Still, other companies expend a lot of effort and hard dollars creating predictive models to determine the next growth partner.
For a company wishing to grow, ignoring your lower tier partners isn’t an option, and predictive models can’t model one of the most important elements of a successful partnership - level of interest and engagement.
As the online world continues to evolve, and sources like social media and interactive websites feed into our need for immediate gratification, decision-makers at your unmanaged companies will engage with a real-time response to their needs. These three tips will help you begin your journey to successfully managing the unmanaged accounts.

1 – Know what partners need, and when.

You can treat all partners as precious using the same marketing automation processes and tools used for end customer lead nurturing.  By scoring partner activity, you can determine both the level of interest and specifically understand what partners are interested in.  Did Bob, a lower-level partner, just spend 30 minutes looking at content about your newest offering and this is the third time he has expressed interest in your offerings in the past several weeks? That means he has a need.  But is he worth calling? This question leads me to part two – Act fast and be relevant.

2 – Act fast and be relevant.

So, now that you know that Bob is interested and what he is interested in – should you call him?  Before you do, let’s review Bob.
Is Bob interested in your services? Yes.
Does Bob have a lead score that represents an increasing level of interest? Yes.
After a review of CRM data, does Bob fit the criteria of an emerging partner? Yes.
Great! Now Bob, who was earlier classified as a lower tiered partner not worth supporting, has moved up the ranks and your relationship with a partner that was once ignored, is developing.

3 – Stay cost-effective.

Many companies think that in order to manage accounts, you need to ratio channel account managers to partners at a specific ratio, usually no more than 100 partners to 1 channel account manager.  This can, and always has been, a daunting task for companies with a large number of partners.
However, using tried and true end user lead nurturing techniques can enable channel account managers to nurture more partner accounts with greater success, and impact ROI in a positive way. With rapid response channel account managers, you only need a handful of well-trained account managers to get the job done.