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Trade marketing is becoming a hot growth area for sales promotion agencies melding tactics previously aimed only at consumers or the trade.

The trend is growing as package-goods and other marketers become disenchanted with the practice of handing over trade allowances to their sales forces, to be spent in unmeasurable local retail and trade sales incentives.

Fed up with traditional trade promotions, marketers are looking for new ways to stimulate trade support for their products, and they're willing to experiment with a variety of hybrid promotion strategies that simultaneously involve consumers and the trade.

U.S. Marketing & Promotions, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., is one agency taking a unique approach by combining its expertise in consumer product sampling and events marketing with traditional trade marketing tactics.

The 11-year-old grass-roots marketing agency said marketers are especially eager to tap its sampling and events marketing expertise to motivate sales forces, clerks, employees, bartenders, waiters and waitresses to help market products at the point of purchase.

"The biggest area of growth for us right now is when we apply consumer product sampling and events to trade marketing by creating parties, magic shows and entertainment events around products inside stores, bars and restaurants that are aimed primarily at the trade," said Michael Napoliello, 31, an agency founder and VP-director of client services.

With a staff of 85 in field offices across the U.S., USM&P is equipped to create on-premise events targeting the trade and sales force. These activities require local handling of equipment and materials, as well as hiring squads of local temporary employees.

USM&P's shift in emphasis grew out of requests by clients including Paddington Corp. and Miller Brewing Co. to invent trade campaigns that involved the sales forces and employees in the product sales effort. One example: magic shows the agency staged in bars this year to illustrate the "magic" created when Sheridan's black-and-white coffee and vanilla creme liqueur is poured from its two-compartment bottle and combined in a glass.

The magic shows entertained patrons and motivated bar owners and employees to promote Sheridan's; they also provided customers the opportunity to sample the niche brand.

"We get good results from promotions that involve people at the trade level in the effort, and it's the direction we want to go when we introduce new products," said Teresa Zepeda, a product manager for Paddington.

To introduce Paddington's new Godet, which combines cognac with liquid Belgian white chocolate, USM&P in the next several months will stage "weddings" at hotels and bars where Paddington brands are sold, providing entertainment and samples for patrons.

The trade campaign includes opportunities to get the establishments' staffs involved in the events, which will include fully costumed wedding receptions. A consumer sweepstakes to win a free honeymoon in connection with the Godet launch will also be offered separately on the trade level.

USM&P recently won trade marketing responsibilities for Miller Genuine Draft, Lite Ice and Sharp's non-alcoholic beers that will unfold in coming months.

Previously, it has staged POP events in supermarkets and other sites for clients including Warner-Lambert Co. for Listerine and Lubriderm; Bacardi Imports for Breezer wine cooler products; and General Mills' Honey Nut Cheerios, Trix and Berry Berry Kix.

Kate Fitzgerald coordinates Promotion Marketing News. Reach us by fax at (312) 649-5331 or e-mail address [email protected]

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