Five Steps to Help Your
Channel Marketing

In a world of overwhelming options for your marketing dollars, it can seem daunting to find the right mix: brand awareness vehicles, experiential opportunities, social and digital integration, shopper marketing and channel marketing initiatives—all focused on achieving any number of brand objectives.

What’s more, you’re being asked to get more out of your budgets and to show how you are moving product with your efforts. So ask yourself: If you could hit two initiatives with the same budget, why wouldn’t you?

This is what local radio can do for consumer and channel marketing, if you do it right.

You can use the same media dollars you’re spending to target consumers to partner with key retailers. Your radio budget will increase consumer awareness and drive purchase, while simultaneously gaining in-store performance from retailers.

How is this possible?

Radio reaches over 90% of all shoppers, including a large proportion of shoppers in their cars on the way to the store. Retailers know this, which is why year after year this business category is in the top five for radio media spend. If you can help your accounts save media dollars, you can negotiate merchandising in return.

The centerpiece of co-marketing on radio is retailer-shared spots. Radio advertisers with a 30-second spot can attach a 30-second retailer spot to it to create a 60-second unit. The retailer can use its share of the spot to communicate to shoppers about sales events, shopper programs and initiatives, non-competitive merchandise, and any current offers on your products such as TPRs. With or without an offer, the retailer spot will usually end with a drive to its stores to purchase your product.

But integrating retailers into spots is only the beginning of what you can do on the radio. You can drive to retailers with a call to action connected to branded content, contests, or on-air personality endorsements. You can also extend retailer messaging to station social media posts and even events at the retailer itself. The more you integrate, the more the retailer will become connected in shoppers’ minds with your product, the more the perceived value of what you can offer accounts in exchange for performance.

Here, then, are the five steps to a successful retailer-integrated radio marketing campaign:

1.    Create clear and realistic retailer performance goals that align with brand objectives.

Whether your goal is to drive volume, gain market share, or maintain distribution, the retailer performance goals should be in line with your objective. Take into consideration the CDI or BDI of individual markets, channel growth, and the existing shopper marketing initiatives of your key accounts.

Performance should also align with your marketing efforts. For example, when Ragu, Hormel, Sargento and Pillsbury came together for a co-promotional “Pizza Partnership” campaign, CRN recommended asking for secondary displays so that the items could be displayed together, making for a one-stop meal solution.

For maximum integration, promotional themes and brand messaging should also be extended in-store, but remain flexible enough to adjust depending upon the demands of individual retailers.

2.  Design a retail-centric promotional plan.

Account-specific promotions (ASPs) hold even greater value for retailers in that they become featured purveyors of your product, often at the expense of competing chains. Just be sure that the program is indeed exclusive; create different campaigns for each retailer, or dedicate each retailer to a particular time period by staggering promotional dates.

As with any channel marketing, ASPs can be quite challenging. Each retailer has its own preferences, policies and calendars dictating what it will and won’t do for manufacturers. Tracking this kind of information has become a part of CRN’s everyday work in our Trade Marketing Department, and if it’s not, it should also become the everyday work of your trade marketing and shopper marketing departments.

If you get retailer pushback on a promotion, ask the retailer how the promotion could be modified to the retailer’s needs. Customize programs around what the retailer will do. For example, CRN was working on a National Cattlemen’s Beef campaign and one retailer pushed back on the tailgate theme of the promotion. After some back and forth, it was agreed that a slightly different theme, “family dinner,” was better suited to the retailer’s calendar and shoppers.

If a retailer pushes back on POS elements, you may need to customize these as well. Work with each individual retailer on the “look and feel” of POS. Use their POS/print vendor when creating the materials. Their vendors already know how the retailer wants its POS, and they have the distribution down to a science.

It’s also a good idea to find out what is already on the retailer’s promotional calendar to see how you might be able to tie in with existing in-store promotions. This is a best practice for fast turnaround retail marketing campaigns, in particular.

3.  Ensure sufficient media levels to leverage targeted performance.

In order for retailers to see the value of any co-marketing campaign, you need to show what’s in it for them, and it had better be significant and compelling. You will need to provide more than just retailer tags or a limited, non-exclusive spot schedule.

The spirit of the retailer-shared spot is one of partnership. You already know that media levels have to be sufficient enough to move the needle for awareness and purchase. Likewise, retailer-integrated media levels have to be sufficient enough to drive traffic into the local store.

Demonstrating support for retail in real and tangible ways brings retailers to the bargaining table. Remember, when creating promotions for retail partners, being a true partner is key, and collaboration is the name of the game.

4.  Implement internal marketing, working closely with other departments in your organization.

In many large CPG organizations, brand managers are often siloed from the sales force and internal shopper marketing and channel marketing departments. However, each of these departments contributes equally to the success of a particular brand or product.

As a brand manager, it is up to you to open the lines of communication in your corner of the organization. Don’t be afraid to be a maverick. Create an integrated marketing department. Organize cross-department meetings about your brand. Get input and buy-in from the other departments. Benefit from the experience of other perspectives in the organization. Get everyone excited about what you, as a team, want to do.

Everyone should be working toward one goal that benefits each equally. Only then can you truly integrate your efforts to bring brand management, channel marketing and shopper marketing together so you can leverage what you’re doing at retail.

It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it. In CRN’s experience, organizations that use integrated marketing approaches reap the highest rewards, bolstered by numerous efficiencies.

5.  Execute collaborative retailer presentations (i.e., retailer, sales and agency).

Likewise, retail-integrated programs require collaboration within retailer organizations. Getting the category buyer, retailer ad department, and your agency partners at the same table is crucial to success. Therefore, try to give your sales force as much time as possible when starting up a new program. It takes time to get meetings and get on retail promotion calendars.

When your salespeople present to retailers, they can benefit greatly by having the support of your agency, who can explain specifically how a retail marketing program works and what the benefits are, and answer questions or address concerns right on the spot. Sales people sell, marketers market, and they both have a role in successfully selling in a retail marketing program.

The collaboration shouldn’t end there. Your agency should work directly with marketing and advertising contacts at retailers to ensure a smooth approval process and buy-in at all levels of the retailer organization.

The most effective local radio retail marketing campaigns communicate three things—they tell the consumer what to buy, why to buy and where to buy—right now. Advertising tells them “what,” promotion tells them “why,” and retail marketing tells them “where.”