What Is Trade Marketing?
Trade marketing is the process of marketing a manufacturer’s products or services to wholesalers, distributors and retailers, who then go on to range the product in retail stores or online and sell to the consumer. It is a form of B2B marketing that requires trade marketing professionals to ensure the product or service is the most attractive proposition to the retailer as possible.
What Does A Trade Marketing Manager Do?
Imagine a manufacturer has developed a product it aims to sell in retail stores or online.
Retailers choose which products they want to range in their stores or on their website.
This results in a multitude of manufacturers battling against each other to sell their products in to retailers.
After all, there’s only so much shelf space in a retail store so competition is hot.
While online stores can range more products, they will still need to be convinced the product is the right fit for their store.
To do this, the manufacturer's trade marketing manager will need to market the product to wholesalers, distributors and retailers.
Ultimately, the retailer will want to be sure that the product is going to sell once it hits the shelves or website.
Therefore, the trade marketing manager must first raise awareness of the product to retailers. Pitching a product cold is hard work. Pitching a product where there’s already some demand or understanding is much easier.
Secondly, they must sell the product in to the retailer.
Finally, they'll be required, in some capacity, to work with the retailer to ensure consistent product sales once it hits the shelves, or online.
Trade Marketing Strategies And Examples
Below, I've broken down the vast array of tasks a trade marketing professional is required to perform in their role.
Based on many years’ combined experience helping trade marketing professionals get their products ranged and increase their products’ sales in-store, I also detail winning trade marketing strategies and provide detailed examples.
Because this is a comprehensive look at trade marketing methods, I've broken it down into different sections based around a trade marketer's varied and challenging role.
This is the most comprehensive trade marketing resource online, designed to help trade marketing professionals create a compelling product offering, secure sell-in and increase in-store and online sales.
Click below to jump straight to the section that interests you the most. Alternatively, read on to get the whole overview of a trade marketer's varied and demanding role.
- Analysing market research
- Product positioning
- Product features and benefits
- Product USP
- Product pricing
- Availability (supply chain logistics)
- Buyer personas
- Product value proposition
- Product branding and messaging
- Trade shows and exhibitions
- Social media
- Blogging — content marketing
- Product launch events
- Trade ads (print, digital)
- Vendor / Retailer meeting prep
- Designing and building the sales presentation
- Trade catalogues and brochures
- POS (Point Of Sale)
- Field marketing
- Mystery shopper
- Increasing brand engagement with retailer's sales staff
- In-store training
- Sales incentives
- Sampling and demos
As a trade marketing manager, this is the fundamental starting point in the long process of getting your product ranged.
There is a temptation to skip various aspects of creating a solid product proposition.
However, resist the temptation…
…because if you do your preparation work now in the early stages, it will make the whole process of getting your product ranged and increasing product sales much easier and more effective.
You will not only have a solid product offering, but you will better understand your market, the unique value of your product, and how to effectively communicate this in all stages of the process.
It also makes internal conversations easier to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet and to overcome objections.
So let’s dive right into it…
First, you need to look at your market research.
R&D may have provided qualitative and quantitative data, which could help you gain a better picture of your audience and the market for your product.
What can be deduced? What hypotheses can you make?
You will also need to identify a gap in your market. How does your product fill this gap?
It might offer better functionality.
Or product positioning could be a factor — perhaps the market is currently saturated with mass-market products, and there’s an opportunity for something more premium?
To help identify a gap in the market, conduct a SWOT analysis on both your product and your competitor’s.
What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Are there any opportunities to capitalise on the weaknesses of your competitor's product?
What threats do they pose and how can you mitigate the risk of competing with them?
The idea is to find a gap in the market you can capitalise on within your marketing messaging.
Also, analyse the shopper behaviour within your market. How do they make purchase decisions?
If your product is FMCG, the way in which a shopper makes a purchase decision will be significantly different to how they approach buying a mobile phone.
Impulse purchases are common in some markets, but unheard of in others.
So you’ve identified a gap in the market.
In order to target your niche consumer, you must understand exactly where your product fits into that gap.
A good starting point is to ask “If my product was a…”
“If my product was a car, what would it be?”
It may be an Aston Martin. It may be a mid-market Ford. Or it may be budget Kia.
“If my product was a supermarket, what would it be?”
For example, would it be Waitrose, Sainsbury’s or Lidl?
This provides a solid starting point and enables you to conceptualise how you’re going to market your product in more detail.
Make a list of your product’s features.
For every feature, list how it benefits the consumer.
At this stage, listing the benefits enables you to identify how you’re going to communicate your marketing messages.
Think about your target consumer’s lifestyle. Will it save them time? Will it make it easier for them to do something? Will it make them healthier? Will it feed their family quicker?
Think about how it’s going to have a positive impact on your target consumer’s life.
Real World Example
Take this example from one of our clients, Scotts Miracle-Gro.
It clearly explains the feature, then highlights the benefit.
Now it’s time to develop your USP.
Your USP (unique selling proposition) is the one reason your product or service offers something better than anything else on the market.
This step is crucial as it enables you to identify what makes your product offering different to your competitors and differentiate yourself in what could be a crowded market.
Your USP might be based on your product’s unique features that no other competing product has.
It may be the fact you have a premium product in a market saturated with mass-market products.
Or perhaps it has a unique design, colour, material, size or price.
Your product’s USP may even be your outstanding customer service.
Whatever it is, ensure it separates your product from your competitors and speaks to your target consumer.
Real World Example
At a time when sales of tonic water were dominated by Schweppes, Fever-Tree conducted research and identified a gap in the market.
While manufacturers were competing to produce high-quality gin, Fever-Tree saw there was ample opportunity to launch a tonic water with high-end positioning.
Image source: Retail.edu
Its USP was that it was a premium tonic water, containing the finest ingredients, such as Rwandan bitter orange oil and natural quinine.
And its slogan:
‘If 3/4 of your Gin & Tonic is the tonic, make sure you use the best.’
It just goes to show that doing your market research and identifying a niche can be crucial.
Getting it right enables you to create a USP that talks directly to your target consumer.
When developing your product pricing, various factors need to be considered.
Firstly, determine the lowest price you could sell your product for, while still making profit. Anything above this figure will increase your profit margin.
Be sure to factor in your marketing spend, R&D, manufacturing, and customer service costs.
Make sure you take your product positioning into account. If you have a high-end product, you wouldn’t sell it at a budget price.
Ensure the pricing reflects the quality of your product. Do its features and benefits justify the pricing?
For example, it might be crafted from luxury material that's both difficult to source while extremely durable.
Another factor to consider is your competitors' pricing. If your product is of a similar quality and provides similar features to others on the market, it needs to be offered within the pricing spectrum of competitors’ products.
However, if you are aiming at a budget market and you want to be the cheapest, you may need to reduce your manufacturing costs.
Finally, consider whether your target market can afford your product. What is their disposable income?
Perhaps your USP can justify a higher price. This is where clever marketing comes into play, adding value to your product through distinct messaging and positioning.
If you’re going to sell in to retailers, they will want to know about your supply chain logistics.
Be prepared to answer the following questions:
- When will your products launch?
- Are you selling direct or through a distributor?
- What is the largest order you can handle?
- What is the smallest order that’s worthwhile?
- Do you have the wholesale delivery network setup?
When it comes to marketing your product to retailers, you’re going to need to demonstrate your consumer research and paint a clear picture of your target audience.
What’s more, if you present your target consumer as a real, living and breathing person during the sell-in stage, it'll help to create an emotional connection.
Research shows we first make a decision based on an emotional response, then later rationalise the decision with logic.
So make sure you're armed with a clear buyer persona your retailer can understand and empathise with, and you'll increase your chances of sell-in success.
Having a clear buyer persona will significantly guide your efforts when it comes to creating your marketing messaging too.
Factors to consider when developing your buyer persona are:
Gender: Male or female
Age group: 12-24, 25-32 etc.
Income level: Below £20k per annum, £21-£30k per annum etc.
Usage (if applicable): Business, leisure
Purchase influencers: Online shopping, social media, friend recommendations etc.
Attitude: What’s their attitude towards your product? How do they like to use it? For example, “I like to use my phone for taking high-quality videos at gigs so having a good camera with low-light recording is essential.”
Hobbies: What do they do for fun? Where do they socialise? For example, someone who’s into extreme sports may want a phone that offers good image stabilisation, so they can capture the action.
Pain Points: What are their problems? What issues do they have that your product can solve?
Buying Motivations: How does your product solve their issues? What’s the benefit for your ideal buyer?
Buying Concerns: What could potentially stop them from buying the product? For example, its price or durability.
What you are able to offer your retail customers, and also the end consumer, goes far beyond delivering the product itself.
Does your brand provide outstanding customer support? Do you offer customers different monitored channels of communication (phone, email, Twitter, Facebook etc.) to get in touch about their purchases?
Are you able to offer your retailers an enhanced support package? Do you have a hotline they can call to speak with a product specialist? Or is there a dedicated website where they can find product-specific information?
Can you help support retailers who purchase your products in other ways, such as volume discounts or incentives?
What sort of marketing support are you able to provide for the product? This not only covers above-the-line consumer advertising, but also other marketing activities such as POS and promotions.
Are you engaging with your retailers? Do you have a programme or platform that can help increase their sales team's product knowledge? Do you have a team of product trainers who are able to visit stores to train staff, or an online platform for retailers to become accredited partners?
All of these elements combine with your product line-up to create your overall value proposition.
Branding helps to position your product and make it desirable to the consumer. Carefully crafted branding has the power to provoke an emotional connection to the product that not only attracts new customers, but helps to keep them.
I have placed branding and messaging together here because I believe they are inseparable.
Your branding creates a depiction of the lifestyle your product provides, and your messaging underpins it.
Remember, your brand isn’t just a logo, it’s so much more than that.
Good messaging should succinctly communicate your product’s USP and features and benefits.
A good approach to messaging is to start with the ’5 Whys’.
Originally employed by Toyota Motor Group and known as “Kaizen”, it was used as a methodology to efficiently address technical problems.
This can also be used in marketing to get to the bottom of your product messaging.
It involves asking ‘why?’ five times to see if it can stand the test of scrutiny and address any doubts in the consumer’s mind.
Let’s take a classic example, ‘Sell me this pen.’
“Buy this pen.”
“Because it will last you a long time?”
“Because it has long-lasting ink formulated from 20 years of research.”
“So you can write freely and comfortably, without wasting time looking for a new pen.”
“Because you have a lot of work to do.”
“Because you’re a business man and business never stops.”
Marketing message: Over 20 years’ research goes into every one of our expertly crafted pens, ensuring unique ergonomic design and refillable ink that lasts twice as long as our competitors. Don’t waste time with unreliable, poor-quality pens. When business never stops, why should you?
Shorter message: Premium business pens that last twice as long.
By this point, you should have all the information you need to create a concise paragraph explaining your product’s features and benefits, and a short, succinct sentence that sums up what you do.
Can you explain your product in eight words or less?
Next, you need to build your brand visuals.
When creating your logo or packaging design, bear in mind that different colours create different emotions.
For example, orange is seen as cheerful and confident, while blue is seen as trustworthy.
Image source: TheLogoCompany
Your logo needs to scale, so it can easily be seen at nearly any size, whether it’s 20mm or 20m.
Have your audience in mind when creating your packaging.
For example, if you’re trying to create a shampoo for men that they can quickly use and be out the door, the design needs to be efficient and simple, like ‘Wash & Go’.
If you’re creating a shampoo that’s more of an indulgence — for those who spend hours in the shower enjoying its various aromas — naturally your design needs to be more fanciful.
Image source: P&G
Your typography has to reflect your product positioning.
Serif fonts are generally more classical.
Image source: Dior
Sans serif fonts are modern and clean.
Image source: BeatsByDre
Bold fonts give authority and gravity to your product.
Image source: Independent
Script fonts are best suited for a casual or natural look.
Image source: Businesswire
Build Your Story
For any of your future marketing efforts, you’re also going to need product imagery (photography or high-quality 3D renders).
This one’s a no-brainer:
To consumers, poor-quality product imagery will imply that your product is also poor quality. It’s best to get it right and use a professional.
If your product features intricate styling, or is crafted from premium materials, use close-up photography to make the details jump off of the page.
And let’s not forget lifestyle imagery. People buy into the lifestyle associated with the product.
Which of these images is more appealing?
Image no.1 is more engaging because it communicates an aspirational lifestyle, triggering an emotional response.
Finally, what better way to tell your product's story and communicate its features and benefits than to commission a professional product video.
Real World Example
Here’s a video we created for Pyrex that clearly conveys the product's many features and benefits in an engaging and lively format.
Pyrex used the video in both its sell-in presentation and its consumer marketing and became its “most successful marketing campaign of all time. It has since been translated into 17 different languages.
A product video can be re-used and re-purposed to grab attention and educate via a multitude of communication channels, such as
- Trade shows
- Sell-in presentations
- Press events
- Product launches
- In-store POS
- Blogging and social media
- Retail sales team training
Put simply, it is a versatile marketing tool that gives you plenty of bang for your buck.
Now it’s time to start generating awareness of your product to drum up interest from both consumers and retailers.
Read on to discover the best trade marketing strategies to boost your product’s profile.
At this point, you’ve developed your product's USP, positioning, pricing and buyer persona and considered your supply chain logistics.
You also have a basic set of marketing materials (messaging, product video and images).
Now you’re ready to start building awareness around your product.
For many trade marketing professionals, trade shows are their biggest opportunity to meet potential buyers.
However, it’s important to get your exhibition stand design right.
A good trade show stand design will clearly communicate your messaging and attract retailers.
A bad design, at best, will go unnoticed.
So what are the elements of a good trade show design?
Firstly, you need to (ahem) ‘stand’ out. Be bold. Use colour, shape, high-quality imagery and novelty to draw people to your stand.
Moving images are more likely to attract attention, so it’s important to incorporate:
- large screens
- unusually shaped screens
- LED columns
- use your corporate video
- create a new video specially for the event
- theatre (we're not talking about Romeo & Juliet here, but something that will attract attention!) — why not hire a skilled professional to give a presentation from your stand?
Secondly, your stand must communicate your messaging.
Remember I asked if you could explain what you do in eight words or less?
Trade shows are a prime example of an event that needs concise messaging to help buyers understand the product you’re selling from a quick three-second glance across the exhibition hall.
Your design must also communicate your product’s features and benefits.
Real World Example
Take the exhibition stand design we designed for Viridian, an ethical vitamin manufacturer.
It won ‘ ‘Best Stand’ in the ‘Natural & Organic Products Europe Exhibition’ category at Olympia.
It communicates Viridian's values in less than eight words, using the brand’s strongest elements.
Its illustrative design incorporates the wonder of nature, communicating its natural ingredients and ethical principles.
The unusual, bold design reflects the branding and appeals to its target audience. The hand-drawn illustrations have an artisan, cottage industry feel, the antithesis of big pharma.
What’s more, it utilises in-store theatre to sell a lifestyle that goes far beyond the product itself, including fresh-cut flowers, fine teacups and ornate furniture.
Often, it's the finer details that really make a difference.
Approach your trade show stand design as if you’re designing a theatrical set.
Thirdly, incorporating games or activities into your stand will grab attention and gather prospects' valuable contact details.
(Just make sure you adhere to data protection rules, including GDPR, and ensure the buyer understands what you intend to do with their data.)
There are a number of games and activity options for all budgets. Low-cost options include:
- QR code treasure hunts
- Prize wheels
- Drawing competitions
Of course, there are a number of technological advancements that suit a more generous budget.
Examples of high-budget trade show games incorporate virtual reality or augmented reality, such as this game from Synchronicity.
Be sure to include a separate area where you can talk to your potential buyers and treat them with the TLC they deserve.
And don’t forget to have some mechanism for taking prospects details!
This could be electronic ’touch to collect’ stations that collect prospects’ details in exchange for marketing information. (Again, be aware of data protection rules, including GDPR.)
Often the event organiser can offer data collection facilities, it's always worth checking.
Traditional methods include an exchange of business cards and providing an information pack containing your product brochure and other contact info.
Trade shows are a great way for retail buyers to see a myriad of products all under one roof.
They also present a good opportunity to arrange face-to-face meetings.
Make sure your sales teams arrange their meetings in plenty of time before the event.
Social media is a great opportunity to make connections with your trade audience / buyers.
It also enables you to keep your audience abreast of developments, engage them in conversation (often real-time) and discover what they’re looking for.
I could write an essay on social media best-practice alone, but to summarise, ensure you:
- address your trade audience’s pain points
- be visual with plenty of video content
- ask questions and encourage interaction and discussion
- utilise blogger outreach (influencer marketing)
- tell your brand story
Brands will often raise awareness through quizzes, competitions and photos from events.
Sometimes, social media campaigns can be successful without directly showcasing the product itself.
For example, in May 2015, as part of its ‘one day without shoes’ campaign, TOMS donated a million pairs of shoes to children in need around the world.
Brand advocates got involved by snapping a photo of their bare feet and posting it to Instagram with the hashtag ‘without shoes’.
As a business-oriented service, LinkedIn is probably the best social media platform for B2B marketing.
Make connections with people within your industry, set up a business page and post regular, useful [italicise] content that solves their issues.
And use the opportunity to feature your product on other companies’ channels.
For example, Cheddar inc. showcases products with unique and innovative design and has a huge 451,309 followers (at the time of writing) on LinkedIn.
Think about the most appropriate channels that could help your product to go viral, or interesting and unique ways you can communicate its features and benefits.
Real World Example
Blendtec employs a unique approach to promote its blenders on YouTube, throwing products into its blender to see...
...if they will blend.
Goodbye iPhone 6. Goodbye marbles. Goodbye BIC lighter. Goodbye eyebrows…
And content marketing is one of the most effective techniques to raise product awareness, create brand advocates and improve SEO.
However, content alone is not king.
Good, useful content and successful distribution takes the crown.
Don’t spend all your time shouting about your product.
You need to address your target consumers pain points and provide content that's worthwhile and solves their issues.
Here are the three most important elements of a good blog post:
It Informs Or Entertains
Address your target audience’s issues and solve their problems.
Alternatively, make them laugh, smile, scream or evoke any other emotion with an entertaining piece of content that’s aligned to their interests and is linked in some way to your product.
It's Easy To Navigate
Include headings and subheadings to break up your text and create flow. If it’s longer than War & Peace (like this one), it’s a good idea to add anchor points and an index so your reader can skip to the relevant section.
It Has A Good Intro
It’s essential that your audience is engaged from the first paragraph. If your intro is dull, the reader will quickly lose interest. Set the tone for things to come.
Here are some good examples:
"We all know how difficult it is to get your product ranged in a large retailer when you're first starting out."
"Trade marketing is dead. There I said it."
"I once nearly gave up trade marketing after a very traumatic event early on in my career."
"78 percent of trade marketing professionals are concerned about changes to their role brought about by the internet."
"There's a new war emerging between manufacturers and retailers and I'm going out all guns blazing."
"When was the last time you can truly say your trade show was 100 percent successful?"
Of course, blogging takes time and effort. But if you manage to nail a niche sector, the rewards are plentiful.
Namely, topping the search engine results pages for a multitude of search terms within your sector, drawing masses of traffic to your website and generating awareness across the Web.
How about a bit of good old-fashioned PR to drum up interest?
Press releases are a great way to announce your new product.
Create a list of publications within your sector to share your release with — think physical and digital. Make sure your news is getting in front of the right audience.
You could also write a series of bespoke articles for your best industry publications.
Perhaps a brand ambassador can help you to raise the profile of your product?
Influencer marketing has been a cost effective way of promoting your product in 2018.
Are there thought-leaders within your industry with lots of social media followers? If so, would they be interested in promoting your product?
This may be picked up by their trade audience and garner interest from potential buyers.
Is there an industry trade exhibition around the time your product will launch?
If so, piggy back on the event as the press will already be there. It's common practice would be to close your stand towards the end of the day and invite the press along to a private presentation.
Ensure your trade show stand design is geared towards attracting buyers and gathering details.
Larger brands might consider organising a separate event, and inviting the press and key buyers — this is harder to do with small brands, but if they have the budget and resources, well-established brands can create exclusivity and garner prestige using this approach.
Real World Example
For Prada's press launch of its Phone 3 handset, we created an exclusive, stylish event at Claridge’s, London, in keeping with the product itself.
The launch was held in two conference rooms – one staged for presentations, the other dressed with a simple black backdrop and sleek, polished stands for the product display, fitting with the handset's refined, minimalist design.
The bottom line:
Choose a venue that’s consistent with your product positioning.
Make sure there’s a rationality in messaging throughout all of your marketing materials.
Put a media pack together, containing everything a journalist will need to write an in-depth article about your product.
Take plenty of business cards and brochures with you to hand out on the day.
And @ any contacts you made at the event on Twitter, thanking them for coming. Tag any photos of contacts on your Facebook business page and add contacts on LinkedIn and mention them in any posts.
Don’t neglect those who can’t make it to your event – make sure you get plenty of quality photos and videos to share on social media and with your press contacts.
Be sure to @ any contacts you made at the event on Twitter, thanking them for coming. Tag any photos of contacts on your Facebook business page, add contacts on LinkedIn, and mention them in any posts.
Share any positive press reviews or quotes you’ve heard at the launch (providing you gain permission from the individual). If you provide any entertainment, be sure to share videos and images on social media too!
Consider advertising in relevant industry publications, both on and offline.
Be sure to ask print publications for subscription and circulation figures to gain an idea of the reach of your advert.
Online publications can supply accurate figures too, often able to target ads to relevant sectors.
Reporting tools make it easier to track impressions and click-throughs via online ads.
If you’re advertising in print, driving traffic to relevant landing pages using print-specific web links and QR codes can also provide valuable metrics.
Another potentially low-cost option is the use of creative guerrilla advertising.
“What’s guerrilla advertising?” I hear you say.
It’s a highly creative and low-budget form of marketing that circumnavigates the usual advertising channels.
Take this example from Bounty.
Image source: Businessfirstfamily
Or this innovative example we did for Trend Micro, “For A Cleaner Network” outside Olympia, London during the InfoSec trade show.
Think about creative ways you can market your product on the streets. Just make sure you obtain the necessary permissions, from the local council, landlords and authorities.
We all know the moment of joy when you receive something through the post that isn’t a bill, bank statement or junk mail.
Research key contacts on LinkedIn and send them a relevant, eye-catching piece of print to their workplace.
Today, when email is so prevalent, a well-designed piece of print can help distinguish you from the crowd and get information about your product into the hands of your chosen audience.
If you have the budget, video mailers have been shown to generate high open and information retention rates.
Don't forget to get their thoughts and discuss the next steps.
If you’re a big established brand your email newsletter is a good channel for raising the profile of your product.
However, if you’re just starting out chances are you don’t have a huge email list.
There are numerous ways to build your email list, including:
- trade shows
- a sign-up form on your website
- social media posts enticing people to sign up
- a link to sign up in your email signature
- using LinkedIn to connect with contacts and share blog posts
- free content (downloadable PDFs or webinars)
- newsletter only discounts
- include a mail list sign-up on your business cards
- sign-up on your blogs
Just remember to ensure you comply with data protection rules, including GDPR.
Let’s take stock for a moment.
You’ve developed a solid product offering, gathered your basic marketing materials, hit the trade shows and now you’ve managed to secure a vendor meeting.
It’s crunch time.
In order to get your product ranged, your vendor meeting must be a success.
But where do you start?
Before you attend your vendor meeting, remember to take all the essentials.
You will need:
- Sales presentation
- Product samples
- Sales aids (branded pull-ups, stands, videos, props or other ways to create a memorable impact)
- Leave-behinds and giveaways (such as product brochures, either printed or held on a branded USB memory stick)
Also, take a line sheet to be passed out at the end of the presentation, including prices, delivery dates, minimum order, contact information and all other relevant information the vendor can refer to after the meeting.
And don't forget your order form or digital ordering system should the retailer be keen to buy there and then.
If you’re presenting from your laptop check that you have the right connectors to be able to use their screen.
It’s always worth having your presentation on a USB memory stick, just in case.
If you’re playing a video, make sure your audience will be able to hear it — you may need to take some speakers.
And don't forget to take the power lead for your laptop!
Your sell-in presentation is one of the most important pieces of marketing material you create.
It’s absolutely essential you get it right.
However, there are some important elements to consider when writing and designing your presentation.
Let’s start with structure and storytelling.
You’re going to need to structure your presentation so it flows logically, is engaging and connects with the retailer.
Try to follow this structure to ensure a cohesive story:
- Explain who your target audience is (buyer personas)
- Specify your customer's wants, needs and pain points
- Introduce your product
- What's its USP?
- How does it meet the customer's needs?
- What other features and benefits does it have?
- Highlight the product's positioning and price
- Explain other aspects of the product proposition (marketing spend, customer service levels etc.)
- Recap the key details including availability and ordering process
Earlier I mentioned that research shows we primarily make decisions based on an emotive response first — we then later rationalise the decision through logic.
From the outset, you must create an emotional connection with the retailer.
To trigger emotion and increase the chances of getting your product ranged, first paint a picture of a real person based on your buyer persona.
Highlight what their dreams and aspirations are.
Whether it’s a mother who wants to create the perfect Christmas dinner, a high-flying chief exec who wants an equally accomplished executive car for business trips, or a parent worried about their children getting lost whilst out playing with friends.
Real World Example
Take a look at this example we created for LG on a very tight budget, using a simple voice-over and images.
Next introduce your product, make sure it looks enticing. High-quality photography, photorealistic 3D renders and a good-quality product video will all help to bring your product to life.
Initially focus on your product's USP, and explain why your product is different. During all of your preparation work, you should have identified your product's Unique Selling Proposition. This should be what you lead with when introducing your product.
Highlight the current climate within your market. How have you differentiated your product and how have you capitalised on your competitors’ weaknesses?
Now you can demonstrate other features of your product.
Make sure you tie the features into a consumer benefit — people engage on an emotional level with benefits, whereas features offer a more logical rationale.
Research shows the more descriptive adjectives you use in your presentation, the more you trigger an emotional response in the brain.
Don't feel you must keep it dry, dare to be descriptive and creative — providing you have the essential info.
Increase your chances of sell-in success further by creating a dummy marketing campaign to paint a picture of how you could market your product.
Real World Example
We've created dummy marketing campaigns for many of our clients, providing them with something tangible to show retailers and increase their chance of sell-in.
Here's part of a dummy campaign we produced for Stella Artois, illustrating a sampling stand and POS materials for the launch of its Mixxtail Mojito cocktail.
What will your product look like in store? Do you have an indication of what your marketing spend is going to be to support the product?
The dummy marketing campaign could include:
- mock-ups of POS displays.
- mock-ups of packaging, including the retailers logo and elements of their branding.
- details of an on-pack promotion or a gift with purchase
Remember, KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
The retailer may have seen a multitude of product presentations that day.
Don't overload them with information.
Stick to three key messages — the brain can easily remember three pieces of information.
Focus on your best three benefits and cement them with a memorable image.
Next, justify your pricing. Back it up with data from your market research. [See ‘Pricing’ section in this article]
Now recap over all the main points within your presentation.
Welcome any questions the retailer may have.
If you haven’t already covered them, be prepared to answer the following within the presentation:
- What profit margins can the retailer expect to make?
- What are your sales projections?
- Any case studies to prove your ROS (Rate Of Sales)?
- Are you going to offer large order discount incentives?
- Who are your competitors and what are their weaknesses?
- Do you hold patents for your product?
- POS material availability?
- What’s your allocated marketing spend to support the product?
- Minimum order requirements?
- How do you ship?
At this point you should also provide the retailer with a prototype or sample, if possible, and answer any further questions they may have.
You should also provide the retailer with any supporting marketing collateral such as the leave-behinds and giveaways mentioned earlier.
Include a clear call-to-action that guides the next steps to push your prospective retailers further down the sales funnel.
Product Presentation Design
When creating your product presentation design, keep it simple.
Ensure consistency across all your slides and don’t overload each slide with too much information.
Create a presentation template that looks consistent — consistent placing of slide titles, font sizes, and slide furniture such as your logo will ensure your presentation is easy to follow and looks professional.
This enables the audience to focus on what you’re saying without getting distracted by what’s on screen.
Define a colour palette that represents your brand and choose a brand-appropriate font.
San-serif fonts are clean and modern while serif fonts are generally formal and established.
A professional looking presentation doesn't have to be boring, but it should look clean and considered.
Remember, less is more. Say it with a sentence.
And avoid death by PowerPoint…
…it’s the bullets that will kill you.
Don’t overload your presentation with bullet points as the audience has a tendency to read all the bullets points while you’re still explaining the first.
Real World Example
Here's a slide from one of our clients we orginially received which was very text heavy.
We killed the bullet points and added imagery to give the audience some breathing room.
Looks much better, doesn't it?
Speaking of your audience, always keep them in front of mind.
There are three types of learners:
- Auditory learners learn through hearing information.
- Visual learners learn through imagery and seeing the information.
- Tactile kinaesthetic learners learn through movement and interaction.
In reality, people are a mix of all three, so cover all the bases.
For visual learners, include high-quality images that convey meaning and represent your brand.
For example, choose images that showcase your product but also your buyer persona’s lifestyle, showing them fulfilling their goals and aspirations.
Real World Example
Images are great for evoking emotion. If you're producing a slide illustrating a prize for a promotional trip to Paris, don't just use a standard image of the Eiffel Tower.
Instead, choose an image that's dynamic and aspirational, such as a good-looking couple taking a romantic selfie with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
For visual learners, start your presentation with a video.
This gives people time to settle down and start to concentrate on your presentation. We often refer to this video as a ‘bum settler’ for obvious reasons!
Real World Example
We created this 'bum settler' video for Amdocs, a technology company.
We were tasked to communicate their expertise in Big Data and partnership with Hortonworks.
If you’re trying to communicate a large amount of data to the retailer, use digestible infographics and icons.
For tactile kinaesthetic learners, try and engage your audience.
Can you make your presentation interactive in someway? Give them a product to inspect whilst you're discussing the features. Can they experience the product for themselves?
There was a lot of information to take in there, wasn’t there?
But this should equip you with all the foundations necessary for a winning product presentation.
Other vital pieces of marketing collateral are trade catalogues and brochures.
Note: There’s a difference between a catalogue and a brochure.
A catalogue lists your products, with some features and benefits. It may contain pricing information and also details of how to order products.
A brochure is more of an overview of your business, a product line or an individual product. It goes into more detail than a catalogue — extolling the benefits of the product and giving real-world examples & testimonials.
Good product catalogue design is both an art and a science.
Let’s dig deeper into what makes a great, sales-driven trade catalogue.
Within your product catalogue, you need to create a hierarchy of products.
Unless you’re trying to shift old or underperforming stock, you should highlight your best sellers.
Performing a simple square-inch analysis will enable you to determine how to prioritise your products based on profit generated.
Remember, don't neglect the cover opportunity to feature your best seller.
When it comes to product images, it’s essential you show them in their best light.
Consider product images and lifestyle images, as these can really bring the product to life. They help to communicate your brand and to elicit an emotional response, as well as lifestyle aspirations.
This approach also communicates to the retailer that you understand their consumers.
Book a professional photographer or marketing agency to shoot your images. A good creative director will ensure your product photography is also in line with your brand creative.
It’s all about making it an attractive proposition to the retailer and communicating how these will appeal to their customers.
Real World Example
Take this example, showing how we brought salt crushers and pepper mills to life in Cole & Mason’s product catalogue.
See how there's a clear hierarchy for the best sellers and the lifestyle images evoke emotion through taste and colour.
Large trade catalogues can get very unwieldy.
Break down your catalogue into sections according to the product’s purpose.
Ensure your index page is accurate and comprehensive — and don’t forget to feature a couple of your best sellers here too as it’s the most viewed page in your catalogue.
Succinctly communicate the features and benefits for each product.
Include your sales contact details at the bottom of each page should they wish to make an order.
Better yet, use QR codes to streamline their path to purchase.
These could link the retailer to a more detailed description, pricing, an order portal or even a product video: it’s always better to show them how the product works than tell them.
Want to know a secret?
Trade marketing professionals are seriously missing a trick when it comes to maximising product sales.
Capitalise on the opportunity to up-sell.
“If you’re buying this product, why not upgrade to this higher quality item for higher profit margins."
And don’t forget to cross-sell within your catalogue too.
Just like an online shopping experience, add complementary product details such as ‘Customers who purchased this product, also purchased…' or, 'This product works perfectly with…'
Take it to the next level and link the retailer to your retailer engagement platform.
What’s a retailer engagement platform?
It's an online platform or app designed to turn retail sales teams into brand advocates.
Retailer engagement platforms can feature product academies, comms platforms and gamification to make acquiring product knowledge fun!
The more your retailer’s sales team members know about your product, the more they will sell.
We’ve recently implemented one of our award-winning retailer engagement platforms into a leading global phone manufacturer and it’s been a huge success, providing a rapid return on investment.
If you’re hungry to learn more, skip to the ‘Increasing Retail Sales Engagement’ section.
In this section, we’re going to take a look at various methods for increasing sales once your product has been ranged, either in store or online.
Some of it may seem shockingly obvious and simple common sense.
However, a trade marketing professional’s role is so demanding and varied, it’s easy to sometimes let simple things slip through the net.
And nobody wants egg on their face — a yolky stain of professional mismanagement.
Get the following right and we guarantee it will have a positive impact on your product sales in-store and online.
Think about who your leaflet is aimed at. Where is it going to be distributed?
Make sure you’re including all of the relevant information.
Keep it on-brand and keep the messaging consistent with all of your supporting marketing material.
If a retailer, wholesaler or distributor needs to get in touch, where do they turn if they can’t get hold of their account manager?
You’ve worked hard to build relationships, so providing a professional support service will ensure you maintain them.
On your support website, have an FAQs section. This can help solve most of the frequent issues that arise quickly and efficiently.
Also, make sure the user feels like their issue is being taken seriously.
Set up auto-response emails stating when they can expect someone to get back to them.
Be clear about timescales. ‘Shortly’ doesn’t cut it. State how long i.e. ’We’ll be in touch within 24 hours’.
Hard-pressed for time? Why not download this article as a high-quality, handy PDF to read on the go?
While the rest of the marketing industry adopt online practices, for some reason trade marketing seems to be lagging behind.
With retail stores closing at a rapid rate, and millennials increasingly using the internet to shop for goods and groceries, online trade marketing is a skill that trade marketing professionals must rapidly adopt .
Otherwise, face falling into a pit of obscurity, throwing your dated paper CV in the bin and getting that telesales job you swore you’d never do.
Fearmongering aside, it’s an opportunity to move with the times and be at the top of your game.
Here I provide a brief overview of the complex world of online trade marketing, but it’s a good starting point for any trade marketer trying to dip their toe in the pool.
As we have seen trade marketing has two distinct goals, firstly to get their products ranged in store, and secondly to ensure their products sell once stocked.
Digital strategies can be employed to get your products in front of the retail buyers, but can also be used to increase consumer demand, thereby influencing the buyers decision from a different angle.
Traditionally, once a product is ranged in store, the trade marketing team will ensure suitable POS materials and promotions to help product sales.
In the digital age, trade marketing managers need to translate this bricks-and-mortar mentality to their online retailers. (It should be recognised that most traditional retailers are now competing online too. So don't think just because you're supplying POS material for a retailer's stores your efforts can stop there.)
Attracting customers is just as important online. Customers can be directed to your products through site promotions and other links. Once at your product page, there are tremendous opportunities to influence the sale.
But first, let’s start with the benefits.
Online offers the consumer a one-to-one experience.
Look at Amazon, it tailors product recommendations based on what you’ve bought or your viewing history — it’s like having a personal shopper.
This personability leads to higher click-throughs and more sales.
Online also offers better targeting.
Many manufacturers are working with their retailers to install programmatic advertising.
Traditionally, ads were placed on websites that the advertiser’s target audience would regularly visit.
It was somewhat of a guessing game.
Now, with programmatic advertising (and utilising remarketing campaigns), if the consumer clicks on your product but doesn’t buy it, your product ad will be displayed in ad space on other websites they visit.
It effectively follows them around (some might say a little creepily).
This keeps it fresh in the mind and, once again, increases sales.
These are some of the benefits, but what is slowing down trade marketers from adopting a more online-focused approach?
Firstly, there is cynicism that trade marketers and online retailers have different interests and motivations, which could strain the relationship.
“Trade marketers must shift their mindsets from exclusively traditional media and in-store promotion to include the digital world — requiring a strategic retailer partnership with a single customer view in order for brands to prosper."
~ Phil Wright, Director, WrightObara
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Manufacturers and retailers need to work together to share data, set KPIs and create a single view of the consumer.
Matters are clouded when considering that traditionally trade marketing has been handled in the sales department, where budget is allocated according to sales made.
Conversely, digital marketing has been handled by the marketing department with a fixed budget.
In order for brands to prosper, these departments will require more cohesion, which means budgets potentially coming together.
Then of course there’s the HUGE elephant in the room:
Lack of digital training.
This is probably one of the largest cultural shifts to the trade marketer’s role and one that will require significant investment.
The trade marketer’s role is likely going to evolve into more of a ‘brand partner’ with online retailers.
If trade marketers are to increasingly adopt digital strategies to connect with retailers and work together to increase online sales, trade marketers will need to learn the basics of various digital disciplines, including:
- Paid social media campaigns
- Google Analytics
- Video production
- SEO knowledge
- Targeted email campaigns
- Website CMS
Take for example creating all your assets for a retail environment. It can be easy to forget to provide essential marketing information.
Here’s a good example of how to do it right from one of our clients, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, and their product 'Patch Magic'. It ensures the consumer has all the information they need to make an informed purchase decision.
Here’s Scott’s ‘Patch Magic’ product. It uses high-quality images and a succinct description detailing features and benefits.
Scotts have also provided a range of product images, shot at various angles, while demonstrating the product in use.
It seizes the opportunity to provide further information on the features and benefits, while providing lifestyle imagery to elicit an emotional response within the consumer.
It also provides a simple three-step ‘How To’.
And there’s a list of frequently asked questions to boot.
This allays any consumer concerns, builds brand trust and enables the consumer to make a well-informed purchase decision.
Now let’s take a look at an example of multiple missed marketing opportunities, Westland and its Bulb Planting Compost.
There’s just one image and no description provided above the fold of the page.
The only other information offered is some short tech-specs and a scant list of features and benefits.
It may seem simple, but you get the picture.
It’s important to remember the basics and consider the information that the buyer will be looking for, as it will have significant impact on your online product sales.
Have your online assets in a digital pack for each product, ready to shoot over to the retailer.
This should include.
- high-quality product and lifestyle images
- product movies / TVCs (explaining features and benefits and showing the product in use)
- different length product descriptions
- customer testimonials
- info on how to use the product (text / image / video)
- downloadable brochure, tech specs and product manual
- any warranty / guarantees
- any awards, including images
- product comparison table
- social media links
Many retailers have both retail stores and online stores.
It will benefit you and the retailer if you also have an online asset repository for your retailers to download the assets they need.
This could include:
- digital assets for web advertising
- product leaflets
- product spec reference sheet
- POS — to be printed by the retailer or even printed on demand
- in-store videos
- digital copy of your product catalogue
It’s been quite a journey so far.
You’ve got your products in stores. You’ve been working with your retailers to ensure they receive the right information.
Now it’s the final hurdle.
It’s time to increase your product’s in-store sales.
This has to be my favourite part of the process.
After all, who doesn’t love a good piece of POS design.
As a trade marketing professional, it’s the perfect opportunity to get your creative juices flowing.
There are two goals for your point of sale marketing material:
The first is to attract attention.
The second is to be persuasive enough to make the sale.
POS assets come in all shapes and sizes, why not utilise some of the following?
- posters and banners
- shelf edgers
- gondola ends
- FSDUs (Free-standing display unit)
- digital signage
- floor vinyls
- in-store videos
Real World Example
When we were tasked to create POS material for LG to promote its Optimus 7 model, a phone designed for capturing HD content at high-speed, we had a challenge.
We needed to communicate two features:
- It captures high-quality HD videos
- It utilises DLNA, a wireless method of sending images from your phone to your smart TV
How would we communicate the features and pull the concept through to its POS material?
Using exciting visuals, we made the action burst out the phone screen and directly into to the TV.
We then created FSDUs (Free Standing Display Units), shelf-edging, poster and wobblers — each with a complementary action scene to create a cohesive campaign.
Ensure your branding and messaging are consistent right through to your POS material.
Having one concept with distinct messaging will more likely register in the consumer’s memory.
Planograms are a great way to advise retailers on how to position your products on display units in order to maximise sales.
As a trade marketer, it’s an important aspect of your role to suggest the most-profit driven way to present your products.
Analyse your past and current product sales and determine how many facings products should have on the retail display.
Remember, as the old retail adage goes, ‘Eye level is buy level’.
There are a number of different methodologies you could explore, however these will be implemented at the discretion of the retailer, so your primary role is to advise on the best shelf layouts for your product (or line of products).
Brand blocking, the system of grouping products from the same brand together, is a great way to make your products stand out, and makes them easier for the customer to find on the shelves.
This is a key reason why consistency of brand packaging is important across your range.
Consider cross-selling (cross merchandising), by placing complimentary products together.
For example, pairing lawn seed with a seed spreader if you’re a manufacturer within the lawn and garden care segment.
You may need to nurture some products, moving them to an area with higher sales.
Equally, you should consider replacing products in high-selling placements if they’re under-performing.
All retailers have different requirements, different focuses and space constraints. You should also consider including various planograms as part of your downloadable digital assets.
As a trade marketing manager, you may be responsible for managing the field marketing team.
One important aspect of this role is retailer support.
Ensure your field marketing team provide retailers with access to the products they need.
If they can’t get hold of a certain product, identify where there is a problem in the supply chain.
For example, contact a wholesaler and find out why it isn’t available.
They will also need to ensure products are displayed correctly, the shelves are fully stocked and products are faced forwards.
You'll need to check retailers are conforming to any exclusivity deals. For example if the retailer makes an exclusive purchase to feature your product over a competitor’s, be sure they are sticking to the deal.
Incentivise retailers who adhere to merchandising agreements with wholesale discounts or free gifts.
Consider facing (or blocking), a method of pulling products to the front of the display shelf to make it appear perfectly stocked.
You may also need to nurture products by moving them to an area with higher sales.
It’s time to send in the mystery shopper.
Arm them with the knowledge they need to ensure the shopper experience lives up to what’s expected.
They will want to check the following, but not limited to:
- Were your products in the correct locations in the store, and on the shelf?
- Did all perishable items appear fresh and were they in date?
- Were there any stock issues with your products?
- Were the sales staff polite and helpful?
- Was product knowledge up to speed?
If ‘no’ was the answer to any of these, then conversations need to be had with the retailer. Discussions around the withdrawal or withholding of retail incentives may be necessary, until the issues are resolved.
Ready for something totally different?
There’s a technological revolution currently sweeping through trade marketing.
It’s helping manufacturers significantly increase their products’ retail sales by turning retail sales teams into brand advocates.
So what is it?
Brands are utilising digital retailer engagement platforms and apps to encourage retail sales teams to learn more about their products.
These retailer engagement portals and apps include product academies, a comms portal for news updates and games to encourage engagement and win prizes.
By empowering the sales team with product knowledge and incentivising with prizes, you can turn an average salesperson into your brand evangelist.
Constant engagement ensures your brand is always front of mind.
Our retailer engagement platforms are currently being used to increase sales of media packages, mobile phones and whiskey, to name a few.
If you’re looking to increase your product’s retail sales, feel free to download our retailer engagement programme datasheet.
As a trade marketing manager, you may be required to organise in-store training.
Ensure field training personnel can travel to meet sales teams and carry out face-to-face training.
Remember to make these sessions fun. Often the sales teams have been asked to arrive early or stay late to take part in the training session. Be sympathetic, your training will go down much better if you bring along breakfast pastries or pizza for the team.
Activation teams can also help launch new products to the in-store sales teams.
Sales incentives are a great way to encourage retail sales staff to sell your product.
They can be run through your retailer engagement portal [see ‘Increasing Retail Sales Team Engagement’] or stand alone, communicate through posters, email campaigns and social media.
Trade marketing professionals should work in partnership with retailers to formulate incentives and agree on timing.
Don’t forget you need to get permission from the retailer before approaching staff!
Who doesn’t love in-store sampling?
Yes, there's a minority who gorge on samples with no intention of buying it in the first place.
“I’ll have a think about it and come back later.”
Yeah, sure you will buddy — for dinner.
However, in-store sampling is an effective way to get your product into the hands (and tummies) of customers.
And demonstrations can show customers the finer details of your product that they wouldn’t have understood from just seeing it on the shelf.
Research shows millennials prefer experiences over objects: consider creating a memorable experience as part of your demos and product sampling.
Real World Example
A truly fantastic example of an experiential product demonstration is Lowes' 'Holoroom'.
They created a 3D virtual room that teaches customers DIY essentials such as plastering walls.
The customer was immersed in the virtual DIY lesson, using Lowes' products.
This not only empowers the consumer and drives product sales, but also creates an experience they won’t forget in a hurry and will likely tell friends about.
Think of the best ways you can provide a memorable experience when promoting your product.
Incorporate a competition with your sampling to capitalise on social media opportunities.
Don’t forget to amplify your experiential marketing efforts on social media. A good campaign will work on many levels.
First there's the one-to-one experience itself. Then there's the content you can create on the back of the promotion, that you can use on your brand's social channels.
Finally, there's the opportunity to get your customers to do your marketing for you when you make it easy for them to share their experience online, like this example we produced for Desperados.
Limited time money off promotions, or BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free), can help a new product to get in the hands of new customers.
Whilst tactical campaigns can be a great way of driving sales short-term, be prepared for numbers to drop off once your promotion ends.
Retail promotions you can influence could include:
- loyalty programmes
Ensure you work with the retailer in tracking your promotional efforts by assigning tracking codes or discount codes.
And set a timeline for each campaign. Various promotions are based around seasonality, so what may work at Christmas may not work in the new year.
On-pack promotions are also a proven method of boosting retail sales.
These can include:
- money back
- gift with purchase
And that’s it — a comprehensive look at all aspects of trade marketing.
Give yourself a pat on the back for taking the time to absorb all this information.
Before you go off and apply everything you’ve learnt, I’d like to leave you with a question:
What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing trade marketing professionals?
Let me know in the comments section below.
And if you found this article useful, please share the love by clicking the share icons at the top of the page.
Thanks for reading and good luck.
Fancy A Chat?
If you’d like to learn more about any of our trade marketing services mentioned in this article, contribute to any of our trade marketing content, or would simply like to have a chat with us for some free trade marketing best-practice advice…
...call us now on 020 70 60 2711, or email email@example.com.
Alternatively, book a free consultation with one of our trade marketing experts at a time convenient to you.
No sales pressure. No obligations. No hassle.