Trade Marketing: So Much More Than It Used to Be

There’s no doubt about it, trade marketing just isn’t what is used to be.  When I started my career in the fresh produce industry 22 years ago (but who’s counting), a typical trade marketing plan included one or two tradeshow appearances, a sponsorship to go along with said tradeshow presence, and a few print advertisements in a trade publication during the peak of season edition.  Not anymore…

The number of trade centric shows has more than quadrupled in the last five years, but the biggest game changer for fresh produce by far is the prevalence of digital. Digital publications have emerged and now function as another channel alongside print publications. Websites are a critical aspect for any type of business in the trade and a social media presence is a requirement for relevance and customer service for brands.  While all aspects of marketing have expanded, so have the opportunities to utilize marketing to grow sales and meet business objectives.

Today, to realize positive results of a great trade marketing strategy, marketers must have a well thought out plan, resources to manage and execute all aspects of the plan, and an allocated marketing spend that is tied directly to goals and business outcomes. To help further illustrate, I’ve outlined specific aspects and recommendations that should now be considered in an evolved trade marketing plan that is designed to help grow your business in 2018 and beyond.


“Branding” is just as important when marketing to the trade as to consumers today.  For many of our readers this is such a beast of a topic and we hear you loud and clear!  When you become overwhelmed with the many aspects that encompass the activity of “branding”, try to stay grounded and remember that consistency is the key.  Fresh produce brands are notorious for committing “brand confusion” with a different version of a logo or aesthetic for each and every marketing and sales asset they create.  Another key aspect to remember is that branding is also so much more than a logo.  Today brands are identifiable by extensions of the logo including font treatments, color palettes and even words associated and used with a brand.  For more insights and help on how to shape a brand, we invite you to explore our newest helpful branding guide for fresh produce marketers.

Trade Shows

In the fresh produce industry today, there are more regional shows to attend than I have fingers and toes.  This has not always been the case, but turns out, is a welcome addition to a healthy trade marketing plan.  Having more opportunities to connect face-to-face with existing and prospective customers is always a good thing but minding the timing and a budget can be tricky.  At DMA Solutions, we advise a well rounded approach to tradeshow marketing and encourage exhibitor participation where it makes the most sense and attendance for networking purposes at a minimum.  No matter how you slice that apple, the goal of tradeshow participation is to build a pipeline of business that ultimately covers the cost of your participation.


While digital appears to be dominating advertising in the fresh produce industry, print is still very much alive in trade publications. The great news relative to advertising and your trade marketing plan is the more places your brand can be seen, the more impressions your brand will receive. We encourage marketers on a regular basis to find creative ways to measure success or brand recall for the print advertisements that they are placing in industry publications.  Creating unique URLs to track incoming traffic from visits or looking for a shift in direct traffic over a specified period of time during your ad run are both ways to measure success of a print advertisement.


Is your website helping you sell? Today, a company’s website has to be smarter and more relevant than ever before.  Advanced marketers in our industry are taking website marketing to new heights providing an elevated user experience (UX) to thank the visitor for taking the time to learn more about the brand or product presented. Implementing these tactics will help you build a stronger bridge between you and your buying audiences while keeping you informed about who is visiting and when. 

Bring your customers back for more with information that can help them make better buying decisions from your company! Blogs, for example, continue to be integral in supporting a B2B marketing strategy and can host an array of information, including relevant crop updates, collecting leads, and offering email support to customers looking for ongoing information.

Social Media

Fresh produce brands are becoming increasingly interested in a B2B social media strategy and I’m here to tell you, it can be done successfully. The 24/7 nature of social media empowers brands to communicate via social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to support business development and encourage lead generation—something that was not nearly as accessible five years ago. When it comes to B2B social media marketing, the proof is in the brands ability to listen and use analytics to determine which social media networks and content are working best to drive traffic and engagement. 

Public Relations

An effective trade public relations strategy has also evolved well beyond sending a couple of press releases a year announcing new products or new hires. Today, a brand’s public relations approach should become a strategic storytelling effort to keep customers informed with consumer trends, buyer behavior, business updates, new product development, food safety practices, and so much more.  One important aspect of public relations in the fresh produce industry that has not changed is the importance of timing.  Press releases and media alerts should be taken seriously noting the dates, months and times of year when buyers and fresh produce industry colleagues are listening most.

Sales Collateral

A piece of sales collateral should serve as an extension of your online marketing presence.  Touching on the key points, the big messages and the value of your company, products and services is the right information to include on a piece of printed sales material.  In fact, today sales materials have become more interactive, digital, and relevant to customers’ needs.  Highlighting key data points gleaned from website, blog and database marketing activities can help brands turn a dated piece of collateral into an interesting and informative selling tool.

So, what does this mean for you? The shotgun approach of trade marketing we’ve seen in the past is no longer a viable option if a brand is looking to stand out with its buyers and to garner meaningful results. To approach trade marketing strategically, at a minimum, we suggest that a company set clear goals, prepare a realistic budget to achieve those goals, and determine the resources necessary to execute trade marketing efforts effectively.

Our team would love the opportunity to support your trade marketing needs. We’re gearing up for the busy Fresh Summit season by offering free consultations before, during and after the event. Request a free consultation with our team and we’ll help get you on the right B2B marketing track for 2018.

Have something to add? Leave us a comment below, or tweet to us at @TheCoreBlog!