Build relationships strategically - SKUFood
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Build relationships strategically

Build relationships strategically

A few years ago, we had the opportunity to see U2 live. I am not a huge music person. I like it, but I am not a huge fan of certain bands or need it on at home or in the car. They were close to where we live and we had always enjoyed their music so we got tickets.

I learned a lesson that day in a field outside Moncton, N.B.

The concert seemed like 4 people just playing awesome music, doing what they love to do. It really was an incredibly well choreographed combination of technology, lights, video, support team and 55,000 people watching. The work that must have happened to prepare and the level of execution made it so simple. You did not feel it was staged or choreographed because they are so well prepared.

 The light 75 feet above Bono does not just come on when he happens to walk to the front of the stage. It seems like it does, but you know it could all only happen if it was planned and rehearsed.

Think of your relationship with your customers, the retailers the same way. It needs to be natural and sincere but you also need to plan and be strategic about it.

We will take the first 10 weeks of the year to dive into our 2024 trends. We want to provide you with as much context to determine where to focus the efforts of your business. Everyone has a limited amount of resources and dollars so it is important to consider the best return for your investments.

2024 Trends

9. Out of sight, out of mind is not a good place to be

Most people are back at trade shows, consumer shows, retailer meetings and other events. Determine what is the right exposure for your business and make the most of the opportunities. Plan for trade shows and make the most of the in person time you get with your customers.

Building relationships has changed

The pandemic forced change in how we interact and work with each other. It was challenging to be cut off from customers and forced to communicate differently. We were all in more of a survival mode and retailers were actually more accessible if you had a solution to their problems, usually inventory. The ‘regular’ meetings were not happening. It was much more focused on a plan for the next 3-4 weeks.

As of 2024, most workplaces are back to at least 3-4 days per week in the office. Our experience with retailers is they have shifted to this practice. In person meetings are happening more frequently, however virtual meetings are still popular.

A combination of in person and virtual is preferable. Use the in-person time to take a deep dive or sample new lines. Structure the virtual meetings for shorter updates and to resolve an issue that needs to be dealt with quickly.

You should be looking at the entire year and trying to plan when you want to meet with your customers in person and virtually.

Trade shows are back in full force

People do crave for the opportunities to see new things and interact with people at industry trade shows. Many shifted to virtual which was the best we could do at the time but it is exciting to be at a show and see the products and hear the hustle and bustle of business being conducted.

You should be looking at the trade show schedule and planning to attend the shows where there is a return on the investment you are making. There are lots out there, so you need to pick the best opportunities for your business.

Once you decide where you will be going plan ahead. Talk to your customers to inquire as to whether you can set up a time to meet. It is exciting when opportunities come out of the blue, but you should be putting yourself in the best position to build relationships and grow your sales.

You can also be top of mind with passive communication

Consider all of the touchpoints you have with retailers that do not involve you talking to them. Here is a short list but there are more:

  • Social media
  • Your website
  • Public relations
  • Mass advertising
  • Your email signature
  • You are on a panel at an industry conference
  • A newsletter you publish via email

They are exposed to all of these forms of communication. Consider your message and how it impacts them. Some of these are consumer facing but your customers see it too. We have a list of over 25 of these passive communicaitons.

Be strategic about building your customer relationships

Look at the calendar and plan the in-person meetings, virtual calls, trade shows and other events/opportunities to interact with your customer. Figure out what other events you need to attend where you can work on the relationship. You need to be realistic about how much you need to be in front of them. If you are 5% of their category sales you do not need to capture 20% of the time they spend with suppliers.

You should also explore opportunities to develop relationships beyond the category managers. They have people who work with them, there are operations people in the stores, store employees, quality assurance at the warehouse and perhaps private label people you should be talking to. The category manager is the key decision maker but these are large organizations and you should earn the opportunity to develop relationships throughout.

You want your relationship with each customer to be like that U2 concert we attended. A great experience for your customer because you put so much work into planning and rehearsing that is all seems to be so natural.


SKUFood Recipes for Success Podcast

We are super excited to announce we have launched our SKUFood Recipes for Success podcast. We have been working on this project for a while and it is finally ready to share with all of you. Our intention is to share the stories of food businesses and others in the value chain while also providing insights that are interesting and helpful to people in the food and beverage industry.

Prepare your taste buds for a culinary adventure as we’re joined by Sarah and Dave from Big Cove Foods. They share the story of leaving the bustle of Toronto for the serene Northern Shore of Nova Scotia. What started as a short stay at a 250 year old farmhouse turned into a decade long adventure of building a life and a business.

Discover the philosophy behind their culinary creations, centered around making cooking easy and fun for everyone. It’s time to unleash your inner chef and rock your taste buds with attention grabbing flavours that are sure to impress.

Sarah and Dave are here to show you what’s possible in the world of flavour and fun on SKUFood Recipes for Success podcast, presented by FCC.

Listen and subscribe where ever you get your podcasts.

Where is Peter Speaking?

Globe & Mail published a piece tackling the issue of why we do not have more foreign grocery stores in Canada. This appeared in the February 26th edition of the Globe & Mail

Federal Trade commission in U.S. trying to prevent merger of Kroger and Albertsons

We know in Canada there is consolidation in the retail sector. This merger in the U.S. was significant in the magnitude of the transaction, but also the reduction in competition. There are many who believe in Canada we need to take a stronger stance to prevent more consolidation. Interesting to see this happening in the U.S.

Excited to collaborate with FCC to create this workbook for food and beverage entrepreneurs. Managing your costs in this environment is so important.