Top Distribution Channels for Startups

By: Billy Vrbensky, Altitude Accelerator Communications Intern

distribution channelsA product with better distribution will always win over a superior product with poor distribution. Once a startup is ready to commercialize its product, you must determine how the product will reach its target consumer. Distribution is about finding a suitable distribution channel that makes it convenient for the buyer to purchase and consume your product. Startups should not rely on only one channel for customer acquisition because dependency exposes your startup to problems if distribution partners change strategy or get tough with you in negotiations. Here are four sales channels that we believe are most effective for startups:

Online marketing offers a cost effective, brandable and scalable way to acquire customers directly. Set up a professional website and drive traffic through online advertising, social media marketing and search engine optimization. This will raise awareness about your presence in the market and hopefully generate some sales. An effective way to catch the interest of your audience is to take advantage of content marketing. Create an environment where you can educate your reader about something useful or interesting that they may not have known before.

Business development and cross-sales joint ventures deal with similar companies who are not competitors but who share the same consumer base. If you can find a business partner, typically one larger in size, which has the same customer base and targets a very similar market segment, cross joining sales departments will be highly beneficial for both parties. This will provide their customers with new value and your startup with increased credibility and additional profits.

Referral and affiliate programs are about using your existing customers to spread the word about your product and using affiliate networks to connect demographically-related users to your website. Referral programs can offer customers something in return, like free products from your company or even money if it makes sense for your business. Affiliate programs can allow you to spread awareness on networks where you think your target market spends time on.

Commercial tradeshows is a great way to write up some orders and educate the consumer about your products. They also offer your startup the opportunity to obtain valuable feedback on how to improve business practices. It may even attract some good PR, an effective marketing strategy due to its repeatable nature, low cost and its ability to drive sales and grow brand recognition if executed properly.


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