Client Spotlight: A Discussion With Dondi Schwartz

In addition to our extensive retail design work, the Miller Wittman team works to support our clients’ businesses in a multitude of ways. From go-to-market strategy and product launches to process development and channel program creation, we partner with each client to engage their channel, meet their goals, and grow their business.

In this article, we’re shining a spotlight on the work we did with one client to develop a channel program that more effectively met their needs and goals for their channel.

We recently sat down with Dondi Schwartz, a marketing and brand consultant who has worked with a wide range of companies from Pentair to Target to Marvin (and many more!) throughout her career. Dondi worked with Miller Wittman a while back to develop a channel program for one of her clients, so we invited her to talk about that experience. Here’s what she had to say.

Was This the First Time You Worked With Miller Wittman?

Yes, it was our first time meeting. But Miller Wittman had been doing work with the brand in different capacities before I arrived.

This was a project that had been proposed as much as a year before I got there, and the company was still struggling with some of the same problems. So someone mentioned that Miller Wittman had proposed this program, and would I want to look at it? I said absolutely!

They took me through the proposal and I championed it up to our president, found the budget, and got it started.

What Made You Confident in Miller Wittman as a Partner?

Miller Wittman is one of those partners who helps you level up your work.

They acted as an extension of our team. They worked hard to understand the brand, the team, and the customer, yet they still brought that outside perspective to the table. They worked so hard to maintain multiple perspectives, which really made them more credible and trustworthy in the advice and the recommendations they brought.

Would You Hire Miller Wittman for Future Projects?

Definitely. In fact, I’ve already recommended them to people in my network.

The combination of expertise between Sarah, Paige, and Scott is a triple threat. It makes them uniquely qualified to activate a dealer network. You get all of the perspectives: Paige with her sales background and ability to understand the customers; Sarah with the financial expertise; and Scott with the creativity to build an experience that engages the audience. It’s a really cool model. I’ve not met another group who has brought those three talents together like that before.

As marketers, we try to remember to keep the customer at the center of everything we’re doing, to consider how this might feel for the customer. What are they thinking? What are they feeling?

That’s what we strive to do in our marketing projects, and working with Miller Wittman helped us keep that focus through the data and the interviews they did for us, as well as their own experiences they brought to the table.

We were also trying to build bridges and partnership between our marketing and sales teams, and I have to say that Paige was instrumental in that. Representing the marketing team but with real empathy for the sales organization helped us collaborate with our sales team as a stakeholder.

Tell Us About the Project You Worked on With Miller Wittman

I was working on an existing dealer program that rewarded sales behavior. The more you spent with the brand on certain products, the more points you earned (a dollar equaled a point). You could then use your points for rewards—cash, materials, or experiences.

What we didn’t have was a way to create loyalty and “stickiness” with the dealer for other behaviors. You know that saying, “reward the behavior you want to see”? Well, we were only rewarding sales behavior.

It was very transactional, and in a tough market, transactional relationships break easily. You and I exchange one for one, and I don’t know if I’m necessarily loyal to you, because it’s easy for me to exchange one for one with this other guy too.

So the question was, what other things can we do to create a tighter bond?

We worked with Miller Wittman to come up with a new program that was more focused on behavior and loyalty. We started out calling it a “top dealer” program because we wanted to build a fence around our top dealers. The goal was to make sure they were loyal to the brand and create an opportunity for them to be rewarded for that loyalty.

From getting input from the sales team, looking at the data, building a workshop, then going through program design down to the details of which behaviors to target, how to measure and reward them, how to engage the sales team for a soft launch, and so on...Miller Wittman was the partner in driving all of that. They took us from idea to launch.

What Expertise and Skills Did Miller Wittman Exhibit That Impressed You?

The ability to listen to the different perspectives and stakeholders…and synthesize them like crazy!

You’re trying to bring together some very different perspectives into a single program to innovate around a brand new idea and get everybody aligned on that vision. I thought they did such a good job of helping us package it, tell our story, and get buy-in for the program.

And working with them was a ton of fun. I believe strongly in enjoying the people you work with. It helps you have positive energy and be motivated and inspired. I thoroughly enjoyed the Miller Wittman team as people and as partners. To have a trusting, fun, and collaborative partnership is a gift.

It was awesome, and the kind of partnership you hope to have.

Let Miller Wittman Develop a Channel Program to Engage Your Channel and Deliver on Your Goals

Dondi, thank you for your kind words and for sharing your experience!

At Miller Wittman, we understand how to develop a channel program that will deliver on your corporate strategy and motivate your dealers to act. If this is something your business is missing, we’d love to partner with you to bring a compelling channel program to life.

Contact us to discuss your goals and learn how Miller Wittman can help.