How Brands Can Help Retailers Win the Local Fight

Posted on by Brendan Morrissey

boxing-fight-punchMickey didn’t mince words when preparing Rocky for a big fight. He gave it to him straight. Who could forget that first confrontation, when Rocky asked Mickey to be his trainer? He gave Rocky tough love, challenging him to be his best and then going on to make him a world champion boxer.

Without a strong trainer in the digital ring, retailers are losing the fight for their local markets online. Why? They are confused and untrained; afraid to face their competition alone. And who could blame them? One bad investment in digital marketing could deliver a knock-out punch to their bottom line. Retailers can’t afford to make that mistake; they can’t afford to change their tried-and-true traditional marketing strategies, right? Wrong!

Want to be a Contender? Get in the Digital Ring!

Consumers today are searching and researching online in droves, particularly for considered purchases of higher priced goods like appliances, cars or furniture. Retailers can’t afford to sit this one out. They need to get in the ring now because, whether they like it or not, they need to protect their hometown turf online if they hope to get local buyers through their doors. But they don’t need to do it alone. Like Mickey, product brands need to coach their retailers, offering encouragement and support to help them realize their full potential. Product brands need to empower their retailer partner with the strategies, tools and tough love they need to become local marketing champs. 

According to BIA/Kelsey, over 90% of consumers research online before making purchases locally – buying from local brick-and-mortar stores. That means if local retailers aren’t part of the consumer’s online experience, they are missing opportunities to connect with their customers and putting their livelihoods at risk. The first step product brands must take as trainers is to educate retailers on why digital marketing is vital to their survival. The second step is to show them the right moves.

Of course, just because retailers are online doesn’t mean consumers will find them. And just because brands offer digital marketing support doesn’t mean retailers will use it effectively—or at all. Retailers are reluctant, confused and ill-equipped to evolve their marketing mix on their own. It’s the product brand’s job to get them in the ring and show them the one-two punch that will lead to victory.

Deliver the “Technical” Knock Out

If local retailers want to win the local fight online, they’ll need to get technical. That means fusing traditional and digital marketing tactics. Think With Google found that consumers consult 24 touch points on their path to purchase—most of which are online—and spend up to 12 hours online researching a large purchase in the weeks or months before buying. Interestingly, it is traditional media that drives consumers online in the first place. That means if local retailers are successful in reaching customers via their local paper’s Sunday circular or cable TV ad—but they can’t be found online—they are literally handing their competitors the sale! Just as boxers employ a range of moves to stay competitive, today’s local marketer needs to balance offline and online strategies. Like seasoned trainers, product brands can help them find a winning combination much faster than they could on their own.

Brands, Shift Your Weight

Product brands are the heavyweights in the online marketing fight, and they have a big opportunity to shift their weight in support of their local retail partners. Brands need to do more than shout ringside encouragements; they also need to share in some of the financial investment by offering incentives and reimbursements. Retailers won’t win every local fight, but by shouldering some of the financial burden, product brands can stop them from throwing in the towel too early.

Rocky walked into Mickey’s gym with tremendous potential, but little direction. He walked out a winning athlete. That’s because Mickey didn’t pull any punches – he delivered the tough love Rocky needed to succeed.

It’s time for product brands do the same with their local retail partners.

Brendan Morrissey is CEO and co-founder of Netsertive.

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