Having been brought in by a client recently to sanity check their routes to market prior to launching a new set of products, I was reminded on an old piece of marketing advice – first, walk a mile in the customer’s shoes. In the context of routes to market, that means being completely aware of how customers already buy products and services like yours -who they transact with and to whom they turn to for advice that leads to a brand decision. So often, companies launch new offerings into their existing channels because it is what they know best and and can manage best. Existing routes are their comfort zone. They have partner account teams that already perform well by servicing those routes. To establish new routes is a risk. It takes time to build a trusting partner relationship – and who has time?
Reviewing your routes to market is one of those early fundamental steps required to complete your business plan for a new offering. One can’t assume that because customers buy one set of products from you this way, they will continue to prefer to buy another set in the same way. There may already be incumbent competitors who have conditioned the market to expect your type of new offering to arrive at customers in a wholly different way. For example, customers may prefer a more direct route to market. – a direct relationship. One can’t assume that customers’ future preferences will be based on your past conventions.
And the client? They had done an admirable job prepping their existing channels, as one would expect, and there were entirely appropriate routes that had been overlooked. A completely sane, but mixed bag with plenty of new opportunity to reach customers.