Our industry is a three-legged stool. Each leg has interdependence on the other. When one leg doesn’t bear its weight, has a wobbly performance, the others feel it and the whole thing gets a little shaky.
Our three legs - Supplier - Distributor - Client - work together so well much of the time when each is at full strength. Partnerships develop when each leg decides to trust each other. It requires that we assume positive intent.
The success of each leg is dependent upon the success of the others. A distributor needs successful suppliers and has a vested interest in the ongoing success of their clients.
To ensure their own growth and strength, it is incumbent for suppliers to build strong distributor relationships. Even though they are connected through the distributor network, suppliers must have products — as well as ideas and services that facilitate end user success. Supplier performance has a direct impact on end user perception of the industry and their decisions on where to spend their marketing dollars.
Clients are also stronger when they nurture and build their distributor partnerships. Even though their connection to the supplier leg is through their distributor, trust strengthens the stool. We’ve seen this work in the growth of end user shows. When I was a distributor, I had clients who developed brand preferences for some of the suppliers and supplier reps with whom I partnered.
Each leg is an expert in areas and can provide services with degrees of proficiency, efficiency and value that the others cannot touch. Suppliers are the experts on trend-watching, importing, warehousing, decorating, and logistics. End users know their industries, markets, strategies, objectives, plans and vision. It is the distributors’ role to connect these to create valuable solutions to the problems of the marketplace. They must create sensible solutions that reach the right markets, at the right time at the right price.
So it does none of the legs any service to knock or weaken the other. We are in a unique imperfect storm that is disrupting all three legs in different ways. A worldwide pandemic has recked havoc on supply lines, transportation and labor forces. As the pandemic subsides, pent-up demand and a rush for new events has overwhelmed systems in multiple industries including our own.
It is as important to you to strengthen the other two legs as it is to keep your own organization healthy.
Each of us need to treat each other with grace and understanding and recommit ourselves to being our best in these difficult and challenging times.
Paul Kiewiet MAS+ is an industry speaker, writer, consultant and coach. He serves as the executive director of MiPPA. Kiewiet was inducted into the PPAI Hall of Fame and the MiPPA Hall of Fame. He served as Chairman of PPAI in 2007. A former distributor, he founded Promotion Concepts, Inc in 1982 and worked with some of America’s most valuable brands including Coca-Cola, Kelloggs, and Whirlpool.
Used with permission from PromoCorner