Brand Advocacy Essentials, Part 2: Achieving Results at Retail with the Brand Advocacy Trifecta

09.12.2018 Articles

If you read our first article, then you already know that brand advocates can be paid or organic. However, to achieve the results you’re looking for at retail, you may want to consider investing in a group of paid and highly-trained advocates: brand representatives. At BDSmktg, we specialize in sourcing, training, and developing three specific types of brand representatives to not only spread the word about your brand, but develop relationships with stores in targeted markets, transfer brand excitement and knowledge to store associates, and close the sale with customers. This brand advocacy trifecta includes: Market Development Managers, Trainers, and Assisted Sales Representatives.

Increase Awareness and Mind Share Among Retail Associates with Trainers

Whether you’re new to retail or have been in the game for a long time, there’s one thing to keep in mind: retailers only take it so far when it comes to generating awareness for your brand and training on the right information in store, especially with store associates. It’s up to you to take the initiative to go beyond the shelf and connect further with associates so that they recommend your brand and products to customers. This is where our Trainers come into play – they are highly skilled at turning your average store associates into excited brand advocates by showing how a product works, training on the brand’s messaging, and giving the tools, tips, and tricks to help associates meet their sales goals. Without divulging our “secret sauce”, there are a number of tactics that our Trainers activate on the sales floor, in the back room, and in large-scale training events outside of the store to move the needle and gain mind share for the brands they represent. Anthony Gerstner, Curriculum Manager at BDS, shares just how important it is to not only train associates on the product specs, but also show them the value of the product:

“If you truly believe in your product, there’s no point not to let the associates experience the product and let it speak for itself. Associates will very clearly see the benefits of the product for themselves, rather than simply being told what those benefits are. They will also be able to personally describe their experience with the device when discussing it with customers. Providing instant, tangible benefits during training increases the attention of the audience and, in turn, the retention of the key takeaways the Trainer wants them to walk away with.”

Boost Product Launches and Accelerate Sales with Assisted Sales Representatives 

If you’re looking to take your sales to the next level, then you should consider our next group of paid brand advocates: Assisted Sales Representatives, or ASRs for short. You may have seen these selling wizards inside one of your local warehouse clubs, sporting goods stores, or tech hubs demoing products or handing out food samples. They are mainly used during key selling sessions, such as the holidays or Back to School, and during product launches to show customers the value of the products they represent, assist store associates with moving inventory, and ultimately close the sale. ASRs know the products they are selling inside and out, as well as how to tailor the brand messaging for their audience. The success of these Assisted Sales programs is hard to deny – one BDS client saw a 50% increase in sales in covered stores compared to uncovered stores during the holiday season.

Deepen Store Relationships with Market Development Managers 

The ultimate paid brand advocate that you can have in stores is a Market Development Manager (MDM). They essentially perform the activities that both ASRs and Trainers perform, plus have a deep understanding of store relationship management and offer the highest level of control for your brand while remaining flexible in an ever-changing market. Beyond being able to demo a product, like an ASR, and being able to train individuals, like a Trainer, an MDM is the highest level of advocate a brand can have in-store. They are the voice that accompanies a brand, driving sales with knowledge and passion for the brand they’re representing. Just like Trainers and ASRs, MDMs are fully trained by BDS to present your brand in the best light and meet your unique goals. The results seen with these types of brand advocates are always outstanding. Merrideth Shea, Sr. Director of Client Services at BDSmktg, how it’s key to utilize brand advocates like MDMs at retail:

“Building teams that possess the qualifications and skill sets to represent our clients starts with attracting talent that is dynamic, finding candidates that thrive on building relationships, and discovering individuals that possess a passion for educating and evangelizing the products and technology we represent.”

Provide Training and Development for Maximum Impact

What goes into training these advocates to be the best representation of your brand? At BDS, we’re here to help you find the best candidates possible, plus develop and grow them to be the most impactful advocates. We understand that an in-store brand advocate must be extremely well versed in your product beyond what an average sales associate can usually provide, so we offer a variety of learning design services to enhance both hard and soft skills. Hard skills are usually centered around learning what the product is, how it works, its unique features, and the elements of the brand. Soft skills training, one of the approaches that we specialize in at BDS, involves going further into salesmanship, teaching skills like how to hold a conversation, being personable, and utilizing the finer points of making a sale. During soft skills training, brand advocates really begin to embody the brand they are representing, from the way they speak, to the knowledge they carry. Scot Maurath, our Learning Design Director, shares his thoughts on why the soft skills are just as important as the hard skills for selling:

“Providing effective soft skill training programs has and will continue to be a vital component to the success of brands and retailers in the customer service game. With how fast technology products are hitting the marketplace, this has increased the expectations when it comes to the retail associate’s knowledge and behavior. Retailers and brands can’t survive on just training on speeds and feeds anymore.”

Now that you know a bit more about the types of paid brand advocates BDS offers for your in-store needs, let us work with you to craft the right mix for the results you want! Contact us today to learn more. And don’t forget to stay tuned for our next blog article in the Brand Advocacy Essentials series!