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4 Channel Marketing Problems Driving Pros Crazy—and How to Fix Them

Our work lives are a daily struggle between exciting accomplishments and teeth-grinding frustrations. While we try to stay positive, there aren’t many benefits of ignoring the problems that come along with life in the retail industry. Sometimes, they just need fixing. 

Below you’ll find four of the most common hurdles in channel marketing, plus what you can do to solve them so they’re no longer problems. Without further ado, let’s dive into the first pain on the list: 

Channel Marketing Problem No. 1: Underperforming Program Effectiveness 

If you’ve worked in channel marketing for any amount of time you’ve encountered this problem. Underperforming program effectiveness can manifest in several different forms, including: 

  • Missed activations 
  • Broken demos 
  • Inefficient promotions 

One of the reasons why these problems are so annoying is that a lot can go wrong with in-store programs and you often lack visibility into them. Your headaches could be a display with lights out, broken TVs that were supposed to show promo videos, and missing merchandise. Or, you could have designed a promotion that falls short of expectations and doesn’t generate the desired returns. Worst of all, you could just have missed activations so all that hard work you put into the planning stage isn’t even getting to the floor. 

Nest display in brick-and-mortar store.

Channel Marketing Problem No. 2: Poor 3P Logistics 

Sometimes the most frustrating problems are the ones that fall outside of your business. Such is the case with poor third-party logistics. Your partners may be dropping the ball on your channel marketing initiatives, creating more issues than they are helping. 

What can this look like? For some, it’s in the form of brokers missing activations. In many cases, you only have a few weeks to run a promotion. With a limited time for 3P merchandisers to set up point-of-purchase materials in stores, there’s a chance that everything falls behind schedule and before you know it you’ve missed that key drive period because you’re not set up.  

Or, you do hit your deadlines and the program is activated in time. But then the third-party doesn’t maintain it as needed. It could end up in disrepair, with missing inventory, with a surprise adjacency, or another issue you don’t know about. Either way, sometimes your 3P logistics partners let you down. 

Headphones display at Target.

Channel Marketing Problem No. 3: Ineffective Store Operations 

Store operations can be another source of headaches for you, whether your channel marketing efforts are for a brand or retailer. That’s because store ops have even more control over what goes on around your programs than 3P logistics.  

For example, retail operations oversee your adjacencies. While you can negotiate beneficial adjacencies, sometimes you don’t get the space you pay for. The last thing you need for your shelf health is to be placed right next to a top competitor. Store associates also fall under the umbrella of operations. This can hamper your efforts if they have low product knowledge, or if the checkout experience is poor or store conditions generally miss the mark.  

Ops-related problems can hurt your brick-and-mortar programs, so it’s worth it to keep an eye on what’s going on in stores. 

Healthy energy bar shelves at grocery store.

Channel Marketing Problem No. 4: Inaccurate—or Nonexistent—Data 

These three channel marketing problems tie into one overarching issue: You may not have accurate—or any—data that you need.  

This is Problem No. 4. The big questions for you include whether you know what your shoppers see, if your programs are set up properly and maintained, or if any activations were overlooked in the first place. You need to identify which promotions performed at or above expectations, and which ones didn’t. Other areas ripe for data include shelf space, facings, item deletions, item cannibalization, phantom inventory, and more. 

The data is out there—you just need to make sure you can access it and trust it. Then, you’ll have the confidence to make the right decisions for your channel marketing initiatives. 

How to Fix These Top Channel Marketing Problems  

Thankfully, you have options to address these problems. For starters, you’ll want to analyze any completed program events. It’s in this data that you’ll find plenty of clues about why something didn’t go as planned.  

A lack of visibility into your programs is a key reason why they underperform. So, increase visibility. (We know, easier said than done.) One solution is crowdsourced data. By crowdsourcing with Wiser, you can leverage thousands of mobile shoppers—the modern take on mystery shoppers—to get you that customer perspective you need.  

A major benefit of crowdsourced data is that it can give you the support needed throughout your conversations with retail teams, merchandisers, and others regarding your decisions.

What does this look like? Crowdsourced shoppers can be deployed into retail locations armed with a specific set of questions. We can ask them to rate displays, compare retailers, check inventory, or dive deeper and provide photos of promotions, displays, shelves, and more. You can see feedback on the specific brick-and-mortar conditions that matter to you. 

Then, you can integrate this data into your business to apply insights to future channel marketing programs. A major benefit of crowdsourced data is that it can give you the support needed throughout your conversations with retail teams, merchandisers, and others regarding your decisions. If a category manager asks why you’re creating that specific promotion for their product, you can point to the data and say: “Because this promotion works and that last one we did missed the mark.” 

Get Your Business Intelligence 

Let Wiser help with your channel marketing problems. We have a network of smartphone-enabled shoppers who can quickly and accurately deliver that shelf data you need. Our crowdsourced shoppers span the U.S., and data can be turned around within the week. Therefore, you get timely results, so you don’t miss out on that key drive period or are left wondering if your displays were set up properly.  

With accurate business intelligence, your channel marketing problems can be a thing of the past. We’d love to chat if you have any questions! 

Didn’t see your problems in this article? Check out one of our other blogs on retail pain points that may be more relevant to your needs: Sales Operations.

Matt Ellsworth

Matt is the Content Marketing Manager at Wiser, the leading provider of actionable data for better decisions. He holds a BA from Salem State University.

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