The 3rd “P” of the marketing mix deals with product placement–the width of distribution. One of our first orders of business is to dramatically increase the number of outlets ordering Acme product. Acme software is currently available to resellers directly, through Micro Central, Merisel, TechData, and Ingram Micro. It is available to consumers in the major mail-order catalogs, Fry’s, Micro Center, and the hundreds of VARs.
With the introduction of a product aiming at the mainstream category, we will attempt to be stocked by at least the top 50 national locations including Egghead, Computer City, CompUSA, Elek Tek, J&R Computer World, Incredible Universe, Software Etc. (if still around), Media Play, Best Buy, plus we expect to double the number of our VARs.
We will also go after the regional software chains (i.e., Computer Palace, Software Warehouse) and the individual software outlets–many that successfully compete with the national chains in their respective areas. Because of our price point and product category we will probably not be able to get into the low-end mall locations and definitely won’t penetrate the mass merchants such as Target and WallMart.
The national accounts sell-in process should occur fairly quickly, as soon as we print sell sheets. If we need help with any particular accounts we can hire one of several established rep firms to help out. We can recruit the national accounts but will have to rely on the following methods to recruit the regional and independents:
- Hire a training/recruiting firm. Use a group like MindShare Associates or TempReps to physically visit each site and convert them over one-by-one. These groups will usually sell hundreds of NFR copies to seed the sites they visit. At a typical cost of only $19 to $24 per location–we couldn’t do it cheaper ourselves.
- Attend reseller trade shows to recruit resellers. Shows we have scheduled include both Comdex, both Internet World’s, and both Mac Worlds. Not only can we talk to resellers directly at the shows but we can also meet with the attending press (especially Computer Retail Week and Computer Reseller News).
- Conduct reseller postcard mailings. Sent to 8,000 select locations with each new product. We would include our NFR $10 offer to measure the reseller response and further seed the channel.
- Launch a VAR Roadshow. This would be a national roadshow covering the top 15 major cities. The purpose would be to draw attention to the ACE category, cement our alliances and recruit VARs.
- Attend Retail & VAR Vision. These are semi-annual shows where the top buyers from the nation’s largest chains or the largest VAR’s and SI’s are invited to attend and learn about new products. It is “the” best event available to meet the buyers face to face and have them see your products and validate your positioning. It’s pricey but a must event for anyone serious about the channel.
Channel Sales sells the product into the channel while Channel Marketing helps sell it out and then supports the installed reseller base. We will have to execute several channel programs to support the new resellers:
- Train the resellers. The training firm would not only recruit new resellers but they would also train and motivate the staff of current resellers to recommend Acme products. The intent is to increase our product recommendation rate among resellers (i.e., “What would you recommend I buy,” “Widget1”).
- Phone detailing. A phone detailing program would commence once the product is introduced to place eval copies, ensure all collateral POP is set up and ensure compliance for promotions.
- Employee seeding offers. Aggressively push a $10 employee copy to help reps own and learn the product. This is critical since resellers sell what they know… and they know what they use.
- Establish a reseller lead generation program. This will enable us to refer leads to stocking, “converted” resellers.
In order to support the resellers we should create the following collateral pieces:
- Sellable boxes. These were detailed earlier. Register to receive the Chanimal Packaging Guidelines.
- Sell sheets. These are the black and white product, marketing and distributor information sheets used to sell into the channel.
- Product slicks. These are four color product description sheets that are informative and yet “light” enough in content to be laminated and used as shelf talkers to hang on reseller’s shelves. The non-laminated Product slicks should be bundled in groups of 25 and padded (glued) on top then attached to standup cardboard back–this way they can double as additional POP.
- Reseller Kit. Within this folder is everything a reseller needs to know about the company, product, and promotions in order to sell the product. It usually contains sell sheets, product slicks, a demo CD and a special tab information section. The VAR kit would also include demo scripts, sample artwork, sample press, plus much more.
- Laminated shelf hangers. These are product slicks that are laminated and used to hang on the shelf to call attention to the product.
- Tent card. We will make a four-color tent card template that will allow us to quickly attach padded 2 color rebates and special offers when necessary. Once the four-color is done, the 2 color offers can be turned around in a few days as needed.
- Empty product boxes. Some locations like to make pyramids and like the appearance of extra stock without the cost– it’s a great way to get multiple faces of Acme product.
- Self-running demos. In our case, we may wish to use the Lotus ScreenCam program and include several good examples with tutorials and instructions on how to run “Play.”
In addition to the support materials, we will want to create several giveaway items to promote and brand Acme among the resellers. Items we will create include the following:
- T-shirts. The stable of every promotional campaign includes a small arsenal of T-shirts for special reseller spiffs and promotions.
- AeroProps. These flying helicopters have been the most successful crowd-pleaser to date. They can be shot into the air at trade shows and reseller training to call attention to the booth and/or presenter.
- Mouse pads. Another stable give-away item to brand the company and get ongoing reseller attention. These must be cooler than their current one so they will be willing to replace it.
Additional collateral is outlined in the Gantt chart.
Additional Resources for the channel can be found in the channel section of the website.