Structure and strategy are the main things which are missing from most small and home businesses. The majority of businesses do things according to industry norms and never seek to set themselves apart from the competition. Failure to develop a structured approach to your business strategy will ensure that the business does not grow to a level where it otherwise could have.
Channel marketing is the path or medium through which your product or service must pass through to reach your end user customer. Large corporations have whole departments dedicated to channel marketing and it is critical to the structure of any business. When I worked in Japan, marketing computer technology to the major Japanese computer manufacturers, channel marketing played a critical role in our success and it is even more important today for the small and home business entrepreneur. Now, in my personal consulting work, I take clients through a structured program which includes the fundamentals of channel marketing as this is indeed critical to how you find and service your current, past and future clients. To develop a channel marketing strategy for your home business, take the following steps:
- Examine your product or service to determine which category of the market if fits into: Take note of where you have pitched your product within the market. For example, if you are selling a house costing more than $1 million, you will need to consider the medium which you will use to reach your ideal client interested in purchasing a house of that value.
- Examine your market segmentation results: Through this analysis, you will have determined which section of the population is most suited to your company's product or service. If you happen to be selling sponge cakes (as this is your passion and specialty) and you have been selling them at your local social club for less than $20, your market segmentation results may have indicated that individuals within a particular geographic location and income level are suited to your product.
- Determine the main channel to market for your flagship product: The results of the above should give you the data to identify whether your ideal client has a propensity to purchasing via the Internet, at your local social club, in a retail store, through a home catalogue, over the telephone or other means. You should determine what your main channel to market is and focus your energies on reaching your customers through that channel.
- Develop marketing tools and messages for your primary marketing channel: The majority of your efforts should be focused on where you will receive the maximum returns. This is, of course, common sense but without going through the channel marketing exercise, you will never know where to focus your efforts in the first place! These tools should be developed in line with the results of Step 1 and Step 2 above.
- Determine sub marketing channels: You will have a main channel to market, through which you will sell the majority of your goods, but there will be other channels through which you will also sell your goods. In a structured plan, you will ensure that customers at the end of these sub channels are also presented with the message of your home business.
- Consider the Internet as one of your marketing channels: With the age in which we are blessed to be living today, we are able to reach an individual on the other side of the world with news, messages, and information on the importance of our goods and services. If you live in Oregon, there may be someone in Singapore who will pay for your homemade American sponge cakes and pay for the shipping from the U.S. Or he may want your sponge cake recipe or your streaming video showing how to perfect your recipe. We live in a borderless world and the Internet marketing channel enables us to reach individuals within our town, state, country, continent and the world.
Always consider the fact that the products and services of your home business must pass through a specific channel of the market in order to reach your end user customer. You will set yourself apart from the competition if you use the process steps outlined above as an integral part of your business strategy.