There are generally two kinds of entrepreneurs in the marketing world – those who wish to hit the shelves right off the bat and those who want to establish a strong brand presence online first.
Either way, making it to the aisles is a priority due to its many benefits – greater brand exposure, better cash flow with bulk orders, higher consumer outreach, and faster product movement. However, disrupting stores by marketing your products to retailers can be challenging and confusing.
Are you also facing the same marketing malady? Fret not! This guide will offer you insider tips by successful entrepreneurs to remove the apprehension surrounding product commercialization.
Keep reading to get all the nine tips!
#1. Choose the Right-Fit Store
The first step in successfully promoting your products/services to retailers involves choosing the right retailer. Run a thorough search of the many big box stores in your target areas and decide which ones are most likely to be a good fit for your business.
For instance – Kegelbell is a company that sells products exclusively for women. This means that the company could not sell its products/services through just any retail outlet. Stephanie Grace Schull, the founder of Kegelbell, says they narrowed down their options and pursued hard after the shortlisted retailers.
The team attended the ‘Indie Beauty Expo’ tradeshow to establish a brand presence. The rest was history as they found relevant retailers and sealed the deal on the spot.
#2. Build a Solid eCommerce Sales History (if You Haven’t)
Jeff Williams of Bizstarters believes that establishing a brand presence online has become more crucial than ever, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Most surviving chains have drastically reduced the number of vendors they deal with.
However, they won’t hesitate to offer retail opportunities to brands with a solid online sales history. Plus, even customers trust those brands whose names they’ve seen flashing in the virtual world frequently. So, before you promote your products/services to retailers, build a solid eCommerce sales history.
#3. Consider the Path of Acquisition
Several entrepreneurs consider the acquisition path a far-fetched dream for their brand. However, this is precisely how Laughing Man, a top coffee company, made it successfully to Costco’s aisles.
The Laughing Man was acquired by Keurig. Since Keurig already had numerous attractive distribution relationships, it became easier for the former to market products to retailers, even big retail chains like Costco.
If it means that your company’s overall vision may be realized, consider the path of acquisition!
#4. Establish Second-Degree Connections
Annika Ehrig of Whiteboard Geeks believes it is paramount for an entrepreneur who wishes to promote products/services to retailers to connect and network with the area’s locals. This is especially true if you’re trying to hit the shelves of a retailer in a small town.
You can start by playing the ‘tradies.’ This means approaching a few niche retail outlets and offering your product samples or services for a low cost. On your way out, don’t forget to give your business card. This is a great way to build partnerships.
#5. Ace the Branding Scene
If you’re unclear about the message of your product, you will have a hard time marketing your products/services to retailers. Joe Flanagan of VelvetJobs believes that before attending any retail buyer meetings, brands need to work on nailing their branding online and offline.
This includes creativity in the brilliant basics (logo, colors, etc.), consistency of message, engaging with the customers’ emotions, and more. Once your product is on the map, getting it to a store will become easier.
#6. Start from the Inside to the Way Out
This simply means that depending upon your business, market your products to retailers in the local niche scale. Loren Howard of Prime Plus Mortgages stresses the importance of reaching out within the community to create a loyal and local client base first.
For instance, if you deal in fresh produce, you might want to start by first hitting the farmer’s markets. From there, you can build your brand and hit the produce aisles of big box retail outlets.
#7. Earn Your Way into a Retail Outlet
Yes, this is about earned endorsements! Amy Feind Reeves of JobCoachAmy firmly believes that earned endorsements make a strong case for many business owners looking to promote services to retailers.
You can start by approaching small business owners and sharing product samples. Give personal follow-ups to foster good relations. However, ensure that the samples you chose align well with the vibe and inventory of the store. For instance – it will be incredibly challenging to convince a pet store owner with a sample of a CBD cream.
#8. Make the Most of Trade Shows
This tip comes from Ahmed Mir of Nature and Bloom. He believes that attending a trade show that acts as an exhibitor is vital to market your products/services to retailers. Even if you cannot discover relevant trade shows physically, there are always opportunities online.
Hop onto some, connect with product distributors and potential buyers. Ahmed considers trade shows one of his largest sources for building new relationships and recommends exploring this avenue to the fullest.
#9. Opt for In-Person Pitches or on LinkedIn
Peter Babichenko of Sahara Case goes as far as to say that entrepreneurs looking to market products/services to retailers should always do so in person or at least approach via LinkedIn. This helps you comprehensively explain your product and use emotional engagement.
Also, LinkedIn is the best place to access critical decision-makers without the hassle of peeling through the layers of bureaucracy in the form of intermediaries. Pitch your product creatively and wisely, and you’ll definitely have an opportunity for sale.
So Get it off the Ground!
Business success starts with planning and taking the first leap of faith. Follow the above-mentioned entrepreneur tips, and you should find no hassles in marketing your products/services to retailers.
However, once in stores, help them sell your product better through communicating USPS, offering solid display materials, etc. After all, the more your product sells, the more the retail outlets will want to buy from you!
So, get the ball rolling, and happy retailing!