If you’re in the fishing or paddlesports industry, you most likely sell your gear and apparel through two channels: directly to consumers (D2C) through your online store and indirectly through wholesale relationships with retailers.

For direct sales, choosing the best ecommerce platform for your brand depends on your needs for scalability and customization. But while these online D2C sales might represent a nice chunk of your business, we’re guessing it’s not your main sales channel.

Your wholesale side likely runs in a totally different way than your direct operation, and yet both have similar needs. Just like you market your products to your end customers, you have to convince retailers to carry your line. That convincing usually falls to your sales reps and distributors.

Here’s how to set those intermediaries up for success when they’re pitching your brand to retail buyers.

Develop sales literature that’s eye-catching and on-brand.

We live in a digital world, but sales reps and distributors rely on good old print materials to make the sale. Your reps may visit their retail customers only occasionally, and they leave sales catalogs behind as references and reminders about your brand.

So your sales literature has to be eye-catching. These days, catalogs in the fishing and paddlesports industries look more like sporting magazines than they do directories of products and specs. From beautiful photography that shows the products on the water to editorial-style copywriting that describes what it’s like to use the gear, these magalog hybrids celebrate the outdoor lifestyle and get buyers fired up about your gear.

And it has to be on-brand. Retailers, especially those with limited square footage, have to be selective about what they carry. They want to know the gear they’re selling is high-quality, performance-driven and able to meet their customers’ expectations. The retailer’s reputation is on the line, too. Your sales tools have to sell your story, vision and passion — and get retailers excited about your brand.

There’s more to your suite of sales materials, of course, than a catalog: You might produce individual lookbooks for each of your product lines, along with spec sheets and samples. Too, providing retailers with effective in-store promotion, signage and point-of-purchase displays will help them move your product. The idea is to own a piece of prime real estate for your brand in the retail environment; the more support you can provide, the more the rep can ask for in terms of placement. Help your sales rep secure a bigger order by providing the retail partner with attractive signage and merchandising.

Participate in the right trade shows.

Whether you exhibit at a big, national annual industry expo or several smaller regional events, the show floor is an efficient opportunity for your sales and marketing team to connect with distributors and retail buyers, build relationships and talk up your brand.

Participating in a trade show is an investment, and your show marketing strategy should point toward a simple goal: writing orders. Before the event, use direct email and social channels to promote your show presence to existing buyers and prospects. Create an experience at the show that spotlights your brand with a killer booth, great swag and attention-grabbing special events like appearances by your brand ambassadors. You can even repurpose some of the great lifestyle photography you use in your print collateral (which you’ll definitely want to have on hand at the show) in your booth display. (Check out more on our three-part strategy for maximizing your trade show ROI.)

Make print materials part of your marketing mix.

While there’s no debating the importance of having a strong website and surrounding social marketing effort for your brand, print materials can’t be forgotten when it comes to making those pivotal sales through your retail partners. At Thrive, we have deep experience on the wholesale side of fishing and paddlesports gear and apparel, and we’ve built relationships with vendors that create quality print materials, show decor, POP displays and more for the brands we work with.

More important, we understand how to conjure up the lifestyle vision that’s essential for sporting brands, and we back that strategic expertise up with a design team that is, if we do say so ourselves, exceptionally capable and creative.

Sales reps, retail buyers — even in-store associates — are all out there selling your stuff on your behalf. So you need to make sure they are well equipped with the information and inspiration they need to tell your brand story with clarity and enthusiasm.


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