Collaboration is at the heart of shopper marketing. Shopper marketers are the connective tissue between brand and sales, between manufacturer and retail strategies, between the headquarters and the field teams, and between multiple brands in their companies’ portfolios.They are expected to smoothly navigate matrix complexity, deal with people in multiple locations, wear many hats and skillfully reconcile often-conflicting priorities of the diverse stakeholders. In the world of such complexity and volatility, transparency and trust are necessary to make quick progress and drive business forward.
Thankfully, modern collaboration technology is rapidly evolving to better serve geographically dispersed and diverse teams, making complexity more manageable and transparency and trust more achievable. Today, I would like to share some of my favorite collaboration apps that would make shopper marketers' work a lot easier and a lot more fun.
1. Trello: best for idea and task management
Marketing is a series of experiments that need to be conceived, implemented and tracked. Trello is a universal task and idea management tool that features discrete idea/task units, or cards, that can be dragged and organized into stacks, or columns, assigned to team members and illustrated with images, links, and file attachments. Shopper Marketers can find many uses of Trello, be it during planning season or throughout the year to tackle ad-hoc tasks, for example:
- Facilitate brainstorming & discuss merits of ideas
- Build a backlog of test & learn opportunities
- Assign roles & responsibilities for implementation of approved initiatives
- Document successes and failures
- Share team's workload by assigning cards to various members
Trello is a popular tool not just for work but also for managing personal and family tasks. Best of all, its basic version is very robust, and is free. Click here to see our sample Trello Board.
2. Google Drive: best for content co-creation and surveys
Google Drive has a very robust set of features that students, small and large businesses alike have come to love. Their browser-based interface and real-time collaboration features make it a perfect choice for many marketing professionals who work in fast-paced environments, collaborate with people in multiple locations and share big files. Shopper marketers can use Google Drive to:
- Expand the bottlenecks: Save time by simultaneously working on a marketing brief document or a customer presentation instead of routing to each contributor one at a time.
- Share large files. Free yourself from e-mail jail and no longer mess with confusing FTP sites or random Dropbox accounts. Share large artwork files with agency or customers by sending links, not bulky files. Alleviate your fear of losing important documents if your device is damaged or lost - sync your files to the cloud automatically.
- Keep your work safe and view revision history. Don't fear losing hours of work due to corrupt files or overwriting the wrong file version. Files in Google Drive are automatically saved to the cloud every few seconds; users can see who made changes and revert to any previous state.
- Build and deploy surveys. Google Forms lets you survey your customers, partners, internal team or even shoppers, without involving survey or data experts, for free. Survey creation is very simple, you can see responses in real time and then visualize responses in graphs and charts in Sheets.
3. SignNow: Best for paperless signature routing
Do you still print, sign, fax or scan and email documents to your vendors, customers and partners? This feels very much like 1990s, doesn't it? Considering the number of vendors shopper marketers have to deal with and the sheer volume of promotions they manage, these little nuisances can add up. Now there is a better way to circulate documents for signatures in a completely paperless way:
- Route for signature(s) to one or more party simultaneously. Need several people to review and sign an NDA? Send it to them all at the same time and get notified when they complete their part.
- Sign from anywhere: SignNow even offers ability to sign documents on a mobile device, so keep things moving forward and don't hold up your team's progress, even if you are on a beach in Cancun!
4. Shopperations: Best for budget, estimate and calendar management
Tired of endless spreadsheets and non-stop budget scrubbing and reconciliation? inundated by constant management requests for updates or 1-page PowerPoint summaries? Spending too much time in alignment meetings? Shopperations is a new shopper marketing system of record wher budgets, estimates, reports and calendars can be seamlessly managed all in one place:
- Manage budgets in real time: alert teams when shopper marketing budgets change so they can adjust their planning assumptions
- Build bottom-up estimates: use consistent estimation methods to automatically roll up plans into a centralized dashboard.
- Automate reporting and calendarization: waste no time building Excel calendar grids and stop compiling reports manually. Instead, quickly create professional looking calendars and generate spend status reports with a few clicks and export them for easy sharing.
Shopperations was built by shopper marketers for shopper marketers and is sure to make your next year's collaborative planning easier.
5. Slack: Best for messaging & community building
Slack is a new generation messaging app that is taking the world by storm. Its success can be attributed to their focus on work-related communications, fun interface and abundance of integrations with other applications, making it a "center of command" where all relevant updates are aggregated to be monitored and responded to.
Shopper marketers can benefit from using Slack, too, for instance:
- Create relevant messaging channels: separate Walmart team messages from Kroger team messages, or set up channels dedicated to specific topics, and let users subscribe to relevant channels. This dramatically decreases the messaging noise while keeping all relevant stakeholders in the loop automatically.
- Integrate with other apps: Connect your team's Trello boards or your brands' social media handles (or countless other apps found in Slack app directory) to monitor activity and let your team see updates all in one place, without the need to log into multiple accounts.
- Seamlessly share files: Drag and drop files or cut and paste them from other platforms, to quickly share information between team members. Be it selling presentations, photos from store visits, or large artwork files from your agency, you no longer need to rely on email to move these files around.
- Create or join a community: While most of the "teams" on Slack are made up by the employees of the same company, it is quickly becoming a preferred way of building specialized communities to network with peers, solutions providers and customers across organizations. These communities tend to be more active and informal than LinkedIn groups.
What are your favorite shopper marketing tools and collaboration apps that help you get organized and stay connected with your team?