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There are endless case studies of economies in transition where the leaders identify and act quickly to fill emerging needs. As the article points out, not all customers want the same level of service with the same price sensitivity. You have to clarify the menu of services you provide, what it costs to provide them, price and market these services effectively.
Distributors have the unique position in the supply channel to look both upstream and downstream to find opportunities to create value. The key is knowing the true pain points of the customer as well as suppliers, to find where core capabilities can build the most profitable business relationships.
There are countless distributors looking hard for the magic answer about how to unbundle services given in the past as part of the 'deal.' While there is no magic answer, the most effective examples seem to have a few things in common: They have some form of activity based costing in place to manage internal costs, and they are transitioning from a selling model to a branding model.
Branding is not complex, but it's much more than the advertising, catalogs and other messages produced. As in so many parts of business, it's a question of priorities and trade-offs to identify and invest in where you can leverage your people and infrastructure into a distinct 'brand' that you can sell and deliver efficiently. Branding is all about differentiating what you have to offer that is better than the alternatives available.