Impeccable communication: an essential component to successful vendor or brand partnerships
By Skogen’s Festival Foods Lauren Tulig, RDN, CD, Dietitian Manager & Stephanie Schultz, MSM, RDN, CD, Communications Sr. Director
Impeccable communication skills are essential to many facets of your job as a retail dietitian, and working with vendors or brand partnerships is no exception. Before we jump into best practices for working with partners, consider the following…
There are three dimensions of communication:
- 7% of communication is the substance, or the actual information, you are sharing
- 38% of communication is non-verbals and tone (which overrides the 7%)
- 55% of communication is your history or perceived history with that person (which overrides a lot!)
In other words, only 7% of what you are trying to say comes through via written communication (so you will want use more than just email). This also highlights the importance of building relationships based on positive accountability; your history impacts up to 55% of communication with people.
So how does this information apply to best practices for brand partnerships? In short, good communication is the key to successful partnerships.
Planning for the promotion. To paraphrase James Lewis, projects don’t fail in the end; they fail in the beginning. In the planning phase, it’s important to accurately communicate with vendors or brands exactly what your team can provide. Set attainable deadlines and goals; avoid overpromising and under delivering. Communicate with buyers or category managers at your retailer before promising vendors any facets of a promotion to ensure availability and that there are no conflicts. Working with your buyers or category managers is also an opportunity to learn if they’re able to offer a price promotion, coupon or ad space to correspond with your promotion. After your plan is in place, share any pertinent information with associates at corporate and store level. Clearly define action items and follow up to ensure teams have an execution plan in place.
During the promotion. It’s show time! Make certain the plan is being executed as stated. If and when some facets fall through (and they will), respectfully communicate with the associate or team responsible. This is a great coaching opportunity and will help establish better execution in the future. If something goes significantly wrong, communicate with your vendor partner immediately and come up with a new plan together. Unlike wine, bad news does not get better with age! Provide links, photos and other wins to vendor partners throughout the promotion period. It’s just as important to share during the promotion as it is after.
After the promotion. This is your opportunity to share results and outcomes, both with the vendor and internally. Review what you originally promised the vendor in the planning phase, whether that is sales data, social media impressions, blog analytics or anecdotal feedback from customers. Utilize teammates at your retailer to help you run reports an analyze data. Share what worked and what didn’t– they will appreciate your honesty. Provide suggestions or ideas for future promotions immediately. Ask for feedback from the vendor and those associates who helped execute the plan. Look for ways to improve processes for future promotions. Each promotion is an opportunity to learn more about the industry and work with associates you may not have worked with in the past. Lastly, express genuine gratitude to everyone involved in the promotion and follow up with vendor partners as potential partnership opportunities arise.
Good communication skills are some of the simplest and most useful tools in your toolbox. Impeccably communicating with vendor partners can differentiate you from the competition in the retail space, and can lead to additional promotion opportunities. What’s more, each successful partnership and/or promotion helps to build your personal history, and we know that plays an important part (up to 55%!) in future professional communication.