Part 2 – Field Guide
How to Leverage Your Suppliers’ Marketing Muscle
All of your suppliers have a vested interest in your success; the more you sell, the more they sell. And they all have marketing departments with the experience, expertise, and funds to help you create more successful advertising campaigns. Accessing this marketing muscle is a classic case of “Ask and ye shall receive”.
1.) Tender Your Next Ad Campaign. Present a written proposal for submissions to all of your suppliers, outlining your proposed advertising schedule and investment, along with any special displays, promotions, demonstrations, or other exposure the winning bidder will receive. Have a deadline for submissions and be prepared to make a commitment to buy from the winning supplier.
2.) Think Beyond Cash. Your suppliers have more to offer than cash, credits, or discounts. They often have branded advertising specialties or prizes they can offer for your campaign. They might also offer their vehicle presence for “truckload sales” or arrange factory demos at your place of business.
3.) Leverage Your Suppliers’ Expertise. Ask your suppliers to participate in your sales training program. They often have trainers that can and will train your people how to sell their products at no cost to you.
4.) Ask for Exclusivity. Where applicable, ask to be the first in your market to introduce a new line, or ask for a period of exclusivity. In some cases, you may be able to persuade a supplier to “private brand” their product specifically for you. When you have a private label or period of exclusivity, you can capture larger margins because consumers can’t make direct product-to-product comparisons with your competitors.
5.) Participate in Your Suppliers’ Promo Calendar. Many suppliers have promotions like traveling roadshows, demos, personality appearances, and more. Ask to see their promotions calendar and negotiate. Try to make your location a player in their events.
6.) Capture the Co-op Due to You. Regional sales and marketing managers do not like to see co-op funds go unused. If you don’t use the budgeted funds by year-end, they’ll often roll them into another fund to be utilized by your competitors. Schedule some time to understand what co-op is available to you and get your fair share. Consider asking near year-end if there are unused funds you could capture.