Most consumer goods companies have a Trade Marketing team. They play various roles, but many in the industry, and in particular those in Trade Marketing, believe that the function can play a more strategic role. In a recent post I highlighted the first step to making Trade Marketing more strategic. But to really make Trade Marketing strategic, the composition and the focus of the Trade Marketing team needs to change.
Make your Trade Marketing team shopper-focused
To be more strategic Trade Marketing needs to create a strategic interface with both marketing and sales functions. ‘Shopper’ is a natural ‘bridge’ between consumer and retail customer strategy. Consumer marketing teams are working hard to drive consumption of brands. A shopper-enabled Trade Marketing team is able to interface with consumer marketing by integrating a shopper and channel strategy with that consumer strategy. The ‘shopper bridge’ can then connect the consumer strategy all the way to retail.
Make your Trade Marketing team insight-driven
Becoming experts in understanding and marketing to shoppers is key to creating the creating strategic connections to these other functions. Without a deep shopper understanding it is hard to imagine how this strategic interface could exist. This implies that your Trade Marketing team must become more insightful. And while there is a need to understand shoppers, there is also a need to understand consumers and retailers too. The integrated strategy which is implicit in a strategic Trade Marketing team relies on integrated insight. Who better to drive this than a strategic Trade Marketing team, nestled neatly between consumer marketing sales?
How to build a strategic Trade Marketing team?
Create a clear role for your Trade Marketing team – This might sound obvious, but in my experience, the role of Trade Marketing in many organizations is unclear. Clarifying this role, and making sure other functions such as marketing and sales buy into it, is key to Trade Marketing beginning to play a different role in the organization. Check out this post for more on the role of Trade Marketing.
Recruit from marketing and sales – When Trade Marketing is working really well as a strategic function, it revels in its ‘middleman’ role between marketing and sales. Really effective Trade Marketing teams thrive by being able to blend the world of consumer marketing and that of sales. Great strategic trade marketers need to be both marketers, and retail experts. Where can we find those? Within our marketing and sales teams, of course! It stands to reason therefore that pulling talent from both of these functions would be effective.
Don’t worry about organization structure (yet) – Too often the first step to fixing a problem, changing organization structure isn’t where I’d start. Trade marketing teams often sit within a sales function, and the temptation to reorganize is strong. Will Trade Marketing get the strategic voice without board level representation? In my experience this depends more on the key players than it does on the organization structure. A Marketing Director who doesn’t buy into the importance of shoppers will be a barrier regardless of the reporting lines. Likewise, a Sales Director who doesn’t see the need to build an understanding of shoppers will be problematic under any circumstances. But in my experience these barriers are likely to be problematic to the strategic aspirations of Trade Marketing regardless of the organizational structure. Further, I’ve worked with and developed many highly strategic trade marketing functions which have worked happily within the sales team. On this basis, my recommendation is to focus on getting buy-in for the role of Trade Marketing, and then building a great team that can deliver on that role. Then and only then turn your mind to re-structuring.
There are many factors to be included in addition to this. But in my experience these, together with alignment on the role of trade marketing, are key to elevating trade marketing to a more strategic realm. If you have any other suggestions or builds, please let me know in the comments section.