One of the things I love most about my job is the interaction I get to have with our retailers and store partners. I especially love doing store visits and meeting you all in person and seeing your stores and wellness spaces. It reminds me why I love what I do, and most of that is based on the relationships cultivated within the industry.
I feel like there is more we can do to close the gap between what I see as the three beacons of our industry: manufacturer, distributor and retailer. Without all beacons being lit, there is serious missed opportunity within these partnerships. So, how do we leverage and utilize these relationships better from both a fiscal standpoint and a relationship perspective?
Lean on manufacturers’ assets in partnership with your distributor to get the maximum impact you can on social media.
Manufacturers create a plethora of marketing support for their brands and items, especially new-release items or collections. Do not be afraid to ask what is available. I speak to so many store owners who wish they had more signage or want artwork with custom specs to create an impactful display. As a manufacturer, we love that! Please partner with your distributor in reaching out to us and asking for the printed marketing materials you want to have on hand.
I also work with a lot of stores that like to do their own printing for example at FedEx because they want to customize the signage. Let us customize some cool digital art for you, and you can print as many sizes or images as you want. It can be a challenge to get printed material from print source to the retailer. Ask your distributors to put you in contact with a rep that can help assist you with digital images that you can use in your stores for branding purposes. The quality of imagery and paper materials has improved significantly over the past five years — update your stores with all the newness you can get your hands on. Walking into a store that has faded posters from the ’80s makes shopping less appealing compared to walking into a store that has freshly printed materials. Keep in mind, there usually is not any cost to getting this signage; it is a matter of voicing your needs.
Social media is becoming a critical part of stores’ interaction with their customer base. Have you checked out your manufacturers’ websites to see what digital assets they have available? Manufacturers can easily create social media content for stores; usually we just need someone to ask us. We spend so much time and money on photo shoots and marketing materials — we want you to ask us for them. In fairness, distributors cannot manage all marketing aspects plus all product info for everyone. Lean on manufacturers’ assets in partnership with your distributor to get the maximum impact you can on social media. We cannot leave out one of the beacons or the partnership loses its harmony and balance.
Your distributor and manufacturer partners are an excellent source for curating training materials and in-person trainings for stores. We want to give you the information on our brands that are the most impactful, but also need your feedback on what works best for your store. COVID forced us all to get comfortable with online trainings; just because we are exiting the pandemic does not mean that we have to leave what we learned behind. If online training works best, stick with it. We do not have to let geography dictate trainings as much as we did in the past. Small stores deserve just as much knowledge and time as big stores — do not let your store size hold you up. It takes time to grow a business; trainings are a great catalyst to increase sales. It is important to keep associates fresh and motivated, and training and store visits are one of the best ways to do that.
The important thing about having harmonious relationships is the trust and balance. The trust between distributors and manufacturers is so critically important. When both partners are working in tandem, it’s such a great experience for the customer. When distributors are close with their manufacturers, it creates the opportunity for everyone to work as a group. One component cannot be left out or we lose the potential for revenue and growing our businesses together.
While we are not in the clear with COVID yet, we are a lot closer to normal than we were several months ago. Let us make the new normal look different in our partnerships and in the way we leverage them to create success for everyone.
Danielle Seerley, aka “America’s Sex Toy Sweetheart” (AmericasSexToySweetheart.com), is the senior sales executive for Shibari Wands and Voodoo Toys.