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How to Use Sales Promotion to Grow Your Independent Distributorship

Looking for an alternative to selling on price alone? Lowering prices is a tempting tactic for most independent distributors. But since most operate on a net profit margin of around 3%, there’s not much room to lower prices. And selling on price is pretty much a race to zero, anyway. But there is another way.

Actually, there are lots of other ways–they require hard work and discipline, but they pay. If you’re interested…read our blog series on Mastering The Lost Art of Differentiation. By developing a unique value proposition, you can dramatically increase your profitability–and value.

But we’ve already covered that topic extensively. Today, we’ll explore a more tactical approach…the use of sales promotions.

Sales promotions are a great way for your distributorship to encourage customers to buy your product or sign up for your service.  65% of customers say receiving special offers increases their loyalty to a certain brand. However, our inboxes are full of various sales promotions and product deals that offer discounts, special prices, free shipping, buy-one-get-one offers, etc.

Today’s customers want a promotional experience that matches their standards for service quality. They’re looking for offers that are personally relevant, and they want to feel like company’s they do business with understand their interests, not just their business needs. So that means that–for most independent industrial, electrical or construction supply distributors– offering free beauty products would be ill-advised. But hunting or racing gear would probably be a winner.

A sales promotion is an activity applied for a predetermined, limited period of time, with the aim of increasing consumer demand and stimulating sales. They give current AND potential customers an additional reason to buy your products or services NOW.

Beyond discounting and couponing, we have seen tremendous success with lifestyle sales promotions that tie into the personal interests of those people that buy or recommend purchases through independent distributors. In much of the country, this blue-collar clientele has a keen interest in things like hunting, fishing, sports and racing. As a result, we’ve created a plethora of sales promotions along these lines…and a plethora of new sales for our clients in the process!


You have to capture your customers’ interest AND convince them to buy the promoted product and get the benefits. The most important thing, however, is that they keep coming back for more. Here are five important elements that you need to include in your sales promotions.

  1. Select the right target audience. This is the most important step. If you mess this one up none of the other elements will matter. It is very important that you know your potential customer. Sell them something their business needs and give them something they personally want.

  2. Set measurable goals. Are you looking to draw in new customers or are you focusing on customer retention? Whatever you’re trying to do, write down your goals, and shape your sales promotions around them.

  3. Limit availability. Create a sense of urgency in your customers. If they can get the free product at any time, they’re probably not going to click ‘buy’. A great way to do this is offer a sales promotion “while supplies last” so your customers feel the need to get the sweet deal before you run out of stock.

  4. Promote widely but wisely. Be sure to account for the marketing cost of promoting your promotion. The goal is to increase sales and, in the end, increase profits. So be careful with how much money you spend to get your promotion out there. Luckily, you may be leaving free co-op marketing dollars on the table that you can spend on sales promotions. Not only can we help you find the free money, we’ll help you spend it in the most efficient and effective way possible.

  5. Offer real value. That’s what your distributorship is all about right? Providing value to your customers. The sales promotion should be no different. Your potential customers won’t buy into your sales promotion unless they get some serious value from it. So thinking about how your products and services most benefit them, and include something similar along with the thing you’re selling.

  6. Consider Step-to-the-Sale Sales Promotions. The traditional sales promotion goes like this: Buy X, Get Y. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Sometimes you only need to get the conversation started. Consider offering end-user incentives for simply quoting a qualifying item or testing it. One recent promotion we ran for a client like this DOUBLED sales because their sales team was so effective at closing quotes.

You may not have a ton of experience creating and marketing sales promotions. Luckily, we do, and we’d love to create and market one for you. Check out the sales promotions we’ve done for our clients, and contact us today with your idea for a great new promotion.

Low on marketing funds? No worries! We can help you find co-op marketing funds you may be missing out on for absolutely no cost. Then, we can spend the free dollars on a stellar sales promotion that sends your profits through the roof!



Here’s an example of a recent sales promotion created by Rivet|MRO that ties multiple manufacturers into one single promotional umbrella.


This sales promotion for Industrial Mill & Maintenance Supply and JPW—the makers of JET and Wilton brand products—generated an 18% increase in sales during the program period.

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