Trade Marketing Insights

Develop Your Trade Marketing Strategy [5 Easy Steps]

Posted by Callum Hornigold on 30-Oct-2018 16:21:34
Callum Hornigold
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Why Read?

This article explains how to:

  • develop your trade marketing strategy, step by step
  • sell in to retailers and increase your product's sales in store
  • build all your trade marketing assets with consistent branding and messaging

In order to bring your product to market, you’re going to need to consider your trade marketing strategy both short-term and long-term.

While trade marketing plans vary considerably according to budget, industry and resources, it can be broken down into five key steps.

Here’s how to plan an effective trade marketing strategy, get your products ranged and increase sales in stores and online.

Step 1: Develop Your Product Proposition

Start off by gathering your market research.

Understand your competitors and identify their strengths and weaknesses using a SWOT analysis. Also, conduct a SWOT analysis on your own product.

Now identify your product positioning. Are you going to position your product as premium, mass market, budget, or sitting somewhere in between?

Use a positioning map to determine where you sit in comparison to your competitors to enable you to identify potential gaps in the market.

Positioning Map Car Brand

Write down the features and benefits — this will help your USP (unique selling proposition). Your USP could be based on a number of factors such as a unique price, features or design. It could be made from unique materials or be the first within the market in some way.

Once you’ve determined your positioning, price your product. Pricing will be determined by your positioning and other factors such as manufacturing costs, marketing spend, R&D and customer service costs.

Using your market research, develop your buyer persona(s), taking into account your product’s positioning. This is your ideal buyer type and considers demographics, goals, attitude, purchase influences, and buying motivations and concerns.

trade marketing strategy buyer persona

Next, conduct further research into your target consumer(s) shopping behaviour. Where do they shop? How do they shop? What type of promotions work with your target audience? What are the right retailers to range your product?

Now, brand the product so it appeals to the target consumer(s), clearly communicates its USP and why it solves your target audience's issues. Ensure the branding is in line with your product’s positioning.

When it comes to getting your product ranged, you will need to demonstrate that you understand your buyer profiles and show the product branding effectively appeals to your target consumers.

Step 2: Raise Awareness Of Your Product

trade marketing strategy merchandisingEvergreen Garden Care UK Merchandising Display by WrightObara

Decide on how you’re going to raise awareness of your product to a trade audience.

This is dependent on budget and resources, but common methods include:

  • Trade shows
  • Social media
  • Content marketing
  • PR
  • Product launch events
  • Networking events
  • Trade ads
  • Email
  • SEO

A great tool to help you effectively promote your product will be to create a product asset library.

This could include:

  • Creative treatment (product or brand specific)
  • Professional product photography
  • Key visual(s)
  • Features and benefits document
  • Product / Brand video(s)
  • Product specs document
  • Product brochure / leaflet(s)

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Step 3: Sell In To Retailers

There are a number of ways you can sell in to retailers.

Common methods to secure meetings with buyers are using trade shows for exposure, approaching them on LinkedIn or other social networks, or approaching them directly.

It's important to have links with (or at the very least be in conversation with) reliable distributors as the retail buyer will want to know how you are going to ship your product.

Once you have secured a meeting, you will likely need to create a product sell-in presentation.

This should include your market research, buyer profiles, buyer story and your product branding.

Your marketing material you created in Step 2 will also be essential, such as a product video explaining your features and benefits and a key visual.

Be prepared to provide essential information such as profit margins, sales projections, how well you measure up to competitors, USP, features and benefits, POS material availability and allocated marketing spend to support the product.

It can significantly boost your chances of getting your product ranged if you create a conceptual marketing campaign to demonstrate how you might market the product.

trade marketing strategy conceptual campaignConceptual campaign for Stella Artois by WrightObara

Also, consider the retailer’s perspective during your presentation, factoring their objectives and demonstrating how it could help grow the category or increase footfall into their store.

Another method of selling in to retailers is arming your field sales team with your trade catalogue.

For an effective, sales-driven trade catalogue, include:

  • a product hierarchy, paying special attention to best sellers and products with the highest returns
  • a logical structure, with split into sections according to categories
  • cross-selling to demonstrate products that naturally complement each other
  • clear sales signposting to make it clear how to order (E.g. QR codes that link to your order portal) 
  • a cover that communicates your target consumer(s), which should correlate with the retailer’s

Check out this infographic that breaks down the trade catalogue design process, step by step or download this handy Sales-driven Trade Catalogue Checklist.

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Step 4: Provide Retailers With The Right Resources

Trade marketing is about developing a symbiotic relationship with your retailer.

Increasing sales may be the obvious common goal, but also effective collaboration with your retailers will build successful relationships and should be a key part of your trade marketing strategy.

This means providing them with all your product assets and marketing material they need quickly and easily.

If the retailer sells online, provide them with a digital asset library of all your online marketing material.


Get the Trade Marketing Digital Asset Library Cheat Sheet now!


Successful relationships are also about sharing data and working from the same platform.

Share key insights with your retailer that may help them increase your products’ sales in store.

Step 5: Develop Successful Promotion Strategies

Determine the methods you will use to increase your products’ sales in store.

These can include:

  • Digital and print circulars to drive traffic into your retailers
  • Price discounts such as BOGOF (Buy one get one free) and bundles
  • Point of sale displays
  • Product sampling and demos
  • Customer loyalty schemes
  • In-store experiential campaigns with social media sharing

trade marketing strategy samplingDesperados sampling campaign by WrightObara

Of course, your product positioning will determine the type of promotional activity you choose.

For example, you wouldn’t use BOGOF for a premium product. High-end products would be better suited to product sampling, demos or loyalty schemes.

Other methods could include sales incentives for shop floor staff which are common in the consumer technology.

Final Word: Analysing Your Trade Marketing Strategy

Developing your trade marketing strategy is an important process, but results must be analysed to measure the success and to continuously improve.

As Lana Busignani, Executive Vice President, U.S. Marketing Effectiveness, Nielsen, argues, retailers need access to store-level data to be both responsive and progressive, otherwise the traditional trade marketing planning process becomes obsolete.

Let us know in the comment section below. What are the key metrics and KPIs you use to measure the success of your trade marketing efforts?

trade-marketing guide

Topics: trade marketing, trade marketing plan