“Build a Better Mousetrap” has been a staple idea among manufacturers, implying that quality alone will have customers banging on your door. And while cream eventually rises to the top, it is a misguided economic principal to think this alone will create a successful business. Over the years, I have worked with companies that concentrate almost solely on product development, forgetting about the inherent need to make consumers aware of their offerings. Management will typically cite lack of available funding for marketing, or otherwise believe the problem lies in their sales representatives or dealer network. But if your latest, greatest high-tech tree falls in the forest and no one is there to see it or hear it, should it come as a surprise that sales do not materialize?
Modern Methods that Will Not Break the Bank
In decades past, successful marketing endeavors were very expensive, entailing print advertising, catalogs, and other traditional media. A proper campaign could take months to develop, and the financial hurdles were daunting for a small or underfunded company. Much of this has changed with the advent of the Internet and Social Media platforms. Vendors today can and should utilize Facebook and Instagram sponsored adverts, which allow for targeting marketing messages by demographic and implied interest, essentially creating a persona of the “converting customer.” Comparatively inexpensive, these tools allow anyone to create impressions for hundreds of thousands of potential buyers. Do not expect significant directly tracked revenue, but you will be doing what is required in terms of creating awareness and getting the customer journey started.
Working with Channel Partners
While there are genuine and notable exceptions, I have observed that in general retailers do not “make the market” for the supplier. Yes, resellers will advertise, and some may display, demonstrate, promote, and sell at the store level. But without some effort on the manufacturer’s part to stimulate end user demand, these efforts may fall short. One way to effectively leverage the retailer’s customer base would be to partner up with them, sponsoring targeted email blasts and providing free goods for Social Media giveaways. But continue to understand that this is a somewhat limited audience, compared to the mass awareness at the national level that is needed.
Reviews, Influencers and King Makers
Some of the vendors I work with have new, exciting products to offer, but a quick Google search reveals a scant number of reviews, retailer advertisements, videos, or detailed information. Online outlets abound for this type of marketing, and the newer crop of YouTube influencers can create significant awareness in return for a fee or in some cases a gear swap. Getting an endorsement from a well-known artist may also still be a viable part of an overall strategy to inform and impress potential buyers. One thing is clear – doing nothing is not an option. Today’s vendors must make a concerted effort to drive traffic into the channel, this while providing resellers the tools required to create a delightful customer experience upon arrival to the store or website product detail page. Without this effort, you may continue wondering why your excellent products are not gaining much traction in the marketplace.