Category: Marketing on a Budget

Digital Pop-Up Stores

As lives become busier and consumers demand faster access to information, products, and ideas, marketers are constantly looking for new ways to deliver brand messages to consumers on the go. An exciting new innovation in digital marketing has emerged that has the potential to revolutionize the way we do our shopping. Digital “pop-up stores” are making an appearance and are causing quite the stir.

This month, Walmart and Mattel launched their first test-store in downtown Toronto near Union Station.

Mattel and Walmart^s digital pop-up store located in downtown Toronto^s PATH system near Brookfield Place.

The digital store is essentially an elaborate billboard design with product images and information. The billboard showcases a select product offering from Mattel with corresponding QR codes. Consumers can scan the codes and purchase the toys on the spot. Products are then shipped directly to the buyer’s home.

Busy parents, who are faced with an often-times hectic commute, can get a portion of their Christmas shopping done without having to step foot in a store or having to surf a website. Walmart and Mattel aren’t the first to come up with such an innovative digital marketing strategy. Tesco has been using interactive billboards over the past year for groceries and other home goods in a variety of locations including Gatwick Airport and South Korea. These digital stores have married OOH advertising with online capabilities.

So what does this mean for marketers? We’ve seen the decline in traditional “bricks and mortar” stores and an increase in e-commerce. But here is a new trend that seems to be a combination of the two ideas that encompasses out of home advertising. But with a new marketing idea comes the question on how can a company afford to test-drive yet another marketing technique without taking away from traditional outlets?

By using Corporate Trade a company can use under-utilized assets to off-set the costs of an interactive OOH display. As Christmas merchandise is being displayed, what happens to the autumn-themed inventory? Using Corporate Trade can allow a company to use past-season stock to fund a current season’s media campaign, and to foray into the exciting new realm of digital pop-up stores.

A digital marketing campaign that allows me to purchase Christmas presents without having to enter a hot, overly-crowded mall while I’m on my usual commute? That’s an idea that certainly puts me in the Christmas spirit.

By: Andrea Allen

Kimberly Armstrong

Kimberly Armstrong, Active International

Despite an uncertain global economy, one thing has remained on a steady incline –advertising investment. Zenith Optimedia’s ad spend forecast predicts a jump of $24 million in North America and almost $100 million around the world from 2010 to 2014.

Meanwhile, CXOs across North America are seeking ways to improve their cash flow and reduce operating expenditures. More than ever before, marketers are put under the microscope each month to produce results and deliver a positive ROI.

How does an advertiser effectively protect the integrity of their media strategy while being tasked with slashing their budgets to support corporate cash management initiatives?

Many are turning to Corporate Trade (or Corporate Barter, depending on your semantic preferences). Here are 7 reasons why they’re making a smart decision.

1. Trade Credits are a proven way to lower the cash outlay on your Advertising expense.

The Corporate Trade industry has established a 28-year old track record , growing currency of Trade Credits. Once you’ve obtained Trade Credits, you can use those credits to pay a portion of your invoice across a variety of business expenses, media being the most popular. .

2. There are many things your business can trade in exchange for Trade Credits.

Companies often think that they only reason to use corporate trade is to address a problem, however, in the normal course of business, many things happen. Packaging gets redesigned, weather is unpredictable, fashions change. As a result, the types of inventory that can be traded in exchange for Trade Credits is virtually unlimited. And it’s not just limited to inventory. Here are a few examples:

  • Re-branded product
  • Last season’s clothing or accessories
  • Perishables e.g. groceries
  • Product labeled with expired promotions
  • Outdated electronics or technology such as mobile phones and personal computers
  • Obsolete capital equipment including old machinery or furniture
  • Excess or problem real estate
  • Unwanted, costly, sponsorship commitments
  • Debt owed

3. By reducing your cash costs, you can redirect the “savings” towards other programs you’ve wanted to launch.

Let’s face it – as marketers, we never have a big enough budget.  All too often that really big, really innovative  idea is trimmed back because of budget concerns.  Whether you’re a client side marketer or leading an agency, bringing a strategy to the table that puts more dollars behind those big ideas is a good thing.  And with Corporate Trade, you’re not just limited to traditional media.  Advertisers can use Trade Credits across virtually any medium available in the market thanks to the strong relationships with media providers.

4. You can start turning those tough agency conversations around.

How many tough conversations have you had with your agency around resources and budget?  How many times has your agency been sent back to the drawing board? With agencies being marginalized every day, it can be challenging to maintain the level of true partnership you want (and need).  Corporate Trade puts money back in your pocket, empowering your agency to execute your brand to its fullest potential.

5. You don’t need to sacrifice your need for flexibility.

As a Corporate Trade / Barter partner, it is understood that many businesses require adjustment to schedules with limited advance notice. For example, at Active International the process is customized to the needs of our clients and has been designed to accommodate changes to specs/schedule.

One of Active’s clients, a leading home & garden retailer, makes many media buying decisions based on the upcoming weekend’s weather. They rely on Active to be flexible and accommodate schedule changes with very little notice. It’s no wonder they’ve been a client of ours for over 20 years.

6. You’re a Global business? No problem.

At least not if you count on an established, global Corporate Trade partner. You’ll find that good Corporate Barter firms also allow the flexibility to transfer trade credits from country to country.  Companies like Active International have presence in 14  countries around the world. This means that inventories can be distributed outside your local market, avoiding channel conflict and expanding your distribution channels. It also means you can use your Trade Credits globally.  Give your international sister company a call; they may already have Trade Credits available to transfer to you.

7. Your CFO will love you.

Trade Credits help to improve business-wide cash flow while avoiding loss on significant assets.  In fact, your Trade Credits can also be used and transferred to other areas of the business.  At leading firms such as Active International, count on the widest depth and breadth of fulfillment areas where Trade currency is accepted – including business expenses such as travel, freight, and retail merchandising.

Your Turn:

How are you balancing business cash flow requirements with the integrity and scope of your advertising plan?


Kimberly Armstrong

Active International

It is a question I inevitably get at every networking event, friend or family gathering, and discussion surrounding what I do.  Thankfully it’s a question I love to answer, so today’s blog post gets back to the fundamentals of our business model – what exactly is Corporate Trade?

In its simplest form, Corporate Trade is the business of restoring value where it has diminished and creating value where it is needed. Also known as Corporate Barter, it is a strategic tool used by many Fortune 1000 corporations to maintain book value on slow-moving, returned, or obsolete assets such as:

  • Last season’s clothing or accessories
  • Perishables e.g. groceries
  • Product labeled with expired promotions
  • Outdated electronics or technology e.g. mobile phones
  • Obsolete capital equipment
  • Excess real estate
  • Almost any asset that could result in loss of value to a business…the list is practically endless

Many organizations have turned to Corporate Trade (Corporate Barter) as a means to mitigate the risks associated with inventory and asset management, and to reduce the negative impact on the bottom line.

In a typical Corporate Trade transaction, assets are acquired in exchange for cash and/or Trade Credits at two to three times the best offer available through typical liquidation. In return, Trade Credits are combined with cash to purchase necessary goods and services such as: desirable advertising space; printing and retail marketing; freight and logistics; travel, event space, and hotel rooms.

With Corporate Trade organizations can:

  • Realize higher returns on excess inventory and other assets
  • Decrease cash outlay by using excess assets to partially fund expenses
  • Extend the reach of marketing and advertising budgets
  • Improve and sustain growth by making assets work harder
  • Increase product distribution to new markets

How does Corporate Trade work?

 A Corporate Trade deal can be tailored based on business needs.  For simplicity’s sake, we will use the most common type of Corporate Trade transaction: a Trade Credit Deal.

 Problem: A manufacturer has a cereal brand that performs significantly below expectations resulting in excess inventory. For the purposes of this example, let’s assume that the wholesale value of the cereal is $1M. If the manufacturer were to liquidate the cereal the value would be reduced to $300,000 – a loss of 70% against expected revenue.

Solution: Using Trade Credits, a Corporate Trade organization purchases the inventory at the full wholesale value of $1M. In return, the manufacturer agrees to acquire $5M in pre-planned media such as primetime television advertising using 80% cash and 20% in Trade Credits. To mitigate competitive threat and to protect existing retailers, the Corporate Trade organization sells the cereal to buyers approved by the manufacturer.

Result: The manufacturer avoids a financial loss on the under-performing cereal, purchases a pre-planned $5M advertising buy for a cash outlay of $4M, and maintains a positive relationship with the existing retail distribution channels.

I’ll admit that the concept of Corporate Trade can sometimes seem complex for those unfamiliar with it.  We’ve also created this video explaining the nuts and bolts of Corporate Trade, and hope you find it useful.

Your Turn:

What obsolete assets are weighing your business down and how do you minimize financial loss?

Kimberly Armstrong

Active International

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