With increasingly stiff competition – including the growing presence of quality distributor private labels – manufacturers may target end-users with direct mail, promotions, job-site visits and the Internet to encourage them to support their brands. Distributors and manufacturers should walk a fine line when courting end-users with their brands to minimize channel conflict.
One tool manufacturer says that distributors need to market themselves “aggressively” as a destination for the brands that matter to their customers and tap into manufacturers’ marketing initiatives, according to the article Changing Channels: Conflicts Blur Line of Sight to End-User.
But part of the burden falls on the manufacturer. Marshall Jones, former president of building materials distributor Marco Supply in the Southeast, says in Changing Channels that manufacturers should create a list of “strategic customers” – distributors that do the heavy lifting for their brands.
He says manufacturers should treat these strategic customers “radically different” from an authorized distributor by using price differentiation, extra rep support and built-in protection from distributors’ direct competitors who aren’t strategic customers.
"The supplier has to shift from making purely short-term bottom-line financial decisions to asking, 'What is the best way to make my strategic customers want to do business with me?'" Jones says.
Read more on challenges to traditional channel management in this two-part series from the MDM Archives:
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