The Science of Trade Marketing – Issue 1: Introduction and Strategy

Trade Marketing Strategy Agency

What Is Trade Marketing?

We better get this answered before we go any further. While it has similar processes, Trade Marketing is distinct from Brand Marketing in a very important way. Trade Marketing is focused on marketing to your supply chain rather than to consumers. Quite simply, it is how you market your products and services to the customer base that will enable access to the end consumers that your Brand team is trying to attract. You can read more detail on the individual components here but for our purposes we’ll just say Trade Marketing creates access and distribution.

Importance of a Trade Strategy

In far too many companies, the Trade Strategy consists of hiring some salespeople and letting them run around trying to sell to any customers or prospects that will take an appointment. While this will definitely get results, they won’t necessarily be good ones and it is an extremely inefficient model to follow. If your resources are unlimited, by all means flounder about. For those of us with a budget, however, it is best to formulate a strategy

There are several important components to an effective Trade Strategy including Trade Communications, Trade Events, Trade Programs and Trade Coverage. For this article series, we’re going to focus on the most important component, Trade Coverage, and the associated processes. I call it the most important because it involves the bulk of the resource time for your entire sales structure. The two reasons this is so important is because 1) they represent a very large percentage of the SG&A dollars for any organization, and 2) they represent the entire communication and relationship pipeline to all your customer and prospects. With that much at stake, you better make an attempt to get it right.

Trade Marketing Strategy

Components of Your Strategy

When people hear strategy they start thinking about an elaborate scheme that will be the silver bullet their organization uses to slay the competition. Think again. There are no silver bullets and the simpler your strategy is the better. The more complex your strategy gets the more difficult it becomes to understand, communicate and implement. Pick a simple strategy and stick with it.

With that said, here are the basic components of a simple Trade Strategy.

  • Who Are You Going to Call On – This is the definition of your universe. It is a list of attributes rather than a list of actual customers or prospects. It would include things like the geography, channel, type (e.g. wholesale or retail), etc.
  • Who Is Going To Call On Them – This is the definition of your Customer Touch Points and processes. It would include options such as field sales reps, telesales/telemarketing reps, customer service or technical reps and management structure.
  • How Are You Going To Call On Them – This is the definition of your Sales and/or Call Process. It would include options such as a specific selling methodology or step-by-step process for making a call.
  • When Are You Going To Call On Them – This is a definition of your call prioritization as opposed to a time of day or year. In effect, this is a prioritization or ranking of customer attributes that are most important to you.

Next Steps

That almost seems too easy, doesn’t it? Actually, it is pretty easy to develop a Trade Strategy. The difficulty lies in both implementing it and in keeping the entire organization aligned with it. At this point, you would want to document your strategy and communicate it to key stakeholders. From here you would move on to the next step in your Trade Marketing planning, Customer Census.

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Article written by John Howard

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John is the founder and President of Frontera Marketing Group. A graduate of the University of Iowa, John had more than 20 years of professional experience in Sales and Marketing prior to founding FMG. His corporate background included a number of companies, industries and roles including National Account Manager, Product Manager, Brand Manager, Director of Trade Marketing, Director of Marketing and Vice-President of Marketing.

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  1. Nana Adjei

    Hi guys, wandering whether i can get a full introduction on trade marketing. Thanks alot

    January 22nd, 2014 at 4:46 pm Reply

  2. Atif Ahmed Farooqui

    Its a fantastic information. I just like to add one common mistake being occurred by Trade Marketing team:

    Common Mistake of Category Management/ Trade Marketing:
    The big task for a Trade Marketing team is to increase shelf share what ultimately translates in to Category Share and can be seen as soaring market share. This could mainly be done when the team manage category in pertinent manner. You cannot manage category unless you orchestrate your category definition with the market.
    Retailers, Wholesalers & International Customers hold their standpoint and like to drive accordingly. Here comes the error in the strategy. Generally, companies are tantalized by the category growth and rapid penetration of existing brand in household. Without acquiring substantial role start investing in the category without defining it for it in the given scenario.
    We must be considerate for Outside in – Inside Out. This fairly helps in defining the overall category being market driven. Moreover, it also puts up two dimensional category definition views:
    – Defined By The Market
    – Defined By The Player
    You being Trade Marketer need to understand, either to carry on with your Category Definition OR fight the predefined battle. It has the paramount importance as you invest for the logic, thoughts you build and support these logic through In-Store/On Store Trade Marketing Activities alongside Trade Promotions. Your investment at Trade must be secured and guarded by the clear understanding of your role in the category.

    January 6th, 2015 at 2:23 am Reply

  3. Franklina

    Hi Team,
    Nice write up. Can you assist with a link to a write up on trade marketing in Africa?

    September 5th, 2019 at 6:23 am Reply

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