The 5 Ps of marketing are even more important today than ever before. Manufacturing is becoming easy and replication of ideas is rampant. So when your product innovation & relevance to short lived, what can you rely on in the medium to long term??
Trade & Channel Partners are a very important part of the company’s marketing mix. Without them – the “Place” P of marketing where would your product be?? Probably in the warehouse!!
Trade & Channel Partners help you get close to your end consumers. They act as your sales person, your advocate, your advertising channel, your partner in your business
While advertising & brand pull are very important, if Trade & Channel Partners decide to stock & promote your competitors’ products, your advertising efforts will go waste
Aligning your channel & retail distribution partners to your goals, plans, objectives, programs and promotions is very important
More often than not, they are forgotten on alignment of company brand & marketing initiatives, unless there is a specific consumer scheme that is to be made available at the retail outlet
Keeping your Trade & Channel partners engaged is not easy. It is not a short term promotional initiative. It is a long-term commitment. And needs sustained efforts and investments.
So how do you keep your Trade & Channel Partners engaged& loyal??
- Have a stable, loyal & dedicated trade sales team
- Speak their language
- Have realistic & easy to understand trade schemes
- Engage with trade partners across all levels
- Have your own senior management involved with trade partners
- Set up & implement a good effective trade engagement program
What is a trade engagement program and what could it look like?
Trade & Dealer engagement goes beyond going rewards for performance. Though Dealer Rewards & Incentives are the cornerstone of the commercial relationship and are often seen as part of the terms of trade, engagement with dealers& channel partners goes beyond and includes the following
- Regular communication. No matter how small or big, regular communication with dealer & retailers helps keep the relationship good. It can be in the form of a letter, an sms or whatsapp message or simply a phone call.
- Recognition. Rewards Yes. But recognition, even better. Recognize small and big achievements of your channel partners. Let the information flow back from your sales force to your senior management and set up systems for recognition to flow back to the partner. It may be a nice message from your CEO or your Sales Head. Recognition is not only for official work. Recognition can be for personal achievements too. By knowing your dealer well and having processes to have information available to your Trade CRM system, you can initiate a good ongoing communication program with your dealers and channel partners.
- Personal Touch. This is important as no machine can replace personal engagement. A regular visitation plan & opportunities created for dealer to meet with key personnelin your company is important.
- Lend your expertise. As a large company you may have certain expertise that you have or can afford to have and pass this to your channel partners. For example, your web marketing team could guide them on how to create a web presence for themselves. Or your finance team could guide them on better cash flow management. Or your design team could guide them about more effective store design. Or your procurement team could help get better deals on some of their asset purchases.
- Bring in the families. The silent supporters of your entrepreneurial trade partners can also be a part of your trade engagement programs. Scholarships,family talent recognition, career counseling, internships, contests, social networking all can be a part of your trade engagement programs.
To know more about how you can better manage your trade engagement programs write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 9820843513.