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Distributors: What Every Brand Owner Wants to Know

By: Greg Seminara,Export Solutions

Export managers receive baskets of offers from distributors desiring to represent well known brands. Distributors should structure their company credentials presentation to address key assessment points for the brand owner. Listed below are Export Solutions tips for distributors looking to enhance their position as a viable candidate for an important new business.

1. What is your Distributor USP ( Unique Selling Proposition) ?
Most distributors maintain an area of strength in a market. This point of difference may lie in category expertise ( examples: Confectionery or Beauty Care Specialists), size ( countrywide coverage or small, personalized service) , channel specialization ( Pharmacy/Foodservice/Small Shops) or as niche product “Brand Builders”. Look at your portfolio of brands and services and highlight the one or two areas where you are “the best”. Sync your new brand marketing efforts to companies which match your core competency.

2. Have you done your homework on my category ?
All distributors are local market experts. Distributors are well positioned to provide category reviews detailing an opportunity for a potential new principal. Manufacturers are impressed when they receive market intelligence that required the distributor to invest time and effort to prepare. Hint: make sure that the information submitted is accurate, relevant, and attractively presented. Sloppy, error laden, information sends a bad signal to the manufacturer on your reporting capabilities.

3. What are your success stories pioneering other new brands?
Past success launching other international brands is an indicator of traction in the marketplace. These case studies are particularly impressive if they involve a similar category or buyer. List references at both suppliers and retailers.

4. How do you market yourself on the web?
The first stop a brand owner will make will be to a distributor’s web site. This is a distributor’s first test to make a good impression. A brand owner cares about your critical mass and how you are organized to support your brands. Details on sales force structure, warehouses, brand building philosophy, etc. are positive. Case studies, client testimonials, and marketplace/retailer information also demonstrate local distributor expertise. Show photos of the sales force and management team. Provide a web portal for existing brand owners to access data. No web site, “under construction” or a “dated” web site are indicative that a distributor is not modern enough to compete in 2016.

5. What is your plan to build my brand ?
Manufacturers display unshakable confidence in their brands and most likely harbor optimistic expectations about their brands sales potential in a new market. Brand owners respond favorably to a distributor willing to provide the framework of a logical, financially sound,action plan for market entry. The plan could include recommended products, timing, price points, investment levels, and corresponding volume. Most distributors profess enthusiasm for a new brand during the interview process. These words of enthusiasm should be backed up with concrete, fact based, recommendations to facilitate market entry.