It’s important that distribution companies maintain a competitive advantage in today’s fast-changing marketplace. Unfortunately, however, most distributors don’t know where to start.
I’m seeing distributors increasingly forced to become more efficient, but when it comes to adopting new technologies and practices for their marketing, they’re struggling with the constantly changing marketing trends and tools, and they’re finding it difficult to know where to start.
Start With a Plan and Some Good Content!
Good marketing starts with a solid plan that revolves around content marketing. However, as simple as it sounds, I still see wholesale distributors falling behind, mostly because they’re spending their marketing efforts on things that simply aren’t efficient or measurable…. going for the quick win of the battle, but losing the war in the process.
A lot of distributors, for example, discount the effectiveness of a marketing plan and only generate marketing around new products or a new supplier. Or, they write marketing about something new happening in their company. They’re basically flying by the seat of their pants and have no real plan.
When done correctly, though, a good marketing plan will revolve around your prospects’ needs, not your company or even your products; and by addressing the needs of your prospects and customers head on, you’ll attract new prospects like flies to honey. Plus, you’ll continue to serve your existing customers with much-needed and often much-appreciated new information and advice.
An Investment in Marketing is an Investment in Sales
Think about how expensive it is for distribution companies to acquire new customers, and consider the fierce competition for those customers. Most distributors invest a lot of time and energy in their sales force, so why wouldn’t they want to hedge their bets and arm the salesforce with 1) more SQLs (sales-qualified leads) and 2) more in-depth, effective, actionable and insightful data/research on a lead before knocking on their door? (Short answer: Probably because they didn’t know they could!)
Your sales force can only do so much at one time. If your salespeople are occupied in one area (like behind a desk doing research or knocking on the wrong door), they’re inevitably missing out on opportunities in another area, like out in the field. However, with the right support in place from a well-run marketing team with a solid plan, distributors will attract new customers because they’ll have the right messaging, and you’ll be better able to serve these new customers at a far lower cost, simply because your sales team will be better prepared to respond to their needs.
The Right Marketing Will Paint a Picture of Who You Are as an Expert
When executed properly, a strong digital marketing plan will draw in the right prospects for you, meaning those who need and are looking for what you have that will solve their problems, whether it’s a product, a service, or just some good advice and guidance for their business.
Your marketing should serve as the ‘platform’ from which your company rises or stands out as the experts in your industry.
Your customers and prospects want to learn about you and how you conduct your business. Bain & Company, a highly respected consulting firm, interviewed 370 marketing and sales executives working in the industrial and technology sectors. Their report estimates that nearly two-thirds of all industrial B2B buyer research is now done online. Obviously, customers have access to more information about who you are and how you operate, giving them more power than ever. So doesn’t it make sense to paint the finest picture possible?
Think about what kind of information prospects could learn about you? Does your website reflect your position as a leader in the industry? If not a leader, then an expert at least? How do you let your visitors know how knowledgeable your company is in your industry? Or how valuable your company can be to them?
Let’s Talk eCommerce for Just a Moment
Keep in mind that B2B buying decisions usually involve a lot of research on the buyer’s side. Having product and purchasing information readily available through your company’s website helps to inform your prospects at virtually no cost to your company, 24/7. More importantly, once the research is complete and they’re ready to buy, it’s important that their path to the “Order” button is clear, direct and unencumbered.
If your competitors have detailed information readily available online with a clear path to their “Buy” button and you don’t, odds are you won’t even be in the running for a lot of prospective business!
Building a strong digital presence will also prepare your company for the generational changing of the guard. As more Millennials rise to senior positions (while more Baby Boomers retire), the purchasing habits of your customers will inevitably change.
It’s a Whole New World Out There
The change to digital is moving at an exponential pace. Millennials love the internet. Most grew up with the ability to research and purchase items online. These are no longer tomorrow’s buyers. They are the purchasers of today. Are you ready?
The simplest of the new marketing capabilities will allow wholesale distributors to accomplish more while using fewer resources. That’s the good news. Today it’s easier than ever to put more effective strategies in place that better connect and engage with buyers. Just a small move in the right direction will create a winning situation for you when you decide to embrace digital.
If you want to improve your company’s marketing efforts – or even start from scratch – and you don’t know which way to turn, Next Level iMedia can help. Give us a call at your convenience for a complimentary, no cost consultation.