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Trade Marketing – why it’s important to have a trade marketing strategy

As brands grow and evolve, marketing is fully focused on consumer marketing to help generate brand awareness, increase sales and engage with the consumer and above all, create sales. What is often missed, is the role of trade marketing in a brand’s marketing strategy.

Trade marketing is the process of marketing brands specifically to the trade – to the businesses that will sell products to consumers, whether they are wholesalers, distributors, independent shops/ boutiques, online retailers or large department stores or multiples. The retail trade is vital for a brand to sell more products, rarely is it enough to sell own product direct to consumers.

Some brands forget the importance of trade marketing. They focus on consumer marketing forgetting that they still need to market their brand to the supply chain – the retail buyers. A good trade marketing strategy will include all elements and will mean that a brand has done all that it can to achieve maximum exposure and therefore the opportunity to gain more sales.

Photo credit: Lara & Ollie

Trade marketing covers so many aspects – promoting press releases and brand updates to industry trade publications, websites and bloggers (for example milk, doolittle, junior style, luna journal, childhood business, maternity buyer) where brands can announce new product launches and extensions, showcase new collections, communicate staffing updates and share brand news is key to your marketing strategy.

Photo credit: Les Ultraviolettes

Branding is a huge part of trade marketing – creating a brand presence, defining the brand positioning and telling the brand story to the trade helps creates reasons and assurances for stocking the brand and making sales.

Trade promotions can help sell volume, whether it’s offering early bird discounts if ordering within set timescales, offering deals for example, buy three get one free or free product with certain quantities –all ways of achieving higher sales.

A trade marketing strategy should also be supported by digital marketing – having a good website with a retailer section is a good way of communicating. Having a good landing page with a sign up function can be a good lead generator and having original branded content on your website can all help to gain coverage.

Social media is now a must-have and can be used across all the platforms to help create brand presence and awareness as well as taking advantage of email marketing software (often available free to start with – for example; Mailchimp, Constant Contact etc).

Trade shows underpin trade marketing and whilst brands sometimes choose not to participate due to marketing budgets, the importance of being part of a trade show should not be underestimated. The Playtime Paris trade show has been established for 10 years and is an integral part of trade marketing (it also covers other markets through Playtime Berlin Playtime New York and Playtime Tokyo).

Photo credit: Little Indians

So why participate in a trade show? One of the most important is having a brand presence. We caught up with some exhibitors from the last Playtime Paris show who have rebooked for the July 2017 edition and asked why are trade shows important to their marketing strategy?

Anna and Lesley, founders of Lara & Ollie teething jewellery, comment that they are focused on participating in trade shows through 2017-18 because: ‘We are really focusing on building our wholesale business and trade shows are the driving force to do so. Not only do they enable us to reach new markets and meet potential new stockists, they give us the opportunity to build and maintain relationships with existing customers. They also provide a great platform through which to launch and showcase new collections as well as to gain feedback - we’ve picked up quite a few ideas through conversations at trade shows!’

Vanessa de Kock Erasmus, Little Indians, agrees that: ‘Buyers can meet us in person. So the customer relationship is really important to us’ and Juliette Bigot-Pallard, Les Ultraviolettes says: ‘Because it allows me to meet many of my clients in three days which is a gain of time for me’.

Photo credit: Les Ultraviolettes

Why did Vanessa de Kock Erasmus, Little Indians, specifically choose Playtime Paris, sometimes instead of other trade shows? Vanessa commented: ‘Playtime is always a good trade fair with a good quality of buyers from around the world’ and Anna Wicks and Lesley Newsholme, Lara & Ollie, stated: ‘Playtime has been hugely successful for us to date and it has opened a gateway into the European and International market which otherwise would be fairly difficult to reach - or at least works require a huge amount of research and man hours’.

Photo credit: Lara & Ollie

Participating in a trade show offers so much in addition to brand presence and brands cannot underestimate the power of networking both with likeminded, complementary brands, buyers and trade press. Being able to engage directly with all these groups face to face can really help a brand succeed. Successful brands at Playtime Paris consistently commit to exhibiting so what makes Playtime Paris special?

‘Playtime gathers most of the famous & good maternity brands and mood is great and relaxed so the fair is a pleasant fair to participate in’ said Juliette Bigot-Pallard, Les Ultraviolettes.
Vanessa de Kock Erasmus, Little Indians, agrees and adds: ‘The quality of the buyers is good because the quality of exhibitors is also really good. It feels like a worldwide family. We have a lot of friends of other brands’ .
Anna Wicks and Lesley Newsholme, Lara & Ollie, commented: ‘It is very friendly and welcoming for both exhibitors and attendees. The range of visitors is broad - from large chains to small independents and the calibre is high. We’ve made some good friends with other exhibitors so the networking opportunities are great so we’ve been able to share experiences, ideas and collaborate on marketing opportunities’ .

Photo credit: Little Indians

Our exhibitors were all in agreement that participating in a trade show really helps develop their customer relationships; Anna Wicks and Lesley Newsholme, Lara & Ollie ‘Like many businesses most of our communication is conducted over email so actually being able to meet and speak to our stockists is invaluable - particularly those not based in the UK. It’s really important for us to be able to talk to them about our brand and products, gain feedback about what is selling well, what they’d like to see, what we can do better, pricing etc. and also get an insight into their businesses and the market in general’.

Juliette Bigot-Pallard, Les Ultraviolettes, commented that ‘Mails are useful but direct contact is the best in commercial relationships’ and Vanessa de Kock Erasmus, Little Indians, agreed; ‘Meeting someone in person is always much better then via email or telephone. We always do business with a smile, which you don’t see over the phone or by email’.

Finally brands wishing to participate in trade shows, especially international shows can find out if they qualify for any funding – many countries offer grants or subsidised fees to participate to help promote the country’s trade enterprise. Lara & Ollie benefited from a UK grant and said ‘The UKTI TAP grant has made a huge difference to us as a small business’. Visit your government website for Trade and Export to discover if your brand is eligible for a grant.

Trade Marketing is a vital part of a brand strategy, if you haven’t participated before, have a think about the benefits and if you have exhibited in the past, don’t miss this important opportunity to help brand presence, networking, actively engaging with the audience and trade press / bloggers and developing good business relationships.

The quality of the buyers is good because the quality of exhibitors is also really good. It feels like a worldwide family. We have a lot of friends of other brands’.
Vanessa de Kock Erasmus, Little Indians