Any business owner with something to sell understands the importance of appealing to modern consumers.
It’s not just about coming up with terrific products and services that make life easier, either. It’s about making sure your target demographic knows about them and understands the associated benefits well enough to pull the trigger on a purchase.
However, far too many people forget they also need to win over the retailers, distributors, and wholesalers responsible for bringing their products to the public.
That’s where trade marketing comes in.
Here’s a closer look at what trade marketing is all about, why it’s so important, and how you can put together a winning strategy of your own.
What is Trade Marketing?
While traditional marketing is aimed at consumers with the intent to raise brand awareness and drive sales, trade marketing is a B2B approach meant to get a given product onto shelves so consumers can purchase it.
After all, your goods don’t make it into your customer’s waiting hands without assistance.
Third parties like retailers and wholesale suppliers are crucial, so a thorough digital marketing campaign includes strategies for getting the right ones to support your products.
Trade marketing directly targets such entities, so its end goal isn’t finalizing a consumer sale.
Instead, it’s selling potential partners on the benefits of carrying a brand’s products in the first place.
Why is Trade Marketing Important?
Understanding trade marketing and integrating it into your ongoing strategy is vital because it ensures all your bases are covered.
If no one’s carrying your products and stocking them on shelves, then they’re not making it to consumers, either.
But as with your customers, you need to give retailers and distributors good reasons to partner with you and help you sell your wares.
A solid trade marketing strategy can often be the X-factor that helps a given business pull ahead of the competition, especially if that business specializes in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).
It’s also the key to establishing, building, and maintaining positive, long-term relationships with various members of your business’s supply chain.
- A successful trade marketing strategy can be a virtual guarantee that there will always be enough product supply to meet demand.
- Stronger relationships with suppliers may lead to preference of your products over your competitors’.
- Since so many business owners ignore or don’t understand trade marketing, you’ll have an instant edge over many of your competitors.
- Better trade marketing means more opportunities to grow your business and expand your reach.
How to Create Your Trade Marketing Strategy
Understanding what trade marketing is all about and why it’s important is only the beginning of putting it to work for you. The rest is all about coming up with a winning strategy to help you reach your business goals.
Here’s a look at how to put one together from start to finish.
1. Do your market research
Every great marketing campaign starts with thorough market research, and trade marketing is no exception.
Where are the gaps in your current market, and how can your company fill them better than your competitors can?
What sets your product apart and makes it a better buy than something comparable?
Perhaps your products are unlike anything else currently out there or could save your customers a fortune in time, money, or effort.
Maybe they do a better job of addressing a critical consumer issue.
Identify your product’s unique selling proposition (USP) and make it the basis of your ongoing trade marketing campaign.
2. Work out your pricing details
When settling on a price point for your product, it’s essential to consider all the key factors.
However, you should always start by figuring out the lowest possible price you could sell it for while still turning a profit.
Anything over and above that will, of course, boost your profit margin even further.
Additional considerations to keep in mind when setting price include:
- Product positioning, as high-end products should never sell at bargain price points.
- Product quality, including any features or unique benefits.
- Price points attached to similar competing products.
- The average budget of your target demographic.
3. Be prepared to explain availability
Whenever you’re looking to pitch a product to suppliers or retailers, you should be thoroughly prepared to discuss the logistics of your supply chain.
Before approaching your targets, make sure you can answer questions like the following in detail.
- When is the launch date of your product?
- Do you sell your products directly, or do you use a distributor?
- What are the largest and smallest orders your company is prepared to handle moving forward?
4. Prepare a pitch for your product
Retailers and other potential B2B partners will expect you to fully introduce them to your product, so make sure you’re prepared to show its value from every possible angle.
Start with a detailed analysis of your buyer persona.
Who is your target audience, and why would they be interested in your product? How old are they, where do they live, and what’s most important to them?
For best results, be sure to paint your would-be buyers as real people to help your target make an emotional connection with you and your brand.
Be prepared to make a solid value proposition, as well.
Why is your product the one a retailer would want on their shelves? Are you offering any perks in exchange for carrying your products — like an enhanced support package or a volume discount, to name just a couple of examples?
Remember, it pays to make your partners feel special.
5. Work on your branding
Products that are virtually irresistible to consumers are likely to be just as desirable to retailers and distributors.
That said, working on your branding campaign isn’t just a great way to attract the attention of potential customers. It’s an essential part of effective trade marketing, as well.
Remember, your brand is more than just a logo, a color scheme, or a couple of catchy slogans. It encompasses the values and lifestyle choices your products represent.
Great branding isn’t just about communicating the practical benefits of a product. It’s about the more significant ways a person’s life could change for the better if they purchased that product.
What are Some Examples of Trade Marketing Strategies?
Now that you know how to plan a trade marketing plan with potential, it’s time to look at some basic strategies for conveying your message to your targets.
Here are some common examples to consider.
Trade shows provide a wealth of opportunities to network with potential business partners and explore new possibilities. Everyone there is already open to forging such alliances.
Plus, trade shows provide an ambitious marketer with lots of chances to brand-build.
Granted, the pandemic has changed a lot about how trade shows occur. However, traditional shows and expos are bound to make a big comeback sooner or later.
Everyone loves a great deal, and this definitely includes your future distributors and retail partners.
So get together with the rest of your marketing team and brainstorm possible promotions and offers that might motivate would-be clients to reach out to you.
Don’t be afraid to court your prospects a little. Make them feel special and valued.
Show them you’re after a genuine, mutually beneficial relationship and that they’re more than just another name on a list to you.
Again, it’s not possible to overemphasize the importance of branding to your trade marketing campaign.
Remember that your future partners most likely won’t be interested in making a quick buck with a one-off collaboration.
Like you, they’re in it for the long haul, both with their customers and the other businesses they collaborate with.
They’re looking for products with staying power — products their clients will want in their lives for many years to come. That level of loyalty is a direct result of effective branding.
As is the case with any type of marketing, the more sets of eyes you can get on your brand and products, the better.
Marketing options like dedicated ads, articles, write-ups, and the like are great ways to make this happen.
Advertisements can be broad to build better brand awareness or targeted, the better to reach a specific demographic.
The better a job your company is already doing with advertising, the easier it will be for any retailers you partner with to do their jobs.
Like other types of marketers, trade marketers need to stay in step with the times, which means thorough digital marketing these days.
Not only does the digital world offer plenty of unique marketing opportunities, but many traditional trade marketing approaches transfer well to the digital realm, as well.
Generate leads and keep in touch with prospective clients via modern staples like social media, content marketing, and email correspondence.
Some marketers may also wish to balance these approaches with more personal outreach tactics like phone calls or in-person meetings when it makes sense to do so.
Wrap Up: Nail Your Trade Marketing Efforts by Making Your Customers Feel Like Royalty
These days, your customers want and expect more from a buying experience than just a great product to add to their repertoire, and this is just as much the case for B2B clients.
They want a personal relationship with the brand behind that product and to feel like their purchase decision makes them part of something bigger.
Making sure your customers and clients feel that way is about cultivating a positive customer experience.
Check out our detailed guide on why customer experience is so important, what your customers are really looking for from your brand, and how you can give it to them!