3 Low Cost Ways Small Brands Can Punch Above Their Weight


3 Low-Cost Ways Small Brands Can Punch Above Their Weight

For more great tips on distribution for small brands, listen to Ben's guest webinar, "Working with Your Distributor: 5 Ways to Thrive in the New Reality"


By Ben Salisbury

Who doesn’t love a good David versus Goliath story? Underdogs besting much larger and more capable foes is the stuff of legends. When the “little guy” wins against overwhelming odds, a part of us shares vicariously in the triumph.

Any Maker who’s a “David” in today’s land of giants knows full well the unnerving gauntlet of obstacles they face. However, with a little help from technology and a lot of ingenuity, small brands can pack a mighty blow to even the most formidable rivals.

It’s truly a marvelous time to be a small brand because the key to success lies not so much on strength as it does on strategy. Economy of movement beats economic might. Authenticity trumps ACV. One-to-one marketing trounces mass media. Historically, access to Resellers was only possible through “traditional” means and methods. Not so much anymore which is very good news for the bootstrapping entrepreneur.

Make no mistake - there is indeed a learning curve. But, once mastered, the return on time invested is as certain as Game of Thrones prequel.

To get you started, here are a few ideas you can start implementing today.

  1. Keep your focus narrow. Don’t try to reach everyone. It seems counter-intuitive but the key to selling more is to ignore most customers. The 80/20 Rule is real. Take a little time to consider who are the most likely Resellers to be interested in your products. First consider the “attributes” of your ideal customer. Then set out to create a list of specific Resellers that fit that criteria. For example, if you produce a superb, hand-crafted gin, create a list of the best places to drink gin or buy gin and start reaching out to them directly. A simple Google search of “best gin joints in Milwaukee” returned 20-25 great prospects. Follow them on social media. Sincerely and authentically engage with the content THEY post. Reach out to them using their “info@____” email address found on their website. Write a letter from one owner to another. Not everyone wants to buy just the big-name brands. It’s not an either/or but, rather, a both/and. You can be one of the “ands!”
  2. Email marketing is not dead. Far from it! While Google AdWords and “real” Facebook advertising can bring even the most seasoned marketing veteran to tears, learning to use MailChimp or Constant Contact is well within everyone’s reach. The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing costs $14.00 on Amazon and will pay for itself a gazillion times over. A subscription to Constant Contact starts as low as $20 per month. Start diligently collecting Resellers’ email addresses. If you have only ONE now, that’s a very good start. Just keep adding to your list little by little and one day you’ll have hundreds. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago but the second-best time is today! PS- do not under any circumstances purchase email lists. Build your list the old-fashioned way – by earning it. If you send out emails now to a general list, segment your trade list and create separate emails with content intended exclusively for Resellers.
  3. Put out the digital welcome mat to the TRADE. Most of you reading this have a place on your website to sign up for your email list. But that is just not enough. Small, independent Resellers use their phones daily to do research, read articles, and consume social media content. You need to make it as easy as possible for fans to identify themselves as members of the Reseller community. Unhook the velvet rope and let them cut the line. If you have a simple “sign up for our email list” form, consider expanding it slightly and add a checkbox that says “trade member” or “spirits buyer” or something like that. Some websites have a trade section, but it caters mostly to distributors. Nothing wrong with that per se but if you are a small brand it’s not through the distributor where most Resellers will find you. When you are contacted by a Reseller, stop everything and connect as quickly as possible with them! It’s called one-to-one marketing for a reason.

For David, one smooth stone was all it took…

About the author: Ben Salisbury is the Founder/President of Salisbury Creative Group, Inc. which specializes in helping wineries and craft distilleries achieve high levels of sales effectiveness. Leveraging his knowledge and experience from three decades in the industry, Ben and his team deliver sales, marketing, and modern distribution expertise to a wide array of adult beverage clients.

We help small brands box above their weight class by leveraging new, modern strategies in their sales process. When you’re small or in start-up mode, you must be able to do the most with the least and that’s where we come in. We help give small brands a fighting chance by teaching them how to work smarter not harder!