25% of a brands gross sales are tied to your trade marketing and yet over 70% is wasted of ineffective, more in natural. Trade marketing includes everything required to promote your brand. Let’s fix that! There is a better way to grow sales & profits



Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #179

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.


Do you want to know the single best way to grow and scale your brand? If you do, then you're in the right place. Welcome. The best thing that I can help you do is to save money, to help you grow sales, to help you get your product on more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. And the best way that I can do that is to help level the playing field between you and your most sophisticated counterpart. The way I'm going to help you do that is by teaching you skills that are overlooked in this industry, skills that believe or not even the big brands struggle with.

What I want to talk about today is trade marketing. Trade marketing represents a quarter of your entire gross sales and yet 70 to 90% of your trade spending is wasted. And the reason that this matters is because every site improvement means more runway for sales growth, higher brand valuations when you're working with investors, better terms to negotiate with investors and fuel for more innovation, greater support for missions and causes, and more runway to grow sales on. This is the thing that you need to be thinking about during these uncertain times. How do you compete at a higher level? And the best part about it is that if you can get this right if you can learn these strategies today when things are difficult, it's going to add even more rocket fuel to grow, so you definitely want to stay tuned.

I've been working hard to raise the bar in this industry, and so all my articles, all my content is dedicated to helping you get your product into more store shelves and in the hands of more shoppers. I've been doing a podcast now. I'm up to 178 episodes. I've also got a new YouTube channel, which I recently launched where you'll be able to see this video. More importantly, I've decided to start doing webinars. Webinars to solve some of your most pressing questions. What I'd appreciate you do is reach out to me and let me know what are your greatest pain points? What are the things that keep you up at night? What are the problems that I can help you solve? There's information about how to contact me in this presentation.

This presentation, as I mentioned, is the first webinar that I gave. It was live and I want to share it with you because there's a lot of valuable information that you're going to want to leverage to grow and scale your brand. Toward the end of the webinar, I share something that I'm working on that I'd love to get your input on. I'd really appreciate your support in helping me help you grow more sales, more about that toward the end of the webinar. As always, I want to thank you for listening. This show is about you and it's for you. In appreciation for your time, there's a free downloadable guide for you. At the end of every podcast episode, I always include one, easy to download, quick-to-digest strategy that you can instantly adopt and make your own. One that you can use to grow sustainable cells and compete more effectively with.

And don't forget to go back and listen to previous episodes where I may solve some of your most pressing bottlenecks, you know the things that keep you up at night? Remember, the goal here is to get your product into more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. If you like this episode, please share it with a friend, subscribe and leave a review. And on this episode, don't forget, the actual presentation is on YouTube where I share the slides. A lot of times, I'll be making references to specific slides and you'll get to see those on the YouTube video. But I thought this was so valuable that I also wanted to make the audio available on the podcast. And so now, here's the live webinar presentation that I gave, train marketing strategies to grow sales and profits.

Thank you for being here. I appreciate it. Anyhow, we'll go ahead and get started. So anyhow, welcome. Today, we're going to be talking about trade management essentials to grow and scale your brand. And one of the reasons I want to talk about that is that because of all these uncertain times that we're in right now, a lot of brands are struggling to figure out what do they do next, how do they succeed, how do they compete more effectively, and the best way I can help you do this is by helping you better manage your trade management. Now, your trade management is everything that you spend to get your product in the hands of a consumer. So my mission, first of all, is to make our healthy way of life more accessible by helping you get your products on more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. So, please help me raise the bar natural, so share these resources to any brands wanting to grow and scale.

Now, one of the things I'd like to know is what are the things that keep you up at night? Let me know and we can work together to solve it. If you want to send me an email or reach out to me or schedule some time to talk to me, I'd love to be able to help. In addition to that, I'm also going to start doing these webinars on a regular basis and if you share with me what your pain points are, then I can incorporate those into this series of webinars. So if you can please let me know what you want me to help you solve, what you want me to work on, then I'll be happy to address that.

So I've got a lot of resources to help support you, just to kind of give you a little bit of framework of who I am and how I can help you. So my website is dedicated to being a resource to you and your entire team. And so as you can see, I've got a lot of robust resources. In addition to that, I've got a podcast, and I just published Episode 178 and you can see some of the comments that people left me. And as you can see, I'm getting a lot of great traction, a lot of great feedback and I've been able to speak with a lot of the leaders in the industry who validate and candidly shared their advice with you.

In addition to that, I just recently launched a YouTube channel. And on the YouTube channel, you're going to find a lot of the more recent interviews, in addition to a lot of brand-building content. For example, I've got shorter episodes that I share on a regular basis that are going to help solve a specific problem. For example, this last week's episode, which I haven't posted on YouTube yet, but on the podcast was how to do planning and forecasting to relevant topics for today's webinar. In addition to that, I've got it for a school and the school teaches a lot of the things that you're not going to see or hear or learn about in any of the business schools, etc., so you definitely want to check it out. And the best part is that several of the courses are free. In fact, several of the courses are collaborations leveraged out as a resource to help support you and your brand.

So first of all, let's start with a couple of truths. First of all, people still need to eat. Two, healthy food is the best defense against any virus or any disease. Your customers need you now more than ever. Think about it. Customers want healthy products that can help support them through this and any other situation. Retailers also need you now more than ever, and the reason they need you is that they need your products on their shelves, they need you to help drive traffic, profitable traffic in their store.

So, there are a couple of key terms that I want to share with you. One, the share of wallet, is everything that's on your list. What are you going to buy when you go to the grocery store? What are the things that you're looking for when you go into a store? So if you think about it, let's say you have $400 to spend on a month. Well, the goal for every retailer is to try to get you to spend all those $400 in their store and not invite you to go to their competition. And the other term I want to have you be made aware of is market basket. Market basket is the sum total of all the dollars that you spend as you leave the store. Now, the reason that this is relevant is that the customers that you attract are going to be far more valuable to the retailer than other customers. Therefore, your ability to drive sales in their store is not just limited to your item alone, but rather all the items that people buy when they buy your product. We'll talk more about that in a minute.

Eighty percent of the natural brands fail within the first year, and I'm committed to change it and that's why we're doing this today. Retail is a marathon, not a sprint, so we want to help you plan for sustainable long-term growth. So why are we here today? Well, first of all, there's a lot of uncertainty, especially today with what's going on with Expo West being canceled and so on, but more importantly, we want to help give you a bright future and part of that bright future is giving you the confidence to be able to make the right decisions to grow and scale your business.

Status quo today is fear. A lot of people are fearful of what tomorrow is going to look like, so we want to help you with that by giving you the strength that you need to be able to support your business and be able to help you grow your business. A lot of people, a lot of business owners have anxiety. What are they going to do? How are they going to get their product on the store shelf, etc.? That's why we're here today. So we're going to help give you that calm, that sense of calm, that's going to help you keep focused on what you're doing. A lot of stress in the industry right now, how brands are going to survive. We're looking for different strategies to get on retail shelve. I've got a lot of strategies that are going to help you. So, that all begins with a solid plan and we'll get more into that in a minute.

And then, of course, overwhelmed. So, there are a lot of brands are feeling overwhelmed today especially with everything that's going on, so we want to help support you. We want to give you the resources as I showed you a minute ago. All those resources on my website, the podcast, the YouTube channel, the courses, they're dedicated to helping you get your product in more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. I put together this short video that kind of helps illustrate why we're here.

Twenty-five percent 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 can really 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.

And with that, we now get into the presentation and the reason I wanted to share that is that that helps frame what we're going to be talking about today. If you don't know who I am. My name is Dan Lohman. I've had the privilege of working with from pre-revenue all the way up to multibillion-dollar brands. And one of the things that I've been able to help those brands do is grow and scale. I'm also the first person certified at the highest level of category management efficiency. And on this chart here, you can see what that covers.

I've also had the unique privilege of working with unlimited resources when I was working for Kimberly-Clark and Unilever, etc. And while working with those brands, I developed a lot of innovative strategies around trade marketing that are still in use today. In addition to that, I also used to work for Spin. So if you've ever seen their distribution tracker, I'm the one who created that and I created that to convince them to start selling retailer and store-level data. In fact, from what I understand, they're still selling it. But the point of that was before, brands were blind to what's being sold on a retail shelf. So I want to leverage those strategies to help you get your product into more store shelves and in the hands of more shoppers.

Now, I've been the keynote a lot of different events and this is what brands tell me when we talk about trade marketing. Why do brands promote? Well, retailers and distributors demand them and shoppers expect them, and that's true. However, there are better ways to spend your money to drive traffic into a store. Everyone is doing it. Well, yeah, that's true, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you should be doing it at the same level. And we'll talk about various strategies to help you identify which are the best promotions and which aren't. And then I was told I had to do promotions. Well, everyone's going to tell you that, but the reality is that everything's negotiable in this industry and you can leverage the insights, that we're going to be talking about today, to decide which promotions are best for you.

And then you're also taught that this is the only way to get customers to buy your product, and nothing can be further from the truth. Mainstream brands and retailers will tell you that the only way to get your product in the hands of a consumer is to discount it heavily and that is not true. If it was true, then decadent and luxury items would be declining in sales, and they're not. So the reason I wanted to highlight this is I want to give you the power to leverage to be able to drive sales or in shelf by choosing the promotions that are best for you, and I'm sure you've heard a lot of other answers as well. But the real answer is to introduce your brand to their new shopper. In other words, if I was going to buy your product in Hill and I walk into a store and you've got your product promoted, well, that's great, that benefits me, but it's not necessarily the best thing for your brand. So, we'll talk about some strategies around that.

I want to start the conversation or reframe the conversation around the customer journey's change. Customers have literally unlimited choices as to where they spend their hard-earned money, so we need to do everything in our power to make it easier for customers to find and buy your product. Retailers have all the power. I want to challenge that myth that retailers have all the power. The reality is retailers need you as you need them and you'll see why in a minute.

Retailers generically don't make anything. What they do is they sell other people's stuff. What they do is they try to squeeze as much margin as that small server space that your product takes up on their shelf. Retailers sell-real estate in the form of space that your product occupies, that small server space? Retailers cannot possibly be experts in every item they sell and in every category that they're in, so they need your help. Retailers need brands willing and able to help them drive sales and this is where you come in and these strategies we're talking about today.

Brands need to be experts in their products and in the competitors' products as well as what are the trends in your category. Brands need their own customers and this is critically important. When you put your product on a retail shelf, you don't know who that customer is that buys it. I have strategies that I talk about here and on the podcast, etc. that will help you own your customer and that's critically important to your survival and we'll talk about that more as we go on.

Brands and retailers need to work together. In other words, they need your help as much as you need theirs, and remember, in this industry, everything is negotiable. So as I mentioned, shoppers have all the choices, brands need to have a multi-channel approach to leverage sales across all platforms. One of the things I think is extremely important, the reason I'm sharing this is because this is a point that I don't think it's getting across to a lot of the mainstream retailers. Yet, this is your strongest argument when working with a retailer.

So several years ago, I did a feature article for the 2016 category management handbook and I had access to all that Nielsen data, that's a multibillion-dollar category. So back then, total food sales were up 1.9%, total natural organic sales were up 11%, natural organic sales represented only seven points, 7% of that multibillion-dollar pie, and yet total food sells in the absence of natural organic will not only be up 1.2%. So, let me drive this home.

Total U.S. dairy sales were up 1.5%, total organic dairy sales were up 12.1%. Total organic dairy represented only 9.8% of that multibillion-dollar pie and yet, in the absence of organic dairy, total dairy sales would only be up 0.5%. Now, the reason this matter is because it's that small sliver of the sales of organic sales that are driving sales across all every category. Now, the reason this is relevant is because this is even more relevant if you're dealing with plant-based, gluten-free, etc. So, the point is that these are the trends that are driving sales across every category. Therefore, retailers need you more today to help drive profitable sales in their store.

Now, this all begins with the customer and that all begins with consistent brand messaging. I came up with a course or developed a course several years ago called Turnkey Sales Story Strategies. And the reason for this is that we all share our story in our own voice and fundamentally, this is the Achilles heel of big brands. So if you can do this and do this well, if you get it, it will give you a significant sustainable competitive advantage.

So let me illustrate it this way. When I share my story with someone else and then they share it with someone else, and so on, by the time it comes back around to me, it's virtually unrecognizable. And so the idea behind this is that if you can share your story consistently across your entire sales funnel at the same passion and enthusiasm, that's going to give you a competitive advantage. So this is the foundation that you need to build your brand on. So, I highly recommend you go ahead and take the course. Again, it's free.

So what does the core natural shopper look like? Well, a lot of big brands and a lot of big retailers tend to commoditize the shopper, but the reality is we are not clothes. Have you ever gotten a great deal on something that you didn't like? Of course, we all have. Committed natural shoppers do not settle. They want what they want. So, how well do you know your core shopper? That goes back to this course.

So when I was learning about this industry, about how to identify the customer, it was female, had a household 2.3 kids, etc. You need to know your customers a lot better than them. For example, are they college-educated? Do they have kids? Do they love to hike? How socially active are they? How much of their purchases do they get from online sales? The better you know your customer, the better you're able to leverage that and negotiate that when you're working with retailers.

So what is trade marketing? Trade marketing is everything that's required to get your product on the retailer shelf and in the hands of a new shopper. Retail is expensive. Let's be honest, it's pay to play. Retail is extremely expensive, especially for small brands and the reason for that is that small brands are fairly burdened. And the reason for that is that you don't have the relationships with the big brands have, you don't have the deep pockets, so we need to be a lot more creative when we go to market. Your trade marketing is typically the largest item on your brand's income statement and we need to teach you how to maximize each and every opportunity so that we can reduce those fees and give you more runway. How can you compete more effectively?

Your most important resource today, unfortunately, is your checkbook and I want to change that. The current strategies are all outdated and unfortunately, most brands rely on ineffective tactics. Seventy to 90% of your trade dollars are wasted. The primary objective, as I mentioned, is to get your product in the hands of a new customer. It's not to reward me for buying a product that I was going to buy and a lot of this is due to poor execution, consumer confusion, boring promotions, deductions out of stocks, you name it, there are a lot of things in here. If we can help you address those specific things, then we're going to give you more runway to draw sales, etc. And I've got a really great chart in a minute that you're going to want to see.

So the goal of a promotion is that everything that you want to be fair and balanced, but the reality is that promotions are rarely balanced in your favor. And unfortunately, the reason for that is a lot of retailers, distributors, etc. now look at promotions as a profit center. In other words, this is how they drive sales, but we want to change that conversation because what matters most to the retailer is the valuable customer you bring into their store. You don't want to rely on cookie-cutter strategies and unfortunately, a lot of agencies, brokers, etc. in the industry will teach you to use cookie-cutter strategies because first of all, that's what they know and then secondly, it's easy for them to be able to use one simple strategy across every customer that they work with.

We're going to teach you to go way beyond that. Your creativity is your single greatest asset. And shouldn't your promotional strategy be everybody's creative as the ingredients in your packaging? So, rinse and repeat is not a strategy. We want to teach you how to think purposely, develop a promotional strategy that's going to help you drive sustainable sales.

So as I mentioned, purpose. We want to begin each promotion with a goal in mind. Pro-tip, you want to think about the market basket, remember, the sum total of all the purchases and work backward. So, when you're thinking about your promotions, don't think only about your single item, think about all the items that customers pick up as they go through their shopping journey. We want to maximize each and every opportunity we get in front of the retailer. We want to maximize your trade marketing or ROI. You don't want to farm this out, you want to own this in-house. You want to make sure that you're on top of this because remember, this is essentially your checkbook. You want to make sure that you're doing everything in your power to drive sustainable sales for your brand and that all begins with you understanding the components of trade marketing.

Today's competitive environment demands advanced strategies that others overlook and trust me, even the big brands struggle with this. The failure to get this right can be catastrophic. It can derail and even bankrupt your brand. Trade marketing can add rocket fuel to your brand. Hitting the right target can literally 30 extra ROI, and that's according to Nielsen.

So, show me the money. Having more money, because you're saving money on your trade marketing is going to help you out dramatically, so let's find out where you're at on this table. And as you can see that your trade marketing, if you're a brand that sells $500,000 a year gross sales, your trade marketing, let's say it's about 25% of that is $125,000. That means you're wasting about $87,500 a year on trade spending if it's not effective. Now, if we can get a 10% improvement, that's $8,700 back in your pocket. Well, when you take a look at what 100 million-dollar brand is, etc., you can see how many opportunities here for us to do better.

So the question is, what would you do with that extra dollars? Would you reinvest it into your brand? Would you put it into missions? How would you leverage those dollars to compete more effectively? And don't forget that this compounds over time, because the strategies that you put in place this year, are going to go exponentially as you compete year after year after year. This is where a talented category management expert can amplify results and help you explode sales. And the reason for this is that there's an art and a science to understanding how this works.

And it requires a lot more than just canned templates or canned reports or push-button tool that one of the things I did, for example with Kimberly-Clark, by understanding this very well, becoming an expert in this is I was able to, for example, get a major retailer to change their menu fees, what it cost us to promote. I was also able to come up with a lot of creative strategies and became a category captain as a result. And by the way, I talk about this on the different podcast episodes. Now, the goal is that we want to help the retailer remain relevant and when I mean relevant is how do you help your retailer compete against their competition, all the retailers in the market.

So, what do retailers really want? They want three things. One, they want a competitive advantage in their market, two, they want more traffic in their store and that's where you come in, and three, they want a reasonable profit. And if you can help them achieve their goals, then they're going to bend over backward, savvy retailers will to help you achieve your goals. And this is why this all matters, and this is a competitive edge we want to give you.

So let's look at the anatomy of a promotion. First of all, there's the promotional agreement. The promotional agreement is a contract. You need to ensure that everything you put in the contract specifically outlined what you're going to get, when you can expect to get it, etc. And then you need to make sure that the retailer is going to comply. In other words, it makes sure the retailers send when the products coming in, how much product to come in, when the promotion is over, etc. This will also reduce your reductions. There are a lot of retailers that will, unfortunately, put promotions out there that they won't set up or they won't manage the way that you want them to, so they'll start the promotion earlier or late and they forward buy and again, this is very costly to use, so you want to be on top of this, you want to manage them.

The next thing is you want to have your promotion schedule. You want to have a well-communicated, well-executed presentation or plan that you can leverage with the retailer and you want to use a scorecard to manage and evaluate promotions. I've got a great example to share with you on that. And in the course I've got about trade marketing and broker management, I've got a section on how to leverage scorecards to better manage your brokers, better manage your internal and external teams, and better manage your promotions with.

You never want to pay on scan. Promotion should always have a degree of accountability. You want to make sure that you're getting what you pay for, so when you give a distributor or a retailer a chunk of money and you don't know how well that promotion is executed, well, that's a waste of money. You don't know if you're getting your bang for your buck and so that's the last thing you want to do. You want to make sure that there's some sort of compliance on the retailer's point of view from a retail standpoint. You want to roll up your trademarking to unify brand strategy.

Why the rinse and repeat is not a sustainable strategy? Because that's what everyone else does. In other words, this is what I did last year, so this is what I'm going to do next year and it's easy for a lot of brands to do that because it doesn't take any creativity. This is your opportunity to go back and look at each promotion and think, "Well, did that work? How do I tweak it? How do I make it better?" Your promotional strategy has to be unique as your brand, mentioned that a minute ago. Your promotional strategy should be very specific to what's unique about your customers.

The powerful unified voice. Remember, we talked about, again, the game where I tell you a story, etc.? A lot of brands, unfortunately, don't have a solid promotional strategy, so they don't communicate that accurately throughout their entire sales funnel. You need to leverage your promotional strategy to make sure everyone's in lockstep and then the importance of having a well-thought-out promotional strategy. A lot of brands look at this as an afterthought. Remember, this is the number one item on your income statement. You need to be thinking about how do you set up your promotional strategy. What do you want to achieve, etc.?

Retail execution, that's a cornerstone of a very solid strategy. You don't want out of stocks. You want a well-thought-out strategy and that's going to give you a competitive advantage. And then how to leverage a promotional strategy at retail. You need strategies that others overlook and the benefits are that this is going to help you stand out on crowded shelves. This is going to help you give your retail partners what they want, remember, that's ultimately what they're looking for.

The benefits to the overall market basket is where you start and the reason you want to start it is because a lot of items, a lot of brands, remember, are focused on a single item. You want to think about the entire market basket. You want to think about, do you have a butter? Well, then you want to promote with a bread, do you want to promote with a cracker, do you want to promote a cookie, etc.? The point is to think about what the customer buys and you want to leverage your strategies with different brands, bring them into your promotional strategy.

You always want to consider the customer first. How do they shop the category? How do they shop your brand? When they buy your brand, what do they buy next, etc.? Shoppers rarely purchase a single item at a store and this is fundamentally important because a lot of brands don't think about that. Co-promoting can dramatically boost your sales. And what I mean by that, for example, I see that Megan's here. So Megan, if someone's promoting your butter, then you want to make sure that you're promoting a bread at the same time. You want to co-promote, so that you can leverage that across both you and your partner at the company that you co-promote with. And the reason you want to do that is that you want to be able to leverage not only their dollars to help reduce your trade spend, but you want to use their customers to help boost your sales to bring their customers into your franchise as well.

So price is not the first consideration. Remember, we talked about customers are interested in healthy quality products. You want to start from the end and work backward. Think about what is the customer buying and then work backward. What's in the shopping basket? And you want to build your promotional strategies that reflect the way the customer shop.

You want to leverage this to gain a competitive advantage. Most brands are reactive and not proactive, as I mentioned. You want to leverage, you want to put together strategy a well out in advance so that this isn't something that you're reactive to, this is something you're proactive too. So you've got your strategy in place, you know how much product to get out to each retailer, etc. You don't want to take this for granted, as I mentioned. You don't want to farm this out. You want to commit to being an expert in as far in your trade marketing strategy. I want to make this a priority and you want to revisit your trade promotion strategy often.

You want to make sure that you tie your trade marketing plan to sales and marketing. A lot of big brands, what they do is they have siloed approaches to the way they do things. This is their Achilles heel. You want to bring everyone in is involved in your trade spending. Everyone from planning and executing everything, so that they're all part of the conversation, so everyone's in lockstep. You want to make sure that you have a collaborative, cohesive team that you can leverage as you execute your strategy. And again, this is going to give you a dramatic, significant sustainable competitive advantage.

You want to co-promote and you want to do merchandise. When I say do merchandise, if you have a promotion that isn't on shelf, you're in the weed. You want to try to leverage a promotion that is maybe in the front of the store or something like that. And if you've got a solid relationship with a retailer, sometimes the retailers might even give that to you if you can help them understand the value of the customer that you bring into the store.

So I'll give you a real quick example. One of the things that I was able to do successfully is to have such a strong relationship with retailers that they would allow me to put incremental displays up to the weekends, etc. that I didn't have to pay for. And the reason they did that is because they knew that I would deliver in a high level, that there wouldn't be any out of stocks, that I'd make sure the product was well-turned, well maintained, etc., and that gave me an incremental opportunity to help them drive more shoppers in their store, etc.

So, how often do you promote? Well, it's a little bit of a loaded question. You've got to understand the dynamics of your promotional strategy. What are you trying to achieve? And so if you understand your promotion, you understand your promotional strategy, you understand the category, now you can start developing strategies that are tailored to help grow your brand, incrementally, and more importantly, that you can leverage at retail and remember, everything is negotiable, everything, and if you can leverage your strategies here, this is going to help you.

So what do I mean by everything is negotiable. If the retailer comes to you and says, "You know what? I want you to promote 12 times a year." And you look at your budget, you know your numbers and you know, you can't do that very well. And you go back to them and say, "You know what? I can't do 12 times a year, but I'll tell you what I can do five times a year and I can do a lot deeper than you've asked and I can integrate my social media and everything else into that." Then, they're going to respect the fact that you're coming to them with a strategy and at the end of the day, again, if you can help them drive more traffic in their store, more profit in their store, and help them gain a significant competitive advantage, it's a win-win for both of you. So don't be afraid to have a strategy that you can leverage with your retail partner that will help them see the benefit of your recommendations.

And remember, you can't hit a target that you don't aim for. Make this a priority. Know what you're shooting for. Build out your strategy well in advance, so that you know exactly what you're aiming for so that when you're putting together your promotional strategy, you know exactly what you need to do. You know when you need to order the product, when you need to have the ingredients in stock, etc., and more importantly, that you've got all the people in place so that you can make sure that you get the product in the store when it needs to be, the demo setup, etc.

Now, one of the best ways to do and manage this, as I mentioned, is a scorecard. What gets measured, gets done, and as I mentioned, I've got a great program, a great module about this in my broker management course, in my trade marketing essentials course. This is critically important. In fact, actually, big brands are reaching out to me for this reason, because of this alone, and the reason is, is that this holds your broker accountable. This holds your entire internal and external sales team accountable to what you're trying to do, to what you're trying to accomplish. Your scorecards need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and timely, and so you want to have strategies that you can use your scorecard as a project management tool and you want to bake in all of those attributes, so that you can better manage who, when, where and how everything's done in terms of your promotions.

With your promotion schedule, I would recommend you have something like this, and there's an example in this chart. Your promotion schedule needs to be well-thought-out and it needs to be well-executed and it needs to incorporate what your retail partner is doing so that you can take advantage of what they're doing to help boost incremental sales.

KPIs. KPIs are the guardrails that keep you on track. KPIs are the things that you can give to your internal and external sales teams that help them understand how and what they need to do. Where does the promotion need to be scheduled? Where does the merchandising need to be? How does your product need to be merchandised? Where does it belong on the shelf, etc.? You need to have KPIs. The five Ps: People, promotion, pricing, placement and product and you need to establish KPIs for everything that matters in terms of distribution, merchandising, planning, and promotion. Again, that's part of that module that I talked about. Something you're definitely going to want to check out.

There are several terms that you need to be aware of in trade marketing and I'll let you go back and look at this slide later so that you can see, these are some of the things that you need to be paying attention to in terms of pricing, promotion, your volume, your trade spending, etc.

One of the most important things that I think you need to be paying attention to is contribution. Now you're taught that you need to focus on velocity. In other words, how much does your product sell on a shop on a regular basis? That is a huge mistake and the reason for that is that it overlooks what really matters. Let me explain. Big brands with deep pockets can buy velocity. They can artificially put themselves higher on a ranking report. Well, that does nothing for this category. In fact, that can actually put dollars out of the category.

So contribution, how much contribution does your brand drive the shelf? This is exactly why I created my How to Assess the Health of Your Brand mini-course. The reason for that is that at this point we're trying to help you understand how much do you contribute to the retailer? How do you help that retailer grow sustainable sales? Why should they look to you? Remember, if you can help that retailer compete more effectively, drive profitable sales in their category, and at the same time, this is going to help you identify which promotions are valid for you, and which promotions are a waste of money. So you want to check out that mini-course.

But this is why this matters, your contribution impacts the health of your brand and it impacts the health of the category, and then you can leverage that at retail when you're negotiating for better promotional opportunities, for better shelf placement, etc. You want to use a multi-channel approach. Remember, you've got to be available wherever your customers are shopping. You've got to make sure that your customers keep finding your products where they're looking and if you have a solid strategy then not only can you be available where they're looking, but you can help drive customers to different stores. Again, this is something that you want to leverage in your promotional strategy because this is what's going to benefit your retail partners. And again, you can leverage this retail to help them appreciate why they need your brand on their shelves.

You need to have a solid digital strategy. A robust digital strategy is where you can invite and create a community around your brand online and this is important because there are a lot of benefits to having a community. If all the retailers went away tomorrow, who'd you sell your product with? I've been saying that for years. Obviously, I didn't realize we're going to be in the middle of the pandemic, but that's effectively what's happened and that's why a lot of brands are anxious today. If you have a community around your brand, you own your customer and now you can leverage that customer, drive sales on your own site, in Amazon or in Jet with any retailer, etc.

And more importantly, you can leverage that community to help you innovate and help you decide what are the best products that you should be coming up with, and you can leverage that to get more ROI out of your ROI and I talked about that on the podcast in the mini-courses, etc. You want to leverage a trade promotion with your retail partners. Ask them what they're looking for. What are their goals and what are they trying to achieve? Ask them to help you help them guide sustainable sales with their promotions, with your promotions.

In-store demo strategies are one of the best ways that you can leverage your promotional strategy. One of the things that's overlooked and this is why you need to do this effectively is that you have an opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with a future customer. You need to know everything about that customer. You get a chance to talk to them and find out why they choose your product over another product, what their likes, dislikes are. This is valuable information that you can use in your selling story. This is a free mini-course you definitely might want to check out. Essential in-store marketing customer-first strategies. Check this out because this strategy will give you everything you need to know to maximize each and every opportunity. Again, this course is free.

So why does this matter? Increased distribution and preferential merchandising. Efficient trade spending, you get to maximize each and every promotion. Category leadership. Remember, the short video? Retailers are going to look to you as a category leader. A category leader is any brand willingly and will step up and help their retail partner drive incremental sales with your products.

And then, of course, higher sales. You hear a lot of people talk about shop and loyalty. The reality is I have a card for every retailer shop at every airline I fly, etc. Loyalty is something that's earned. It's not something that's bought. True loyalty comes from giving your customers what they want by exceeding their expectations, so if you can help your customers get what they want, then they're going to bend over backward to support you and this is true for retailers, too. So, one of the biggest strengths that you have as a small brand as a natural brand, is to leverage a unique customer that buys your product to help you grow incremental sales across every single retailer, across online, etc.

One of the things that I'm recently launching is my trade marketing essentials course. Now, I'm showing this because this is in the process. I'm in the process of building it because this is one of the biggest pain points brands have been sharing with me. So, the course objective is going to be soup to nuts, everything you need to know about trade marketing and I want to make you now aware that this is coming, that this is going to be available soon. The course overview is actually on the website, on my course page, so you can see what's included in the course and there's a lot including online tools and everything to calculate the value of promotion, etc.

I'm going to have a beta launch. The beta launch means that I'm going to make the course available to people that want to help me make sure that I've got everything in there. I want to ensure that I'm answering all your questions. As I said, I'm an expert in trade marketing, but I don't know your business. So if you can help me make sure that I've got everything in there, then that's a win-win for you and everyone else. But of course, then you'd have lifetime access to the course and lifetime access to all future content.

In addition to that is when I offer regular office hours. What that means is once a week I'm going to sit down with everyone on Zoom, and we're going to answer your questions. I'm going to talk about your specific pain points, and how do I help you solve those. There are more details on the course page. If you want to schedule time with me, click on the link below or actually type that in to talk about this, sort of learn more about what this course entails, reach out to me. As I said, this is something I'm in the process of putting together. I'll have the beta program up and ready to go pretty soon and then I'll have the course up and ready soon after that.

So now, let's answer your questions. How can I help you compete more effectively? How can I help you drive sustainable sales at retail? How can I help you address your most pressing bottlenecks? So I'm going to go ahead and unmute everyone so that we can have a conversation. So, can everyone hear me okay?

Speaker 2: Yes.

Cool. Okay, great. Thanks. So, what questions can I answer for you?

Meg: I have a question. This is Meg. Not all retailers function with the contract or promotional agreement, so especially a lot of the smaller independents, how do you address that to hold them accountable?

Well, that's a good question. A lot of times what I've done in that situation is you give them a contract anyhow. In other words, here's what I'm going to do, here's my agreement, and you help them understand the benefit of your strategy.

Let me explain. If you and I go into business and something goes south and there's going to be a lot of hurt feelings about who did water, who didn't water, whatever. So if you help the retailer understand here are the objectives I'm shooting for, here, what are the objectives you're shooting for, you bake that in there and you communicate clearly that this promotion will work best if you bring the product in on this date, if you run the promotion at this time. If you help them understand the power of what you're bringing to them, a strategy that's going to help them execute, then they're going to be more apt to listen to you and make your point.

Great question. This is where you go from being another brand or another product on the shelf to become a valued resource to them so that at some point, if they have an incremental promotion that someone gets out or someone doesn't show up or someone doesn't put their product on the shelf, this is where they reach out to you. Does that help?

Meg: Sure. Thank you.

Anytime. Any other questions?

Meg: I have another question.


Meg: So, a lot of our small brands go through distributors and distributors use algorithms to order in and don't often, if ever, for small brands respond to the brand and/or broke their impact on, so I'm going to run a four-week promotion and it's going to buy two, get one free. I expect three to four X lift. I don't want to have out of stocks, can you order extra product in? I will tell you with distributors, it's almost impossible to get them to do that.

It is and I'm glad you brought that up. This is one of my biggest frustrations. The reason distributors... let me back up even more. So, when I started this industry many, many years ago, I'm going to date myself, mainstream was the same as natural as today. In other words, we all went through distributors, etc. Because of the inefficiencies and because of all the issues that you're talking about, distributors won by the wayside and the reason for that is because we all went to consolidated retailers, consolidated buying, etc.

But the moral of the story was, is that at the end of the day, their business is to support the retailers that support your customers. So here's how you do that. You need to know your numbers. How much product sells in each store to the best of your ability and you go to the retailer and use what I would call a poll strategy. In the poll strategies, you tell the retailer, here's what my product sells on a regular basis, here's what my product sells when I promote it, here's what it sells when I promote it with a display even more, and then you help the retailer understand how much product they need to bring in.

So back to your original question, if you can ask the retailers to order the right amount of product and then have the retailer go-to the distributor and say, "This is what I need." Then that's the way you address that. So the point is, and I talk about this a lot, you never want to hand the keys to your brand to anyone else and that's effectively, unfortunately, what we do in natural. We tell brands that they need to hand their keys to someone else.

Going back to what I said a minute ago, the reason that big brands go directly to the retailers is because they no longer hand the keys to anyone else. They're in control of that relationship. They've got that one-on-one relationship and it's a partnership. So for example, when I worked for Kimberly-Clark or Unilever, even though I was paid by Kimberly-Clark or Unilever, I was acting as a third party consultant on behalf of the retailer to drive sales in their category with our products. And as a result, that partnership enabled me to have a better relationship with them, so I could tell them, this is what you need to be successful. This is how much product you need to have in distribution.

In fact, one example, I mean, I love this example, is one time a retailer allowed me to promote, they have complete control over promotion. And I said, "This is how much additional Kleenex facial tissue you need to bring into your store. And by the way, this is cold and flu season, this is when this matters, etc." And I was able to show them what the incremental foot track would be, how we were going to drive sales at our store, and I was also able to tell them, this is how much an additional soup you're going to need and so much additional other products you're going to need to support that. And that's all because I understood my customer and I understood the business and I understood the retailer. Does that help?

Meg: Sorry, I was muted. Yeah, my experience is that I mean, even dealing with someone like Albertsons that utilizes KeHE, they couldn't override KeHE. It's ridiculous. So, that's why I asked the question. I mean, in principle, yes, but in practicality, small brands have less ability to, especially with KeHE.

You do and you don't, and you're absolutely right. And that's one of the biggest challenges and some retailers are really difficult and some retailers are great, and so you do the best you can. Now, here's another thing you might want to think about. If you're in a market, and there's retailer A, B, C and D, and retailer A is really difficult to deal with, they're not going to bring the product in, they're not going to support you. Well, put your efforts in-retailer D or C or whatever. And then using the poll strategy, if they see that their competitor is doing far better with your brand, they're going to call you up and they're going to say, "Hey, Meg, how come we can't get this deal?" And you say, "Well, because my hands are tied, because you won't bring the product in to support me because you won't help me out." And that's how you encourage them to use you even more.

So what I did, for example, is by leveraging those strategies, we became the go-to brand at several key retailers and so now this will take a while to get going, but we were able to get double-digit sales growth. And I'm not talking about 10 or 11%, I'm talking about 30%, 80%, 60% quarter after quarter after quarter because we're able to deliver at such a high value. And because we were able to prove ourselves there, we could then take that story and leverage it at the retailers that were more difficult to work with. So yeah, this isn't something that happens overnight.

And at first they're going to say, "Look, we're smarter than you. We know our products. We know our customers better than you. This is the way we do things." You need to teach them that you are more than just another brand on their shelf, you and your customer. Help them appreciate the value of that customer you bringing in the store. Remember, teach them that you're not just a single item and stop looking at me to try to get a certain amount of margin, squeeze margin out of one item. Think about how much value you add to your shopping cart.

So I'll give you an example. These numbers are really, really old, so don't quote me. They're just kind of rough estimates way back when I worked for Kimberly-Clark. If a customer went into a regular food store, their market basket rate was about $6. This is a long time ago. And if they bought and went to a mass store, like a Walmart or Target or something like that, the market basket was $70 or $80. If they went to a club store, the market basket was like $130. If they put Kleenex facial tissue in the market basket, then that would grow their market basket exponentially. So, in a food store instead of being worth $6, it would be worth around $24, $25. Think of the difference there. So, Mr. and Mrs. Retailer, which would you rather have? And then, of course, is even more mass and there's even more in club store.

So my point is the better you know your customer, the better you know your competition, the better you know your retail partner, and the better you're able to leverage these strategies, that's how you gain a significant and sustainable competitive advantage. And by the way, this is what I do. This is my side gig, but this is what all my content is about, so if you want to talk more, of course, you can always reach out. But this is what all my podcast episodes, the YouTube channel, all the courses that I've got, are designed to teach you strategies that other brands overlook or are not aware of. This is how I was able to push little brands around like P&G and Frito, maybe you've heard? Just kidding. But no, that's how I was able to push them around by leveraging these strategies. Does that help?

Meg: Yes, thank you.

Any other questions I can answer for you? I'm here for you guys.

Speaker 2: I don't know if I have any questions. I'm new to the food industry and I just started working for a new plant-based meat company and we aren't in retail yet and so I'm just trying to understand what the marketing strategy would be because I do marketing for them. So yeah, I mean, I guess the only question is do you have any advice for what we should do until we get to retail?


Speaker 2: So, we want to do marketing before we get to retail so that when we are in retail people are already going to go find our product, but we've been told that you don't want to spend that much money before you're actually in retail because you have to spend so much once you're in retail for the trade spend?

Yes and no. I'm so grateful that you asked me that question. Thank you. So let me back up and frame this conversation on a couple of points that I talked about earlier, back to the category management handbook. Plant-based, remember what I showed you with organic.

Plant-based is the hottest trend in the industry. This is a trend that everyone's trying to get their arms around. You appeal to a unique consumer that other people were desperate for. Remember that. Leverage that to your advantage, one. Two, three mini-courses, how to play the retail game with Bob Burke. You need to take that. You also need to take the Turnkey Sales Story Strategy course. Now in the retail course of Bob Burke, he frames out in very stark terms, this is what retail looks like. This is what you need to be ready for. However, the better you know the retail game, the better you can take advantage of these strategies. The Turnkey Sales Story Strategies course. You've got to have a solid foundation. Every brand I work with, especially the big brands, they pay lip service to this, and so if you can do this and bake this into your brand's DNA, you're going to get a significant competitive advantage. Again, both of those courses are free. Okay?

Next, leverage, all the content, the podcast, the YouTube channel, everything I've got out there. Learn, learn, learn, learn, and learn, and the more that you've got in terms of that educational piece, then you can leverage it at its shot. So for example, Beyond Meat was on one of the podcasts and he flat-out shared that,

"Hey, we don't pay slotting and the reason we don't pay slotting is because we don't have to."

So retailers, distributors, everyone else, they're going to say, "Here's what you have to do because this is the way we've always done it." And you can say, "I don't think so. Here's our customer, here's our customer shopped at your store. When my customer buys plant-based products, they buy more of whatever in the store, okay? You're allergy-free." Think about all the different attributes that you speak to, okay, and then leverage that in your selling story.

The reason for that is that this is going to help you leverage the unique customer that you drive into the store to drive sustainable sales, so as you're developing your strategy, you should go to market strategy, bake that in so that you've got it from day one. And then as you start to execute, you start going to retail, now you can pick and choose. So like I said earlier, instead of just being a checkbook or an ATM machine to a retail or to a distributor, now you're a value-added product. Build a community around your brand. Leverage that community to help support yourself at shelf.

Again, this is what a talented category manager does, helps you go beyond can-top on reports. One of the things you're going to hear me say a lot of times is that a lot of companies go to a retail appointment and they lay a report on a retailer's desk and they say, "Wow. Look, I printed this off. This top-line canned report. Aren't you proud of me? Look. Well, I'm amazing, right?" That's just a waste of ink and paper.

I know I'm being a little bit sarcastic, kind of going off on a tangent. But my point is, every savvy retailer already knows how well your brand and every other brand on the shelf is doing. Be different than them. Help them appreciate and understand what's unique about your product, what's unique about your consumer, what's unique about how your go-to-market strategy, why should they listen to you over the big brands? And as a result, they're going to turn to you.

So how does this work? There's a podcast episode, I think it's 68, where I talked about how, as a little regional chip company, I was able to keep Frito from having any incremental promotions during a major grand store opening for a superstore. I sold 4,900 bags of chips, actually $1,400 bag chip displays, so 5,200 bags of chips in one week. I had three end caps in addition to that, and Frito could not get a single one. And the reason that was possible is because I leveraged the tactics that I developed that I'm teaching here on this course on the podcast, etc. Does that help?

Speaker 2: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Speaker 2: Yes, thank you.

Yeah, and good luck. I'm excited. I love working with emerging brands. I would make a lot more money if I worked with big brands, just to be honest, full disclosure. But I love working with small disruptive brands. My mission, like I said, is to make a healthier way of life more accessible by helping you get your product into more store shelves and in the hands of more shoppers. And the way I do that is I help you leverage these strategies that are on shelf. Anyone else?

Okay. Well, I appreciate your being here. Thank you. If you don't subscribe to my newsletter, please subscribe. You probably get it now that you signed up. And in addition to that, I will be doing this on a more regular basis. I've had a lot of organizations who'd reach out to me, big organizations in the industry that because of what's going on in the industry, I want to leverage my platform, my school, my podcasts, etc. And so again, this is how I give back. It's a resource dedicated to you and to other brands. Please share this, subscribe and let other people know about this because we're all in this together. And it's all about, the rising tide lifts all of us, so thank you again for your time. Thank you again for your participation. And let me know how I can help you down the road. And don't forget to leverage these resources to help you grow and scale your brand. Thank you very much and have a great day.

Thank you for listening. I appreciate you for being here. I hope you found this information valuable. Remember, I'm here to help you you're not alone during this crisis. I want to help you grow and scale your brand. Let me know what are the things that you want me to talk about on these webinars, on the podcast, and on the YouTube channel.

This week's free downloadable guide is my trade marketing essentials to grow and scale your brand. This is what we talk about throughout the entire presentation. This will give you the fundamentals that you need to know that you need to have in place so that you can compete at a higher level so that you can save money so that you can make your brand more valuable to investors so that you've got more money for innovation and more money to get on more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. You can download it instantly by going to this week's podcast page at brandsecretsandstrategies.com/session179. Thank you for listening, and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

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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Until next time, this is Dan Lohman with Brand Secrets and Strategies where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

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