Home Wine Business Editorial Three Tier Talk How to Get Off in the Best Possible Way

How to Get Off in the Best Possible Way


I am sure that many of you clicked this link for all the wrong reasons. The title is meant to evoke the ease of click baiting – you should mirror the ease to move your products off an retailer’s shelf. Perhaps it is not that easy at all, but it can be, and how you approach your selling and marketing will be the difference between sitting there or an happy ending.

Ok, enough of double meaning of words. I have said for years that the easiest part of the process, although not simple, is getting a distributor for your goods. Aside from the Big 5, there are 400 smaller distributors in America and all are looking the next Tito’s, Fireball or Jager. So now you are in distribution, how do you get out. How do you get an off premise or on premise restaurant to purchase your goods?

What is the plan, Stan? and how can you execute it in a way that will create SKU velocity and repeat orders? Retailers have limited linear shelf space and end cap space, same with bars. How can you convince the account that you are a better product than the one you are asking to replace? That, in the end, will be the key to your success and will be the key to the all important second distributor.

Have a marketing plan

I speak with distributors all day, every day on behalf of clients, and the same question bubbles up. What is your marketing plan? How are you going to support your brand in market? What financial and promotional support are you going to provide? Many of you know my mantra that distributors will not develop brands, so what is the plan, and how can you execute it in a way that provides SKU lift? I would budget at least $1.50-2.50/ btl in marketing support. Have a social plan. We are on Facebook! is not a really good strategy. What is your spend? How many followers across all platforms. While “likes” are not easily converts to buyers, it is a metric that is used for on-boarding brands.

Have a ground plan

For clarity, marketing a brand and selling a brand are different tasks. The distributor and retailer collectively wants a marketing plan, the account wants ground support. Support to activate the product in market. Tastings, tap take overs, wine and spirit/ beer dinners are all ground support items. Your best friends needs to be a tasting group that can supply samplers and a local mixologist (assuming a spirit) to create drinks for on premise bartenders.

Local/ Regional Brand Ambassador

No matter who you choose for a distributor, and I do believe the choice is important, they will end up being your delivery and compliance company. This is true only until you get to 100,000 cases, than you are all good :). But, with that in mind, your brand ambassador is your “ground killer.” This person is the one that truly will be the one merchandising the shelf, chatting up the account, making sure orders are met and stock outs do not happen. Your brand ambassador is a critical hire and paramount to brand success.

Of course proper deal sheets, connections, influencers, store visits are critical as well.

I have worked with over 180 brands in the last ten years and those bullet points have not changed. The first 1,000 cases are nearly impossible to get, but really, that foundation will foster brand success. As small brand producers, we need to look at the market at a granular level and attack it accordingly. Who you go to battle with is as critical as the war you are fighting. Make no mistake, with limited accounts, merging distributions, fixed shelf space and plan-o-grams, this is indeed a war.

I have been doing this a long time, and if you know how to get off properly, you will have a very relaxed day.

Brian RosenExpert Editorial
by Brian RosenRosen Retail Method

Brian Rosen is Former CEO of America’s #1 Retailer, Sam’s Wines in Chicago, Former Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Retail and sought after retailer consultant.

He can be reached at @roseretail or [email protected]

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