Walmart employs 1.4 million people domestically. They have their own internal magazine and social network, which likely eclipse the circulation of some national publications and the number of users on certain open social sites. And this makes them an attractive audience to brands, which recognize their potential not only as users, but as influencers and advocates for their products. In stores. Where hundreds of millions of other people shop.
While most brands don’t sell through channels that have the same size customer base as Walmart, that doesn’t mean they can’t accomplish the same goal by empowering their own channels to act as front line advocates for their brands. With the right materials and encouragement, distributed marketers can positively impact product interest and adoption in their local markets.
Materials – When possible, provide a sample of the product or service so local businesses can test it out and see how it works. If it’s a physical product, they may also offer the sample to customers to try. In addition, sales sheets or comparison guides highlighting a brand’s selling points can educate local marketers and help them understand the best qualities of your brand and provide guidance to customers.
Online marketing options exist as well. For example, brands can offer distributed marketers web pages or microsites customized with their contact information, giving them their own URL to add to business cards and e-mail signatures, as well as produce social media feeds that automatically populate social profiles of local businesses with information and promotions.
Encouragement – Corporate marketing departments can also identify local businesses that are enthusiastic about their brand and provide support to help them talk about products, in stores and other areas such as online forums and blogs. However, it should stress honesty as the best policy, thereby not jeopardizing channel communications at the expense of sales. If there is an issue with a brand’s product or service, or a superior characteristic of a competitor’s, brands want to know what local marketers have to say before they’re saying the same thing directly to their customers.
The businesses selling a brand’s products and services are the best local sales tools, and 2012 will be a great time to put them to good use.
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