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Finding Your Voice

It’s a little bit daunting: this act of writing about an event geared at helping people get better at writing. Yet, here I am. Staring at the computer screen as I so often am, wondering how to string these words together. My lack of confidence in this task doesn’t mean the presentation wasn’t good. Kasey Laine Riley did a great job. With energy and zeal and gusto, she walked the audience of the American Marketing Association KC event through how she’s found her own writing voice and how she intends to help us find ours. Writing is about a process, but it isn’t the same process for everyone. That’s where Riley started. For most people, she noted, the same obstacles pop up: time, anxiety, and lack of inspiration. She suggested combating those hurdles in three ways: Get a notebook to jot down ideas. Don’t use your phone, warns Riley. That little bugger will divert your attention the second you pick it up. Stay updated. Read articles, read everything (especially fiction she says since those clever fiction writers know how to…

A Look Ahead to 2018

Attracting and retaining consumers to independent retail brick and mortar locations didn’t get any easier in 2017, but as we look ahead to 2018, there’s good news for retailers in the grocery space. Programs are evolving, consumers are becoming more educated, and manufacturer partners have more ways than ever to help independent retailers compete with the biggest players in the industry. Here’s a look at what AWG Marketing/Advertising will be focusing on in 2018: Online Shopping Retailers both large and small are jumping into online shopping in efforts to bring consumers convenience. Online shopping providers continue to introduce features that consumers want such as shopping directly from a weekly ad, recipe integration with shopping lists, and suggested items based on past purchases. Providers are integrating with other digital media companies, streamlining the use of frequent shopper programs, digital coupons, and email. Their diversifying their offerings with supplemental services like meal kits and offering special discounts to help retailers participate. Plus, AWG Marketing continues to pursue online shopping program extensions that offer deliver and algorithmic manufacturer offers based on a customer’s…

The Innovation Equation

Everyone’s chasing it: a new idea that resonates. It could be building a company where everyone wants to work, a product that meets unmet needs, or a piece of content that elicits emotion. In a world where change is happening all the time and innovation is a buzzword lacking an understood meaning across trades, finding a way to break through can be complicated. Yet, at a recent American Advertising Federation Kansas City event with leaders from VML and Hallmark, maybe the solution to the innovation equation is within reach if we’re willing to invest in it. The potential key? Diversity and inclusion. Itself a facet of business that’s changing quickly, the need for diversity and inclusion isn’t lost on most people. As Phil Polk, Vice President of Multicultural Strategy at Hallmark explained, the way to foster diversity and inclusion throughout a company is to “teach the organization to fish”. For Hallmark, Michael Gonzales, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, explained that this meant giving business leaders a comfort level with saying they don’t know everything. Hallmark even created a Center for…

What's Your Brand?

Branding Online – A How To

When it comes to branding online, independent retailers get the heebie jeebies. They have the traditional pieces down: put their name on the store sign, publish an ad with that same name on it, run radio ads with the name attached. Yet, with social media, branding 101 sometimes goes out the window. At a recent Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast, Eric Melin, Senior Social Media Community Manager at Callahan Creek talked through the topic of melding personal and professional brands online. His overall point urged social users to be their real selves online, but in the midst of that, he gave a great lesson on social branding 101 applicable to independent grocery retailers. To start, whether you know it or not, your store already has a brand online, just like, Melin noted, everyone. People search every day on Google and social media platforms for information about people they meet and places they support. The results of those searches can be mentions in the articles, or rouge social media accounts created by patrons, or simply a customer talking about…

Web of connecting lines coming together.

Solving the Disconnected Digital Grocery Journey

In theory, omnichannel marketing is fantastic. In practice, it’s much harder, especially for independent retailers who are trying to wrap their hands around all the different ways to reach consumers. Even the large retailers are trying to figure out which platforms to use, how to make them work together, and how to help consumers have the most fluid experience possible. A recent webinar put on by Brick Meets Click featuring Lunds & Byerlys and Unata addressed this disconnected digital grocery journey. Part 1: Grocery Retailing Realities: The Physical – Digital Connection What we know to be true right now is ecommerce is evolving how consumers shop. David Bishop from Brick Meets Click provided the following stats: 38% of grocery consumers have shopped online in last year, up 4.1% Consumer households shop online over 2x per month Share of wallet is now almost 5% Another factor Bishop brought to light is now consumers have many more ways to buy groceries, it isn’t just a competition up and down the street. The business is fragmented with different options and different value propositions…

Person monitoring computer screens with graphs on them.

Website Data & the Power to Know

Many retailers have a website because they know they should. The site is populated with the weekly ad that gives customers the info on the best deals, recipes that make consumers want to try new meals, and pertinent information like hours and address that help make store visits easier. Very often though, retailers don’t take enough time to understand what can be learned from that website. At a recent Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast, Corey Morris of Voltage KC shared his tips on Google Analytics and how to use them to understand more about who does what on your website. To start, Morris made a great point about data. He explained how while we all know there is tons of data out there, the expectation now is that we’ve harnessed the data that’s assumably there. He also noted that mastering that data is the inherent challenge. One of Morris’s most resonating comments turned out to be “Never bring and opinion to a data fight. Don’t start a discussion with “I think” because with data, we have the power…

Photo of panel participants discussing online shopping.

Online Shopping – Some FAQ’s

With online shopping growing quickly within the independent retail space, I recently attended state grocers association conventions for both the Missouri and Alabama Grocers to join panels discussing the opportunity. Below were some of the most prominent questions and my insight for retailers on them. What were your company’s objectives and/or process in finding an e-commerce provider? For AWG, we’ve been looking at online shopping programs for almost four years. When we started, it was really about helping retailers wade through the influx of providers into the space. We research each company, hear what their features are, and determine whether we believe there is an opportunity to scale both up and down for one-store operators and multi-store operators. Our main goal is to learn how the programs work and how we can get retailers up to speed quickly based on our experience. We also have paid close attention to what retailers are requesting when it comes to a provider. We have four partner provider solutions because we have all different kinds of retailers who want different attributes in an online…

Close up top view of young people putting their hands together.
InKate

Technology Trends in Employee Communications – Unifying or Dividing?

How companies communicate with end consumers has definitely evolved over the last decade, but the ways companies communicate with employees has as well. In a recent Kansas City International Association of Business Communicators event, Jordan Warzecha from Backstitch walked through different ways companies can make sure employees are getting the information they need. According to Warzecha, engaged team members knows their job, but also their role in the organization. Engaged employees are 20% better performers, 87% more likely to stay at a company and contribute $13,000 more to a company’s bottom line. One of the challenges companies have is that they are large. To reach this group, Warzecha said companies have traditionally relied on eblasts, an intranet, or memos in the bathroom/break room. Intranets, while a dumping ground for everything are a source for nothing, said Warzecha, and email announcements were pushed at employees but didn’t hold much value. Social intranets needed engaged employees to contribute and newsletters had much of the same challenges as email announcements. But Warzecha said these strategies are broken. 70% of employees are disengaged at…

Woman with bullhorn

Engaging Influencers on Behalf of Your Brand

Fewer than 6% of millennials believe online ads are credible. In the digital marketing world, that’s a tough pill to swallow. Consumers are skeptical about brands and the stories they tell, that much is known. That’s why the money spent on influencers has gone up so much in recent years. Traditional influencers told their friends and family about great products and services over the dinner table or at gatherings. The digital equivalent of that is an influencer having a robust social following for whatever reason, whether it be she is good at taking pictures, he has a unique flair for food prep, or she just happens to be a social butterfly. These influencers are the ones you want on your side because they help elevate conversion rates 3x-10x. But, it isn’t easy. Liz Hawks of FleishmanHillard and Amy Merchant of Hallmark went through some tips for engaging influencers at a recent American Marketing Association Kansas City lunch. Find a Good Fit When thinking about using influencers, you have to work to find a good fit. For Hallmark, they were focusing…

Presenter on stage at Blackhawk Network Summit

Inside the Blackhawk Network Summit

Each year, Blackhawk Network holds a Summit. At this Summit, the companies who sell gift cards through Blackhawk’s network and the retailers who sell those gift cards get together to talk about the state of the gift card industry, what’s new, and how it can continue to grow. For the past five years, AWG has attended this Summit to represent the approximately 1,100 store locations on the 3rd-party gift card program. The most recent Summit was held May 1-3, 2017. AWG Corporate Marketing Manager, Kate Favrow, and AWG In-Store Marketing Supervisor, Bryan Wright, were present at the event. They had 17 one-on-one meetings with card partners including Google Play, Apple, Domino’s, Best Buy, Petsmart, GameStop, and Bass Pro Shop, just to name a few. During these meetings, the AWG team presented promotional opportunities to the card partners. In the latter half of 2017, AWG Marketing will be running everyday awareness campaigns, including one solely focused on the big birthday month of September, a Back to School buy/get promotion, a Black Friday buy/get promotion, and a Holiday shipper. These promotions have…

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