But too often, that's what happens.
When it comes to getting your team of brand ambassadors into all the stores you’d like them to do demos in, you may not need to literally wake up earlier, but it turns out that there are some things that you DO need to do early to ensure that your company has a table set up this month, even as other companies may be having a hard time getting in.
1) Delayed Response from the Stores.
As you probably know, many chains’ demo coordinators are often also wearing a lot of other hats. So… they may be too busy to get to your email today. Or this week.
What you may not realize is, it’s going to be the same NEXT month too. The smart manager plans a system around this.
One best practice is to PLAN AHEAD so you can ASK EARLY. That way, if you ask on April 15th for a couple of demo slots in May, then even if the store demo coordinator takes 4 weeks to get to your request, you will still get your 2 slots. Meanwhile, the brand coordinator who asks for May slots on April 25 may not get in at all, just because the store coordinator may not be able to answer the request before June!
2) Limited Demo Capacity
Many stores get very busy. Nearly all have blackout times, whether certain days of the month, or hours of the day, or seasons of the year. So, there’s a maximum number of demos that the store can accept per month – and once they fill up, they will start to push back as you ask for slots that are already filled. The earlier you ask, the better.
3) Prime Time.
If you are a modern, data-driven manager, you probably already realize that certain days of the week will work better for your product, and certain times of day are more productive than others. So beyond just getting into the store in a given month, if you want to get EXACTLY the days and times you want, you’ll probably need to ask even earlier.
4) Better use of your time.
If you come to the party later, there’s a higher chance that you won’t get the date and time slot you wanted. Then, you have to ask a second time (or maybe even a third) before you get something on the calendar. Congratulations! You just doubled or tripled the amount of work it took to get a demo scheduled.
5) Inventory and Out of Stock
There’s very little in the life of a demo manager that’s more frustrating than jam-scheduling a demo in at the last minute, only to have your ambassador show up to the store and find that there’s not enough inventory to support a 3- or 4-hour demo, or that some SKUs are out of stock. Making a habit of scheduling your demo book well in advance will allow you to put processes in place to coordinate with the stores before your demos to make sure adequate inventory is either in place, or on its way.
6) Coordination with special events and promotions.
By making a habit of pushing the entire team to schedule their demos weeks or months in advance, you’ll be able to better coordinate with and capitalize on upcoming special events and seasonal promotions at the stores. Imagine having a wonderful organic product, and missing out on the opportunity to demo during the store’s Organic October extravaganza!
7) It's an industry trend.
Simply by virtue of the fact that my team and I are in constant contact with hundreds of vendors’ and retailers’ demo coordinators, we are able to see “the writing on the wall” for the industry. And one of the things that we have seen is that there is a growing trend within both vendors and retailers to require that demos be scheduled further in advance – in some cases, even 30 days in advance. Not all of them are fully “there” yet, but it’s going to happen. Most of the reasons for this are listed in the points above. The point for you is, it’s a trend – and you can wait until it’s a requirement, or you can proactively embrace it earlier, and get a jump on your competitors.
There are many reasons why it’s to your advantage to be the early bird, even in demo scheduling. After all, marketing is the struggle to get noticed in a crowded market. One of the best ways to stand out is to be first in line.
Experience with hundreds of brand managers has shown us that those who have most of their demos for the month already scheduled on the first day of the month also tend to do better on many of the measures of demo success – including inventory support, and higher unit sales. They probably also get more sleep at night for the rest of the month… but that part is just speculation… :)
We’d love to hear your thoughts!