We generate leads through various channels of distribution. If you hand out your business cards on a regular basis at business functions, that is a channel of distribution. If you get leads through your website, then it is also a channel of distribution. If you have a well developed referral program, there is a channel of distribution. Today’s effort in setting up a lead generation program, then, is examining your channels of distribution.
Typically, some channels of distribution are better developed than others. For example the company’s website may be very polished, easy to navigate and collects many leads for the company, while the company’s referral program from existing clients may be sporadic and producing leads on an irregular basis. It is important to periodically examine each of your channels of distribution and ensure each is a sharp as possible and represents your company well. The idea is to not be dependent on any one channel but to have only so many channels as you can reasonably manage and maintain well.
Once you understand conceptually what a distribution channel is, decide whether you want to increase the number of channels with which you operate. You want to have more than one or two distribution channels. Some work better than others given the season, economic conditions or other external factors. Look around you and determine where groups of potential clients “pool”: retail stores, clubs, civic groups, media. Each of these outlets have access to people and suggests an alternative distribution channel.
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The next step is to focus on the tactics you use to drive business through each of these channels. Develop a set of finely honed tactics for each – marketing collateral, promotions, allies and events. Calendar your efforts to keep them organized and sharp. Next week we will examine tactics more closely.
Look at each distribution channel you have and fine tune all of the tactics that surround them. Focus on each as a separate opportunity.
For our purposes today, focus on the following distribution channels and tactics as examples:
- Direct Contact with Existing Clients – Your existing clients continue to provide a source of business on an ongoing basis that you will need to continue to cultivate and grow. Determine how you will market to them to ensure retention and repeat business.
- Networking activities – Do you belong to a church, does your son participate on the basketball team at school? Do you volunteer for the Race for the Cure events? Each of these activities leads to a pool of potential travel clients. How can you market to them in the context of each?
- Speaking Opportunities – Are there opportunities to speak on travel topics to local organizations and associations?
- Cross-marketing and Group Leaders – Have you cultivated any group leaders? Is there an informal network of other business people with whom you can refer business to each other?
- Web site– Do you have a web site or blog?
- Social Media – are you using Facebook as a business tool? Twitter?
- E-mails and Newsletter – Do you send emails to clients or do you have a newsletter?
- Public Relations – Writing articles for local publications is a distribution channel.
- Advertising – What advertising venues will you use?
- Each of these distribution channels may have in the past brought you business to varying degrees. Consider which are working for you well, which could stand improvement, and what tactics you will employ to approach them intelligently.
Exercise – Use the TRO Distribution Channel Worksheet. In addition to the ones we have named, you probably have access to others: bridal shows, networking organizations, a yoga class or gym you attend, your social and civic activities. Indicate for each how productive your distribution channels have been in the past. Note how consistently you use the channel and how much you spend on each in terms of both effort and financial resources.