We are now halfway through the 10 simple steps for creating your marketing plan-- Step #1: Create a Unique Selling Proposition, #2: Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse which addresses the logical sequence of events in the planning process and #3: Establish Your Sweet Spot which revolves around your defining your target audience, #4: Articulate Your Brand and Step #5: Competitive Reconnaissance.
Moving onto Step #6- you want to address how your customer or end-user is going to gain access to your brand. How and where will it be distributed? (Note-this discussion is more applicable to goods versus services.)
Where you are sold says something about your brand. When considering distribution channels, revisit your brand positioning and think about how you envision your brand down the road. Your distribution channel strategy must align with this. For example, if you have a prestige product, you are not going to try to sell it in Wal-Mart just because Wal-Mart is a successful, high-volume retailer. Also keep in mind that it is almost impossible to trade up from a lower-end or off-price retailer to more of a luxury goods retailer- (but you can do the reverse if and when your brand is post-peak). So your starting point is critical, as you want to allow your brand to eventually have room to “trickle down” if and when its life cycle wanes.
The number of distribution points that your consumer can access your brand can also speak to your positioning. I worked on a brand that sold a $1000 beauty product. It was deliberately only available in limited locations which kept it ultra-exclusive. While it was tempting to sell it to the many retailers that wanted it because it would mean more revenue in the short-term, it was vital to maintain the preciousness and scarcity, as this was also a part of the way the brand was positioned.
Your budget is also a consideration. You should think about what you need from a retail partner. What kind of arrangement will you have and who will pay for what to promote your brand? There are expenses associated with doing business at retail so educate yourself on things like sales commissions and advertising costs. Many retailers are also expecting that you will be investing in promoting your brand through advertising and public relations in order to make your products a destination for consumers.
You may ultimately decide that you want to completely control the way your brand is sold either through your own bricks and mortar or your website via e-commerce.
And back to your brand messaging and identity-- you will want to make sure these carry through to any marketing materials that you use at point of sale or on the retail floor.