Over the years, PWB has worked with a lot of clients with independent sales channels. Whether Value Added Resellers (VARs) in software, manufacturer’s representatives in manufacturing, or independent agents representing insurance companies, independent channel situations present unique challenges.
Earlier this year, I presented a marketing workshop for independent resellers of one of our clients. The content development process was both fun, and enlightening.One of the most striking reminders was a simple one:
They all sell the same stuff.
At the end of the day, unless you have a direct sales channel, your sales outlets all have the same product offerings. Most corporate marketers want to push the superiority of their offering, without considering the marketing challenge facing their channel. Again, they all sell the same stuff.
For me, the implications for the channel are clear – differentiation is a must. If I can buy the new SuperWidget 3.0 from Dealer A, Dealer B, or Dealer C, how will I choose? Clearly the simple answer is their brand. Every independent sales channel outlet is unique – they have different strengths, histories, and weaknesses. And their brand should embrace these differences and accentuate them. If they’re better at SuperWidget 3.0 for left-handed people – say it!
As you consider how to make your channel successful, don’t just think about your goals for them. Instead, consider how helping them to stand on their own with a powerful brand will enable them and fuel sales of YOUR product or service!