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All entrepreneurs need distribution channels to grow their business

Distribution channels are not the same thing as distribution networks, and misunderstanding either can hold back any business. Using AMC’s Breaking Bad series as a fascinating example, distribution is applied to traditional business to help even out supply and demand.

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breaking bad distribution

How do you increase product awareness?

You have created something brilliant.

You did your market research so you know people want it.

But you’re not some marketing specialist – you specialize is making something amazing.

Without customers, you’re shot though. So, there’s the age old problem again – how do you increase awareness of your product, thereby increasing sales?

To me, problem solving is an art. And as Picasso said, great artists steal. So when I have a problem, I like to find other similar problems, and analyze how they were solved, with what consequences and/or triumphs.

Walter White has the same problem

And it just so happens that Walter White has a similar problem, one that despite his success, he keeps running into. Due to the rapid growth of his organization, it’s kind of a good problem to have – how to pinpoint the area of demand with which he can then insert his very profitable product as the supply.

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that Walter White is not a fictional character on the hit series, Breaking Bad. We’ll imagine that he’s not a chemistry teacher who, upon contracting cancer, and learning that the cost of his illness would wipe out his family financially, decided to deal methamphetamine.

Yes, we’ll take those details out of the equation and look at the problem he has in common with start-ups and business owners.

The problem: focusing on what you do best

Walter’s problem, in essence, is that while he is a fantastic drug maker, he doesn’t want to be a drug dealer. He wants to concentrate on what he does best, and find someone else to handle the rest. It’s a wise decision – it’s hard to be truly spectacular at a variety of unrelated skill sets.

What he realized he needed is a distribution channel. He has a high quality product, knows there is demand, but not the details on how to fill the demand.

If you are in that situation, the best thing to do is to find (or create) a distribution channel.

Creating a distribution channel

A distribution channel is a pre-assembled audience of people who already have demonstrated a desire for something similiar to your product or service. If you were a recording artist, a music label could be a distribution channel, or it could be iTunes.

If you created a consumer product, your distribution channel might be Amazon, Walmart, your own store, a mail order catalog, or all of these.

And if you want to distribute content as a means to lead generation, your distribution channels could range from your own blog, to Slideshare, speaking engagements, guest blog posts, or having your articles published in reputable publications (like AGBEAT! nosing>).

Don’t confuse distribution networks with distribution channels

It’s pretty easy to confuse distribution networks with distribution channels.

Distribution networks are the places where people in a distribution channel gather- examples would be YouTube, Google, Slideshare, Twitter, a blog or podcast.

A distribution channel, however, is more closely represented by the subset of people connected to your accounts on those networks. To be more exact, it’s the people within that subset who are most willing to sharing with others what you’ve shared with them.

It’s not just the people who have the biggest audiences, the best networkers or the most influential. Sometimes the momentum you want to spark is started by an average user, then continued by the curators of the world.

Back to Walter reaching his users

Now that we know what a distribution channel is, let’s go back to Walter White. His issues clarify why businesses need distribution channels – besides the obvious fact that it’s hard to do two things exceptionally.

When Mr. White initially decides that the answer to his problem is to produce mass quantities of a popular drug, he recruits a dealer to help him get his product to the end user.

He could have figured out how to do this on his own. But then he’d have to take on the risk of moving the product, as well as start from scratch with a network of contacts, rather than rely on the people who users of the product are already going to in order to buy the product.

The dealers have the customers, but not the product. If you ignore the illegality and lack of morals in the situation, it’s a match made in… well, hell. But in their case, let’s face it – if hell exists, they’re already going.

Walter’s issue is that each time his company grows, he needs a more powerful distribution channel.

When he needs more money, he makes more products. When he makes more products, he needs more dealers.

When supply and demand don’t match up

Eventually he gets to the top of the organization and finds that he can make more product, but that the supply will exceed the demand. Which of course means he has to expand into a new market. But to access that market, he again needs an intermediary to facilitate distribution, this time on a more massive level.

How does this relate to your business?

Well, there’s someone out there who already has access to the audience you need. You could do this the expensive way and advertise traditionally. It’s a good solution if you have the budget and can find other ways to earn and keep the trust of your audience.

Of course most of us don’t have the budget to both overcome the cynicism of today’s buyer and to pay per head for each lead.

You could also use social media to draw attention to your business. But like most other people who can’t stay on social networks, constantly building their reach, lack of growth can stagnate your accounts. Once the initial buzz wears off, if you don’t have a distribution channel set up, social networks become another place to update the audience you already have, rather than reach new people.

Then there’s always search. The obvious problem there is that the rules of search rankings are constantly changing.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use these methods to market, brand or otherwise increase exposure to your business. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to do as much as is appropriate to what you sell to market your product.

The key…

The key is to find the most effective suppliers of distribution channels – places where your content, product or service is already in high demand. Then identify who among those leads are sending you more leads, and find a way to encourage them to continue to do so.

Tinu Abayomi-Paul is the CEO of Leveraged Promotion and a member of Network Solutions Social web Advisory Board. Her website promotion company specializes in reputation management, and engineering demand generation system for businesses, integrating search, expertise marketing and social media.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. alexanderbrown

    September 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

    @Tinu @AGBeat facebook open graph is hands down the best and cheapest distribution channel in the world!

    • Tinu

      September 30, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      @alexanderbrown @agbeat That’s a distribution Network. The channel is the vessel Within that.

      • alexanderbrown

        September 30, 2012 at 3:45 pm

        @Tinu @AGBeat that true. You have specific channels in open graph like notifications, timeline, real-time updates, etc.

        • Tinu

          September 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm

          @alexanderbrown Not at all what I mean. Hard to explain out of context of the article. @agbeat

  2. Tinu

    September 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks @jenniferwindrum – great pic of you Mom today! @agbeat

    • jenniferwindrum

      September 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      @Tinu thanks a bunch. She does look good. Yay.

  3. Tinu

    September 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    @AustinBusiness 🙂 On not down? lol Thanks for the retweet. @agbeat

    • AustinBusiness

      September 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      @Tinu how about sideways 😉

      • Tinu

        September 30, 2012 at 8:12 pm

        @AustinBusiness If it should please the court…

        • AustinBusiness

          September 30, 2012 at 8:42 pm

          @Tinu it should 🙂

  4. Tinu

    October 1, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks @AmyVernon @AGBeat

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Business Entrepreneur

How to know when it’s time to go freelance full time

(ENTREPRENEUR) There may come a point when traditional work becomes burdensome. Know how to spot when it is time to go full freelance.

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Freelancing is often thought of as a mythical concept, something that is almost too good to be true. While it isn’t all about hanging out at home in your pajamas all day, being a freelance is something that is completely possible to be successful – assuming you do your homework.

Recently, a friend of mine who is a licensed esthetician was no longer happy with her position at the salon and spa she worked for. The set hours were becoming a burden, as was having to divvy up appointments between another esthetician within the salon.

She noticed an increasing number of people asking her if she could perform services (eyebrow and lip waxing) from her home, as they preferred not to go into the hectic salon. My friend also found an increase in requests for her to travel to bridal parties for their makeup, rather than the parties coming into the salon.

It was around this time that my friend began to seriously consider becoming a freelance esthetician, rather than a salon employee. After about six months of research and consideration, she decided that this was the best route for her.

Below are the reasons she felt ready to pursue this option, and if they resonate with you, you may be ready for a full time freelance career.

1. She had a number of built-in clients and a list of people she could contact to announce her at-home services. Doing this at the start of one’s career would be very difficult without a contact list and word-of-mouth references, so it’s important to have…

2. …experience! My friend had worked for a number of salons over the years, and had the experience of working with all different types of clients. She also learned what she liked and didn’t like about each salon, which were pieces that factored into her own work-from-home space.

3. Since she had years of experience and had done all of the necessary aforementioned research, she knew what was expected of her and knew that getting a freelance career off the ground wouldn’t be a walk in the park. Operating a freelance career is completely on you, so you have to be 100 percent dedicated to making it work – it won’t just happen for you.

4. Once she began thinking about this idea nonstop and became more excited, she knew it was time to move forward. At first, the “what ifs” were daunting, but became more positive as time went on. If the idea of being a freelancer elicits more smiles than frowns, definitely take the time to consider this option.

5. In addition to the clients she already had, she also had an amazing support system who helped her develop her freelance brand and get her at-home business up and running. Having a solid group of people in your life that will help you is crucial, and any offer for help should be appreciated.

Other things to consider are: do you have enough money saved in case the freelance venture takes longer than planned to take off? If not, maybe stick with the day job until you feel more financially secure.

Jumping into something too quickly can cause you to become overwhelmed and drown in the stress. Make sure you’ve covered every single base before making this leap. Good luck, freelancers!

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Business Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs’ edge – working quality, not quantity hours

(ENTREPRENEURS) A huge advantage of the entrepreneur life is full control over your day – and using your hours wisely (and creatively) boosts productivity, even if it means sleeping in and staying up late. Think quality, not quantity.

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So often, we hear the phrase “quality, not quantity,” which can be appropriately used to describe ideas we give to our boss or the amount of effort we put into volunteering. The long and short of it is – don’t half-ass something because you think it’s fulfilling the need of “quantity.”

Quality is always so much more important when it comes to output in your job. Like, okay, great, you worked 11 gillion hours this month, but what did you actually accomplish? Did you finish endless busy work and take pictures for social media of how busy you are? Or did you grow your bottom line?

Over the years, we’ve heard a lot about flex hours and more working from home options, but a hot new idea is (you guessed it) quality hours, not quantity hours. Sometimes fitting into that 9-to-5 framework is satisfying the quantity aspect, but are we really being as productive as we should?

Many people argue that we should be working less in order to produce more. Wait, don’t leave, let me explain.

Does it really seem like the best idea to be working when your energy level is in the negatives? Probably not. This opens the door for more mistakes, less engaged work, and less output. If you’re a night owl and your brain fires on all cylinders when the sun has gone down, is it really worth focusing your work energy during the hours that your brain isn’t fully on?

If we work only when we know we’re going to be productive, we can really make the most of our time. Now, don’t get that confused with “sit around and wait for lightning to strike and THEN work,” it means schedule your tasks based on when your mind is typically the most productive.

When are you most productive? In the morning after you’ve had a quick job and some coffee? Or post mid-afternoon when you’re full-on awake? Jonas Downey pondered this question, and said, “I’m usually at my creative peak in the mid-morning and lose steam after lunch, so I shuffle my work accordingly. I do exploratory freeform stuff in the morning, and I save routine tasks (like implementing something I already know how to do) for the afternoon. I also have a rather short attention span, so I take tiny breaks a lot.”

He notes that working just to hit a certain number of hours is counterproductive, because in that time, there are likely to be hours worked when you are not at your best. Click To Tweet

Be honest – do you do your best work when your head is in the clouds, or when you show up to a task, raring to go?

Glorification of the 80 hour work week is dead in most circle, so consider scheduling yourself for times and days that your brain will cooperate with you instead of work against you and force you into menial work that feels like you’re accomplishing tasks!

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Business Entrepreneur

Is this normal (you wonder about your business)?

(ENTREPRENEURIALISM) It can be lonely not being able to openly ask potentially embarrassing questions about your business – there’s a way to do it anonymously…

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Entrepreneurialism is wildly rewarding – you are fully in control of the direction of your company, and you’re solving the world’s problems. But it’s also isolating when you’re not sure if what you’re experiencing is normal.

Sure, there’s Google, news networks (like ours), and professional connections to help you navigate, but sometimes you just want to know if something simple you’re seeing is normal.

Is Instagram Stories really where it’s at? Probably not if you’re a consultant.

Is it normal for an employee to attempt to re-negotiate their salary on their first day? Nope, but how do you keep the desirable employee without being bullied into new terms?

Do all entrepreneurs spend their first year in business as exhausted as a new parent? Sometimes.

You have questions, and together, we can share our experiences.

We have a brand new Facebook Group that is already wildly engaging, active, and you’d be amazed at how selflessly helpful people are – and we invite you to be one of them.

Want to anonymously ask a question about something you’re unsure is normal or not?

Click here to submit your question, and we’ll select as many as possible to discuss in the Facebook Group!

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