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Your Marketing And Distribution Channels

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Channels – how do you communicate to attract prospects or with your clients to deliver your products and services?

Previously, I talked about “Value Propositions.” By now you should have started the process of figuring out what it is you offer and why your clients buy from you, and matched your value proposition to the target market you are interested in serving.

Now you need to stop and think about the channels that you have for communications, your product and service delivery channel, and your sales channel. These channels are your interface with your clients. They are touch points and define the interaction your clients, and prospects have with your firm.

These touch points can be categorized along two axes, channel function and channel focus. Your channel functions are the sales and marketing channels and the service and delivery channels. Your channel focus are either internal or external.

Download the Rainmaker Channels Matrix to see what I mean.

The sales and marketing channels you select define how you raise awareness among your clients and prospects about your firms products and services, help them understand and evaluate the value of your products and services, enable them to retain your firm for your products and services, and they strengthen your relationships by providing a client relationship management system.

The service and delivery channels define how you receive client communications and information, process that information, produce, deliver and collect for billable work product.

The service and delivery channels define how you receive client communications and information, process that… Click To Tweet

Keep in mind, that like all the other matrices I have introduced you to, the boundaries between channel quadrants is not a barrier, but merely an identifier. Your channels can mix and overlap with each other as you determine. No matter which matrix you are looking at, one of the matrices I have introduced here, or one by an academic, such as Michael Porter, when it comes to your implementation of the matrix concepts, you are omnipotent. You are master.

The next thing I want you to do is draw yourself a “map” of how you would like to reach the target market you want to serve.

Go ahead and download the Rainmaker’s Marketing And Distribution Channels Worksheet.

The Marketing And Distribution Channels Worksheet is a granular look at the Channels Matrix. To use it, you want to describe the Value Proposition you plan to deliver to your prospects, list or name participants in your channel, the resources they will employ, what capabilities those resources will have and the actions those capabilities will take. Then finally, name the outcomes you expect.

On a blank piece of paper, lay out a “map” of how you your channels actually fit together, showing how they overlap and support each other, and how you are actually reaching those clients and prospects.

It might be helpful to print a copy of the Gantt/PERT chart form I introduced a few sessions ago and create a sequential listing of the actions taken in each channel, and use that as a guide in creating a CPM/PERT chart, which you might otherwise know as a flowchart.

The CPM/PERT chart will give you a visual representation of your channels, and show where the action steps overlap.

Once you have that “map,” look at it and see how they are integrated with each other, how cost efficient they are, and how they fit into your clients routines.

Next, as best you are able at this stage in the course, create a map of those competitors you feel are targeting the same market segment.

When you compare your map with those of your competitors, you may find that you would be serving your clients more efficiently as an independent, or you may find that you could achieve a greater reach by partnering with someone else, such as a franchisor or a vendor. Your focus should not be to compete directly along the same channels, but to take advantage of Gause’s Paradox which I told you about in the early sessions of this course.

Remember the little bird that ate the daytime creepy crawlers, and the little bird who are the nighttime creepy crawlers? They segmented their market.

A differentiation in your marketing and distribution channels will help you segment your target market, and allow you to avoid head‑to‑head competition with stronger competitors.

For example, your own networking efforts, or your own website, may give you the channels you need to reach your clients and prospects, as well as deliver your products and services. You may find that partnering with a vendor will allow you to build a channel that reaches into an affinity market that you had not been able to penetrate.

You’ll find that channels you control are direct, while partner channels are many times indirect channels. The channels you control can provide you with higher gross margins, but take time and money to install and implement, whereas partner channels have lower profit margins, but allow you to “hit the ground running” and start earning faster.

Once you have thought through the channels you have or want to develop for your sales, distribution and support, your next step is to plan the phases you will go through with each of these channels.

  1. You’ll start with an understanding of how your will raise the awareness of your firm’s products and services.
  2. You’ll want to evaluate how you can help your clients and prospects evaluate the value proposition you offer them,
  3. You’ll want to define how you are going to “close the deal,” so clients can purchase specific products and services,
  4. You’ll want to define how you are going to deliver that value proposition, those products and services, to your clients, and
  5. You’ll want to define how you are going to provide support on an ongoing basis to your clients.

Your chore is going to be finding the right mix of channels of distribution, sales and support, and that is why drawing out a “map” will be your first step to an understanding of your “channels.”

So, start by understanding a bit more about “Channels.”

First, business services are usually sold through a direct channel as compared to consumer services which are distributed through mass marketing distribution channel.

First, business services are usually sold through a direct channel as compared to consumer services which are… Click To Tweet

In a case like this, Rainmaker Marketing Tactics would have a stronger impact in attracting business clients, whereas direct mail or other mass market media may be more effective when marketing tax services to consumers.

A service with a longer life may use longer channel of distribution whereas services which are short term may use direct marketing methods or be offered through strategic partnerships.

Monthly accounting services clients might be acquired through networking, writing, speaking engagements and direct mail seeding. All, long term marketing efforts.

On the other hand, Business Valuation Services (or any other highly defined services requiring skilled technicians) may be offered through a network of representatives, or partnerships.

Services which need a high level of technical assistance usually are delivered directly by the provider. For example, the Business Valuation Services I just spoke of, may be sold directly by a partner or representative in the network, but the actual services will be delivered by the credentialed technician.

Expensive services are provided through a limited number of firm members in order to emphasize its exclusiveness and high quality.

Services sold to geographically scattered customers use a variety of media. The provider might also use agents if the service requires a high skill set, as in our Business Valuation Services example.

Services which are purchased quite often sold through mass media in order to contact everybody. Tax preparation services for example.

To help you get started, I’ve created the “Rainmaker’s Marketing & Distribution Worksheet.” Print it out and take a look.

So, spend some time sketching out your ideas for the channels you will be using, and see how they fit with your resources and their capabilities.

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Best to you and yours,

kirks-sig

 

Kirk

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