Innovating Your Product Distribution Is As Important As Innovating Your Marketing

Innovating Your Product Distribution Is As Important As Innovating Your Marketing

Creating a distribution framework is no different: With marketing, you can't rely just on existing techniques or assume you know the right niche for your product -- unless you experiment. How were your would-be customers finding existing solutions? In order to hone in on an appropriate distribution plan, first determine if your product is a primary or complementary solution. Complementary products, on the other hand, are those that a customer purchases only after signing on to the primary product. Case study: Zapier Zapier is a great example of a complementary product for the modern era. Moreover, when you’re scaling, big distribution channels will want some evidence of success before they take your product on. If you are in the SaaS business, integrating with complementary apps can be an effective distribution strategy. Paypal owes most of its early growth to piggybacking off of eBay. Determining which app or SaaS is most complementary to your product allows you to scale quickly. Nevertheless, SaaS partnering in app distribution must solve real problems in order for it to work.

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Discovering a new distribution channel can do wonders for you. Imagine if you’d been one of the first apps in the Apple Store!

Innovating Your Product Distribution Is As Important As Innovating Your Marketing

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Great! You’ve just spent months (or years) figuring out a fantastic product in a new category, but now comes your next big challenge: getting that product into the hands of users who don’t yet know it exists.

Related: What’s the Best Way to Monitor Your Distribution System?

In other words, you need to innovate in the distribution process the same way you innovated in the product-development stage.

Developing a winning product and creating a viable distribution framework are more ideologically similar than you’d think. When you develop a product, you look for gaps in the market and perform experiments to solve those problems. As you do that, you build confidence in your product, because your experiments are drawing feedback from early adopters.

Creating a distribution framework is no different: With marketing, you can’t rely just on existing techniques or assume you know the right niche for your product — unless you experiment. With product distribution, you’re again testing out-of-the-box ideas to find the the very best one.

Apply the lessons learned from your marketing strategy to your distribution strategy.

If you relied on traditional channels to market a new invention, you most likely found them expensive and ineffective. Why? Because you were competing with established products that already had your customers’ attention. “Who is the person suffering from the problem that my product addresses?” you had to ask yourself.

Hopefully, you discovered who that person was, and the pain of the problem he or she was experiencing. What was the precise point where your product became a priority for this person? How were your would-be customers finding existing solutions? At least initially, you probably avoided the marketing channels that established products already used.

A case study: AirBnB

One of the hosting company’s most famous growth hacks was its controversial “integration” with Craigslist. Another AirbBnB strategy that I found interesting, and applicable for any startup, was that the company looked for untapped demand: For instance, it launched during the Democratic Convention of 2008, when its founders knew that hotels would sell out and their company could capture the excess demand.

Now, how about applying these same marketing lessons to finding the right distribution solution for your own product/service? Consider these steps:

1. Determine if your product is a primary or complementary product.

In order to hone in on an appropriate distribution plan, first determine if your product is a primary or complementary solution. Is it a primary thing people want? For instance, a movie ticket fulfills someone’s desire to see a film, while a steakhouse satisfies a person’s craving for a steak. So, both the movie ticket and the steak are primary products.

Complementary products, on the other hand, are those that a customer purchases only after signing on to the primary product….

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