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Considering Scaling into Retail? 8 Ways to Do It Right

Posted by Katie Scheetz on 9/23/15 8:00 AM

Part 6 of The HurryCane Story; From Napkin to the No. 1 Selling Cane in America 

Scaling your business into mass retail is a little like jumping off a seaside cliff. You know there’s water below but your technique for entering it could mean all the difference between sinking or swimming.considering scaling

You wouldn’t take the leap without understanding the best way to survive it, would you? That’s why our team at Marketing Architects knew we needed to carefully consider the facts before making the decision to scale HurryCane (the No.1 selling cane in America!) into mass and specialty retail. Here’s what we learned:

Create (and stick to) a product story. Ever since our creative tests proved that “The Cane That Stands Alone” brand messaging was effective, we made sure to align our direct response campaign language with this theme. It has helped to solidify our overall product messaging and ultimately unify the HurryCane story we’ve told across all platforms.

And why is that important? Because it better articulated the HurryCane tale to our target audiences, which in turn helped with brand recognition and sales. HurryCane is the only recognizable cane brand based on two unaided recall studies over the last three years. And several of our retail partnerships began when retailers reached out to us because their customers were asking for HurryCane by name at their stores.

Know your niche—but don’t let it stop you from exploring all retail opportunities. Don’t single out just one retail outlet—try them all. Because HurryCane is considered a medical device, Marketing Architects knew that we should start selling in durable medical device (DME) specialty retailers. But we also realized the potential opportunities of working with mass retailers, like Target and Walmart. A combination of mass retailers and specialty retailers helped HurryCane have a strong presence in the overall retail space. So strong, in fact, that HurryCane acquired 1,000 independent retailers within 12 months.

Attend tradeshows in your category. This might seem like a no-brainer, but we want to stress how beneficial it was when launching HurryCane into retail. Attending tradeshows that are specific to your product category (for HurryCane, it was the DME-centric MedTrade show) can help you learn about your competition, other category products and who will be selling your products. It’s a great place to network with potential retailers.

Protect your brand through partnership requirements. Once you decide to work with a retailer, make sure the retailer A.) Passes partnership requirements and B.) Agrees to uphold partnership requirements. This is crucial for protecting your brand. Three of the most important, non-negotiable requirements for HurryCane included set minimum advertised pricing (MAP), control over in-store advertising and a promise that retailers would not sell HurryCane products on Amazon—only in-store or on the store website. Everything we did was always from the mindset of protecting the HurryCane brand.

Make it as easy as possible for retailers to sell your product. If you want your product to sell, you must set your retail partners up for success. We did this for HurryCane by creating starter kits already in assembled displays. They were literally ready for the floor as soon as they were shipped to the stores. By doing this, we left little room for display setup errors. Plus, the carefully calculated number of units we sent in starter kits provided stores just enough of the product to avoid selling out of certain models immediately.

Understand why the size of your store displays matter. Retailers think of ROI in square feet. So, every month your product takes up space in a store you have to prove its worth. The bigger your display is, the more you are going to have to sell to make it worth retailers’ time and space to display your product. By having a good grasp of your monthly turn rate (reorder rate), you can ensure your displays are effectively sized and stocked to prove their optimum value.

Invest early in frequent store audits. One of the most accurate ways to know if your product is being correctly displayed and your brand is being respected is to invest in retail auditing—kind of like secret shoppers. You can hire companies who will send undercover auditors to your retail partners and report back to you. If your product is not being properly displayed or sold, store auditing reports can help you start a dialogue with your retail partners and enforce partnership agreements.

Realize you don’t have to work with every retailer. Every retailer you consider working with may not be exactly the right fit. Remember that you need to create partnerships with retailers who will respect your partnership requirements and your overall efforts to protect your brand. Maintaining a win-win mentality with your retail partner will keep both you and the retailer happy.

Are You Ready to Make the Leap into Mass and/or Specialty Retail?

Ask yourself: Do you have the inventory? Do you have the operations and infrastructure? Do you have a 12 to 18-month plan in place for new licensing and innovations? Do you plan to continue to market and support the brand? Marketing Architects answered these questions for HurryCane. Now it’s your turn. Give us a call when you’re ready to learn about how you can support your foray into mass retail with an equally motivating ad campaign.

Read more in our series about how Marketing Architects created the No. 1 selling walking cane in America:

Part 1 – How to Name a No. 1 Brand

Part 2 – How to Test Your Way to the Top

Part 3 – Why It Matters That Grandma’s Shopping Online

Part 4 – 7 Ways to Tell Your Product’s Ready to Scale

Part 5 – Amazon: A Business Owner's Friend or Foe?

Part 7 – Entreprenuers: How to Say Goodbye to Your Product

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Topics: Direct Response Marketing

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