I admire Seth Godin and much of what he says about all things marketing. One thing that he espouses frequently is that your products and services should be remarkable. Many others would agree that to stand out from the crowded space of everything you must be remarkable. Except….
Except when you are dealing with conventional machines of business, distribution, and multi stage distribution where there are some things to pay attention to and get right. Remarkable in these cases simply won’t get the job done.
A remarkable product or service might get you a shot with a large distributor. But unless you are prepared to engage their sales and marketing machines you will be left out cold. For example, given two products in the same category the one that is more likely to get moved by sales people and exposed by the marketing people is the product that is funded through co-marketing programs, sales spiffs, and promotions. An inferior product with the right backing can still win the pennant. The product that might be superior but is underfunded will likely sit on the shelves, become a nuisance that needs to be justified by somebody, somewhere, and eventually returned to the manufacturer.
So, if you make widgets and you are striving to break into or thrive in distribution here are 4 things to consider:
- pick on somebody your own size (if you don’t have the $$$’s to fund expensive marketing programs of large distributors then find a smaller distributor with less stringent requirements. You can always move up when you’re ready)
- know the game (find out what spiffs and co-marketing dollars are flowing from your competition. Ask about the margin that the distributor is enjoying and above all know how and that you can make them money.)
- be creative, but within the context of normal and customary (it is great to be creative and differentiate yourself from your competitors but don’t try to fight a battle where you are changing somebody else’s business model or their job. If it is too complex then things will move too slowly and all will suffer)
- do your part to create demand and tell a remarkable story (if everybody is relying on everybody else to market and sell the widgets then the widget will never take flight. Lead the charge on creating demand through traditional and nontraditional means and then tell stories that inspire others to get behind you, one sale at a time)
If you find your dance card full then your probably paying attention to some of the normal and customary practices within your distribution channels. Knowing is half the battle. If you find yourself dancing alone then re-read this post 10 times. Mind map what you know and identify the knowledge or execution gaps that are preventing you from being successful. And remember, the more steps in your distribution model, the more you must adhere to this reality.