Must you brand for your external distribution networks?

distribution networks need brand supportIf you rely on distributors or retailers to actively merchandise your products (as opposed to just providing shelf space), you should include these entities as a plank in your branding platform.

That’s not to say you ignore the ultimate consumer. Those folks will probably always be number one branding priority unless you’re selling fresh fish or some other true commodity. But if distributors must also service, if retail personnel need to be sales trained, if manufacturer’s reps must know your product intimately before B2B purchase agents consider you, then they must be considered.

First, what about the brand will convince them to become part of your distribution network besides commissions and the promise of volume sales? The idea that your brand can be compelling to consumers is vitally important, but is there something about the brand of particular attractiveness on the part of distributors and/or retailers? If you are the company with policies and practices that provide large margins, or generous promotional incentives, aren’t these characteristics of your brand from their standpoint?

Just consider their needs and hot buttons when preparing your brand platform.

One other thing: these folks need to be made to feel apart of the brand. For consumers, they may be the only representative of the brand they will ever meet in person. Part of yout platform should address how they can best be educated about the brand, and then turned into true evangelists and champions on the sales floor.

For many businesses, there is no need to be concerned with distribution channels – direct response marketers mostly. But if you rely on an external distribution network, include them in your brand planning.

Martin Jelsema

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