Much of what we do here at SA involves what we affectionately call “The Channel.”
The Channel is a general term we use to broadly describe the people and activities involved in moving our clients’ brands to the end consumer. The Channel is complicated but I like to think of it in two distinct parts: Channel Sales and Channel Marketing. Sell-In and Sell-Through.
We look at Channel Sales as all of the activities that occur in order to get our clients’ brand from its origin, to the first customer. That first customer might be a distributor, broker, dealer, retailer, agent, etc. There is a lot of “marketing” that goes on in that first leg including sales incentives, training, loading or stocking programs, loyalty programs and good old-fashioned sales. You can think of that first stop as kind of a secondary pumping station.
Now, say you’re a manufacturer and you’ve done a lot of work to get your product sold in to that first customer. Your job’s done, right? Not by a long shot. Now you have to count on your customer to market and sell your brand to the end customer. If your brand doesn’t move, there’s no room or reason for your customer to buy more from you. The flow stops.
Think of Channel Marketing as the pump at that second substation. The second-stage booster rocket. It’s the processes, tools, information and guidance strategically designed to arm, empower and incent your customers to move your brand. In the old days, it meant giving them some co-op funds and ad slicks and wishing them luck. It’s so much more than that today. They count on you to help them market and move your product. Your customers’ marketing efforts deserve as much of your attention as your own marketing efforts. Your customers’ businesses depend on you. Your business depends on your customers and Channel Marketing.