Proven strategics to scale your brand and eliminate wasted spending. $244 Billion was spent on promotions in 2017 earning a meager 2.4% sales increase. Don’t be another statistic. Let’s fix that! There is a better way to confidently grow sales and profits



Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #200

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.


Have you ever thought that retailers are more interested in your checkbook, then you're amazing products? Do you wonder how you're going to survive another day with all the overwhelm from growing a brand and all the competitive threats? Are you tired of always being pushed around by big brands constantly in jeopardy of being discontinued? Or do you wonder what the point of promotions are that do nothing to grow your brand? Are these, some of the things that keep you up at night? These are some of the comments that brands share with me on a regular basis. If they sound familiar you're in luck. That's what we're going to be talking about today.

I just published podcast episode 200. That’s 200 episode’s of brand-building insights from CEO’s, industry thought leaders, food entrepreneurs, and founders of successful industry organizations and brands candidly share their insider secrets and advice with you. Learn from the experts on the Brand Secrets And Strategies podcast. Thank’s to all who listen. Please share the podcast and help me raise the bar in natural.

I'm so grateful for the fact that we have this opportunity to be able to provide real insights, brand building insights right now, when the feels like the world's falling apart. Let's face it, this pandemic has radically changed the way brands think about going to market. It's also given us a unique opportunity to help brands that are struggling by helping you solve some of your most pressing bottlenecks. You know, the things that keep you up at night. Have you had an opportunity to check out their free weekly webinar series that I launched after expo is counseled. Go to my website and click on the events button to see the schedule.

My point is that I've leaned in even more to bring you the best insights, the best strategies from the leading leaders in our industry to help you confidently grow and scale your brand.

Now, let's get back to the questions that I asked at the very beginning of this episode. What are the main challenges that you have with your brand? What are some of the primary struggles that you deal with on a regular basis? What you've been telling me is that the challenges that you face all have to do a trade marketing. More specifically to costs associated with getting your products on store shelves and into the hands of shoppers. So I've decided to really lean in and help you solve these particular problems.

In fact, this was a challenge for most brands even before the pandemic. And the reason this matters is because every slight improvement means more runway for sales growth, higher brand evaluations, better terms when negotiating with investors feel for more innovation, greater support for mission-based causes and much, much more.

So why me? Who am I to tell you how to maximize your trade spending? While at Kimberly Clark, I developed a lot of trade marketing tools, some of which I'm told are still in use today.

I recently I was a keynote at a national trade-marketing event that exceedra perhaps the most recognized leader in trade-marketing software.

At the last trade show I attended, I shared a brief story with you about how one of the brands that I had on the podcast was struggling because the deductions that they were getting from their distributor was crushing them. They didn't know from one day to the next, when they were going to get paid and they had bills to pay. I hear this all the time. In fact, on a recent podcast episode, Eric, Skae shared a story. His wife called and said, I've got some good news and some bad news. They just received a check from them distributor after selling an entire trailer load of product. So the good news is they made the sale. The bad news is after about $19,000 worth of product, they only got $12.34.

I hear these stories all the time. So how do I help you avoid this? It begins with your trade marketing. Trade marketing includes everything that it requires to get your product into the hands of a shopper period. And while that definition is pretty broad, I use a definition because we need to think about all of the things that are required to get your product on more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers, including online. If we're not paying attention to every single thing, then we overlook some of the most important things that impact your trade spending, some of the most important factors that are responsible for growing and scaling your brand. Some of the biggest expenses that can derail and even bankrupt your brand, if you're not thinking about them or planning for them accordingly.

So that's the purpose of today's podcast, Trade promotion review strategies, where to begin, and what to focus on.

The place you need to begin is understanding the key aspects of every promotion. What goes into the promotion, and then how do you make sure that you execute it flawlessly. In other words, how do you ensure that your promotions get executed flawlessly at every single retailer at every single store? This is where the review process starts.

Face it. If you can't execute flawlessly at every store, if you have out of stocks, if you have poor signage or maybe the product wasn’t demoed correctly, anything that's going to impact negatively impact your promotion. That's the first thing that you need to identify in your review strategy. These are the things that are typically the easiest things to fix. And yet these are the things that most brands overlook. In fact, this is exactly why created the free turnkey sales story strategies course.

One of the most fundamental principles in it is that 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 unrecognizable. This is the Achilles heel of every brand out there, meaning that your story should be told the same enthusiasm, excitement, and authenticity, as originally told by the founder, across your entire sales team and across everyone who touches your product, including retailers, brokers, and shoppers. If you can execute better than all the other brands on the shelf, this is the single most impactful thing for every promotion.

So first let's focus on execution. When you're trying to review a promotion, the first thing you need to do is focus on how well was it executed. One of the key reasons we need to start there is because if you don't execute properly then it overlooks or ignores some of the key issues with the promotion.

Let me give you an example. Let's say you promote a product in a 100 store chain, and you start looking at the chains numbers, and you don't realize that only 80% of the stores promoted the product or that 20 stores had out-of-stocks. These are critical things that impact negatively impact your promotion. Think about your numbers and think about if you had been able to get a hundred percent execution, how much more effective would that promotion of been?

This is the story you need to share with the retailer and review your performance with them. You need to be able to say, here's what I was able to do in the 80 stores that promoted the product and this is why I need your help to ensure that this promotion is is executed properly at every single store. Specifically what is the missed opportunity and how can you help close that gap.

That includes you knowing your numbers well enough, to be able to tell the retailer exactly how much incremental product they need in every single store to support your promotion to avoid out-of-stocks. The next thing you need is to know your numbers. You need to understand exactly how to calculate the ROI from your promotion, but not to worry. I've got a free Trade Promotion, ROI calculator on my website that I built just for you. In fact, if you go to the promotion analysis tool on my website there are instructions on how to get the most out of this tool. I've even put this in the trade marketing ROI course, so you can learn more about how to get the most from it.

You need to know your numbers. What does that mean? You need to know what your sales lift will be when you promote at each price point. What the increase in sales will be when you promote your product. You also need to know what data you need to be looking at when you assess a promotion.

Here's why this matters. Let's say that you want to assess a promotion in Denver, Colorado, in the natural channel. There is no database on the planet. That's going to answer that question. So what do I mean by that? If you're trying to assess the performance of your brand in a specific retailer in Denver, Colorado, you've got to look at a multi-state region when using syndicated data. The problem with that is that the customers in Denver are different than the customers in Texas or New Mexico and other places. In fact, they're different in different cities of Denver, Colorado.

The focus need to include a lot more than just your brand. The information that you want to share with your retail partners should include how did your promotion grow your brand? How did your promotion impact the category as a whole? How did your promotion impact each store, their market basket or other categories within the store?

And then more importantly, how did your promotion impact the retailer stores compared to the market? In other words, how did you help the retailer compete more effectively and give them a competitive advantage in their market? This is what retailers really want to know. And if you can answer this question effectively, this is your greatest point of leverage when working with a retailer. You can answer this question in most mainstream databases, but in the natural channel, it's nearly impossible. I’ve got creative strategies around that.

My point is this. If you could isolate one store, get your actual sales numbers without a promotion and then during the promotion, that is the ideal situation that you want to be in, but that's very difficult. I've got some creative strategies to do that as well.

Now, back to our story, when you're trying to understand how well you're doing within a retailer and the database doesn't align perfectly with that store, with that retailer, within that market.

Well, then that creates a lot of errors. In addition to that, the data that you buy from syndicated data providers like Nielsen, IRI, and spins begins and ends on the weekend. However, retailers begin and end their promotions in the middle of the week. Therefore, any of the tools that you're using now to assess promotion effectiveness probably are not going to be as effective as they should be. For this reason, you've got to have creative strategies because accuracy matters here.

This is why I liken the tools that are out there as being more like QuickBooks for trade-marketing. In other words, they keep track of your promotions, but they don't get down into the weeds are so critically important when you want understand exactly what's going on with your promotion. If you're trying to review your promotion effectiveness, you've got to be able to have accurate data to look at that aligns with the specific stores and the specific promotion dates.

Let me explain why this matters, if a promotion begins on a Wednesday and then you start using data from a syndicated data provider that starts on Sunday, then you missed most of the week again, right? Or conversely, if the promotion ends on a Tuesday and you're looking at data that ends the following Saturday, then you're including sales or weren't part of the promotion. You can see the conundrum. There are a lot of other issues like this that you need to be aware of when trying to manage or trying to review a promotion and assess the true ROI from the promotion. So to recap, accuracy matters. Traditional strategies overlook, mask, and ignore key factors that impact your trade promotion effectiveness.

I've got some creative strategies to help you work around some of these challenges, but more importantly, the free trade promotion ROI calculator is going to help you identify what is the lift? What are the things that you can do to get more incremental sales or maybe save money? The reason this matters is because promotions sadly are a profit center to the retailers and distributors.

You need to be able to say no to certain promotions that do nothing to drive sales, nothing to grow your brand. And the way you do that is by being able to understand and assess the true ROI from your promotion. This is why this matters.

The third thing to focus on is once you know your numbers, what things drive sales and which things don’t. The third thing is being able to use your fact-based insights to help educate the retailer or the distributor as to what promotions make more sense for your brand and for their stores.

Let me explain if they ask you to participate in five promotions a year, but after your analysis and with your new skills, you're able to identify that if you promote three times a year at a much deeper rate and leverage your social media and everything else, that you're going to get a higher ROI on those promotions. And more importantly, as a result, you're going to be able to drive more traffic into the store for the retailer. You're going to be able to give them more profit in the category. And you're going to be able to give them a competitive advantage in the market. This is a win-win for both you and the retailer. These are the kinds of insights that retailers REALLY need. They need brands willing and able to help guide them to drive profitable sales in their category. This by my definition is what a category leader is, any brand willing and able to step up and help guide their retail partner to grow sales and compete more effectively in their market by leveraging the strength of the unique sharper that your brand attracts.

So what is the win for you? Well, if you spend $5,000 for every promotion, I just saved you two promotions. I just put another $10,000 back into your pocket for one retailer. Now multiply that times every retailer that you promote your product in. Now, what would you do with the extra money? How would you leverage that money to grow and scale your brand and support some of the important causes that align with the customers that buy your products? Think about it.

The fourth and most important thing you need to do is you need to have a way to organize your promotions and you've got to make sure that you built them into your go-to-market strategy.

Most brands are very reactive. They think about what do they need to do tomorrow, maybe a week or two, a couple of months out. They're not thinking about the longterm. I believe your trade promotion strategy needs to be built into your go-to-market strategy. This is the focus of the podcast episode, 115 with Michael J O’Donnell, we talked about the importance of having a solid strategy. In other words, having a robust strategy in place in your business plan so that someone else could come in and run the promotion and run the business on your behalf in your absence. You'll definitely want to check that episode out.

When I started in this industry, we would plan for promotions a couple of months out, and then we started pushing that timeline back further and further and further. We would start thinking about how we're going to be promoting the product a year or two years down the road. Now, of course, obviously, you can change and make adjustments as you need to, but this helps you organize more effectively. Where are you going to devote your resources for ingredients, packaging, all those things you need to be thinking about. More importantly, this helps give you a target to shoot for as you're developing your promotion strategy.

If you want to grow 5% by the end of next year, how many retailers do you need to have your product in? How many promotions do you need to do with those retailers to achieve your goals?

These are some of the things you need to be thinking about. This is why number four, you've got to have an effective strategy to organize your trade promotion. This is where those software applications come in very handy, where you can keep track of everything you're doing in terms of how you're promoting your product, what dollars you allocate to one retailer versus another retailer. This is where you need to start thinking about going beyond a spreadsheet.

It’s critically important that you understand how to maximize those tools and that begins with knowing all the intricacies of a promotion if you want to maximize your trade promotion ROI. After all, this is the focus of every review strategy that you put in place.

And number five, you've got to be able to target your ideal customer. You've got to know where your customer shops so that you can maximize your promotions by promoting more in those stores. Which stores make the most sense? Where do your ideal customers shop? where can you get the biggest bang for your promotional buck? Back to the turnkey sales story strategies course. This is one of the fundamental foundational things that you need to put in place, as you develop your promotion strategy.

In fact, you might say, this is the first thing you need to do. The reason I put it here is because I want to illustrate the fact that as you're gaining distribution, you want to focus on gaining distribution in the retailers that more closely aligned with the consumer that will buy your product.

Okay? So now that we've talked about where to begin and what to focus on. Now, we can start talking about actual reviewing trade promotion. And this goes back to the trade promotion, ROI calculator.

The only way that you're going to be able to develop an effective review strategy is by knowing your numbers, by knowing what things impact your sales the most at each retailer. Remember, no two retailers are alike. You need to know, for example, in Denver, what strategies work best compared to other areas like LA or New York.

Now that you know this, commit to become an expert in the fundamentals of putting together promotional strategies that you can evaluate and measure your results in. So when you're thinking about trade promotion review strategies, it's all about where do you set the bar and then how do you measure your effectiveness against that bar - or objective?

This is the first and most fundamental thing that you need to be able to do effectively. Becoming a trade marketing expert is going to give you more runway to grow and scale your brand. It will give you a significant and sustainable competitive advantage. It will help determine how long your brand will be around, months, years, decades, or longer.

These are the foundational elements that you need to have in place to grow and scale your brand. This is where you get to start viewing your trade marketing strategy as an investment as opposed to an expense. This requires a mindset shift. In other words, we want to leverage our promotional strategy as an investment to grow and scale your brand, as opposed to just another expense that we have to pay. When you get to the point where you can leverage your promotional strategy as fuel for your brand, this is where you change the equation. This is what puts you in a position where you can grow and scale your brand constantly. This is what puts you in a position where you can compete more effectively against any brand in any category and in an economy.

Thanks again for joining us today. Make sure to stop over at 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 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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FREE Trade Promotion ROI Calculator:

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Trade Marketing Optimization Checklist

Promotions are the lifeblood of your brand. They increase sales, introduce your amazing products to future customers and help drive shoppers into the category. Shoppers expect them and retailers demand them. Most promotions are expensive and most do little if anything to grow sustainable sales and therefore are ineffective. So, how do we change that? Start with Optimizing Your Trade Promotion ROI with this Simple Cheatsheet.  

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