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Rules for Rollouts

Dec. 1, 2006
NEMRA's new guidelines for promotions and product launches will help reps, distributors and manufacturers bring new products to the market.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA), Tarrytown, N.Y., hopes to improve the success rate of manufacturers' marketing campaigns and product rollouts with its new “Guidelines for Marketing Promotions and Product Launches.”

The NEMRA board of directors and the NEMRA Manufacturers Group (NMG) executive committee developed the guidelines. NEMRA President Hank Bergson said the guidelines emphasize the importance of timeliness and communication in all joint manufacturer-rep marketing and promotional efforts.

“If the product gets announced and the sales force isn't prepared, then the effort will fall flat,” he said. “Likewise, if an advertisement appears in the trade press and customers ask for information or the actual product prior to its availability, no one benefits. That's why it's so important for manufacturers and their reps to work closely on these efforts.”

Reps and distributors sometimes suffer from “promotion fatigue” because of how many marketing program/new product launches their vendors roll out each year, said former NEMRA Chairman Jack Floyd, CPMR, One Source Associates Inc., Columbia, Md. He said this common marketing malady gets worse without proper timing and communications.

“The lack of either of these elements severely limits the chance for success,” he said. “I would like to have the manufacturers carefully consider the points covered in the guidelines and not launch a marketing/product effort without considering the recommendations. On the rep's part, I would hope reps would go over the guidelines with their manufacturers to ensure both sides buy into the effort.”

The guidelines include action steps and a checklist to help reps and their manufacturers monitor progress of new programs or product launches and keep on track, on time and profitable. The action steps include tips on timing marketing campaigns and product launches, producing promotional literature in the proper formats, developing the right incentives for reps and distributors and tracking the programs.

Bob Smith, vice president, sales and marketing, Pass & Seymour/Legrand, Syracuse, N.Y., plans to circulate the guidelines internally at his company and to ensure sales and marketing personnel consider them when developing new marketing and promotional campaigns. He said the guidelines help manufacturers and reps see the challenges others in the channel face with product launches and marketing campaigns.

“We all get wrapped up in our own worlds,” he said. “If you look at these guidelines and then make an assessment of how your actions may impact your partners, then we can challenge each other to make our joint efforts more successful.”

Brian Chase, CPMR, president of Lester Sales Co. Inc., Indianapolis, said the Guidelines for Marketing Promotions and Product Launches fit well with NEMRA's ongoing effort to identify and eliminate waste from the channel. He said timing for the release of the guidelines is great.

“Reps spend a lot of time trying to catch up with the pace of new promotions and new product introductions,” he said. “If manufacturers and reps implement many of the suggestions contained in these guidelines, it's simply another step in the right direction for eliminating waste from the channel.”

NEMRA members have already received the guidelines; additional copies are available by contacting NEMRA at (914) 524-8650. NEMRA's Bergson said NEMRA forwarded a copy to the National Association of Electrical Distributors, St. Louis, because he believes product launches are just as important to distributors as they are to manufacturers and reps.

NEMRA Product Launch Tips

NEMRA's product launch guidelines offer manufacturers, reps and distributors some great ideas for marketing new products. Here are several of them:

  • Manufacturers should provide at least one product sample for each salesperson at a rep firm.

  • New product launch packets should be received by all outside salespeople at least one week prior to the new product launch date.

  • If the representative is using a new product launch to replace or convert a competitive manufacturer's line at a distributor, then the rep should receive a conversion bonus or increase in commissions.

  • If the product offering is a completely new market segment for the manufacturer, or a completely new concept of installation or use for an existing or new product, the manufacturer must be realistic on how long it will take to develop the market, sell the new concept and convert end customers and distributors.

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