Marketing Idea No. 254 – The unrealized potential of trade marketing

There is an enormous amount of talk and research that is going into trade marketing these days. Trade has been hailed as the new battleground of brands where brands are injected with a new spirit or die a fast, short death. But despite the importance and the obnoxious amount of time that is spent in trade marketing discussions, very little is being done to understand the full potential of the concept and how to realize it.

Trade marketing is often seen as marketing to trade. In that sense, its very similar to the concept of  “Internal Marketing”, which believes companies should market themselves to their employees first and then to customers. From that angle: loyal, empowered and satisfied retailers are key to trade marketing. But this particular “key” is often the most difficult part of trade marketing. I mean how can you turn people whose sole job is to handle mutilpe brands (including your competition) every day into an ambassador for you, just like an employee is an ambassador for your brand!! Thats why organizations look for the easy, short cut in trade marketing which is decorating the shop to increase brand visibility. Trade marketing is often limited to one kind of outdoor advertising, POS merchandising and short term trade discount or entertainment program. Unfortunately, these are only the tip of the trade marketing iceberg.

The sooner brands understand that its not about the shop, but the shop keeper, the quicker they can turn every retailer into a hidden brand ambassador for their brand. Here is someone who has the power to sell your product directly and influence behavior directly. Not many people in your value chain has that ability.

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