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What’s Next? Word-of-Mouth Content

Posted on August 20, 2014

Through our work supporting retailers in the Health & Beauty departments, Brand Connections has hundreds of Beauty Consultants, Beauty Concierges and Beauty Advisors stationed in the aisles every day, waiting to assist shoppers with product recommendations for their needs. But given the vastness of these departments, with over 3,000 products in the typical retail store, educating these individuals on the various brands and unique attributes across multiple categories is a large undertaking. There are several ways a brand talks about their product, depending on the medium for communication and the audience. For instance, a brand may communicate directly with a consumer via a TV or print ad and use one approach, while their communication with their advertising agencies and their R&D department are completely different. But how do you take all that “brand speak” and translate it into training materials for BCs/BAs who will then relay that learning via word-of-mouth communication directly to shoppers?

Meet Beauty Connect (also called Beauty Connections, depending on the retailer) — an in-person and online training program that educates BCs/BAs about thousands of health and beauty products on category, brand and SKU levels. Starting with a multi-day, in-person training program, BAs/BCs are immersed in all things Health & Beauty, where they can touch, smell and feel the products and experience their benefits. Then, the Beauty Connect/Beauty Connections online web portal delivers ongoing training, content, webinars, tests, quizzes, contests, rewards and other information designed to keep these BCs/BAs on top of their games. There’s also a sharing board where they can pay their successes, experiences and key learnings forward to help educate and encourage their peers.

What I’m most proud about with this technology element is the cross-functional training it provides our BCs/BAs. While they may appear to be retail store employees, our team members do far more than simply stand in the aisles offering support. Each BC/BA is required to spend a minimum of four hours each week engaging with the Beauty Connect/Beauty Connections portal to complete required reading, tests and reporting. As thrilled as we are to be the “landing spot” for many BCs/BAs who used a traditional retail background as a “launching pad” for their careers, we understand that, sadly, many of our most talented BCs/BAs will someday be ready to step back on the launching pad and embrace the next phase of their career. The experience we provide by incorporating this technological aspect to the role of the BC/BA will allow future employers to look at these talented prospects from a multidimensional perspective versus simply viewing them as “only” someone with retail experience.

One of my senior managers categorized the culture at Brand Connections as a “teaching hospital.” I loved that analogy, as doctors describe themselves as “practicing medicine,” understanding that there will always be more to learn about the art and science of healthcare. At Brand Connections, we “practice agency and marketing services,” because as sure as the sun set yesterday, I’m certain that when I woke up this morning, some new, hotshot MIT grad invented the next SnapChat that, in order to stay current on the latest in technology and marketing, I’ll have to download, absorb, and then probably soon thereafter delete from my mobile. One promise we make to every employee here is that we will always push you outside of your comfort zone in order to allow you to learn and grow until you find your perfect role. While some find their “sweet spot” very quickly and continue to deliver with excellence, others seem to have an endless capacity for learning and growth. So whether someone is on the first rung of the ladder, all the way up to our Chairman, we are constantly learning, growing, evolving and creating.

What’s the side effect to this culture? Innovation! So whether it’s creating a new category of career path with BCs/BAs, creating new technology for training, or creating a new category to support health and beauty brands to create word-of-mouth content to educate BCs/BAs, we will continue to ask ourselves, “What’s next?”

Sherry Orel is the CEO of Brand Connections, an independent global media and marketing company that specializes in Making Marketing Easier for Marketers™, providing tailored solutions that link critical marketing disciplines to help marketers connect the dots to deliver a better business outcome. She has 25 years experience in working with Fortune 500 brands develop strategic, multi-channel solutions, integrating disciplines from out-of-home, digital, mobile, social, promotion, sponsorship, experiential, CRM and retail activation.

Posted in Marketing