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Clutter Busters
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11/21/2015 5:40:10 PM
Clutter Busters
This month's blog is on a rather obscure topic that I hope you will find of interest. I call it, "Clutter Busters" and it has to do with writing wholesaler/distributor sales team incentives that achieve results.  Too often I see suppliers spend little if any time on these volume and placement opportunities.  The majority of incentives that I see are $5 per placement or a $1 per case on display.  After taxes, these token amounts don't do a lot to capture the 20-30 something sales person.  I've also heard many small to medium sized beverage companies complain that they don't get any wholesaler sales team attention.  This is often times due to the sheer magnitude of suppliers that big distributors represent.

So what do you do if you're a small to medium sized brewer, distiller or vintner in a large wholesaler?  Number one, you must recognize the fact that you are competing for intra-brand attention for your product line with the larger suppliers AND that the wholesaler sales team is YOUR internal customer.  Once you accept these facts then you will be in a better postion to develop something that will help you attain your brand goals.

When constructing a sales incentive I coach suppliers to take a hard look at what they have that is fun and unique about THEIR brand that can be leveraged with the wholesaler sales team. For example, if you produce your product near your wholesaler, you could write an incetive that rewards the top salesman and perhaps his/her division manager to have their own party at your establishement.  I've written many plans like this whereby the winning salesman gets to "be the man" at a brewery/brew pub and gets to invite five of his best friends.  Usually he invites his sales division colleagues which is an even bigger benefit for the sponsoring brewer.

Another simple example of taking advantage of your location is to bring the winning sales team to your production facility and entertaining them nearby at a major sporting event such as a football game, race or concert.  The goal should be to try to get inside the head of the young salesman.  What would truly motivate him/her on my brand while distinguishing my products from the vast number of other brands?  

I came up with one for Pyramid Brewing. This clutter buster incentive exploited the Pyramid positioning/icon with a fun incentive that pitted divisions to "climb the Pyramid."  As they achieved weekly goals they were awarded token items like sweatshirts in the Friday morning sales meetings which served to keep the incentive top of mind.  They competed to get to the top of the Pyramid first which resulted in a trip to the main brewery in Seattle which included a visit to the Seattle Superdome to see the Seahawks play.  The results were impressive.  Once you hit on a good incentive I suggest "branding" it so that the young sales associate quickly remembers it again.  As a result, I bring back "Build the Pyramid II and III" incentives. This results in quick recognition, assured particpation and separation from the dozens of "$5 per placement" incentives that so many other suppliers run. We've had great succes with a small brewer conducting a "Sasquatch," "Sasquatch Returns," etc incentive which the young guys warm up to.  It includes beef jerky in the prizing!

These are some examples of how to try to step out of your daily grind (take the blinders off) to see what your company has to offer that is fun and UNIQUE and that will motivate sales teams during a hyper competitve time. So often I find that suppliers can't see what is fun about their brands opting to simply throw a few dollars at the sales team.  This lack of creative/strategic effort is proportional to the results attained.


The KDA or Key Differentiating Advantage is a marketing term that relates to something unique about your product, brewery, winery, cidery, distillery, etc. that no other brand can lay claim to.  Many companies may not have one and I admit that it can be a challenge to ascertain for your brand.  Some, however, are easy. Take for example Anchor Steam.  They were the first to brew a craft IPA in the US and are the original "San Francisco Steam Beer."  These points are something to work with in your marketing and to hammer home to the sales team with great repetion.   More on this topic in a future blog...thanks for reading.
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About Mark Colburn
Beverage Marketing
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