More Than Just Suppliers

Distributors should take full advantage of the manufacturing, branding and marketing knowledge of their suppliers, says Phil Morgan.

When it comes to the responsibilities of a supplier, it’s basically just a case of creating and sourcing products then supplying them, right? It’s up to the distributor to figure out how to market and sell the products, right? Actually, I think that we suppliers have more to do than that.

When you think about it, suppliers and manufacturers are the ones who create the products. We’re generally the ones who have had the bright idea about a product or range, invest in the market research and product development, and ultimately, we spotted the gap in the market.

If we have all this information, yet don’t pass it on to the distributor, how can we expect them to sell our products? For me, it comes down to education and marketing, which is a big focus for the team at SPS.

As distributors, you are essentially the end-user sales force for our product range, so it’s up to us to equip you for the job.Here are a few tips of how to do this. If you’re a supplier, are you doing this? If you’re a distributor, challenge your suppliers to help you in these areas.

Education sessions

Most people have heard of our Branding Bootcamp, and the results from it are very impressive. By taking the time to invite distributors to our site, train them on products and processes, and even get them involved in printing, we’re helping to fill in the knowledge gaps when it comes to our product range. But it doesn’t stop there…

Marketing toolkit

I believe in making our distributors’lives as easy as possible when it comes to selling our products. That’s why we supply loads of free marketing support – direct mail ideas, email marketing, skin sites, and so on. If you’re not pushing your products, why should your distributors?

Help to grow the end-user market

As suppliers, we can help to grow this market by increasing awareness among end-users. Plenty of suppliers, like SPS, are trade only, but that doesn’t stop us working to increase awareness of promotional products, which will in turn lead to more sales for distributors. There are so many opportunities for suppliers and distributors to work in partnership –are you taking advantage of these?

There’s plenty for distributors to do too. Your supplier-base is on-hand to help you grow the market by educating and selling to end-users, so talk to your suppliers about what you need. Spend the time to build a thorough marketing plan alongside your core suppliers. At SPS, we already know the key dates for launching new and themed collections, so get in touch with your suppliers and sync your plans.

In this industry, it’s all about the partnership between distributors and suppliers, with massive opportunities available for those who do this well.

Phil Morgan is managing director of SPS

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