How can you raise your company's brand awareness, increase sales, and reduce business risks, all in one fell swoop? Think outside the box to scale your distribution channels. Instead of finding ways to get more customers to come to you, figure out how to get your products or services to reach more customers.
It makes sense to focus on widening your distribution channels if you want to build your brand. Having products available through multiple venues and in different locations will put your business on consumers' radar who are in a wider market range. As consumer awareness rises, your profits can increase through higher sales and a decrease in per-unit costs. What's more, using multiple distribution channels spreads risk, as opposed to selling through a single source.
Here are four creative ways to expand your distribution channels and explore new markets:
Build a white label platform
A white label solution allows you to provide other properties with a fully supported product or service they can brand as their own. If you build a white label platform, partner companies can purchase your product and customize it with their own brand. Your business, meanwhile, will be free to focus on finding cost-effective ways to make the product without concern for the product's marketing, which is handled by the reseller. It's a win-win.
Join affiliate networks
Affiliate networks like Rakuten Linkshare allow your company to obtain sales leads to new customers, increasing your distribution channels. Affiliate networks can be particularly useful to businesses that hope to tap networks of potential customers in different industries. Affiliate marketing depends on a partnership between merchants (advertisers) who aim to increase sales for their online shop, and publishers (affiliates) who display ads online. Together, this partnership can become an integral part of your marketing and business distribution plan.
Hustle for PR
An effective public relations campaign can grease the wheels of the general business development process while increasing channels of distribution. Aim to get as much press about your products and services as possible, targeting customized marketing messages and promotions at specific groups of end users to broaden your reach. PR can help you get in front of a wide range of audiences, and open new distribution channels for your business through strategies that can be more cost-effective than advertising.
Consumers perceive third-party coverage of your business through the media much differently than traditional advertising, which is clearly focused on making a sale. A strategic, consistent PR program cannot only help build general awareness of your brand and supplement your direct marketing efforts, but it can also help you secure new customers, partnerships and funding. Here's a tip: HARO (Help a Reporter Out) connects reporters with sources through email alerts three times a day. It's a great way to get attention from national media.
Put your venture capital firm to work
If a venture capital firm backs your business financially, explore the possibility of having them help out in other ways. According to VentureBeat, 2013 marked a turning point for VCs, with a global increase in investment and rising investor confidence. As a result, the market is becoming more competitive for investors to fund the most promising startups.
To stay in the game, Forbes recently reported that VCs are now often expected to bring "an array of capabilities and expertise to their portfolio companies." This might include recruitment, sales and marketing support, and even content creation. In other words, there's movement toward VCs adding more value to their portfolio companies by helping to actually build these businesses from the inside out. Find out what networks your VC might help you tap into — and widen your potential distribution channels in the process.
These tactics should help expand your distribution channels and reach new markets — ultimately, giving you the ammunition to reach more customers!
Drew Gainor is the co-Founder and vice-president of New York-based Ticket Evolution (TEvo), a software company owned by over 120 Ticket Brokers in the secondary ticket industry. As one of the largest ticket aggregators in the space, the company specializes in cutting edge software applications for ticket resellers including a complete point of sale solution, B2B portal, RESTful API and custom white label ticket web sites enabling popular brands to sell tickets.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.