Creating a buzz around a new location 23 March 2022

By Jason Bader, principle, The Distribution Team

A few weeks ago, I was facilitating a discussion of marketing professionals trying to help one of their colleagues provide marketing support for a new location opening. In this article, I will focus on the marketing side, but there is certainly a whole discussion that needs to be had around the inventory and logistical side. Perhaps that would be a good follow up for next edition of the magazine.

In this scenario, brought forth by one of the cohorts, the company had decided to open a new location a few hours away from its headquarters. The thought was to create a much larger facility than they had in relatively close proximity and try to dominate the market by sheer presence and product availability. This member was charged with creating a buzz prior to opening and to identify potential market segments to assist the sales direction. By the way, we don’t have an established budget and no president for promotion. Good luck and make us proud. I can see why she was throwing a lifeline out to the group. By any measure, this is a daunting task.

Over my years, I have seen many distributors take quite the opposite approach. They do a stealthy incursion into the market and snipe from an undisclosed location. Colourful words aside, this approach feels like there is some doubt in the mind of the organisation.  Do I really want to be here? Boy, those competitors look pretty tough. Do I really want to ruffle their feathers and have them gunning for me? If this is the case, we really need to check our motivations for slamming down a brick and mortar facility in a particular area. It goes without saying, those places are expensive and can be a real cash bleed until we either succeed or pull out. I had a discussion years ago with a distribution president where we talked about how our egos allow bleeding for way too long before we finally pull the plug. If we aren’t fully committed, it is a whole lot cheaper to send a delivery vehicle and salesperson into the territory to test the waters. 

In this case, the organisation was all in. The location was chosen, and the resources committed. In true unbridled distributor fashion: “Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead.” One of the most impressive parts about this marketing cohort is their ability to dissect a problem and offer different areas to think about. Here is a sample of some of the questions posed: 

  • When the location was selected, was their any prospect analysis using market data?
  • Are you known to the potential customers in the area?
  • Was the strategy to locate close to the customer offices or to locate in growth areas?
  • Do your key suppliers know and are they supportive of this new location?
  • What is the availability of experienced associates in the area?

All of these questions really gave the team an opportunity to craft different solutions and provide tips from their experience. The solutions provided broke down into four major categories: Location identification, prospect targeting, digital marketing and traditional advertising. There could be an argument made for combining the digital marketing and prospecting areas, but there are distinct suggestions for each. 

One of the more traditional ways to prime the new market is to get back to some old school smiling and dialling. One of the group members suggested that her company created dialling campaigns into a territory months before an opening. They first started to work any existing customers with a presence in the region. Some of this was promotion, but there was a fair amount of information gathering going on as well. What do you like about the existing supplier in the area? Are there any service holes that you would like to see filled?  There are many more efficient ways to reach prospects, but not nearly as personal. Remember, we are still in the relationship business. 

Stepping a bit outside the traditional comfort zone, the group spent a lot of time discussing digital marketing solutions and mobile technologies. As you might have experienced in your own social media platforms, marketeers have become fairly adept at pushing advertising based on preferences, demographics and physical location.  Geo-targeting is a type of advertising that uses location data to reach consumers with messaging appropriate to their locality and behaviour. Doesn’t this seem tailor-made to our challenge – how do we spread the word about our new store opening? After speaking with a few distributors, many have used this technology to specifically target customers in an area that they frequent. For example, let’s say that your city is building a new stadium.

This is a big project, and we want to make sure that the contractors on the site know that we are ready to serve. Using targeting technology, usually deployed by an agency partner, we can make sure that messages are pushed directly to the social feed of our intended customers. In a more granular example, we could draw our ‘geo-fence’ around a competitor location and push messaging to anyone entering the perimeter. I know, it seems like a sketchy tactic; but I want you to consider this: “How fair is it going to be when this competitor targets your employees the minute you start making headway?” You are deploying a cutting-edge tactic. They just wish they thought of it first. 

There are many more ways to give that location a fighting chance at success. Since I only have a bit more than a thousand words before I get the figurative hook from the editor, I had to limit my thoughts. I am not a marketing expert, nor do I claim to be. I just happen to be a good listener and am humble enough to always remain teachable.  After losing my backside on a couple of ill-fated branching decisions in the past, I can see the wisdom of taking a deliberate approach. The old Field of Dreams sentiment: “If you build it, they will come,” just doesn’t fly anymore. In this day and age, if we build it, we better learn how to best promote it. 

About the author

Jason Bader is the principal of The Distribution Team. He is a holistic distribution advisor who is passionate about helping business owners solve challenges, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.  He can be found speaking at several industry events throughout the year, providing executive coaching services to private clients and letting his thoughts be known in an industry publication or two.  Last year, he launched his first podcast, Distribution Talk.  Episodes can be found at and most podcast applications. He can be reached via email at

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