Trade advertising - check.
Well-timed press releases - check.
An annual tradeshow plan - check.
Sell sheets and sales collateral - check.
Company advertising on LinkedIn - check.
An email newsletter - check.
When it seems like you’ve checked all the boxes relative to your trade marketing program and you’re still not seeing the results you’d expect (or worse, that your executive team expects), it’s a sign that it’s time for some out-of-the-box thinking.
The truth is, trade marketing isn’t as simple as it used to be. Between the ever-evolving digital landscape, technology barriers like rigid firewalls, more competition, and a new crop of younger produce buyers with different preferences, you almost HAVE to go beyond the tried-and-true basics to get your message across. When you find yourself feeling stuck and wondering “now what?” with your trade marketing, consider one of these creative approaches that you may not have tried yet.
Creative Trade Marketing Ideas for Fresh Produce Marketers
Establish a Messaging Guide
First and foremost, if you haven’t established a messaging guide for your trade audience then this should be next on your list. Many produce companies overlook the importance of having established messaging that focuses on the benefits you provide to your customers - not the features of your products/services. Your messaging should be positioned in a way that is focused on solving your customer’s problems - which means less of a focus on your company history and less of the word “we.”
Once finished, your messaging guide will serve as go-to copy for all of your marketing assets and communications - which could be the key to getting more out of your trade ads, emails, collateral, and press releases. Click here for more reasons you should consider a messaging guide for your brand.
Be a Guest on (or Start) a Podcast
Podcasts are consistently growing in popularity. In just three years, podcast listeners have grown 29.5%, according to Convince and Convert. If there is a retail or foodservice-centric podcast that is relevant to your brand, you can request to join the show and be interviewed by the host. This is great for brands that are making waves within the produce industry and can speak to a common problem the podcast’s listeners face. The Produce Industry Podcast is one you’ve likely heard of as well as CropTalk Media.
We often get asked by brands if they should start their own podcast. Honestly, this depends on a great deal and for many grower-shippers, this might not be the most effective use of your time or budget. For service-based businesses, however, starting your own podcast might be a smart investment. Highland Ag Solutions started their own podcast and has leveraged it to attract new customers through honest conversations with their current customers and their success stories.
Create an Interactive Cost Savings Calculator
Is one of your selling points for retail or foodservice buyers your ability to help them save or cut down on food waste through your convenience products, efficient packaging and/or logistical services? Consider building an online calculator that can easily be shared with customers to help demonstrate this to them in real-time. While this could potentially cost some money to custom-develop, imagine how having an easily shareable tool like this will excite your sales team.
IFCO has an online calculator to help its customers realize their environmental impact by switching to RPCs. If you are a grower-shipper, imagine if you could have a similar calculator demonstrating a different form of cost savings you could pass on to your customers.
Send a Surprise Mailer
It’s not just for influencers - you can also surprise and delight your customers by sending them a package in the mail containing swag, products, fact sheets, etc. You can get your customers excited about a consumer-facing promotion you might be running by sharing more details and swag in the mail with them - making them more inclined to feature your products in stores while the promotion is ongoing.
LGS Sales took this approach with their seasonal pink packaging in support of Susan G. Komen. As a result, 10 customers that received the packages opted in to the promotion and chose to merchandise with the pink packaging. You can read the full case study here.
Leverage Couponing Programs
Third-party platforms and services like Destini or Genesis have features that allow you to create retailer-specific couponing programs and deals that only consumers in certain zip codes (or stores) can see. Leveraging coupons gives you the dual benefit of having content to promote to your shopper audiences while giving you product lift and sales data to take back to your retail customers. Use these success stories to incentivize the retailer to invest in more distribution consistency and/or volume with you and in turn, you can invest in a higher volume of coupons that will drive shoppers to their stores to purchase the product.
Share Behind-the-Scenes Videos
Retailer tours aren’t anything new - but why wait until a tradeshow or sponsored tour opportunity to take a retailer behind-the-scenes with you? Use video to give them “in the moment” glimpses of your fields and operation and simply share the videos with them or post them to LinkedIn. This kind of video isn’t meant to be the one you would share on a big screen at a tradeshow as a part of a sponsorship - they can be taken with an iPhone and don’t have to be professionally shot every time. Envision something like what you would share on TikTok! If you have a young, charismatic personality on your sales or field staff, they may feel comfortable giving this a try.
Offer Downloadable White Papers and Case Studies
While this isn’t necessarily a new or out-of-the-box way to engage your customers, if you haven’t ever tried it, it could be!
Offer your customers something like a white paper, a free demo, etc. that they would be willing to fill out a form to receive. Within the form, you can ask them a few questions to better understand what their challenges are. For example, an avocado grower can create a guide to merchandising avocados that retailers would fill out a form to download. In return, you collect intel from this form on the buyer and supply that back to the sales team. Now marketing has both provided a solution to the buyer by giving them helpful information about their product and you’ve also helped to solve problems at the sales level by offering insights that can guide sales discussions to a close. Win-win!
Ocean Mist Farms has several proprietary trade downloads gated behind forms on their website set up exclusively for interested retailers - you’ll have to fill out the form to get access!
Implement a Chatbot
Chatbots are getting smarter and smarter these days and chances are you’ve engaged with a chatbot to solve a customer service problem yourself. There are several third-party tools available to help you create a chatbot that can interact with visitors on your website to help them find what they are looking for. With the right tool, you could create a chatbot that asks your visitor if they are a shopper, retailer, or foodservice buyer at the start of a conversation. From there, the chatbot could serve out a specific list of options based on who is using the bot. If a retail or foodservice buyer is engaging with the bot, an email alert can go out to your sales email or a team member so they can make sure the appropriate person is aware of the potential sales opportunity and customer in need.
Trade marketing doesn’t have to be boring and consist of the same marketing tactics you were using 10 years ago. Stick to what works - but don’t be afraid to invest in something new and creative to check off ALL of your trade marketing boxes! And if you need help figuring out where to begin, give us a shout - we’ve got you covered!