How Human-to-Human Marketing Can Counter the Labor Shortage and Drive Q4 Growth

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Field Day is a Street Fight Thought Leader.

Q2 saw pent-up consumer demand explode, but in Q3, Delta pumped the brakes. Unemployment numbers rose for three straight weeks in September, signaling an economy suffering roadblocks on its path to recovery.

Industries such as restaurants, commercial real estate, and health and fitness are experiencing dramatic adjustments in customer purchasing behaviors and staffing shortages. All businesses need to engage more than usual with customers and targets to let them know they’re still in business, albeit with an updated menu of products and services.  

Regardless if you are a marketer from a national brand, or a regional multi-unit, franchise brand, success during uncertain times comes down to local market engagement, adoption, and your ability to solve a problem for local consumers.  

Why is this? In times of economic uncertainty, local communities look to support their own, ensuring businesses stay open and neighborhoods stay strong. What most brands miss is that they are a legitimate part of the community fabric and can leverage their place in that fabric as a marketing and sales asset. 

It’s time to consider a last-mile engagement strategy that helps your brand tap into the power of the local community. Leverage your internal resources or technology-enabled partner to activate human-to-human (H2H) outreach with brand ambassadors. These representatives can activate local conversations and empathetically address challenges your brand can help them solve with food, services, and local products.  

What is human-to-human marketing?

Human-to-human marketing, or H2H, leverages tech-enabled access to marketing talent to recruit local brand ambassadors who can market your product at scale in their own communities. This is the power of neighborly connections combined with technology’s ability to drive adoption and measure success. 

Leverage local marketers who understand your target communities

According to a recent Salesforce survey, 34% of marketers are still struggling to find innovative marketing technology, tactics, and strategies that will help them reach and engage consumers. Plus, the much-vaunted “return to the office” has been delayed, resulting in brands scrambling to rethink how to effectively connect with target customers wherever they are at the moment: at the office, taking care of kids at home, working in virtual locations, or a mixture of all throughout the week. 

H2H local marketing can tackle this problem because the ambassadors you’re tapping to drive growth for your brand understand the local situation. Whether handing out flyers or offering samples or making calls to their neighbors, they are speaking to people whose cultural sensibilities and epidemiological environment they understand — because they share that same experience of local conditions.

H2H local marketing hasn’t always been easy and cost effective, but with advancements in technology and the evolution of the gig economy, H2H marketing is now an affordable reality for brands. Brands can leverage technology to attribute H2H ROI, scale nationwide, and respond to market opportunities in near real-time. At its best, H2H offers the same start-stop agility and measurability as digital marketing but with the emotional and social power of human engagement.  

How to leverage H2H marketing for hyperlocal growth

When is H2H marketing right for you? Here are the top three strategies I would recommend.

1. National brands can use H2H to launch products, services, or stores in a new market. Given the challenges with Covid and fewer consumers seeking out new locations, in order for any store opening or new service offering to succeed, brands need to take action to make sure people know about it. Here’s a recent use case with a national brand.

A national brand opened a new store in January 2021 using traditional digital media, direct mail, and flyering tactics and only experienced $10K in initial weekly sales. 

The brand then activated H2H to do a relaunch in July and experienced a 90% increase in baseline weekly sales, reaching $19K. 

The difference was in the approach. To reach new consumers, a brand needs to create community buzz before an opening through local announcements to target customers/businesses, then drive in-store traffic through promotional offers during the opening week, then follow up with a broad awareness program. 

The formula is easy, but the reason this worked so well is because this brand was able to reach local businesses and their customers by leveraging resources in the community it was targeting.

2. H2H can help you create excitement and awareness, driving engagement and data collection, especially as you launch new products. 

A recent campaign with a Mexican-themed brand with over 100 restaurants in the US supporting five markets drove more than 2,300 human connections, resulting in 748 emails addresses collected, 10,900 impressions, and 640 samples delivered in under four weeks. 

The benefit here was the introduction of new consumers and re-engagement of existing customers to help drive ongoing sales. 

3. If your focus is B2B sales, then now more than ever, you will need to be more creative in your outreach. 

There are a few challenges when it comes to B2B that H2H outreach can solve: (1) getting through the gatekeeper to the decision maker; (2) providing information that is relevant and exciting; (3) and creating a real connection so your brand becomes a go-to resource. 

Brands can tap ambassadors to execute phone outreach and street programs that build awareness with local businesses. Whether it’s a traditional B2B sell-in like catering or business services or selling in programs to support employees, brand ambassadors are experts in creating meaningful connections quickly. They know how to create excitement around offerings and more importantly, communicate that your brand proactively wants to support your targets’ employees. 

Why H2H marketing can flesh out a martech stack

Through all these examples, the two main keys to success are the importance of local awareness and a conversation to drive results. 

A conversation with a brand ambassador isn’t just a cold call or a person handing you a flyer; it’s an empathetic, genuine connection between two people in which your brand is meeting the customer where they are with information of value that is more likely to drive engagement and conversions.

H2H marketing can help brands tackle the labor shortage by tapping personnel in the very communities they want to convert into customers. It’s a community-oriented path to Q4 growth, whatever headwinds Covid presents.

Alex Nocifera is the CEO and founder of Field Day.

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