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Direct Response Marketing

Web Exclusive: Getting in — And Staying in

1 Mar, 2014 By: Monica C. Smith Response

Attaining retail distribution is a huge achievement, but it is only half the battle. The real challenge is maintaining it.

In order to win the war at the shelf, it is critical to know exactly what your competition is doing — and to have a retailer partnership with a high level of collaboration, commitment, and accountability. To achieve this, a four-pronged strategy can help brands shift from a product-centric DR model to a consumer-centric retail brand:

  1. Identify the whitespace in the marketplace
  2. Utilize market research tools to listen to your customer
  3. Surround your customer based on their omni-channel media habits
  4. Harness data-driven insight to inform your important marketing decisions

Identify the Marketplace Opportunity
Step one is identifying the whitespace in the marketplace that will present the largest opportunity with the lowest barrier to entry for your brand. Often, that means looking for the areas where the competition is not playing. Surveying the competitive landscape prior to planning strategy is a must.

Are there a lot of products at the value price point? Or at the premium price point? Is there an opportunity to leapfrog the competition and launch a premium product? Examining current consumer dynamics and market trends is the common sense secret behind exploiting untapped opportunity.

Get the Consumer Insight
Consumer insight is the key to uncovering that opportunity. A series of questions must be addressed — not from the point of view of your brand, but from the perspective of the consumer.

“What does the product accomplish for the consumer?” Understand the benefits and possible pain points from the consumer’s point of view. Closely examine the claims on the packaging, the pricing strategy, and the consumer expectations, specifically at your price point. Focus groups, surveys and other market research tools offer effective methods to gain that insight. It is equally critical to gain a deep understanding of what your competition is doing at the shelf and of their marketing campaigns used to drive point of sale, including the way they interact with customers.

As consumers change their behavior and devices create new revenue streams, it is critical to be constantly learning from the data — not only for actionable insight, but to ultimately evolve to the next level.

Drive Consumer Demand
The retailer is a key stakeholder in the successful shift from DR marketing to brand marketing, so it’s critical that you understand its hot buttons. If you want to keep your shelf-space or gain incremental merchandising, you need to demonstrate a commitment to providing ongoing marketing support for your brand. Retail support can be obtained by paying slotting allowances, but it can also be accomplished by partnering with the retail and creating exclusive co-marketing programs that will help create a unique and differentiate customer experience.

Before you can do that, a number of questions need to be asked. What’s important to the retailer? Is the retailer suffering from stagnant store traffic or having difficulty targeting a specific audience? Do you fully understand the retailer’s signage requirements? The key here is to create a co-marketing program that satisfies the retailer’s needs while simultaneously building your brand at-shelf.

Optimize Performance and the In-Store Experience
Ultimately, the key is to be able to collect all relevant data (transactional, media performance and consumer engagement metrics) in order to create a meaningful and insightful dashboard that will enable you to optimize your marketing plan in real-time.

Additionally, before you jump into retail, you need to determine how you plan to obtain visibility into what is going on at the point-of-sale. Is an item out of stock? Does a competitor have an on-shelf promotion that is only available in-store? Is your signage being properly managed? These are all questions that must be answered in order to hold your retailer as accountable as you would hold your media buying agencies for their media placement effectiveness.

Creating a Winning Retail Strategy
Making the transition to retail means more than a change in process. The company that is moving from direct response marketing to retail has to not only think about new strategies, but look at how they market their products and work with partners in a whole new way.

Monica C. Smith is founder and CEO of Marketsmith Inc. and I.Predictus. She can be reached at (973) 794-6464 or via E-mail at

About the Author: Monica C. Smith

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