CHICAGO -- Sell one product to one store to one consumer. That's the simple selling philosophy of Bachman Co., Reading, Pa. "Our sales and marketing goal is to market to every consumer on a one-on-one basis," said Ronald Meacham, senior vice president of sales, speaking here at a conference sponsored by the Strategic Research Institute, New York. "We continue to sell one bag or box at a time. That single sale is the most important thing we can do. I don't believe we can sell a full trailer if we haven't designed a program that sells the one item," he said. This program, according to Meacham, is often an account-specific promotion. When doing the planning, he added, the manufacturer should first think from the consumer's perspective. "What does the consumer want when he or she goes into the grocery store? The product has to be what it claims to be, be offered at a good price, and it has to fit the consumer's needs at that time," he said. "Your prices don't have to be the cheapest, but they have to be comparable or competitive." How to design a promotion can be described with a pyramid, according to Meacham. The base of the pyramid focuses on the consumer in terms of product, price, timing and creativity. The next level of the pyramid addresses the retailer with point-of-sale materials, cases, value-added benefits and creativity. Value-added benefits might be resealable packaging, coupons, cross-product tie-ins, or recyclable packaging, he said. The final level up the pyramid is headquarters, where category benefits, margin, volume and creativity have to be considered.
"We have found that quarterly planning sessions are effective in implementing [account-specific promotions.] They keep the focus stronger on what is going on," he said.
Bachman also believes in "empowering" its sales and marketing people to contribute some creativity to its promotions.
"Empowered means being self-responsible and creative. The employee has to take total responsibility for his job performance. It is also important to provide consistent, immediate feedback to the empowered employee about results. They want to know if they are being effective," he said. Creativity should be in all of the elements of the promotion program -- it is the manufacturer's competitive edge, Meacham said. National Snack Food month in February, traditionally a slower sales period for snack foods, provides manufacturers and retailers with an opportunity to be creative, he said. Theme options for Snack Food month include tie-ins with the such events as the Olympics, winter getaway trips and various sporting events. In addition, Bachman does other types of promotions during the year, Meacham said. "We have a rabbit character that attends store openings. We have a 7-foot rabbit costume in every distribution center for activities such as these. We do lots of creative public relations events. "For holiday events we encourage consumers to use pretzels in creative ways as Christmas tree decorations. We offer free product over the radio. We do 10-cent sales and coloring book contests with chains. We conduct recipe contests and search for unique uses of our products, such as using pretzels as building blocks," he said. "These activities can be organized for one store or a chain, for one salesman or a whole team," he said. Bachman has had the greatest success in implementing its account-specific promotions when developing a co-op marketing program, Meacham said. The budget is taken out of the hands of the marketing department and put in the hands of the sales people. They develop creative ideas that are taken down to the local level, he said. If payback on a promotion is achieved within six to 12 months, the company has accomplished its goal, he said. "Everyone in the organization is familiar with the budget and the dollars involved. They are involved in how, when and what to spend the funds on," he said. Bachman was founded as a pretzel manufacturing company in 1884 and today manufactures 288 products in three plants. The snack foods are distributed in 18 states, but currently Bachman is in an expansion mode and intends to go to national distribution, Meacham said.