By Greg Thorpe, business director, MARS\Y&R
Among the clutter of ‘how to’ guides discussion of trade marketing strategies has been strangely absent. A sound trade marketing strategy is essential for ensuring the broader brand push to engage shoppers and consumers, in order to achieves all of its objectives.
So what are the rules to developing a successful trade campaign?
1. Collaborative, long term planning
Staff campaigns need to be developed with as much planning and focus as a shopper campaign. Many official Olympic brands have taken a truly collaborative, partnership-style approach to working with their trading partners across every channel.
When you consider that Tesco employs around 300,000 people and Boots 100,000 it’s clear that the trade audience is significant and that a properly thought-out approach is essential.
Treat your trade marketing campaign as you would a consumer facing shopper campaign; plan regular initiatives and contact, meeting the objectives of both parties.
2. Building deeper relationships
Because of the size of the retail organisations you are working with, it’s likely that a buyer will ask the brand to work closely with the retailer’s HR and internal comms teams. It’s important to build these broader relationships to secure buy-in for your trade campaign.
Gone are the days of getting a poster campaign organised in staff rooms in just a couple of days. Everything needs to be booked well in advance and there are strict guidelines covering what materials can be used and the tone and language deemed suitable.
3. Using the most effective communication tools available within customer organisations
Your trade campaign will normally be able to benefit from a broad range of communication channels depending on the retailer organisation in question. They include:
- Staff head office events, e.g. experiential campaigns
- Staff magazines / newsletters
- In-store POS
- Retailer-owned local schemes that brands can tap into
- Display incentives
However it’s surprising how many brands forget some of the basics when it comes to dealing with a trade audience. While computer/web based channels are ideal for a head office audience, they are less appropriate for shop floor employees.
4. Reward motivation
The success of the consumer facing shopper campaign can be dramatically improved by securing the support and involvement of the trade. Key basics such as keeping promotional packs stocked up, increasing their prominence and recommending products to shoppers can dramatically impact how a campaign performs in store.
The year run up to the Olympics has been a great time to work for a leading retailer with a host of rewards and prizes on offer from official sponsors including running with the Olympic flame, tickets for the Olympics and Paralympics and branded merchandise. Olympic sponsor brands have been promoting these opportunities via events at retailer head offices and exposure in employee newsletters and other channels.
5. Tailor activities so that they tap into retailers’ own positioning and initiatives
Many of the larger retailers and other trading organisations you deal with will have their own broad communications platform (internal and external) that will also impact on other initiatives that sit outside it. So be aware of what the retailer brand stands for and work with this, rather than against it.
6. Ensure it is a faultless ‘brand experience’
Just as you would ensure that a consumer-facing promotion had a totally robust back end, it’s important to do the same when planning something similar for retailer teams.
Ensure that the whole brand experience – from logistics to communications - is seamless so that you truly engage your trade audience every step of the way.
7. Evaluate success, and build learnings into the next campaign
Evaluate with the same rigour that you would apply to consumer facing campaigns. And in the case of the Olympics, there is a definite view that the value and legacy of the work, both consumer and trade, will be judged over a period of several years rather than immediately post event.
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