Strategic Marketing Success for Distribution Retail Service and Manufacturing Businesses

Strategic Marketing Success for Distribution, Retail, Service, and Manufacturing Businesses

By Jacqueline Drew, B.Comm

President & Principal Consultant Tenato Strategy Inc.

My general observation is that IT IS THE ROLE a business plays within its industry that seems to determine what problems it will have, not the industry itself. And there are some good strategies that work, regardless of industry. Here’s what I mean.

* Distribution businesses: These businesses have it tough, often getting price squeezed by clients, and mistreated by their supplying manufacturers. The secret to success seems to be not to become over-dependent one line, and to add value by providing services that relate to the product lines sold, like maintenance, or consulting. Then they can easily establish credibility for the lines they do sell by charging for expertise.

* Service Businesses: These businesses, especially smaller ones, generally don’t charge enough. Most charge hourly rates, and get stuck in the rut of not ever having enough cash left over to grow. Most would do well to create packages of their services and offer flat rates to accomplish the tasks they are hired for. What’s more, if they base their fees on the value the service brings to the client, they can get paid far better for the work they provide. (See our “Getting more for what you Sell” article.)

* Manufacturers: Manufacturing Businesses (including builders & developers) are willing to spend heaps on equipment or property upgrades, but typically do not leave enough budget for their marketing. They seem to think “if we build it, they will come.” Many manufacturers I’ve dealt with have built a marketing plan with good intentions, only to set it aside so they can buy another piece of equipment. In the end, if you don’t have a branded product, you have a yard sale.

* And finally, retail. Retail Businesses are either very loud or very quiet when it comes to marketing, but most think too much about the products and pricing (especially discounting for temporary sales), and too little about the service and expertise they offer…or a unifying angle to make them stand out. But when retailers take the time to know their customers personally, this guides them toward the right products, and price be comes far less an issue.

So there you have it: If you’d spent the past twelve years doing what I do, that’s a little bit of what you would have observed. I’m sure that regardless of the business you operate, you’ll find a grain of truth in what I’ve learned…and maybe take a little tip to get you going in the right direction.


Jacqueline Drew, BComm, MBA is the President and Principal Consultant Tenato Strategy Inc., a strategic planning and communications firm based in Calgary, Canada that offer strategic planning, market research, public relations, online communications planning, SEO, social media planning, sales training/development, and traditional advertising/promotional services.  You may follow her on twitter @JacqStrat

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