Tired of feeling like an ATM machine? Stop throwing money away! Deductions are a huge drain on your finances. Not all are valid. They can derail & bankrupt your brand placing a huge burden on your cash flow & negatively impact all aspects of your business.



Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #184

Welcome to the Brand Secrets and Strategies podcast where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

I’m your host Dan Lohman. This weekly show is dedicated to getting your brand on the shelf and keeping it there.

Get ready to learn actionable insights and strategic solutions to grow your brand and save you valuable time and money.


I want to thank you for being here. This webinar series is about you and it's for you. I started doing this after Expo West was canceled and I did this because I wanted to find ways to give you more runway, more bandwidth to grow and scale your brand. I wanted to do this to provide this to you so that I can teach you the skills that you need to be successful today, tomorrow and beyond. This webinar series is sponsored by, and I'm really proud and pleased to say this by ECRM, RangeMe, Big Orange Productions, WholeFood Magazine and C-Suite Radio. They're partnering with me to help make this available to you. So let's get started. Five top strategies to dramatically reduce deductions and save money.

Deductions are the biggest pain point that every brand shares with me. If I can help you reduce the ways that are spending our deductions, then I'm going to help you get more runway to be able to grow and scale your brand. So stop throwing your money away. I want you to stop feeling like an ATM machine. So here we go. My mission is to make a healthy way of life more accessible by helping you get your product onto more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers and that includes online. So please help me raise the banner industry by sharing these resources with any brand or retailer wanting to grow sales. So I want to know what keeps you up at night? What are the things that make... so, you can't sleep at all, what are those bottlenecks you need help with? Reach out to me and let me know. I'll do my best to cover them on the podcast, on the YouTube channel and on these webinars series.

So you'll find more information about how to reach me specifically but we rise by helping each other. Know this, you're not alone. We're here to help. As you'll find in a minute, I've collaborated with a lot of other industry experts to help bring resources like this to you. In addition to my partners, I talked about on the first page. 80% of natural brands fail in the first year. I'm committed to change that. Retail is a marathon, it's not a sprint. I would need you to... you need to plan for sustainable long-term growth. You need to be thinking about how do I grow my brand today, tomorrow and beyond, and be able to think about all the things that might throw you off.

Now, granted, none of us thought about this virus, but I've been talking about for a long time, how you need to build an online community to grow and scale your brand and how you can leverage that online community to help you drive sales, not only on your own personal store, on your website, but in traditional retail, et cetera. It's these strategies... and online, and it's these strategies that you can leverage to help all your retail partners compete more effectively. So if you don't know who I am, my name is Dan Lohman. I've had the privilege of working with emerging brands all the way up to brands with multi-billion dollars in revenue. I've also had the privilege of being trained by some of the best companies out there. I was a grocery manager for Price Club, I was a retail manager at various other stores, et cetera. When I went to work for the big brands, I was classically trained in category manager by Unilever, Kimberly-Clark, I even designed the distribution tracker that explains sales, which got them to start selling retail and store-level data.

So I've had a wealth of experience and why I'm sharing this with you, it's because of this, because of my wealth of experience, I have the opportunity to go back and take a look at some of these things like trade marketing and dig into them. So let me frame it this way, when I was carrying a sales bag for Unilever, there are some retailers that seem to deduct for everything and I was spending an unbelievable amount of time trying to manage my deductions. I was pulling my hair out, what little I have, right? But I was pulling my hair out because I'm so stressed because of the amount of time I was spending worrying about these deductions because it was keeping me from doing my regular job selling.

I was an account executive. My boss told me at the time, "Hey, don't worry about the smaller deductions. Just focus on the big ones." Okay, well that's all well and good, but think about how many of those small deductions add up and how that impacts the bottom line, how it impacts your bottom line. So what I'm sharing here are the skills and the strategies that I've learned as I've become a trade-marketing expert. Another quick story. I was walking the show floor at Expo West last year and I came upon a brand that I had interviewed on the podcast before, and when I asked how things were going, she almost teared up and as she was fighting back the tears, she said, well, you know, the deductions from the distributor are so great that they don't know if they're going to be in business from one minute to the next.

In other words, money that they had counted on to help them grow their business, to fuel their payroll and everything else was being tied up by the distributor who wasn't getting back to them, who wasn't communicating with them and they had no idea when they were going to see the money that they desperately needed just to keep the doors open. Does that sound familiar? We'll talk about strategies to get around that. My website is dedicated to being a resource to help you grow and scale your brand. There's a wealth of information there. In addition to to...on my website, you can find the podcast page, where you can find all the podcasts. I have 183 podcasts that you can go back to and listen to.

One of the most popular things that I've done is start solving my guest's bottlenecks on the podcast themselves, so you definitely want to check it out. These are some of the comments that I've had, that I've received from some of the people that I have had on my podcast. I'm sure you recognize those names. In addition to that, I recently launched a YouTube channel. Do me a favor, go in there and subscribe to be the first to get new brand-building content as soon as it becomes available. In addition to what's there right now, I have about 20 some more interviews, 24 more interviews that I'm going to be publishing. So some of the interviews that I've done on the podcast, you can actually get the video portion of it where I share maybe some illustrations and stuff like that to help make specific points.

In addition to that, there are a series of shorter interviews that are going to give you skills to help you level up. I've also got an online course on my website. The best part about that is that several of the courses are free and these are collaborations with industry experts like Bob Burg, Tim Forest, Andrew Therrien, Michael Jr. Donald, Practice Metrics, Kelly Williams, et cetera, they teach you skills that you need to be able to compete more effectively. For example, retail execution or what our retailers really want or how do you maximize each and every instance or demo.

So on my website also on the speaking page, that's where I'm keeping the calendar of future webinars. So you definitely want to keep your eye there and so the next two webinars are coming up are trademarking and goal setting. You can't enter a target that you don't aim for. That's next week. Then how to keep your brand alive today, tomorrow and what comes next, and this is related to the pandemic that we're dealing with now. What are the things that you need to have in place so that you'll be successful today that you can build upon tomorrow and so on? What are the things you need to start doing right away to help grow and scale your brand? Again, you can get there by going to branddecretsandstrategies.com/speaking. By the way, you'll also find links to get the replay so you definitely want to check that out.

So what is trade marketing? Trade marketing is everything required to get your product in the hands of a consumer, not to reward me for buying your product. Let me explain. If I go to a store and I'm going to buy your product anyhow, it was on my list and you give me a discount, well that's great for me but it doesn't help you achieve your objective of introducing your product to a new customer. There are better ways to do that. So that's some of the stuff we're going to be talking about as we go through this. So why are we here today? I want to help give you more runway to grow and scale your brand. So, 25% of a brand's gross sales are tied to their trade marketing, and yet 70 to 90% of those dollars are wasted or ineffective.

Remember, not getting your product in the hands of the new shopper. We're going to help you fix that and help you improve your trade marketing ROI. So let me illustrate what this means. Here's a chart, a table I put together that you definitely want to check out. So let's say that your brand, between $500,000 to $100 million on this table. So let's say your brand has $1 million in sales, and if 25% of your brand's gross sales are in trade market, that's about $250,000. Well, if 70% of those dollars are wasted, that's $175,000, 80% is $200,000 and 90% is $225,000. Now, what if we can help you improve some of your trade-marketing ROI? What if we could give you a 10% improvement on the 70% figure that's $17,500 that you can put back in your bank. So how would you use that money?

Every slight improvement gives you more runway for sales growth, higher brand valuations, better terms in negotiating with investors, fuel for more innovation, greater support for mission-based causes, and it also makes your brand a lot more attractive to retailers as well as investors. Don't forget these savings are going to compound over time. These savings, once... if you'd figure if you think about it, once you learn these skills and you do better next year, well then you're not going to make the same mistakes and you're going to be able to continue to compound, continue to get better and better and better. This is how I help you maximize your trade marketing ROI. Remember, a talented category management expert can help you amplify the results and help you explode sales.

So here's a quick video I've put together. It's on my YouTube channel if you want to go back and watch it again that illustrate why we're here and why this matters. 25% of your brand's gross sales are tied to your trade marketing, and yet over 70% of your promotional spending is wasted or ineffective. Trade marketing includes everything required to get your product on store shelves and into the hands of shoppers, including online. Retailers demand promotions and shoppers expect them. Maximizing your trade marketing ROI means more runway for sales growth, fuel for more innovation and more. Managing promotions is challenging, even big brands struggle with this, but you don't have their deep pockets. Your survival depends on you getting this right.

You're tired of feeling like an ATM machine and wish you could scale faster. You know in your heart that the tired strategies everyone else uses won't help you stand out on a crowded shelf. The light bulb goes on. Learn from CEOs, industry thought leaders and founders who candidly share their insider secrets and advice with you. Now you have an abundance of tools to manage your trade marketing. Retailers now look to you as the category leader because of your profitability to drive sales with your brand. Now you have the skills to constantly grow and scale your brand. The future looks bright. Visit Brand Secrets and Strategies today.

I hope you like that. Another reason this matters so much is according to Nielsen, if you can maximize your trade marketing ROI, you can 13 X your trade spending 13 X your ROI from your trade spending. That's a lot of money to put back in your pocket. This is where you need to focus a lot of your efforts in terms of how do you not just reduce costs, but how do you drive more sales? How do you find more money to do the things that you need to do to scale your brand? In the first webinar, the first one was trade marketing strategies to grow sales and profits.

You can get there by going to brandsecretsandstrategies.com/video64. This is a recording of the first webinar. The reason I'm sharing this, as I cover a lot of the things that you need to know, a lot of things you need to be thinking about as you're building a trade marketing strategy. Things that you need to be thinking about specifically that you can address as you're starting to think about, how do you maximize each and every aspect of your trade marketing. So you definitely want to check that out. So let's dig into the content.

So five top strategies to dramatically reduce deductions and save money. One, become an expert in your retailer. What are the objectives, roles then goals of every retailer? You want to become a valued resource. This is exactly why I created my free Turnkey Sales Store Strategies course. In this course, I talk about how to learn more about the customer. How do you find out more about them? How do you find out what's important to them, what their objectives are, et cetera? So let's frame it this way, the shopper journey's changed. Shoppers have literally unlimited choices as it comes to where they spend their hard-earned money and everyone's fighting for their attention.

What you need to do or what you should do is, help your retail partners remain relevant. When I say relevant, what I'm getting at is how do you help your retailer compete more effectively against their competitive threats, including online? What strategies can you bring to them? This is what retailers really want. Remember, in today's competitive environment, it demands advanced strategies that others overlook, especially in the natural channel. So you need to know your retail partner. So what does that mean? No two retailers are like. So never forget that. When I was early in my career, I remember we used to customize presentations. So I take a presentation and I'd slap a retailer's logo on it and it was customized to them and then I changed the logo, put a different logo on it, and then it was customized to them. Right?

Well that's not really customizing. Don't forget that no two retailers are alike, you need to focus on what their needs are and customize your presentation to better meet their needs. You need to become an expert in the retailers, their strategies, the rules that they have for every category, segment, et cetera. Get to understand that and be thinking about how does your brand fit into that or how can you leverage what your brand does, the unique customer that you sell to within those strategies and what is the retailer's persona? What is the retailer want to be known as? You might hear the term, what is your avatar? That's what we're talking about here. What does the retailer want to be known for in the market that they serve with their customers?

I always put the retailer first, always, always, always and never assume anything. Get to know them. Ask questions, develop a relationship with them. Never ever, ever apply a cookie-cutter approach. This is what your competition is doing. If you can do these simple things, this is going to help you stand out on a crowded shelf. This is where you go from being another box on their shelf to become a valued, trusted, respected resource. Always ask questions. How do you improve the shopper's journey? Think about it. If you're a shopper, how does your shopper shop the store? How does your shopper buy other products throughout the store? How can you help that retailer capitalize on your shopper to make it easier for them to want to go into the store and buy products?

Then focus on the longterm relationship. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. You'd be surprised at how many people you're going to bump into throughout your career that you knew at an earlier stage and people that were bagging groceries when I was younger in this industry are now sometimes the VP of sales for a company. Get to know them, maintain those relationships. Become a value-added solution to your retailer. Stay ahead of trends. Let them know what's going on in other markets and in other categories. If you're a baby food company, pay attention to the dog food category. You might learn something that you could leverage with that retailer to help drive sales.

Never forget that shoppers have virtually unlimited choices. If a shopper can't find what they want in that store, they'll simply go elsewhere. So how do you help the retailer, your retail partner keep those customers coming back again and again and again? More importantly, be prepared for every retail appointment. Leverage each and every opportunity that you have with a retailer to educate them about the customer or some trends in the market or something about your brand or something about the customer that buys your products.

So what is the brand's responsibility? Again, I cover this more in-depth in the mini-course, Turnkey Sales Store Strategies. So you need to become an expert in your brand. You need to become an expert in your shopper, not the generic shopper, female head household, 2.3 kids that I hear we talk about a lot. Is your customer socially active? Do they like yoga? Are they vegan? What kind of items do they like when they buy your product and et cetera? Be a passionate ambassador for your brand. Then, of course, you want to make the shopping journey easy as I mentioned. So what does that mean? How do you make your products visually appealing? Sometimes that has to do with, how do you display them on a shell? How do you merchandise them on a promotion? How do you make them easier for the customer to find? How do you build excitement? Again, things that I cover in that free course, Turnkey Sales Store Strategies.

Remember retailers want insights, fact-based insights. I was a retailer once, I shared that. Brands used to come to me all the time and say, I need you to do this for me, I want my product merchandised here, I need this, I need this, I need this. Retailers are bombarded by that. Understand what the retail wants. Take the time to step back and step into their shoes, kind of and get to understand what is important to them from their perspective. Bring them those insights. They don't need the same canned, generic, top-line information that every other brand shares. They need specific insights that they can't get from anyone else and if you can provide those insights to them, then savvy retailers will bend over backward to help you. Remember, you want to do this from a consumer's perspective.

How does a consumer view their store? Not you, who's in the trenches, sometimes we have blinders on. We're not looking at the store in the same way that customers do. How do their customers look at the store? How do they perceive the store? So this all starts with the customer and consistent brand messaging. So a big piece of that course, Turnkey Sales Store Strategies is about consistent messaging. What I mean by that is, if I tell you a story and you tell someone else and they tell someone else and so on, by the time the story comes back around to me, it's virtually unrecognizable. What you need to do as a brand is you need to make sure that each and every person and across every aspect of your sales funnel, your internal teams, your external teams, et cetera, understands your brand and can get excited about it and share the insights and the... what it's made of and not what's... excuse me, what I was doing, but share... talk about your brand with the same passion and enthusiasm as the founder. This will differentiate you.

Remember, big brands don't do this. In fact, most brands don't do this. This is the simple strategy that I use to push around P&G and Frito, et cetera. This is a strategy that will work for you. Remember, if you can leverage us at retail and you become more than just another package on their shelf, this is how you become a value-added resource. If you can help retailers achieve what they want, more customers in the store, a reasonable profit, and a competitive advantage. If you can help them achieve what they want, then they're going to bend over backward and help you achieve what you want. More sales, better distribution, et cetera.

Number two, be an expert in the category, competition and retailers market. This is where you need to know your numbers. This is where you need to understand what the data's telling you. I don't mean the canned top-line data. So what I mean by that, and I've got a course about this, but true category management, so you hear a lot of people talking about category management and that's a term that's overused in a lot of circles, unfortunately. I coined the term true category management because it gets back to the heart of what category management is. So category management came about as a way to weed out some of the inefficiencies and the excess costs and from retailers go... and from brands going to retail. The challenges are, that a lot of the big brands today rely heavily on what I call push-button category management, a bunch of tools where they put in the... you put in a bunch of numbers and press a button and it comes out in a nice report.

That's not going to differentiate you at. True category management aligns the consumer, the shopper with the numbers and then understands why what happened, happened. In other words, what activity drove sales a certain way? What are customers looking for? What do I need to do to get that product in front of the customer? This is what I talk about throughout the courses, et cetera, the podcast, the YouTube channel. I wanted to get into this more, but what I'm getting at is true category management is going to differentiate your brand and it's going to help you stand out on the crowded shelf. It's going to help convert you from an occasional product, from just another package on a retailer shop to a valued resource to a category leader. I define a category leader is any brand willing and able to step up and help their retail partners grow sustainable sales with your unique customer that your product brings in.

This is not a category captain. Category captain let the big brands handle that, it's expensive. But as a category leader, I've been able to do more and spend less money to try to drive those sales, et cetera, as opposed to a category captain and my... I've done this for my clients as well. This is the best way for you to lower your trade marketing, improve your trademarking ROI, lower your trade marketing expenses and help you get incremental distribution, et cetera. Remember, never, never, never commoditize your shoppers or your products. That's what the big brands do. That's their Achilles heel. If you can understand what's unique about the plant-based consumer that buys your product, for example, that's a lot different than saying a customer that just... what the generic plant-based customer would be, in other words, what are the nuances? Clean level, what does that mean, et cetera.

So let me help frame this and I use this illustration a lot because it's so powerful. So several years ago I wrote an article for the 2016 category... a feature article of the 2016 Category Management Handbook. Nielsen gave me access to all data. It's many, many billion dollars. It's almost a trillion dollars in sales. So total food sales are up 1.9%, natural organic sales are up 11%, natural organic sales represented only 7.7% of total US food and US food in the absence of natural organic was only up 1.2%. Now let me drive this point home. Total US dairy was up 1.5%, organic dairy was up 12.1%, organic dairy represented only 9.8% of the total dairy sales. In the absence of natural organic, total dairy sales would only be up 0.5%. These numbers are even greater when you're talking about plant-based, gluten-free, et cetera.

The moral of the story is this, your products are doing more to drive sustainable sales across every category and every channel out there. This is what retailers want. They want your customers in the store. So we want to talk about strategies that you can leverage to help the retailer appreciate and value you as a partner. So where do you start? Well, generically you start at the category and you work your way down the category, the brand, et cetera, and you want to have something to compare yourself against soon. Now, this is basic category management. What share of the category do I have in the account? What share do I have in the market? What share does the retailer have in the market, et cetera? Then how do you determine it? Are you up or down, how are you competing against the market, against other retailers, et cetera. Then you will start digging down. So in other words, start at the 30,000-foot view as we say and you drill down to the item level, which items are doing more to drive sales in the category?

Well, when I say know your numbers, I'm also talking about how does your brand impact other products without the store. So when you're talking about your numbers, understand not only just generically, how the category is doing, but how do you look beyond the canned topline report? Now, here's an illustration of a canned report, canned ranking report. Big brands with deep pockets can buy distribution, can buy a lot of sales, can buy velocity. So they may look good on a ranking report, but they may be pulling valuable dollars out of the category. So what you want to focus on is what is your contribution or what is the contribution from specific attributes that your brand sells? For example, gluten-free, plant-based, et cetera. I talk about that in a lot of the different courses and whatnot.

So the Pareto curve, I see this get used a lot, and this is something that distracts a lot of brands. So you're left to believe that your velocity is the only thing that matters to retailers and that's not true as I just illustrated. The Pareto curve where this velocity and conversation come into effect is the 80/20 rule. So your brand may be one of the brands that sell the least amount of sales in the category but yet that item might be responsible for bigger sales across the other customers that's the category, across other categories as well. So you want to pay attention to that and not get loaded in the Pareto curve, which overlooks key sales drivers. I dig more into this in the courses, in the podcast episodes, et cetera. So, the better way is to focus on how your product drives sales, what's unique about your customer.

One of the best ways to do that is to think about the market basket. What does your consumer buy when they check out of the store? How valuable is your customer when they check out? So for example, an organic dairy buyer is going to buy organic spread, organic milk, organic a bunch of other stuff and that's a... super-premium products. When your customer checks out of the store, they will have spent more money than your mainstream counterpart than the people that buy the generic products or the less expensive products. So you want to leverage that in your. Now, this is key, to maximize your sales and profits, never, never, never find this out. You need to make this a priority. Make your assortment in your promotional strategy a top priority. Understand what are those key drivers in your certain strategy, in your promotional strategy that is going to help you drive the most sales, reduce your trade spending and help you, again, help the retailer compete more effectively.

Number three, be prepared. Know your numbers to all the questions, don't assume everything. I studied to become an accountant, a CPA in college, and I had to take a lot of law classes. I remember constantly being told that a good lawyer never asks a question that they don't already know the answer to. Apply that same mindset here. In other words, if you're working with me, I'm a retailer, make sure that you're answering my questions long before I'm even asking them because if you're helping me, things I maybe not, would not have thought of that are helping me with my job so it makes my job easier as a retailer and I'm going to really appreciate what you're doing. So I'm going to give back, I'm going to help you succeed.

So here's an example, seasonality, and I use the soup example. How does your product sell throughout the year? What are the things that impact your sales? What are the things that drive sales from one point of the year to another time of the year? Help the retailer understand that. So why, what happened happened. When I was at Kimberly-Clark, my boss used to say, "Why what happened happened." What he meant by that is what are the things that were done to cause the sales to grow or to change or to whatever. So, what we're getting at here is if I lower the price, how does it impact my sales? How does it impact my sales, not only in the category for my brand but in the retailers as well? Then what is the lift? What are the incremental sales that I get from doing that, from doing that activity? So you need to understand the promotional causals, your causals are... excuse me, what are the things that you do to impact sales?

You need to understand the relationship between them. So if I promote my product, I discount the price, I put it on a feature, on a display, how does that impact my sales over and above just having a price reduction at shelf? What are the things that are going to help me move the needle? The needle meaning in terms of sales. Then again, being able to compare that against the market. So if I did something in one account, how does that impact my brand at other accounts within the market? How does it impact the market, the category in the market? How does it impact the retailer in the market? These are questions that you want to make sure that you're answering for your retail partner. Again, you need to make sure that you understand everything that impacts the sales, the numbers.

So in this illustration, you can see examples where a lot of different things are done at once. For example, the temporary price reduction was a display that was a feature at the same time. How did that drive sales? Then more importantly, what was the long-term impact of that? Did I drive sales after the promotion was over? More information than we're going to cover here, but I dig more into it and other podcasts, episodes, courses, et cetera. So you'll definitely want to check those out. But these are the things you need to be thinking about. If you can become an expert in how these things work with your brand and also pay attention to how they work with other brands as well, now you can start putting together specific plans that reduce your deduction, reducing on deductions you have because you know what to expect.

So when you decide that you're going to promote your brand with a retailer, you can tell the retailer how much product they need to have on hand so they don't have out of stocks. You can put it... make sure they've got enough product on hand so that when after the promotion is over that they don't have any back stock or that you can also help them identify what are the other items that people buy when they buy your product. Now I'll give you an example of why this matters. Many, many years ago when I was doing this for a big brand, the biggest... our biggest competitor at the time would have a big promotion at the end of the year. Well, I studied this stuff, I became an expert in this stuff and I knew that that's what they did. So what I did is I scheduled our promotions before theirs.

What I did is I had deep, deep promotions. I put a lot of emphasis into them, made sure the retailers had everything they needed, et cetera so that I capitalize each and every sales opportunity. Now, what happened was, when the big other... when the other retailer had their promotion, well, customers already had a pantry full of our products, for example, toilet paper, which today people are having a hard time getting. But the point was, they had so much of our toilet paper that they couldn't go out and buy the toilet paper from P&G et cetera. These are the kinds of things that you need to leverage shelf and if you can do this effectively, again, this helps reduce your deductions.

So number four, be specific and clear in your communication. Be precise. Be very detail-oriented. This is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. This is where it matters in terms of how you communicate with your retail partners. So what is a promotional agreement? A promotional agreement is a contract. In other words, I'm going to do something and then you're going to give me something in exchange for it. So I'm going to pay you, I'm going to reduce the price, et cetera, you're going to put my product on a promotion, you're going to display it on this end cap, everything that you've got that you'd think about in a normal promotion. That should be in writing. You should be able to hold the retailer accountable to what's actually going on.

So remember the example I shared with you a while back about how a certain retailer used to deduct for everything, this is where I was able to hold them accountable the most. In other words, I had a piece of paper, a contract that said, here's when you get the deck... here's when you get the ROI. Here's what I'm going to pay for the scan down, here's what I'm going to... all that other stuff. This is how much product you need to bring in. This is when you can start bringing at that price, et cetera. What I found was the retailer was doing things outside of the contract. So when I was able to hold them... their feet to the fire, so to speak, I was able to get them to reduce their menu fees, get them to reduce some of their promotional costs. That's a whole other conversation.

But bottom line was, I was able to get them to change their strategy in terms of how they work with us, in terms of going to retail because the kind of get a taste of it now. They were more expensive to do business with than their other retailers in the market and because I had this wealth of information, I was able to leverage it with them and said, "Hey, you know what? We can promote more efficiently with your competitor down the street. We need you to stop deducting for things that don't make sense so that we can focus on driving yourselves." That's really what you want to get to. You want to be able to go to your retailer and say, you have a choice. You can continue to deduct a bunch of stuff that doesn't make sense that I have to spend hours and hours researching and challenging or you can work with me, partner with me, and help me help you drive sales because ultimately that's what we're here for.

So to gain a competitive advantage, you need to have a solid business plan. Now, this particular course is free, sales success begins with a solid business plan. The idea behind it is that your business plan needs to be very forward-thinking. It needs to be so complete and so robust that anyone could run your brand or execute your promotion on your behalf and in your absence. If you've got that level of sophistication built into your strategy, it's going to help you succeed. Remember, most brands are reactive and not proactive. When you're reactive, you make a lot of mistakes. There are a lot of things that slip through the cracks. If you're proactive, then you know how much product to produce to support a promotion long before the promotion starts. So think about how this can save you just a ton of money on its own.

Your promotional schedule. It needs to be well communicated and you need to leverage scorecards. Scorecards are a great project management tool, I'll talk about that in a minute, throughout your entire sales funnel, your entire team, internal, external teams to help maximize your results. Remember, when you're working with the retailer, retail execution. When you're thinking about your strategy, what are the things you want to have in place so that nothing slips through the cracks? If something slipped through the cracks last time, well, let's make sure we don't repeat that again. Well, what do we need to do to fix it? What are the things you need to constantly be thinking about to improve your trade marketing?

Your promotional schedule. First of all, you notice in this example that I highlighted what the retailer needs to be thinking about. I mean, the retailer strategy, what the retailer is doing. Then I overlaid my strategy for my brands, for my products and you can see here, I know exactly what I'm going to do and when I'm going to do it and how I'm going to do it so I can capitalize on what they're trying to achieve and more importantly, I give them a strategy on paper saying, here's how I'm going to support my brand. By the way, I'm going to make sure that I've got X amount of product in your backroom to support it. I've got people scheduled and trained for the demos and whatnot.

So, number five. Recap and assess a promotion with retailers. Very few brands do this, but when you do it, you need to do it and you need to be timely. Now, why does this matter? Well, I talked about a scorecard a minute ago. What gets measured gets done. If I've got a scorecard and I use this to make sure that we're executing properly, then I know exactly what was done, what wasn't done and I have a way to go back in time and fix that, address that. So remember, a scorecard needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. These are the things you want to put on there. Who's responsible for what, when, where, and how is it going to get done?

So when you take a look at a scorecard example, like this one, you can see how I'm able to leverage specific as... the scorecard so that I know exactly who's responsible for what, when it's supposed to be done, et cetera. So in this example, a launch scorecard, one is category management or the new item presentation needs to be ready. When is the retailer sell sheets need to be completed? When do the funds need to be loaded into merchandising? When do you need to have a team meeting to communicate what needs to be done, et cetera? Every single thing that you need to do to ensure success with your promotion needs to be on your scorecard, and you need to identify who's responsible for it.

There are a lot of cool creative ways that I talk about in the module about score-carding in the Broker Management Course and the Trade Marketing Essentials Course. If you want to dig more into that, let me know. But what's cool about this tool is what holds everyone accountable. Now, kind of a side note, this last summer, a lot of good brands from all different sizes reached out to me asking me how do they hold their broker accountable? How do they maximize their internal and external sales teams? So I created the broker management course based upon that. The idea behind it was, how do I help these brands compete more effectively? How do I hold the brokers accountable? How do I create tools and resources that the brands can use to help their broker execute more effectively? So, and if I could actually spend a week with a couple of different brands. So, this is something that's very top for mine.

In addition, I should also say I spent a week... did a broker management course webinar for the Category Management Association, we're talking about big brands. So, this is something that every brand has challenges over. One other point, Madeline Hayden would not pause on that podcast episode, her bottleneck was, how do you hold the broker... excuse me, how do you hold the broker accountable? My answer was, if I'm an employee and I'm not doing my job, you can fire me, right? She said, "Yes.” Well, then why don't you hold the broker to the same standards that you would hold me to? She said, “Well, can I do that?” Sure.

This is how you do it. This is how you hold them accountable. But more importantly, if you can use a scorecard and compare that, or align that with your contract, then you're going to ensure or make it easier anyhow that you don't have invalid deductions. That you can go back into time and say, “Well, you know what? I delivered the product on this day. They started taking the discount on this day. Okay, those don't line up. How do you fix it?” So, more importantly, you want to leverage your trade management and partner with your retailers. That's what this is all about, how do you help your retailer compete more effectively by leveraging the strength of your brand?

Now, I'm in the process of putting together a course I've hinted out a little bit, Trade Marketing Essentials. If you want to know more about it, it's going to be a Soup to Nuts, a trade marketing course teaching everything you need to know about trade management. So, if you want to know about it, go to the sales page at my school. I'm coming out with a lot of other resources, information about it, of course, you can reach out to me. But the point is this, I'm a trade marketing expert, but I'm not an expert in your brand and I want to know what I can do to make sure that I'm giving you all the value, the great value that you need or that you expect from me so that I can help you succeed.

So why does this matter? It matters because of increased distribution and preferential merchandising, more efficient trade spending, maximizing promotions, category leadership. Remember a category leader is any brand willing to step up and help their retail partners compete more effectively by leveraging the strength the consumer that buys your product. Higher sales and profits. Everyone wants those, right? Then, converting occasional customers into loyal shoppers and the way you do that is you simply give shoppers what they want and you make it easy for them to find the products. If you can help customers do that, if you can help your community do that, that's how you convert occasional customers into loyal evangelists. That's what everyone's looking for.

So again, thank you too for being here. I really appreciate it. Again, I want to thank the partners that are helping me with this. ECRM, RangeMe, Big Orange, WholeFoods Magazine, C-Suite Radio. Again, reach out to me and let me know if you've got any questions. On this slide here, you can see how you can schedule 30 minutes with me, brandsecretsandstrategies.com/30min. Then, of course, you can get to the speaking page, brandsecretsandstrategies.com/speaking to find out about future webinars and replays and so on and so forth. So, let me check your questions out.

Okay, so Stephanie says, where do I get this data to do the analysis anyhow? Great question Stephanie. So, where you get that data it actually depends on a lot of different things. It depends on what retailer you're looking at. So there's a lot more to this question. So, first of all, you need to know what kind of data is available and you need to understand what the retailer can help you with, et cetera. So, if you can't get the data from a syndicated data provider like SPINS, Nielsen or RRI, sometimes your retailer will share that with you if you're willing to apply resources to them, meaning having a talented category manager come in and help manage or help guide them to grow sales in their category. But let's say that if you're in a market like say Denver, Colorado and you're in Kroger, King Soopers, you can get that data from Nielsen or RRI and that data is robust and it's going to have all the insights you want, the causals et cetera.

If you're in Sprouts and you're in Denver, Colorado, and you want to know what's going on, unfortunately, there's really nothing that's going to help you. If you want to understand what's going on with Sprouts in a five-state region, well, SPINS can give you that kind of information. It's not as robust, but there are insights that you can use that can help you help the retailer understand how you're growing their brand. That's why I talk about a lot of times if you're able to partner with a retailer, become a value-added resource, then a lot of times savvy retailers anyhow will share their internal metrics with you because remember, you're helping them achieve their objective and as a return, I've had a lot of retailers in my past share their insights with me, their POS data, and they shared it with me and no one else.

So, John says... thank you for asking that question by the way. So John says, my broker does this, how do I know if they're doing a good job? Great question, John. I get this question a lot and the honest answer is you don't. So how do you do this? Well, the way you do this is you help arm your broker with everything we've talked about here. Let them know what are the contracts, what are the scorecard, what are you holding them accountable for, et cetera. Who is supposed to do what? So that you know exactly what took place when it took place, how it took place.

So one, you need to arm your broker or whoever does the deductions for you. Help them understand exactly what's going on so that they can be more prepared to advocate on your behalf. The other thing is, you want to audit them. In other words, hold them accountable. So, occasionally I would pick a few invoices et cetera, and make sure that they're handling them correctly the way that you think they need to be handled. This holds them accountable and it teaches them what you expect from them. So, not only are you watching your bottom line, but you're helping to ensure and educate them that they're going to be doing a better job for you later. Thank you for the question.

So, Diane says, tell us more about the course mentioned, what does it cover? Oh, so, okay, so the course and thank you for asking that, Diane. The course is Soup to Nuts; Everything you need to know about Trade Management. I'll have some tools in there. Again, you're going to learn more about it on the Trade Management Essentials webpage. I'm actually in the process of building it. It'll be out shortly. But on that page, we'll have some really cool tools where you can, hopefully, I'm still working on it, but be able to identify what is the value of promotion, what's the contribution back to the brand, et cetera. You'll be able to assess if you promoted this level, what does that mean in terms of back to the retailer, et cetera. Those are the things I'm trying to put together. I'm trying to find the right resources to get that done. Sorry, I got a little off tangent, but more importantly, this course is going to teach you the skills that you need to be successful.

So, if you're a big brand and you've got really deep pockets because trade marketing software is horribly expensive, then you can perhaps buy the solutions that are going to manage your trade marketing. But just because you buy Formula One race car doesn't mean you know how to drive it, right? So, these strategies are going to help you understand what you need to know so you can maximize those skills. Now, if you are a smaller brand that's going to teach you the skills that you need to compete at a higher level with the big brands. Remember these are things that are not taught in the natural products business schools, seminars, et cetera. These are things that are going to differentiate your brand and by the way, if you can leverage these strategies at retail and you can help the retail partner understand that by doing this, you're helping them succeed. It gives you more of an opportunity to partner with them. So thank you for the question.

Okay, so Megan says, where do I learn more about my shoppers? Good question, Megan. Okay, so the trick is Sales Store Strategies Course. So, the idea behind that is you really want to get to know them intimately. Now, if you can build an online community around your brand for your shoppers, that's usually the best place where you can have a one on one conversation with them, same as you would anyone else. If you could talk to them on a regular basis, one-on-one and develop that relationship with them, that's another good place. On the podcast episode, I think it's 126, Dustin Finkel, Ka-Pop talks about how he uses in-store demos to talk to his current and future customers. Remember, you've got the undivided attention of a customer and you get a chance to ask them, why do you buy this stuff? Why do you like it? What's important for you? That kind of understanding they are trying to build the intimate relationship they get to develop with your customer is priceless.

So, you can do this for social media and you can do this by just going to the store occasionally and talking to people that are shopping the category. Not just your customers, but other customers as well and getting to know them. Then listen to social, do social listing, listening to... pay attention to what people are saying about your product and other products in the category. So, as a side note, one of the things I've done several times is, I've had brands that I've worked with, do a very informal survey on Facebook or someplace else and then we've used those results, I baked them into a presentation form and even though it's statistically inaccurate or whatever, I'm able to use their ideal customer's language in their presentation that they give to a retailer. It's a game-changer in many cases. So, okay, thank you for asking.

Greg. Retailers have a set way of doing things. How do I get them to listen? Another great question. Thanks, Greg. I run into this all the time. The honest answer is, they're not going to listen to you if you're just another brand. So, you need to figure out everything you can about that retailer, learn about them, get to know them, understand how they work, how they operate, who are the people that work for them, et cetera. Go into LinkedIn. Go into other social media profiles. In fact, I used to use LinkedIn all the time for this. I would go in and I would research everyone that I would run into, literally everyone I'd run into in their office and I get to know something about them so I could strike up a conversation. I would send birthday cards to people because I wanted them to know that I appreciated and valued them. You're not bribing them, you're just showing them that you appreciate them as a person, as someone that can help you or just someone... you can help them.

That's the other key point. If you understand what motivates them and you can make it easier for them to do their jobs, then they're going to be a lot more open to helping you. So, how does this all work? Well, several years ago when I was driving a DSD truck, you've probably heard me talk about this on the podcast a few times, as a retailer, I knew what retailers wanted. Well, I started... when I was selling chips, I would challenge retailers to give me an opportunity to prove myself. So, the result was, is that I was getting displays and end caps and things like that that Frito couldn't get and we were just a small regional chip company. So, this stuff works. It doesn't happen overnight. But remember this is the long-term game you want to work on. So I hope that answers your question.

I See, David says, how detail-oriented does my promotional plan need to be? Excuse me. So, it needs to be as detail-oriented as you possibly can. Remember, your plan, your strategy needs to be so detail-oriented that anyone could walk in and fill your shoes in your absence and it still would be executed flawlessly. The more detailed oriented it is, remember you can go back and assess it better because you know what was done, you know, now... excuse me, what you needed to do to fix it or what you needed to do to tweak it to make it better. Thank you for asking.

Rick says, where do I get the promotional causals and what do they mean? Another great question. A lot more than we have time to cover here. So, we'll check into the course that I'm putting together, the Trade Management Essentials Course, Trade Marketing Essentials. That course is going to deal with a lot of that. But your promotional causals are, think of cause and effect. You do something, something happens, right? So, the promotional causals are, if you lower the price, what happens to the sales? What happens to the volume? If you put it on an end cap or display, what happens to the promotional causals all those things. Now, they're not all created equal. What I mean by that is that if you promote in one store, you might get a different result than if you're promoting in another store.

So, there's a lot to this. It's a lot more than just going to a canned report, pushing a button and saying, give me the results. The more you can dig into this, the better you understand it. So, okay and probably, I don't want to overwhelm you so let's talk about it in baby steps. Identify who your biggest retailers are. Put your emphasis and your expertise and your time into working with that retailer and helping that retailer. The strategies and the key learnings that you're going to learn from that retailer are going to help you with other retailers. That's going to make it a lot easier for you then to look at the causals from another retailer and understand how they impact your sales. I hope that helps. Good question. Okay, next question.

Okay. Janice says, will there be a replay? Yes, there will be a replay. These webinars are on-demand as are a lot of them. Some of them are put on my YouTube channel, some of them I won't, but these are snippets, actual snippets of the Trade Marketing Essentials Course that I'm in the process of building. So, part of the reason I'm doing this selfishly is, this is the content I'm going to be sharing. So what I'm doing is, I'm taking this content plus a whole lot more, it's a pretty robust course and I'm putting it together and I'm assembling it and I'm using this right now in your time of need, with things... what's going on in the industry so that I can help give you a leg up. So again, I'm making this available to you now because I want to help you leverage these strategies today and not have to wait for whenever to be able to take advantage of them. But to answer your question, yes, this will be available. I'll have the link ready. Give me a couple of hours after we finish the recording, okay> Thank you for asking.

Okay. Joe says, thanks for doing these, they are an invaluable resource. Thank you, Joe. I really appreciate. Thank you for letting me know. Again, that's why I do this is. I get so many great... so much great feedback about the podcast and about the YouTube channel, et cetera. Again, please do me a favor, help me get this in front of more brands, help me do that by subscribing, sharing et cetera, and leave reviews, leave comments. I appreciate all your feedback. Thanks.

Mark says, I don't have time or the employees to do all the things you suggest. How do I make this a priority? Great question. I hear this a lot. Remember a minute ago I said we'll start with the big brands, the big retailers rather and then work backward. Kind of a pay me now, pay me later kind of a strategy and here's what I mean by that. Not that you're hiring me, but what I'm saying is, the money that you save today is going to give you more runway, which is going to allow you to hire people to do this for you. So, you need to prioritize what matters most. Again, I would focus on the biggest retailer and make sure this is being done right and as you start saving money there, then start investing in people that can help you. You don't need to spend a billion dollars to do this. But there are people out there that are going to be able to come in, run the reports et cetera.

I still am a firm believer that you need to understand how to read the reports. But in the interim, you could find contract people like me, there are a lot of other people out there in the world that I can go in and help you on an hourly basis, manage a lot of this. So, reach out if you need more help. I hope that helps. But by the way, I get this a lot, especially now with what's going on in the industry. It's interesting, after Expo West was canceled, a lot of brands, all of a sudden they were afraid to spend money and they were afraid to... what do we do? How do we survive, et cetera? I get it. I've been in your shoes and I know what it's like to be a founder. We need to help you spend your money smart and teach you to work smarter not harder and that's what we're talking about here. So leverage your free resources by the way, and that helps you get a lot of bandwidth. So, thanks for asking.

Doug says, where do I go to learn more about the retailer? Another great question. So, early on in my career, I took a course called Retail Penetration and what that's about is, how do you get to know your retailer. Well, I gave you a couple of examples, you use LinkedIn, et cetera, but spend some time shopping the retailer. Literally, go into the stores and find out how they lay their stores out. What's different about that retailer versus other retailers? Become an expert in all things at a retailer. Talk to your peers in the industry. Join a networking group like Naturally Boulder, for example. Talk to others and get to learn who your retailer is and what your retailer expects from them.

One of the free courses were done with Mathis Martinez, who used to be the National Natural Category captain for Kroger. In that particular free mini-course, he shares a lot of the strategies that he uses, what's important to the retailer, et cetera. So again, you've got that, you've got the opportunity to reach out to retailers. Then, another thing I used to do is, now this is probably dating myself, is, I would get the newspaper and look at their promotions and I'd look to see what's important to them. So if you're looking at their promotion and you see what's on the first page, the second page, et cetera, the size of the ads, you get a feel for what's important to the retailer. So use those key learnings to help you understand what matters to the retailer.

Now, a big part of the Turnkey Sales Store Strategies Course has you go into retailers and learn how they merchandise your products, your category and learn how they merchandise other products and then understand why do they do what they do. For example, did they put the private label to the left of the most popular product in the category? Why did they do that? What is your pricing strategy, et cetera? The more you can help your retailer, the more you know about your retailer, the easier it will be for you to work with them and help them understand that you're trying to provide real value for them. Then of course once they open up to you, then that helps as well. So time for a couple more questions.

Cindy says, where do I learn about planning and forecasting? What resources do you recommend? Another great question. In the course of Marketing and Trademarking Essentials and I believe it was last week, I did a course about a webinar about, trademark... about planning and forecasting in uncertain times, I actually think it was two weeks ago. That's critically important. So, all the stuff we're talking about now, the more detail-oriented you are, the better you understand the promotional causals, the better your understand your retail partner, the more effectively you're going to be at putting promotions together. As you build your promotions, now you're going to be able to plan and forecast better.

So I gave you an illustration earlier, I think I did, I don't know, maybe it's on a different webinar where I had complete control over promotion. So, there was a big chain that I think is 127 store chain or something like that, where I was able to go in, I built a tool to allocate the product to every one of the stores. So I made sure that they had the product that they needed in each store, the right amount of product, which is different from every store and that there was no out-of-stock at the end of it. It was a scary, accurate tool, really proud of it. But, I was able to do that and I was able to execute pretty much flawlessly. What I mean by that is I understood the seasonality of the brand of the category. I understood what their core customer looked like and how their custom shop. There's a lot of stuff that goes into that. That's a whole... that's a week-long lecture if you will.

But, bottom line is, as you get to learn more about all that we're talking about here, the more accurately you can plan and forecast, the more effective you're going to be at managing your trademark ROI. I hope that helps. So, Jim asks, do these strategies work well online? Yes. Thank you for asking that. They work especially well online. Let me explain. If you promote something at a natural retailer in a specific geography, then you can also promote that to the same customer base, within that same market online. Now, that... if you're putting your promotions out there, radio, whatever, using social media, et cetera, you're driving traffic into that customer while you're also going to help build awareness online. Or you could build awareness from your online store into your traditional retail store. So, maybe partnering with someone else. Think about creative strategies that you could leverage to help get your brand on... help promote your brand with other products. So don't think about Ketchup and Mustard or something like Peanut Butter and Jelly, something like that, think about creative strategies.

One of the webinars or the podcast episodes I did recently, I was talking about that. So the example that I gave you was, Once Upon a Farm and Foodstirs. So, if you think about it, this probably doesn't make sense right away but Foodstirs sells baby food that would appeal to new parents, right? Well, new parents typically kind of not ignore, but I mean, other kids within the family feel left out. Well, Foodstirs sells baking mixes, et cetera so, while the parent is... when they're not taking care of the infant, the baby that... excuse me, then they could spend time with the other children making a baking mix and making memories. So, a creative strategy that you could leverage to help the retailer to help drive traffic in their store, et cetera and when you promote like that, the lift, the incremental sales that you get off your brand will be even higher because you're leveraging the relationship of your consumer with other products and vice versa. So, I hope that helps.

Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it. Thank you again, to my partners for helping me out with this, ECRM, RangeMe, Big Orange, WholeFood Magazine and C-Suite Radio. Again, my name's Dan Lohman for Brand Secrets and Strategies. Don't forget to check out the podcast, listen to previous episodes where I may share some of your most pressing bottlenecks, the YouTube channel, check out the courses. I look forward to seeing you next week or in the next webinar. Thank you again.

Thanks again for joining us today. Make sure to stop over at brandsecretsandstrategies.com for the show notes along with more great brand building articles and resources. Check out my free course Turnkey Sales Story Strategies, your roadmap to success. You can find that on my website or at TurnkeySalesStoryStrategies.com/growsales. Please subscribe to the podcast, leave a review, and recommend it to your friends and colleagues.

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Trade Management Essentials – Strategies To Grow And Scale Your Brand

Trade marketing includes everything required to promote your brand. It’s your growth engine and the largest item on your P&L. Most trade spending is wasted. Every brand seeks to maximize their promotional ROI. There is a better way to grow sales & profits.

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