Small Retailers Stake Claim vs. Goliaths

What an inspiring article by a brand whiz, on how he helped two mom and pop businesses take on their own Goliaths by showing them how to tell customers why they’re better and more unique.

  • Moths to a Flame: For a too-quiet restaurant at the end of a dark road, enticing prospective patrons to tread a dark alley and draw nearer to lit torches. Once in, the food and ambiance won them over
  • Early Birds Catch the Worm: Urging a green grocer to tell his story of dedication and care in selecting fresh produce at the crack of dawn every day using the most elementary of tools, taking on the giant while armed only with polaroids, note cards and a Sharpie.

If you’re a locally-owned business who’s facing down a new Goliath in town, reach a little and stake your claim based upon your key values — dedication, personal care, affordable pricing, convenience. If you also get the chance to sell and serve customers online (previous post), these same rules apply for reaching shoppers far and wide.

Please read Martin’s article at Fast Company; link here.

Hispanic Population Influences Channel Strategies

Mexicans are the largest Hispanic group nationwide and in 40 states, according to data released from the US Census Bureau. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, or four times the nation’s 9.7 percent growth rate.

This brings up three points to consider when evaluating and forming your sales and marketing channel strategies:

Use local talent. Bring on specialist brokers, PR agencies, and retailers with proven success in reaching and selling to Hispanic consumers. Pay special note to your current strategies in the nation’s five largest metro areas… espcially in Midwest US cities. How well do your retailers and advertising providers reach Hispanic households?
Value family ties. Multi-generational and extended family ties are strong in Hispanic communities nationwide. Your value propositions and outbound marketing themes should encourage word-of-mouth referrals, family plans (think Verizon Wireless) and “trusted source” status to gain business from three generations, from abuelos to niƱos.
Think North American. If you’re realizing sales gains in the US Hispanic sector, know that here’s a fast-growing market in Mexico, too. Work up a channel strategy that will cover key areas there, to complement what’s working in the US. Head to and get in touch with your local Export Assistance Center for a quick and easy evaluation; they’ll even help introduce you to best partners in Mexico and other countries.

Read all about it here.

Too Hot To Handle? Marketing New Kitchen Products

Got it Hot-n-Ready to Eat? Keep it Hot-n-Tidy on the Go!

Hanson Marketing was hired by an energetic and inspiring inventor named Dave Dunican, Senior whose great new idea on how to safely, cleanly transport pots of hot food shows all the signs of being the next “must-have” kitchen item. Dave needed guidance on defining the brand, shaping retail price strategies, positioning the product in a crowded, competitive market; approaching potential celebrity endorsers; and targeting class-of-trade reseller partners plus specialty markets such as the tailgater/sports enthusiast sub-culture (yes, straps are available with custom-logo imprint of your favorite team!) and the catering crowd.

After just four months, the product is online and for sale, while Dave is taking the show on the road, negotiating tie-ins with compatible manufacturers such as CorningWare.

We were fortunate in that Dave brought his experience gained in a career at Hasbro Toys to the table, so we breezed through the product certification, manufacturing, testing, and shipping cycles while securing very favorable pricing throughout.

Here’s the result of our work! Hot-n-Tidy’s website is here; hey, order some while you’re at it!

Online Communities: “Friend” Them or …

“A groundswell is rising among your customers. Are you ready?” In case I haven’t mentioned it recently, there’s a business book called Groundswell that is worth every dime and minute you spend on it.

Buy This Book.

I recommend it often to clients and colleagues as an excellent primer on how to tame and master the art of social media marketing.

In Groundswell, two of Forrester Research’s top analysts show you how to turn the force of customers connecting to your own advantage. There’s targeted, memorable advice in the book, backed up with real-world ROI to prove it works.

Groundswell is more highlighted, tagged and dog-eared than any other book within reach of my desk.

Sales Channel Strategies for In-home Fitness Equipment

My latest assignment: create a new retail brand category that addresses the unique fitness needs of an ever-growing consumer set. And, to recruit and motivate retail partners who are desperately seeking high-quality and innovative products to stock in-store and online that will serve these loyal customer groups.

Simple, In-Home Solutions for Fit and Active Lifestyles

The product line is fitness equipment for low-impact, high-result, in-home workouts for dedicated athletes in the “fit and 50s” upward into the “silver sneaker” sets… now that’s a fun challenge. Fun, because retail channel partners get to hear a compelling story of how these active folks want to sustain a healthy lifestyle… and up until now, haven’t been able to find simple, durable and affordable products in stores. And, the gym experience can be off-putting for these groups… particularly women. Hence the appeal of a compact, in-home solution.

The company’s product already sells quite well through TV advertising, and has terrific global play, too. As with any successful channel formation endeavor, in addition to the mainstream retailers – Sears and BestBuy (yes, they’re selling fitness gear now…) — smaller, niche retail channels exist. For instance, did you know Camping World sells a whole line of “add-on” products to RV owners, that enrich their on-the-move lifestyle? Well, who says Snowbirds can’t remain physically fit as they bask in the Sunbelt winters?

When recruiting retail channel partners, we also rate in-store staff and their ability to inform and educate older shoppers; and the ambiance of the store. A super-charged, gym-like show floor pumping techno-beats and stocked with high-performance and bulky equipment can be intimidating to an older shopper. Online transactions can’t be counted on to carry the bulk of sales volume, either, yet — at least for the next few years.

Learn more about the Resistance Chair line by VQ ActionCare.

Channel Sales and Marketing for Fine Arts Products

I’m part of a family venture called Via Lucis Press, and owing to my specialty in global channels I get to form our channel sales and integrated marketing plan. I find that the market for fine arts products is comprised of a delightful mix of consumer- and trade-focused buying groups, and some unconventional but spot-on selling partners. I’m looking into the buying habits and trends for collectors, artists, and publishers; it’s an illuminating look at how and where they shop, and how they’ll use our company’s artistic photography products.

Via Lucis: Way of Light

Via Lucis’ channel plan differs from those of more mainstream, consumer packaged goods and accessories in two ways:

First, museums and societies are the power retailers. Masters of affinity-based marketing, these organizations are often non-profit, though sell high-end collectible products and catalog merchandise online to loyal and discriminating consumers. In this setting, a publisher of fine art finds not only venues for exhibition, but outlets for commercial activity. Via Lucis not only exhibits our artwork in such settings, but also engages with these organizations in targeted, global channel sales activities. Themed travel and education outreach naturally follow, which branch into several more intriguing market sectors. In the case of Via Lucis, we also appeal to religious and sacred spaces pilgrims and collectors.

Second, the business/trade and consumer sectors balance one another in influence and market potential, yet the means and methods of serving them are exclusive. For instance, art directors for books, magazines or public exhibit spaces rely upon an instant, online forum for purchasing Via Lucis photography under strictly defined, fee-based, single-use licensing transactions. This protects our copyrights, and ensures competitive pricing and flexibility for these trade customers. Meanwhile, we reach collectors of Via Lucis artwork in the greater consumer world in a more recognizable online store, offering added-value products like custom framing and matting, and delivery options. The good news? Experts in website functionality have preceded us, building commerce tools that fit both of Via Lucis’ channel models.

Via Lucis: Way of Light.
Via Lucis Press is a venture formed to share a one-of-a-kind collection of over 2,000 images (and counting) with the arts, graphic design, and publishing trades; and by aficionados and collectors of the art form. Artistic photography, shot entirely on location, highlights the many Romanesque and Gothic churches in France and Spain.

What’s a Book, Anyway?

Phones, TVs, now books …the form and capacities of all are forever changed, in our digital age. Usage habits, functions, and portability are re-writing the rules on how to convey channel management information for Hanson Marketing’s clients who are channel leaders in consumer and trade sectors.

Now comes a Wall Street Journal survey that reveals an increase in reading and in the purchase of new books. 40% of the 1200 respondents say that they read more books since owning an e-reader (Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, iPad).

E-Screen Interface Changes Work and Play Habits

The norms of digital interface and its effect on work and leisure patterns are established in the consumer world, but as always there are implications for business-to-business channel management. At Hanson Marketing, we advise current and prospective clients that securing and maintaining face time with their channel partners is priority one, whether they be consumer retailers or trade wholesalers. Using personal e-screens is a natural next step.

For instance: as head of channels in the b-2-b space, you can push daily dashboard readouts on sales performance to your partners’ e-screens, for real-time assessment and on-the-go corrective action. The value you provide your partners trumps your competitors — as you shape your partners’ daily management styles, you take on the role as preferred provider.

Reading the WSJ survey results, I noted that about half of all Americans ages 18 to 24 read no books for pleasure. I had one of those “we’re not like the others” moments. Reading for pleasure in my family is a reflex action, like channel surfing or texting. We’ve seamlessly cut over to e-reading and e-viewing, too, with a collection of Kindles and iPads strewn about.

Read more: A Look at the Reading Habits of E-Reader Owners

Affinity Marketing, Texas-Style

If you can co-brand mobile phone service, bank cards, and vacation cruises, why not power? An innovative energy company in Texas has teamed up with the state’s universities to offer co-branded energy – electricity and natural gas.

As reported in Advertising Age, in return for subscribing to the affinity program, those power consumers get to accumulate points for school merchandise, tickets to athletic events and more.

Diehard Longhorns, Aggies and loyal Texans statewide can also contribute to the state’s growing renewable energy economy. The power company who’s behind this novel branding campaign, Champion Energy Services is supposedly providing branded power companies with renewable energy. In this case, it’s Dallas-based Branded Retail Energy who’s driving the affinity deal, and every Texas fan that opens an account contributes to a sustainability initiative for either Texas A&M or UT.

Affinity branding succeeds in a very narrow but loyal channel — be it alumni, members, enthusiasts, or employees of a large organization. (Costco started out as a discount warehouse for students and staff at area colleges in San Diego) Affinity buyers grab the chance to give back or get an inside track on deals while consuming something they’d be buying anyway. They’re concentrated, easy to find, and often have high household disposable incomes. Sound like shooting fish in a barrel to you?

With 14 states across the country having deregulated the power industry, including well-populated states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Ohio, expect this affinity branding concept to catch on quickly, via those states’ university systems.

See also Fast Company.

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