An entrepreneur can have the best product idea in the world, but it won’t translate to business profits until the entrepreneur learns how to successfully build a distribution network so that the product can reach his customers’ hands.
A key first step in building a distribution network is word of mouth marketing. Always have a brochure about your product in your briefcase to hand to a potential buyer. Develop a mailing list of local businesses that might have good use for your product and send them a brochure and sales letter or start making some cold calls to set up appointments with their purchasing department.
Another key step in building a distribution network is participating in local, national and international trade shows dealing with your product category, be it foodservice and hospitality, electronics or healthcare. Trade shows are great networking venues where you can meet up with potential distributors for your product as well as meet up with vendors who can help market or sell your product.
Another good way to build a distribution network is by setting up a system to sell directly to your customers online, eliminating any middle man, so you can reinvest all of your initial profits right back into your business. It’s important to know your target audiences for your product, be it housewives, students, doctors or special event planners. Take the time to develop a distribution strategy which will make the sales and ordering process as streamlined and cost efficient as possible.
Very often your biggest sales orders will come from small businesses related to your product in some fashion or businesses that have need of your product rather than big corporations. For large corporations, the red tape of having them review and order your product might be too overwhelming or costly for companies just starting to build their distribution network.
Realize that building a distribution network can be a slow and steady process, so it’s important to be patient and persistent, with a willingness to reinvest most or all of your initial profits back into the business as your distribution efforts made a wider and farther reach.
Network through as many local avenues as possible as you build your distribution network, such as attending chambers of commerce breakfasts, meetings and trade shows. Perhaps the subject matter of your product would make an interesting presentation for these groups. Let’s say you sell fire extinguishers and you could speak about fire safety tips, a topic related to your key product. Building a distribution network will pay off handsomely in time if you just keep on growing.