Skip to content

Deciding on Distribution

David Sherry
2 min read

Distribution is the highway you take to reach your customers.

But the highway you choose has rules, and it has a personality.

Some rules are fixed from the get-go, like Twitter's 140 Characters or Vine's 6-second limit.

Even Instagram gave us the Square. But users of these platforms give it the personality and stretch the rules to the limit, eventually developing new ones.

Timing matters.

You pick a new distribution channel, like being early to Vine, and you get to set the rules while you take land-share.

Pokemon Go went first to show us the power of AR, and they came from the oldest channel: a deck of cards sold through a store.

But Tesla put cars in the Mall, and skipped the dealership model entirely.

If you pick an old distribution channel, it's best to break the rules.

Shopping for cars in the mall? Huh? That get's our attention.

So which do you choose?

Well, who's at the other end? Is this a Snapchat crowd or Linkedin?

Or, is the paradigm shifting?

It's a rap world now, which started on soundcloud and is perfect on Spotify and...

Audience intent matters. Why are people there? They're bored on the Subway or there's a job to be done?

Roughly, you can break this down into three categories:

1. Discovery

2. Intent

3. Push Notification

1. Discovery-based distribution channels are about people just browsing for something new, like shopping.  This is Pinterest, Tumblr, Netflix. It's the Mall on a Friday night. They're here because you're hoping to find something you didn't expect.

And so if we create our products for this type of experience in this channel, we need to understand that people WANT to be surprised, and they want to discover something new and...

2. Intent-based channels are based on a customer knowing specifically what they need. This is like Google; you go there because you have a specific question to ask. This is Siri, and it's also your local Tailor or Barber.

Your customers find you because they know they need and want something like what you have to provide.

Winning in these channels is about fulfilling that intent with the greatest accuracy and personalization. Do you have the data? Can you answer the questions? Can you nail down the need with a solution?

3. Push, or push notifications, are like discovery, except for rather than the customer doing the browsing, they have chosen or elected for a curator.

This is many newsletters that curate. It's part personalization, discovery, and intent all combined. This is also your Real Estate Broker, or it's your time Financial Advisor calling you up about something new.

They notify you when you need it, and they do so because they believe they have found something worth paying attention to.

We can, of course, mix these categories and find different groups with different interests.

But best to understand the language, and best to understand the audience, first.

And play by the rules if you're great at the game...or even better, break them.

And if you're truly brave...

Go first.

‍xx David