Advertisements. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Ok fine, I know a few people who’d argue you could live without them. But ask any successful business owner and they’ll be more than happy to tell you why their investment into marketing and advertising is well worth it. The truth is, whether you like ads or not, it’s the best way to let your target audience know about your product and why they should buy it. The best invention makers leverage different customer channels to find the most efficient and effective way to convey their message and sell their product to their specific target audiences.
Customer Channels are one of the nine components of the Business Model Canvas that helps inventors manage and structure a streamlined business plan. In recent articles, we’ve started to piece together the importance of the individual components of the Business Model Canvas. Let’s do a quick recap. Customer Segments are the different groups of your target audience depending on demographics, behaviors, and other elements. Value Propositions are statements designed for specific customer segments telling them why they should buy the product. Channels are the different methods that you could deliver your value propositions and sell your product to customer segments. In other words, channels are the link between your value proposition and customer segments.
Why are channels so important?
To put it into perspective, let’s bring up my grandma.
In the eyes of my grandma, I am undisputedly a technical genius. To you, it might seem like I’m just resetting her email password. But in her eyes, I’m essentially Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting.
Keeping this in mind, let’s say I’ve determined that one of the customer segments for my product is older than 70. Would I try to sell them my product through digital marketing channels? No, probably not. So picking the right customer channels is important for invention makers because these are the key touchpoints where they have a critical opportunity to start building the customer relationship. As you can imagine, this will also play a large part in the customer’s user experience with your business. At the same time, consider what channels are the most cost-efficient for your business and how your channels are connected to one another.
Types of Channels
Alex Osterwalder, the inventor of the Business Model Canvas, suggests there are two types of channels:
- Direct Channels such as an in-house sales team, your business website, or a brick-and-mortar store owned or operated by you.
- Partner Channels are third-party organizations such as a retailer, wholesaler, or distributor.
Examples Direct Channels
- Internet: Your website, social media platforms, and podcasts are all valid ways of leveraging internet channels to promote and sell your business. Leverage CRM and marketing tools to measure the effectiveness of your value propositions.
- Email: Email marketing is far from dead. Inexpensive, customizable to tailor to different customer segments, emails are still the most effective marketing channel. Despite the rise of Instagram and TikTok, email marketing beats out social media, SEO, and affiliate marketing.
Examples of Partner Channels
- Retailers: Firstly, yes retailers can be a channel and a customer segment. They are a channel because they’ve already built an existing customer base through their own marketing and sales strategies. Retailers may also part of your customer segments because you need to “sell” to them to take on your product. Recall the article about defining value. Typically selling to businesses means finding a way to lower risk and meet the bottom line.
- Sales Agents: These individuals sell to the customer one-on-one. You can leverage their individual relationships with customers to gather anecdotal information and a pulse on your industry. The downside of this is that you have less control of the branding of your business.
About: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry's leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Click HERE to learn more about MAKO Design + Invent!