In today’s large consumer brands, software developers actively support the needs of every major player in the C-Suite with the development and maintenance of large enterprise platforms in the categories of ERP, CRM, BI, and SCM, with one glaring omission, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). For years, marketing department leads have struggled with a lack of resources and tools. They’ve had to use cobbled-together systems, siloed platforms, and spreadsheets, rather than automating trade marketing operations.
This means that marketers are not able to work as efficiently or effectively as they could be. Trade marketers working in the intersection of digital and brick-and-mortar markets feel this lack of efficiency the most. The primary cause for this is the lack of access to the appropriate software. So, this creates a bottleneck of logistical, operational, and execution issues that can only be solved manually. Fortunately, this is now the way of the past. Welcome to ‘Trade Marketing Automation’ (TMA).
In 2016, after more than 20 years of working directly with blue-chip brands like Oakley, The North Face, and Luxottica, trade marketing veteran Jamie Calon set out to attack this issue head-on. He, along with his partner and co-founder (CTO) Greg Stewart, developed Brand Regulator, a trade marketing SaaS platform that enables more adaptive, more responsive, and streamlined marketing operations for branding in physical environments.
Marketing Mess: Challenges Facing Trade Marketers Today
Calon’s podcast, The Marketeers Clubhouse, is a hub for marketing tips and tricks, including an article that flags “10 trade marketing pain points” that can trip up marketers, the devs supporting them, and the brands trying to tie it all together.
1. Poor, incomplete data
The data that marketers need for effective trade promotion is incomplete, scattered across multiple silos, and/or low-quality.
2. Logistical hurdles
Managing sales tools’ complex logistics is overwhelming, even for seasoned marketers and developers — resulting in bottlenecks, delays, and low-quality results.
3. Low communication accountability
Without a centralized framework (and a clear chain of command) to manage multiple communication channels and silos, miscommunication is inevitable and accountability suffers.
4. Disconnected platforms
Using multiple, poorly connected, or totally disconnected platforms (often hacked together with spreadsheets — more on that below) hinders stakeholder uptake and usability.
5. Inadequate marketing foundation
Countless trade marketing teams try to wrangle standard CRMs and ERPs to support custom, fully responsive trade marketing solutions — but only to discover that’s virtually impossible.
6. Time-consuming manual processes
In trade marketing, the work often scales faster than teams can, which makes process automation absolutely critical to their success.
7. Internal friction
Disagreements and turf wars between and within departments might be inevitable, but they’re easier to manage and less likely to interfere with project goals with a unified communication and project management framework.
8. Poor go-to-market
Trade marketing execution is complex, with many moving parts that must be delivered on time and in order.
9. Outdated in-field data
Effective trade marketing requires near-real-time intelligence-gathering — to support production and maintain strong dealer and vendor relationships.
10. Mismanaged fixtures and displays
Managing trade marketing collateral is much more difficult without standardized, scalable processes for delivery, tracking, repairs, replacement, and more.
Having established the primary pain points of trade markers, Calon and Stewart assessed the marketing landscape thoroughly and began to consider solutions. During Calon’s work as a consultant, he observed three common ‘quick fixes’ that brands attempted to use to mask the issues. Unfortunately, they failed every time.
1. Merging Data in Excel from Multiple Disconnected Platforms
This is by far the most prevalent of the three. Not only is it incredibly inefficient, but it simply doesn’t work at scale. Calon had seen enough brands attempt this to know that no amount of Excel wizardry or layered, logic-based internal processes can prevent data loss, duplication of effort, and miscommunication in such an ad-hoc environment.
2. Building a Custom Marketing Solution Inside an Existing CRM or ERP
This one is tempting for bigger organizations with internal dev resources (or the budget to retain an outside development team) to wrangle Salesforce or SAP into something approaching a custom trade marketing solution. They’re paying enough for the CRM/ERP, after all. But powerful as they are, CRMs and ERPs aren’t built for modern trade marketers, and they’re too clunky to change. It’s like trying to build a rocket that flies underwater when what you really need is a torpedo.
3. Building a Totally Custom System Internally
This might feel like the best solution for marketers and developers. But, it’s easily the most complicated to develop and maintain. In Calon’s experience, large consumer brands trying to custom-build trade marketing solutions are simply creating a black hole for resources. They take just as many engineers to maintain as to build. Moreover, even larger organizations with enough dev slack for time-limited builds can’t afford the labor and opportunity cost of long-term solution management.
Brand Regulator Emerges as a Scalable Trade Marketing Automation Solution
In 2016, Brand Regulator was born. Calon (CEO) and Stewart (CTO) created a comprehensive software solution. It is laser-focused on solving trade marketing issues, streamlining processes, and automating operations.
Is Industry Agnostic
Brand Regulator is designed to work for a variety of industries, not just retail. Likewise, these include consumer packaged goods, government agencies, direct-to-consumer brands, travel agencies, charities and non-profits, and more.
Streamlines Ordering & Distribution
Brand Regulator’s tools enable fast, accurate trade collateral projection, allocation, ordering, shipping, repair, transfer, and more. Also, everything is housed in a purpose-built application.
Improves Budget Forecasting (While Reducing Waste)
Brand Regulator has flexible, granular budgeting capabilities built into its collateral management platform. So, there’s no need for clunky external spreadsheets or CSV files.
Has Cloud-Based Content Management
Brand Regulator’s internal content management platform, Share Direct, is purpose-built for sharing and storing files. No more commingling content with other departments in Google Drive or bloated project management software.
Empowers Promotional Teams
With real-time visibility and simplified approvals, Brand Regulator removes bureaucratic and logistical hurdles for promotional go-to-market, saving valuable hours during seasonal or time-limited sales drives.
Enables Advanced, Real-Time Marketplace Visibility
Brand Regulator’s Market View is a centralized platform for storing and sharing marketplace photos and creating custom surveys. So, this vastly improves the real-time data and feedback that’s essential for brand presence across the entire sales ecosystem.
Simplifies User Governance
Brand Regulator’s built-in approval controls and granular user permissions make it much more difficult for rogue players to do their own thing.
Brand Regulator is ultimately what the CMO needs. A sustainable, scalable system that provides comprehensive brand management and streamlined processes. So, this includes everything from fixture ordering and distribution to real-time reports and data integration. Finally, marketing and sales teams are able to adopt a platform that replaces all the single solutions and makeshift tools that make trade marketing a headache.