Business Development For the Private Labeled Bottled Water Industry

The private labeled bottled water industry is exciting with tremendous growth opportunities and the ability for suppliers to offer their customers and strategic partners creative, effective advertising solutions.

But like any business, care is required to develop the business in a profitable way and the best way to do this is to establish a focused business development effort that utilizes the tools and techniques established by successful business.

The first step is to define the concept “business development”.

Definition:

Business development “includes a number of techniques designed to grow an economic enterprise. Such techniques include, but are not limited to, assessments of marketing opportunities and target markets, intelligence gathering on customers and competitors, generating leads for possible sales, follow up sales activity, formal proposal writing and business model design.

Business development involves evaluating a business and then realizing its full potential, using such tools as marketing, sales, information management and customer service. For a sound company able to withstand competitors, business development never stops but is an ongoing process.” (source: Wikipedia)

From this definition it is clear that business development is more than closing the sale and each technique requires detailed planning and follow up.

Using the concepts of business development, it is possible to establish a profitable private label water business but it takes considerable initial and continuing effort.

The following case study involve a fictional Bottled Water company that entered the private labeled bottled water business. For discussion purposes it will be called ABC bottler (“ABC”)

Unique Value Proposition:

An initial challenge is the development of a Unique Value Proposition that answers the question “Why should I buy from you”.

After a review of the market and the competition it was determined that private labeled bottled water was a powerful, cost effective, advertising vehicle but because a customer’s brand was affected, high product quality and customer service was required. ABC’s Unique Value Proposition was established and stated:

“ABC will provide powerful and cost effective advertising and brand promotion for its customers based upon the highest quality consumable private label water, label design and customer service.”

Marketing and Target Markets:

Field and internet research was conducted with the basic question being: What are the characteristics of industries are most likely to use our product at a price that is profitable to us. Key characteristics were developed:

  • Prospects that provide a quality product or service.
  • Industries operating in a competitive market environment where product/service differentiation was critical.
  • Prospects that required drinking water for customers, clients or prospects.
  • Prospects that maintained a quality brand image.

Initial research indicated that the following industries were initially high potential targets:

  • Hospitality (Hotels and Spas)
  • Banking
  • Mortgage Brokers
  • Real Estate
  • Ski Resorts

Sales Channels and Market Access:

It was decided that two channels would be used to go to market – direct selling and e-commerce. An e-commerce site was developed that allowed customers to design their own label for the bottles or provide an existing design consistent with the customer brand strategy. Search Engine Marketing and Optimization techniques were used to promote this channel.

A direct sales staff was formed to develop and close sales opportunities and these efforts were supported by a direct mail campaign and networking with local chambers of commerce, local trade associations and lead sharing groups.

The sales effort, after a series of initial false starts and disappointments matured successfully as we reviewed and revised the fine points of our effort.

Product Quality and Customer Service:

ABC’s corporate strategy for all products was to stay at the high end of the market and this was particularly true for private label bottled water where the market is characterized by cutthroat competition and many low quality vendors who are slashing prices and selling on price rather than quality.

ABC focused on three areas of quality:

  • Water purity – ABC used a steam distillation/ozonation process that guaranteed 99.9% pure water that tasted delicious.
  • Label Design Quality – ABC used an in house professional designer to guarantee label design quality.
  • Label Print Quality – ABC used laminated label stock that was extremely durable and water proof and used digital or flexo printing technology to guarantee quality.

Customer service was particularly important as ABC established a reputation for delivering on time and correctly. If mistakes occurred, and they did, ABC adopted a no questions asked guarantee. ABC established a reputation as a reliable vendor for its customers.

The business became a successful mainstay of ABC’s business but only because it developed a planned, business development process that was reviewed constantly and made changes that the market required.

Would You Aim for a Business Development Manager’s Role?

The presence of an efficient business development manager is crucial to a business’ existence. It is one of the key roles of this age, that every business seeks to fill in, hiring a strategic planner, who can grow with the company. Those employed as the business development managers look after his/her team’s collective effort, looks for potential clients in the market, defines the target audience, and if needed, even redefines the company’s objectives.

These are top-level executives, who remain I contact with the management. Their ultimate goal is to create new business opportunities and ensure the company’s long- term growth. The term ‘business development’ can be described as an amalgamation of strategic planning, sales and marketing. Those holding more than 5 years of experience in sales can also be considered for this position. Besides, many leading firms consider MBAs to be hired as business development managers. Most commonly, those hailing from sales are seen heading for these career options. However, business development has a lot more than just sales, but the sales professionals are found suitable to fit in these jobs.

Job Description

  • Defining target audience and looking for potential clients
  • Preparing strategies to pitch the products to clients
  • Marking team’s collective efforts and keeping a checking on the lead generation
  • Representing the organization in the corporate events
  • Preparing monthly reports and analyzing the same
  • Providing essential data to the management
  • Taking essential steps for corporate associations
  • Identifying new sales opportunities
  • Working in coordination with other departments such as sales & marketing

Key elements for a business development manager’s role

For every business development manager, the following elements are of great significance.

Business Acumen

A business development manager can explore job opportunities in numerous sectors, including FMCG (Fast Moving Consume Goods), IT (Information Technology), Finance, Manufacturing, Consulting, and others. In any of these sectors, an understanding of the industry and the business is needed for the professional to possess. It will not just help him conveniently take on the role, but will also take the right decisions with an understanding of the business.

Management & Research

He plans as well as manages to take the business the next level. A professional serving as business development manager has to lead the team and direct it to the right path. For this, leadership and management are of great essence. Besides, research too is a major element for these professionals. They need to research well about the market, the prevailing trends, the customer’s requirements, and so on.

Strategic Planning

The business development managers are also involved in planning the campaigns to target the potential clients. They may even look for marketing and sales related data for the same.

Customer Service

Another major element remains the customer service. They need to ensure whether the customer their team is dealing with, is entirely satisfied with the services. They also need to constantly check on a crucial deal that has not been closed.

The Other Essential Details

In the recent years, the need to hire these professionals has been realized by most of the brands. They can explore the job offers from varied sectors as per their preferences and knowledge. However, some of the leading organizations they can aim to work with include Infosys, Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst & Young, Wipro Technologies, Cognizant, and many others. Further, these professionals can expect to earn Rs 578,392 per year in India.

Business Development Advice from the Chair of the ABA Commission on Women

Pamela Roberts, Esq., a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, has cracked the code to becoming a rainmaker: get active in a big national organization, focus on public service and let the referrals come in. Her story illustrates how any lawyer can do the same; and her questions at the end of the article can stimulate your own success story.

She is no ordinary lawyer. Roberts is the Chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, a prominent national position that gives her frequent exposure on the wide range of issues facing women lawyers. And she does it while being a mother of four, wife of another partner in her firm and full-time business litigator at a 400-lawyer firm.

Only 17% of women lawyers are equity partners, and most firms have just a lone woman rainmaker – statistics that Roberts finds distressing. “Becoming a rainmaker always been somewhat challenging. It’s so much more challenging for a woman,” she said.

But she herself is active in four local charities, which brought her referrals. She is a regular public speaker before audiences of clients, and she attends trade association meetings in the industries of her clients.

How does she do it all? “I gave up on sleep,” she joked. “Seriously, my husband and I made the decision that by having two people working full time, we have to pay for nannies and support help.” Help is essential, especially when one of your kids is on two traveling soccer teams.

Getting Business from the Bar (or other Organizations)

And so is focus. Roberts pursues activities and passions where she can build relationships. For her it’s been the American Bar Association, where she began more than a decade ago by working her way up the Litigation Section. Her husband gave her an early demonstration of networking.

“I was attending an ABA Litigation section meeting. My husband, who is also a lawyer and avid golfer, was with me and he went out for a round of golf. He came back to lunch with another couple: one, a potential client whom he had been golfing with, and his spouse, who was a litigator attending the ABA meeting. She and I had never spoken though it’s only a group of 200 people! Meanwhile, these two guys played one round of golf and had already exchanged business cards and followed up with notes to each other,” she said.

Roberts devoted herself to the ABA and today is a member of the ABA House of Delegates, the ruling legislative body. She served on the Board of Governors – the ABA’s board of directors – from 2002-2005, and is a former member of the commission on what is today named the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. She was Chair of the Young Lawyers Division and served on the ABA’s Nominating Committee and Special Committee on Governance.

She was following a key rule of business development: to join an organization and become visible in it. “My continuing motive always has been the underlying work,” she said. “I’ve always been a believer in the public service aspect of the ABA.” At the same time she started seeing immediate business benefits, because South Carolina is a small state and lawyers around the country would refer local legal matters to her. “I’m not aggressive about business development in the ABA,” she said. “But certainly, yes, the ABA is a good arena to get referrals. Just like golf or trade association activity, once you’ve worked together with other lawyers you can build relationships.”

To achieve her success, she advises other lawyers: “You must treat bar association membership as you would treat a client: honor deadlines and respect other people’s time and input. It is not only rewarding, but you’ll succeed and will be around a long time and get the opportunities.”

Roberts uses several specific techniques to generate new business:

  • Speaking engagements. “A speech is absolutely a business development opportunity,” she said. “Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what you’re speaking on.” She said it impresses clients if they merely see their lawyer on a panel discussion at an industry event. “The ideal setting is when a client is in the audience and you’re speaking on something important that directly affects the client.”
  • Niche building. The bane of litigators is one-time engagements. Lawyers typically will work with a client on litigation for years, but when the case concludes, so does the relationship. To overcome this problem, Roberts built a niche practice to offer the same service to multiple clients. “I did a lot of securities fraud class action defense work. A lot of them were one-time cases. What I did was parlay my expertise so it worked for other clients. I can say to one client that I did this particular work for two others. That’s how you build a type of expertise into a niche practice,” she said.
  • Referrals from civic boards of directors. Roberts is on the board of the Trinity Housing Corporation, Claflin College, the local YMCA and the local children’s museum. “All four of them are outside the legal profession. They clearly introduced me to civic leaders and opportunities to talk about what our firm did. Those opportunities also led me to meet decision-makers of current clients. Board membership is a great way to solidify both the firm’s relationship and build my own expertise,” she said.

Rainmaking is the key to breaking the glass ceiling that stops women from moving up in law firms. See the other feature articles this month on the same theme. Lawyers who want to smash through the barrier should emulate Roberts’ example, starting with her

Do You Get Lured by Business Development Jobs?

Business development is one of the vital segments in almost every business, these days. It can be considered an extended form of sales, but isn’t just getting leads to the business, but also emphasizes the expansion of a business in other ways. It is a balanced combination of strategy, marketing, and sales. Those employed as business development executives are involved in getting leads, negotiating & closing the deals besides maintaining cordial relationships with the clients. They serve as the link between the corporate partners and the organization.

Business development executives are involved in identifying the potential target market, new business opportunities and the new business partnership that they can benefit with, in the near future. They work towards expanding the company’s client base and corporate relationships to ultimately add to the revenue.

Where do they work?

The need to hire these professionals is now being realised by almost every business and industry. Those seeking jobs in business development can get into real estate, infrastructure, IT, digital marketing, telecom, and other sectors too. Some of the leading companies they can aim to work with are HCL Technologies, Cognizant Technology Solutions, and many others.

Who can qualify?

For those, who master the combination of communication and influential skills and do not wish to get into direct sales, business development is a viable career choice. To get started, you need to hold a bachelor’s degree in business administration. However, those who hail from other fields too can be considered for this job role.

Generally, the professionals having gained considerable experience in corporate sales are considered apt for this position. The prior sales experience even helps a professional aim for considerably higher salary than a fresher.

Skills to take you ahead

Business acumen:

It is one of the major skills that help a profession qualify for this job role. An understanding of how the market works and what are the essentials to keep the audiences interested in the product serve as the major skills for these jobs.

Communication:

The business development executives are involved in dealing with the customers, business partners, and other associates and for this, communication remains a desired skill.

Analytical Skills:

To analyse a situation and bring out the best of opportunities is what these professionals are desired for. They work to get business leads and even maintain the professional relationships with the associates so to ensure their satisfaction with the association.

Networking:

If networking is something you are best at, you can contribute well to the business.

Average Pay Scale

If you have prior experience in sales, you can make well in this profile. On the other hand, if you get started as a business development executive with no prior experience, the pay scale may not be too alluring. As per a global research firm, a business development professional in India earns Rs 242,480 per year. Experience remains a major factor for pay hike in this job.