If You're Not On The Shelf You're Not Coming In.
The corollary of my recent distribution post is that marketing is not a case of either B2B or B2C - the former has to involve a considerable amount of the latter.
Competing for customer attention is all well and good, but customer groundswell has rarely got product on the shelf. In reality you’re marketing to the retailer (and specifically a few buyers) as much as you are to your final customer.
And if you think the customer has a lot of clutter to cut through in your category, just imagine how much clutter and noise is assailing the distributors - the guys who get to filter down that noise to the cacophony confronting the customer.
This brings you back to differentiation - but a different sort of differentiation. You have to show the buyers that you're doing things differently and that you stand out from that crowd, be that in promotional activities, your approach to the business or in your personal demeanour. Ad spends are replicable, so too are promotional offers. All they ever see are guys like you. You have to convince them that they don't.
Addendum: Telling the story of your differentiation like this would be a smart move.