Archive for February, 2011

Chasing Rainbows

February 25, 2011

I just left a meeting with the founder of a new beverage business and I am wondering what some of these people think.  He wants something that I am hearing a lot of these days……if you are in this business you have probably heard it too.  He is looking for someone to fill a key position and he wants – let me use a phrase my mentor once used – the ‘ultimate nacho’.  “I want someone who has the complete Roladex, someone who has all the connections, who knows everyone in the retail and distribution world, who can ‘push the buttons’ and take my company to the top!

I hate to tell anyone this  (you know what I am going to say next) but, this person doesn’t exist.  I know this from years of experience.  My partners and I have as deep a collection of contacts in the industry – all across the spectrum.  More than this, if we don’t know someone, we probably know someone who knows anyone we don’t have a good connection with, and can get in front of anyone we need to in this business. 

What I do know is that anyone can build the same contacts…..it just takes time and effort.  There is no secret here, just hard work. 

You have to understand that there are so many new brands coming on line – we estimate that 5 new brands are introduced every day – that the system is overloaded.  Retailers and distributors are overwhelmed by new companies that are all making the same claim – we are different, we have traction, we are the best.  After a while of hearing this you become jaded.  You know that +90% of all new brands fail within the first 2 years. 

There are groups coming on line today that are making these kinds of claims – they can get a brand into 30,000 doors.  They tout that they have the connections with ditributors and retailers to help a company get mass availability.  Trust me, these systems will fail.  If you build a business on committing availability for a company, in the long run this business model will fail.  You can only push a button so many times.  If my failure rate is 90% with the brands I bring to a distributor or retailer, in the long run I will lose my credibility.  It won’t take long for those buttons to go away.

You see, it isn’t about how many doors you get into…..it is the wrong dashboard measure.  In the beverage business, it is about daily drinkers.  Here’s a dirty little secret…..if you want to double you number of consumers, doubling the number of doors you are in is not the way to do it.  But, more on that in another blog!