Auctomatic was a compressed start-up experience, we went from start to launch to acquisition in just under a year. We spent a long time building the product before we got one customer, whereas with Stripe we made sure we had paying customers from the start.

JOHN COLLISON

I sometimes meet exporters who don’t know how their products are promoted internationally. When I ask, they say that’s their distributor’s job. When I hear this, I know there are enormous sales upsides – just ignored.

Simply assuming an importer or distributor will be able to sell your products with minimal effort is fanciful. Consumers and shoppers have to be introduced and converted to your brand; retailers want to be sure it will generate sales and justify giving it space on shelf or online; food service customers want to know if patrons will ask for it.

Many exporters are selling new brands, sometimes new categories too. Acquisition of customers, whether at the consumer or the trade level, is one of the hardest jobs. It requires customers change behaviour. It is a time and resource intensive activity.

But isn’t it the distributor’s job to do all this work?

Yes, to a certain extent. But importers and distributors have choices too and they generally prefer big brands to unknowns, strong companies to smaller ones, and categories they know intimately. Don’t forget that the biggest (and often best) importers and distributors are used to working with leading brands with strong marketing programmes. 

If export is strategic then be prepared to work closely with a distributor to acquire customers and ensure there is a strong and continuous off-take.

Rubik’s Cube Case Study

Working with your Distributor to create demand.

Everyone knows the Rubik’s cube. It was created in 1974 by a Hungarian architecture professor as a teaching tool.

You may not know but it took Mr Rubik more than a month to solve his own puzzle!

The original product were branded Magic Cubes but their International Distributor, the Ideal Toy company, thought that name sounded ‘witchy.’ It was a great decision. Over 350 million Rubik’s cubes have been sold, it is one of the best selling toys. Ever.

In this lesson I’ll take you through three strategies the exporter has to follow to drive sales: increase trade distribution; stimulate shopper or patron purchase; and encourage repeat consumer usage.