Your Retail Selling Story (Hint: Your Retail Marketing Deck)
A retail marketing deck is one of food brands’ most critical–and challenging–sales components. Anyone who has experienced success selling to multiple retail customers has cracked the code. They have perfected their unique retail selling story. Each may have developed wildly divergent strategies and tactics depending on the category, product lines, selling style, or historic sales cycles.
Different Approach, Same Outcome
One common thread: the success of their retail marketing deck in getting their brand on the retail shelf. This post is similar to a retail marketing deck in its objective. NewPoint helps emerging brands develop their retail selling story and marketing deck, and we’ve learned a lot after working on marketing decks for NewPoint clients for a couple of decades.
Today, we will walk through some proven retail selling story deck requirements, starting with this theme statement:
Think of your retail selling story as making a good argument
So, the one fact we’ve all probably learned from talking to retail food buyers is that as gatekeepers to the shelf, they are not sitting there with an open spot on their plan-o-gram (POG) waiting for your product. This means that you will have to displace a competitor to get on the shelf. This is where an excellent retail selling story is essential.
For the uninitiated, a typical retail selling story is a “pitch deck” or set of slides. (For the record, a “pitch deck” is also known as a “marketing deck.”) Ideally, this “deck” creates a compelling argument to displace a competitor and add your (or more of your) product to the POG.
A Killer Retail Marketing Deck Should Be Strategic, Focused, and Deliver the Goods
A good selling story touches on everything involved in moving a product into the cart and through the checkout lane. By extension, a good pitch deck should work just as hard after you’ve left the room. A good, compelling argument based on vital, proprietary “intel” should impact the prospective customer and provide them with tools they can use to help them with their job.
A Killer Retail Marketing Deck Has That “Special Sauce”
One reason emerging food brands seek NewPoint’s help in developing their pitch deck is that a good pitch deck also levels the playing field. Think of it this way: You will no doubt be pitching against, and potentially making an argument to displace, a “Big Food” brand. To that end, the look and feel of your deck should be on par with any world-class professional retail presentation. At the same time, NewPoint’s role is to digest the intelligence mined in all six key components and weave your storylines with strategically developed, branded copy into that killer pitch deck.
Roll up your sleeves and get ready to do some homework.
6 Key Components of a Killer Pitch Deck/ Retail Marketing Deck
1. Your Retailer Insights
Have you ever internally cringed when a salesperson is in the middle of a canned pitch that is so tone-deaf to your business and specific needs that you feel the urge to shut them down? I have. Unfortunately, I’ve also been that salesperson. Years ago. I was so focused on the features and benefits of my product but, all the while, was oblivious to my prospective customer’s worldview. Let’s not be that guy.
What is the first thing we do when preparing for a meeting with a buyer? Visit a store. Go to the buyer’s plan-o-gram. Know it inside and out: SKU count by brand, products, flavors, price points, packaging, features, and benefits. Everything. Then, do the same for as many food buyers’ competitive supermarket POGs as possible. Got a meeting with Kroger? Hit your POG at Whole Foods, Walmart, and HyVee.
We can tell a lot when we visit a supermarket with a client.
The best clients? The ones who are spot-on in their game? These clients pick apart their retail POG product-by-product, detailing everything from how one product/brand is the leader, how another should not be there, to what flavors/styles they have too much/not enough of, to packaging, price points, and ingredients. In short, they are experts in their category.
This is what the food buyer is looking for in your retail marketing deck: expertise. I’ve seen these hundreds of times in my day-to-day work and witnessed this working first-hand. The best insights only come from deep category expertise.
With Insight comes expertise. With expertise comes respect. With respect comes partnerships.
Next, dig into what you can about the supermarket corporate initiatives that align with your brand and company values.
The goal is to weave their goals, programs, etc., into your branded selling story.
- Are they active in local charities?
- Do they have an active CSR (corporate social responsibility) or support causes/charities that you do as well?
- Are they moving toward non-GMO, clean label, and transparency in sourcing or sustainability?
Develop the narrative that aligns your corporations. At the very least, you should illustrate that you know and care about the company you’re hoping to partner with.
Shift Your Point of View
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes for a moment. A retail food buyer’s job is very busy and highly competitive. The buyer’s POg is competing against the supermarket competitor across the street and to the adjacent POGs in their own store. If their POG does not produce sales and turns on the shelf, the buyer for the category next door may be awarded their shelf space.
Your retail marketing deck has the opportunity to address their goals (and pain points) for their POG, knowing that NewPoint learned all these tidbits from experience and when we surveyed buyers, interviewed just under a dozen, and finally compiled the information in my book, Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.
2. Your Category, Market & Trend insights
Trend, market, and category intelligence can come from many of the same retail industry news outlets mentioned above. Adding to those are sources, multi-category – national sources (linked to great trend reports) like:
- FMI (Food Marketing Institute)
- Deloitte Consulting
- Grocery Manufacturers Association
- A.T. Kearney
- The Hartman Group
- Food Processing
Once again, homework is vital. Following the same mantra as above: be the expert in your category. Keep tabs on everything associated with your product category. Information sources vary depending on your category. Your category association may have research supporting an attribute that aligns with your product or brand – or the retailer’s values or corporate initiatives.
To help make your “local” argument, email me. I’ll send you Chapter 2 of my book: “Moving: Why Now for Local.” Lots of great facts, figures, and data to weave into your selling story.
3. Your Consumer Insights
You may need a great argument to convince the gatekeeper to displace a competitive brand in the POG, but at the end of the day, a retail food buyer knows the consumer is king.
We work to cultivate good, statistically accurate, proprietary consumer data or feedback about taste, features (NON-GMO, gluten-free, paleo, reduced fat, etc.), packaging – anything related to the overall category. Then we dial into “why” they love your product. Five hundred people saying why they prefer your brand is a good thing. Targeted, boosted, online, and social media surveys can help complete that job. Questionnaires at in-store demos or your farmer’s market booth are other low-cost options.
Don’t Data Dump, Let it Tell Your Story
Like the first three key components listed above, the goal is not just to list or show the data. The goal is also to weave the data into a compelling storyline that builds why your branded product should be on the shelf instead of the competitor. Speaking of your brand and products:
4. Your Brand
Every brand tells a story, and yours is no different. As a strategic marketing firm, we spend a lot of time discussing the importance of a robust and differentiated brand. This isn’t about your product or manufacturing processes – although those may be vital to your brand story. This is how your brand is relevant to the buying consumer and relative to the competition. In other words, it’s about why a consumer will choose your brand over the competition. This is a great spot in your retail marketing deck to develop a narrative that aligns your brand/company with the buyer’s company.
5. Product Lines & Success Stories
After harvesting your retailers’ insights, gleaning the market and trends about products in your category, and threshing out why consumers will be excited about your products and brand, now is the time.
You finally get to talk about yourself, your beautiful products, and your brand story. But try to do it in a way that considers the excellent work that comes from being a good partner and an expert in your category. Go for it!
6. Partnership & Support
Most retailers we surveyed and interviewed said they believe the food vendors in their POG have at least as much responsibility for getting the product off the shelf and through the checkout lane as they do. 50/50. That sounds like a partnership.
You Invest In Me, I’ll Invest in You
You know that it seems logical that this is a great way to close your selling story and retail marketing deck – with your plan to support the end of your partnership. Do you have a marketing plan that details targeted social media marketing, FSIs (Free Standing Inserts), coupons, event marketing, demos, ad dollars or shelf promos, shopper marketing tools (decals/coupons/shelf talkers), and so on? In short, how do you envision the partnership working?
The 2nd “Common Thread” of Killer Retailer Marketing Decks
At the opening of this post, I talk about the folks who “cracked the code” and have experienced success selling to multiple retail customers. Even if you decide to ditch 4 of the six key retail marketing deck components in this post, I would bet good money that another common thread is somehow bridging the themes of “Think of your retail selling story as making a good argument for displacing the competition” with “Show support and be a good partner.”
Good luck and happy selling!