When is a Channel More Than a Channel?
Reprinted with permission from Accounting Today.
Practice growth occurs at the intersection of services, targeted buyers and channels of distribution. The channel is how and where you and your buyer find one another. (In dating terms it’s the party, coffee shop or mutual friend that brings you and your date together).
Our profession has traditionally lacked luster in identifying channels. We’ve relied on banker breakfasts and lawyer lunches to give us access. But in today’s competitive environment, random meeting and greeting are no longer sufficient. We need channels of distribution that are as fresh and focused as our offerings.
Whether that channel is a provider of goods to your buyer, an association, or any number of ways to meet prospects, its potential lies in the degree to which it reflects an alignment of interests between you and your channel.
“Gale Crosley? Please, follow me!”
I experienced a striking example of this as I was deplaning from a recent Delta flight that brought me back to Atlanta. It was late on a Friday night following a grueling five-day, five-city trip. I was dog-tired and eager to get to my car and on the road toward home.
The pilot and crew said their smiling “buh-byes” as I made my way out the plane door. As I glanced up I saw a gentleman standing with a sign that read “Gale Crosley.”
I looked at him quizzically as there was no one I was expecting to meet me. He introduced himself as a representative of a special service for Delta Diamond Medallion and million-mile (I’m closing in on two) flyers and asked if I would like a ride to my car. The program, he explained, is a partnership between Delta and Porsche.
I gratefully turned over my bag and accepted the bottle of water he offered as he led me down a series of steps, which led to an exit and a waiting vehicle.
No more than one minute after leaving the plane I was heading toward the parking lot in a beautiful Porsche Cayenne, the brand’s popular SUV. Good fortune was mine – I had bypassed the thirty minute drill – a long walk, train ride, and shuttle bus through the vast Atlanta airport.
The pleasant driver told me all about the Delta/Porche partnership as we drove. Although it was late and my head was swimming from a week of consulting, it suddenly hit me. I was witnessing a channel of distribution!
What an exquisite alignment of interests. Through this program Porsche exposes likely buyers to its luxury product, while Delta provides a unique amenity to reward its most loyal customers. It’s a match made, if not in heaven, then certainly at 35,000 feet.
An inspiring example
In another example a New Jersey accounting firm striving to become a leader in high tech recognized that tech businesses were having a difficult time finding good talent.
The firm aligned interests with several heads of technology departments at local universities, co-creating an initial event. Technology CEOs were invited to hear professors discuss talent development and related issues.
It was a great fit. The firm bolstered its position as a leader in the tech arena while gaining valuable exposure among the leaders of companies that might need its services.
As you target growth through the strategic interplay of services, distribution channels and buyer groups, keep an eye out for channels where your interests and those of your channel’s are most closely matched.
Think creatively – as Porsche did – and be ready to discover channels where others have not dared to venture!