Too many small and medium sized (SMB) CPG’s seem to think that the “TPM software” is the panacea that will be the answer to their problems. Therefore, they send out their RFP and call in the usual solution providers in the TPM space for “demos” of the solution. And so it kicks off the next “rush to the demo” on the part of the providers anxious to display their fancy approach to clearing a deduction and how few clicks it takes to perform a particular function.
But this approach can be very misleading because maximizing trade promotion effectiveness (TPE) requires much more than just the software. It’s also about the approach, the partnership with the provider, and the ability to tap into a community of other SMB CPG’s for perspective and benchmarking.
Consider this typical approach. After an arduous TPM solution selection process, the winner and client go through a 3-6 month implementation period. This involves mostly software concerns of data input and system integration. The training at the end is often very limited, focused on an administrator who has never done it before, and then there’s the “go-live” where all the users have to quickly start using the solution. It’s no wonder so many solutions are poorly and incompletely used.
Why? Because it’s all been about the software.
Now envision a totally different approach…
1. Start with Best Practices, not just for using the software, but trade marketing best practices.
There’s a disciplined process with 6 steps (Annual Planning, Trade Planning, Customer Planning, Execution, Settlement, Analysis and Reporting) that should be thought through at the outset so that the software addresses the strategy.
2. Then rethink Administration.
A major issue is that the recently trained administrator is new to it as well. And then they get promoted or leave the company and someone new needs to be trained. But what if the administrator was outsourced to someone at the provider who was intimately familiar with the software that could be a more consistent and knowledgeable presence without being a F/T employee.
3. It’s not an expense; it’s an investment.
And it’s not a one-time thing at the beginning. It requires the ability to tap into different sources for a more detailed dive or a refresher.
4. Diagnostics and Compliance.
Are the users using the solution properly? Are they using it at all? There is a huge gap between what the software can do and who is using it and how it’s being used. Can your software provider tell you that? And do anything about it?
5. Analysis and Advice.
Most SMB CPG’s have limited resources to be able to analyze their business. But what if someone with significant CPG Trade Expertise could help address some major issues at the top accounts on your top promoted groups? Basically the 80/20 rule. This priority analysis could save $100’s of thousands of dollars at just one account. That’s maximizing trade promotion effectiveness or TPE.
6. Outsourcing Trade Marketing.
Most SMB CPG’s don’t have a trade marketing department. This limits detailed analysis and ongoing trade strategy improvement. But outsourcing trade marketing to CPG Trade experts provides a unique resource to help SMB’s compete and improve trade effectiveness.
7. Finally, a community.
Most SMB CPG’s are all alone. They have limited staff and limited interaction with others in the same boat dealing with major issues with all retailers. Having the ability to get the perspective of other SMB CPG’s and to see how you are handling similar issues has proven time and again to be compelling and helpful.
You need to go way beyond the software to maximize trade promotion effectiveness.