ST. LOUIS -- Marketing and sales consultant David Biernbaum has found a new way to work with consumer packaged goods companies.
Biernbaum has launched a series of "Coffee Talk" meetings, held at his home office near the St. Louis airport. In them he works with small groups of noncompeting manufacturers in short, informal sessions. He covers such topics as how to approach and work with retailers, best practices for selecting and managing brokers, and ways to get the most out of trade shows and other events.
"Building ultimate success in consumer packaged goods is my history, passion and expertise," Biernbaum says. "I hold small group summits with companies that do not compete, over coffee, lunch or in private groups. We cover the information they need, in a straightforward, down-to-earth, hands-on and friendly manner."
Biernbaum is a consumer packaged goods specialist with more than 27 years' experience in marketing, retail sales and business development.
He served on developmental leadership teams with such major multinational companies as Smith Kline Beecham, Abbott Laboratories, and Gillette Co., where he was involved in launching such brands as Aquafresh, Mineral Ice, Selsun Blue, and Oral-B.
Biernbaum's background also includes the rapid development of entrepreneurial brands; his leadership was instrumental in helping Vi-Jon Laboratories become a major force in private label personal care products, he says, and propelling Zooth Inc. during its years of rapid growth. He also helped develop Fresh & Go USA, OraWave LLC's partnership with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer organization, and he currently is helping Dr. Harold Katz LLC with its TheraBreath brand and its new PerioTherapy brand launch.
That is the experience Biernbaum intends to share in his informal "Coffee Talk" sessions.
Part of each session is devoted to tips for working with retailers. Biernbaum discusses such topics as: the most practical ways to approach giant retailers, including common mistakes many companies make; the types of meetings that really work, and the kinds that do not; the politics, nuances and infrastructures that drive retailer decisions; and the issues that prevent many innovative products from getting chosen, even when they come with great pricing and good margins.
Knowing how to work with retailers is critical, according to Biernbaum.
"It's easy for privately held consumer packaged goods companies to make missteps," he says. "I talk to them like a friend in the business. It's important that they know what they really need and want to know. That includes answers and practical knowledge about everything from the NACDS Marketplace, ECRM and working with all the major retail chains."
Knowing how to work with brokers is also critical for small companies. Biernbaum says that most reputable brokers are knowledgeable and helpful, and that they have good relationships with retailers in their markets. But he adds that it is critical for companies to understand what brokers can and cannot do. To that end, the "Coffee Talk" sessions include an in-depth discussion about brokers, covering such topics as how to hire them and what to expect from them, and the mistakes most companies make in working with brokers.
Often the biggest blunders small companies make is in their own planning. As a result, Biernbaum also devotes a portion of each session to such critical issues as the real cost associated with launching new products, ways to compete in categories dominated by giants and how to get a return on investment with trade advertising.