Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Barefoot Wine Founders

By Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Barefoot Wine Founders

Your Brand is Only as Good as Your Distribution

Your Brand is Only as Good as Your Distribution 150 150 MIchael and Bonnie Harvey

If you want your idea to make money, we like to say, “Wrap it in a business, then wrap the business in a brand, and develop your brand until you can sell it!”

When we started in the wine business, we thought “Oh, the wine industry! Swirl, sniff, sip. How glamorous! Stick out your pinkie and talk about flavor profiles. Say something in French. How fun!”

We never thought we’d spend more money, energy, and time on our distribution than actually making the stuff. We thought the distribution would be handled by the distributor. We truly believed our wine was such a value that customers would break windows and bust down doors to get it. How naïve we were!

We see this same wishful thinking in other companies. Their focus is on production rather than distribution. Look at any crowd-funding website and you’ll see time and time again how “cool” their ideas are with barely any mention of how they’ll get to market—and stay there.

What’s ironic is that even the crowd investors themselves misjudge the value of distribution. More than 70% of these offerings fail despite full funding. Why? Because they ignored the low-key cornerstone to real success. Your product’s brand cannot grow without distribution.

You might say, “We can just sell it online!” But now you are selling one by one, collecting from each customer. Then, you’re competing to have the lowest prices. And now you’re spending excessive time on email and social ad campaigns. You’re trying to sell while lacking proof or comparison to other products on the market, and without established traffic open to learning about your product (as in a retail environment).

Most brands that sell a physical product online would rather be in stores. They want to be paid for one large order to fill a large chain store with their product. They want the people already in the stores to discover and purchase their product. They know their brand will grow faster in stores that can advertise them.

But how do you get there, and stay there? That is the question. And as the situation unfolds, your predetermined misconceptions bring a new reality. You realize you’re doing much more than you wanted, and it is unlike the kind of work you had planned. It has barely anything to do with production, but everything to do with getting new retail placements and never ever running out of stock. So much for flavor profiles!

Some companies find this “distribution wall” so impassable that they completely give up selling in stores—they didn’t sign up for this! Nobody told them about it. But it can be done, as long as you understand what each part of the distribution chain wants, and give them just that. Sure, it will take longer than you would’ve liked, but it’s proven and doable. We like to call it a “get rich slow” scheme!

Don’t give up on your dream of seeing your brand on store shelves just because you’ll be spending more time, energy, and effort in the marketplace. When you understand and accept what you must do to be successful, you’ll be effectively building your physical product brand, and that is distribution management!

For more, read on: http://csnetworkadvis.staging.wpengine.com/advisor/michael-houlihan-and-bonnie-harvey/

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