August 10, 2022

Guide to Trade Marketing


Your Guide to Trade Marketing

Many people understand the general concept of marketing, but trade marketing is a corner that often sparks confusion. Trade marketing is unlike traditional marketing in that you’re not selling to an end consumer; you’re selling to a middle-man party. This is an important distinction, because trade marketing requires a different approach than traditional, B2C marketing. For that reason, it’s often mismanaged and poorly executed, resulting in profit loss for product creators. 

In this guide, we’ll look at the what, who, why, and how of trade marketing so you can develop a winning strategy for your goals. 

What Is Trade Marketing?

Trade marketing is a business-to-business marketing strategy designed to promote products to sellers. This trade marketing definition might sound strange, because normally, you sell products to consumers. Herein lies the distinction between trade marketing and traditional marketing. While traditional marketing (B2C) is aimed at promoting and selling a product or service to an end consumer, trade marketing (B2B) aims to sell a product to the party who will sell it to the end consumer. 

For example, when you go to the grocery store, that store didn’t produce the items it sells. Typically, the items are produced by a manufacturer and then sold to a retailer, distributor, or wholesaler who will then sell it directly to the consumer. Having these middle-man supply chain partners is vital for manufacturers to sell the products they make. Obviously, if your product doesn’t make it to retailers, it’s not going to make it to customers.

That’s where trade marketing comes in. There’s heavy competition, particularly in the consumer packaged goods space, and retailers can only put so many products on store shelves. For that reason, manufacturers must have a solid trade marketing strategy and execution to get their products picked up by supply chain partners and ensure they make it onto shelves and in consumers’ hands. 

Who Uses Trade Marketing?

Trade marketing is usually overseen by a small but important team consisting of a trade marketing manager, trade marketing analyst, and trade marketing associate. Depending on the budget of an organization, it may have just one manager who wears multiple hats or have someone in all three positions. 

Trade Marketing Managers

A trade marketing manager’s job is to design marketing strategies that reach the right audience. This role should understand B2B negotiations, have a solid marketing background, and be skilled at analyzing trends for their market. This person will also develop and execute marketing campaigns to get the attention of supply chain partners. 

Trade Marketing Analysts

This role usually reports to the trade marketing manager and oversees related data and analytics. This person also helps strategize ways to reach the target audience. 

Trade Marketing Associates

Associates take a more general role in the trade marketing process. Often, they’ll work on specific goals for the team, such as particular accounts or areas of a marketing campaign. 

Examples of Trade Marketing

To secure partnerships with retailers, trade marketing most often relies on these impactful tactics. 


The primary goal of advertising is to generate brand awareness. No one will buy what you’re selling if they never see or hear about it. The more often retailers see your brand and make positive associations with it, the more market power you gain. A successful advertising approach requires a keen understanding of who your target audience is and the best ways to reach them. It can also be costly. To ensure you get the most bang for your buck with your adverts, do your homework in advance. Research your audience, their pain points and goals, the competition, and be clear on why your product is uniquely valuable. 

Trade Promotions

Trade promotions are highly effective, especially if there’s a lot of competition in your market. If you struggle to make your product itself stand out from competitors, you can at least offer a noteworthy incentive, such as coupons or bulk deals. Trade promotions can quickly help your brand and products get noticed, as well as generate demand and brand loyalty. 

Trade Shows

Trade shows can be incredibly impactful when carried out correctly. Since they’re also costly, it’s important to put in the right preparation to see meaningful ROI. Study the trade shows that are most relevant and lucrative for your market. Develop targeted messaging and signage geared toward show-goers to attract attention, bring marketing materials you can hand out with relevant information about your brand and product, and use the opportunity to network and create beneficial relationships for your business. 

<h2>Developing Your Trade Marketing Strategy</h2>

The results of your trade marketing strategy can only be as good as your preparation. Using the following steps, you can create a strong strategy to attract supply chain partners. 

Do Your Research

A successful strategy begins with laying a strong foundation, which requires research. Here’s what you should focus on as you begin developing your trade marketing plan. 

  • Market research: Who’s your audience? What’s their shopper behavior? Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What gaps in the market does your product fill?
  • Product positioning: Look at what’s already being offered in your market and identify where your product fits in. Assess price and performance. How is your product different from the others?
  • Product features and benefits: Know all your product’s features and how each one will benefit your audience. 
  • Product USP: Your unique selling proposition is the one reason why your product is preferable over others. It could be a feature, safety, quality ingredients, the price, customer service, etc.
  • Pricing: Determine the lowest cost you could sell your product for while still making a profit, then study your competitors’ pricing to identify how to price your item so that you make as much profit as possible while still being competitive. Be sure to consider your market spend, R&D, manufacturing, and customer service costs, as well as your audience’s budget. 
  • Supply chain logistics: Retailers will want to know when your product is launching, if you’re selling direct or through a distributor, what size orders you can fulfill, and if you have the wholesale delivery network set up. 
  • Buyer personas: Know your target audience, including their gender, age, income, buyer habits, pain points, goals, etc. 
  • Value proposition: What value do you offer to retailers? That doesn’t just refer to your product, but to your brand. What about partnering with you will make them more profitable and reduce hassle?
  • Branding and messaging: This refers to not only having a classic elevator pitch for your product, but brand visuals as well. Logos, colors, slogans—you want to develop the branding and messaging that is true to your company and products as well as the values of your target audience. 

Generate Brand & Product Awareness

Once you’ve got the ins and outs of your brand and product nailed down, it’s time to take it out into the world. Here are some common and effective ways to get your product seen. 

  • Trade shows and exhibitions: More people attend trade shows than you may think. If you’re thoughtful in your positioning, you can see a worthwhile ROI from attending. 
  • Social media: Everyone is influenced by social media. Growing your brand’s presence on social media is one of the quickest ways to get widely recognized. 
  • Content marketing: Creating useful, informative, enjoyable blog content that’s optimized for search engines is another great way to get your brand shared around the internet. 
  • PR: Identify physical and digital publications that are relevant to your market and send out press releases. 
  • Product launch events: Hosting a product launch event on your own may be too costly if you’re a smaller brand, but you can always see if there’s already a planned industry trade exhibition around the time you’re launching and piggyback onto it with your own presentation. 
  • Networking: Get in front of actual people. Build face-to-face relationships at trade events.
  • Advertising: Print and digital ads are a classic way to get noticed. The more creative, the better. 
  • Email campaigns: Well-written and well-timed emails can be highly impactful. You can use them to share upcoming events, blog content, sign-up links, discounts, product information, brand messaging, and more. 

Secure Sales

Here’s when it’s time to make your hard work pay off. Once you’ve attracted the attention of a retailer, here’s what you need to consider. 

  • Preparing for retailer meetings: Assemble a sales presentation, product samples, sales aids like videos or props, and marketing materials like product sheets. Make sure you have the right technology for the meeting and presentation, and don’t forget to bring your order form or digital ordering system in case the retailer wants to buy on the spot. 
  • Building a sales presentation: Your sales presentation to a retailer needs to be clear, visually appealing, and must communicate what your brand is about, your product’s features and benefits, who your target audience is, your customers’ wants and needs, your USP, why your product is uniquely beneficial, your product positioning and pricing, and the ordering process. Be sure to respect the retailer’s time with the length of your presentation. 
  • Having a support website: If a retailer wants to get in touch with you or order in the future, you need somewhere to send them. If they can’t reach their account manager or want to show other stakeholders your product, you should have a website that includes product information, customer service information, and FAQs. 
  • Creating POS assets: Once your product is in stores, you want to assure retailers have what they need to draw customers to it. Point-of-sale assets include posters, banners, shelf edgers, free-standing display units, in-store videos, floor vinyls, digital signage, etc. 
  • Offering a planogram: While the arrangement of store shelves is ultimately decided on by the retailer, you can offer suggestions on the best shelf layout for your product. This involves knowing which products yours should be grouped with, where customers will look for your type of product in the store, which brands to be near, etc. 
  • Assembling a field marketing team: This team should be in charge of retailer support, identifying supply chain issues, ensuring products are correctly displayed in stores, and that contract terms with the retailer are abided by. 
  • Utilizing mystery shoppers: Mystery shoppers can play an important role in making your product successful once you get to this stage. These shoppers will enter retailers on your behalf to check if your product is in the correct locations, if perishable items are fresh and not expired, if there are stock issues with your products, if the staff is knowledgeable about your product, etc. 
  • Providing in-store training: The staff at the retailers you work with are on the frontline with your end consumers. You want them to be knowledgeable about your product and take good care of it so it’s more appealing to customers. This may require you to conduct some in-store training. If you do, keep it informative but enjoyable. Make them like your brand and want to help you make sales. 
  • Setting sales incentives: Yes, you can actually work with retailers to offer incentives to their staff for selling your product. 
  • Setting up sampling and demos: Having product samples or demos in store is a great way to increase brand recognition and attract new customers. 
  • Offering promotions: Everyone loves to save money or get a gift. Win new customers by offering discounts, BOGO deals, bundles, loyalty programs, competitions, giveaways, gift-with-purchase benefits, or other enticing offers. 

Cresicor™: Trade Marketing Solutions

How can Cresicor help you optimize your trade marketing results? Any trade marketing manager who’s been on the job for more than five minutes knows that managing all aspects of a trade marketing strategy, campaigns, supply chain partners, marketing materials, advertisements, etc. is a lot to keep up with. Organization is key to keep everything running smoothly, ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks and you’re not spending money without seeing a valuable return. 

Cresicor’s trade promotion management software is built by and for the consumer packaged goods industry to help companies better manage every element of their trade spend, from campaign creation to deductions management to promotion measurement. It’s easy to use, fast to implement, designed for all small to midsize CPG companies, and is powered by high-performance AI tools. Plus, we’ve made it affordable, with pricing tiers to fit your budget. 

Want to learn more about how our software can help optimize your trade marketing? Request a demo and we’ll be in touch! 

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