Think of all the places you make your purchases from. Supermarkets, department stores, franchises, even the internet! The list is endless. How do businesses decide which store to sell their products in? Based on channel marketing. This raises the question, ‘What is channel marketing?’
To know that, let’s look at what is channel marketing. A channel is a firm that delivers goods to consumers from the sites where they are made. That is, from the factories to your shopping bags. Consequently, channel marketing is how businesses develop and establish product sales channels.
To know more about the features, benefits, and challenges of channel marketing, continue to read this article. We even have a step-by-step guide for developing a successful channel marketing campaign for you!
Table of Contents
Channel Marketing: Definition
Channel marketing uses multiple distribution channels to promote and sell products or services to the end consumer. What is a distribution channel in marketing? Just like marketing channels, there are distribution channels in marketing, too.
These include intermediaries like wholesalers, retailers, and distributors that increase the reach and efficiency of a company’s sales operations. This strategy enables businesses to use existing networks and harness their partners’ strengths to grow market share and revenue.
What are the benefits of channel marketing?
Now that we know what is channel marketing, let us look at its benefits. After all, as a business, any strategy will only be helpful if it brings about the desired results. Implementing a channel marketing strategy will aid in achieving the objectives of marketing management. A few of the benefits offered include:
- Extensive Reach: With channels, businesses can reach a much wider audience. This is due to intermediaries having well-established networks. Accessing multiple points of sale indirectly increases the number of customers acquired.
- Focus on Core Competencies: Businesses in channel marketing can focus on what they do best. Whether designing a product or upgrading services, the worry of distribution is left to the care of channel partners.
- Cost Efficiency: Channel partners have their inventory and persons who oversee logistics. Since they share responsibilities, it reduces the need for the company to invest funds in distribution. This results in cost savings.
- Insights on Local Markets: Channel partners are well-connected with the locals. They are knowledgeable about the local market and the consumers. This insight helps businesses make rational marketing decisions.
What are the Challenges in Channel marketing?
While channel marketing has its benefits, it has challenges. Knowing these obstacles before you employ channel marketing is essential to maintain the strategy’s effectiveness. The most common difficulties faced include:
- Consistent Branding: Ensuring the branding is consistent across channels takes time and effort. Since each channel has its marketing strategy, the brand’s larger message faces the risk of dilution.
- Channel Conflict: Given the many partners, conflict of interest may arise. For instance, the direct sales team and the retailers might target the same customers. This will negatively impact relationships. If unresolved, an intermediary may break the partnership.
- Limited Control: Once the product reaches the partners, a business has limited control over how further marketing activities will occur. This includes varying pricing, shelf placement, and the need for consistency in messaging.
- Dependency on Partners: Channel partners are crucial when entering channel marketing. The brand is directly affected when partners fail to effectively market the product or service.
Types of channel marketing
The answer to the question ‘What is Channel Marketing?’ showed us that there are multiple channels a business can make use of. Intermediaries such as wholesalers and retailers are channels themselves. Thus, channel marketing can take many forms.
- Direct Sales: This is selling your products and services directly to consumers. No intermediaries are involved. Face-to-face interaction occurs between the business and the end user.
- Wholesale Distribution: Goods are sold in large quantities at discounted prices to intermediaries rather than directly to consumers. The intermediary then resells to other businesses. This reselling occurs in small amounts.
- Retail Distribution: Retailers run B2C business. In this distribution channel, products reach the end consumers through retail stores. The products and services are sold at MRP.
- Online Sales: This involves using digital platforms for marketing and selling products. A widely known example is Amazon’s e-commerce platform. Other digital marketing modules may also be employed.
- Franchising: Under this channel marketing type, the business is the franchisor. He gives other entities, the franchises, the right to set up stores using the brand’s name in specific locations.
- Telemarketing: This uses the telephone to reach and interact with customers. Characterized by an absence of face-to-face communication, telemarketing affords consumers privacy.
- Catalog Sales: Printed or digital catalogs promote the business’s offerings. Consumers can explore the catalog in their comfort. The convenience of ordering items directly from the catalog makes it a popular choice.
Based on how cohesively these channels are employed, you may end up with either multichannel or omnichannel marketing. Under multichannel marketing, the focus lies on reaching the user through as many channels as possible. While it does increase brand awareness, it risks fragmentation of marketing messages.
What is omnichannel marketing, then? While employing multiple channels, omnichannel marketing looks to provide an interconnected experience. It is better at ensuring consumer loyalty. A halfway between multi- and omni-channel marketing, called cross-channel marketing, also exists.
Steps to Develop a Successful Channel Marketing Strategy
So far, we have learned the distribution channel in marketing and the various existing channels. However, merely knowing that isn’t sufficient. The key to a successful channel marketing strategy is implementing it in a structured manner.
The following steps will help you develop your strategy. Remember to tailor them according to the product or service you wish to market.
- Know your Audience: Identify who you are selling your product or services to. Understand their needs and buying habits. This includes their points and frequencies of purchase.
- Identify Channel Partners: Entering a partnership can be tricky. Research all your potential collaborators before finalizing the channel partners. Consider the distribution network of each intermediary. You want to make sure that your target audience frequents their stores.
- Develop Channel Partner Relationships: Your channel partner wants to gain from this relationship. Thus, you must also pitch the partnership as beneficial for them. Consider providing them with marketing training.
- Coordinate Campaigns: With multiple marketing channels, there is the risk of varying messaging. Ensure that your campaigns do not change with the channel change. Rely on digital tools for maintaining consistency.
- Monitor and Evaluate: You want to monitor which channels are doing well or lacking closely. Evaluating this will help you tailor your marketing to suit a particular channel. Taking feedback from channel partners will help you further.
You must extensively study primary and secondary market data at each stage of the above process. If you are a new business, revisiting the 8Ps of marketing will help.
See Also: The Ultimate Guide to the Marketing Mix
What is channel marketing?
Channel marketing uses various distribution channels to promote and sell products or services to the end consumer.
What does channel mean in marketing?
A channel is a firm that delivers goods to consumers from the factories where they are made—for example, wholesalers and retailers.
What are the types of distribution channels in marketing?
A few distribution channels are direct sales, wholesale distribution, telemarketing, online sales, and franchising.
What is multichannel marketing?
It is how businesses can interact with their customers, both directly and indirectly. The focus is on being present on as many channels as the target audience is likely to be active.
To summarize the article ‘What is Channel Marketing?’, it is a strategic option for businesses to reach their target audience while focusing on their core competencies.
This is done by building channel partnerships and sustaining them. With just as many challenges as its benefits, channel marketing is a make-it-or-break-it. Research well, and revisit this article when in doubt!