Lessons Learned in Industrial Distribution Marketing
As with many other distributors serving a vast audience, customer satisfaction is, and always will be, king. With a market of competitors hovering around 24,000, unless your customers are completely satisfied with your level of service, they’ll be off to your competition before you know it. Alignment between customer expectations and what the company is providing needs to be parallel.
Industrial Machinery Distribution Industry Trends:
- Joint Ventures Support Expansion: Large industrial machinery distributors are fueling their growth primarily through acquiring or joint venturing with small or regional companies.
- Internet Store Fronts: To remain competitive, industrial machinery distributors need a strong Internet sales presence to supplement their brick and mortar locations. Online catalogs are replacing print catalogs as customers expect real-time price and product availability data.
- Increasing Investment in IT Systems: Industrial machinery distributors are investing in complex distribution and delivery systems that improve efficiency and the ability to manage broader product lines.
- Equipment Rentals: During tough economic times companies turn to equipment and machinery rentals as opposed to outright purchases.
Marketing Tactics for Industrial Machinery Distribution:
As an overall recommendation, an integrated marketing communications strategy should be developed and executed to provide a seamless plan for each of the markets served. Understanding each market should be communicated with differently based on individual interests and needs, the below objectives and recommendations are focused on marketing tactics that can be implemented across all markets using different messaging tactics.
- Responsiveness. Proactivity plays an important role is being responsive, anticipating needs before a customer even knows they have a question is what will set you a part.
- Increased or improved communication, training and education surrounding a variety of topics including inventory levels available, technical support, advice, product information, etc.
- Consistent communication regarding delivery times/dates. At any point, if a delivery will not meet the original delivery date, an update should be immediate.
Proven Marketing Tactics:
When developing your tactics you must remember your customers are both internal and external customers and the priority should be made to create a customer-centric marketing strategy versus solely product-focused.
- Branding: For companies in the material distribution space, branding is an important focus with importance being placed on your value proposition. Tactics include: adding testimonials to the website, focus placed on the value proposition on all materials, developing case studies, highlighting employees on the website.
- Inbound Marketing: An inbound marketing strategy that is focused on getting found by customers, targeting their needs and interests. This provides you with the opportunity to get involved in the conversation by sharing helpful, relevant content focused around four stages of inbound: attract, convert, close, delight.
- Website: Your industrial distribution website should be thought of as an extension of the sales and customer service team. In fact, customers can now search the Internet for information on products and their sources rather than relying on sales calls from companies in their area, making the website even more important. Some recommended changes to support all observances listed above include:
- Marketing automation: Increase the effectiveness and efficiency of finding, nurturing and converting customers while streamlining marketing and sales processes. With the information marketing automation offers, you’ll be able to manage and optimize the marketing and sales funnel more efficiently and offer improved support to customers. A marketing automation platform also services as a facilitator of internal communication.
- Social: Social today is where you can find your customers and connect with them on their own time. LinkedIn should be incorporated into the overall strategy as LinkedIn is the number one social network for driving traffic to corporate websites with its members being 50 percent more likely to engage with a company they interact with on the social platform.
- Blog or magazine: Development of a blog or magazine that addresses the needs of customers by providing general advice, technical and educational information to increase customer and employee knowledge along with creating brand resonance.
- Free educational webinars or lunch N’ learns: Develop a series of free educational webinars or lunch n’ learns that provides training to all segments served.
- Sales and Service Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tool: Using a CRM will help sales to become opportunistic and proactive rather than the traditional reactive, transactional order takers. Implementing a CRM along with marketing automation will help align the sales, marketing and customer service functions to provide improved customer support and satisfaction by all departments supporting one another. When used effectively, a CRM provides every department with the ability to view every interaction with every customer, what stage they are in and what actions may need to be taken. This improves the level of service provided and allows the entire business to work as a proactive team to satisfy customers.
Regardless of tactics used, understanding of your customer needs and wants will pose your industrial distribution company to stand out among competitors.
Need a marketing strategy developed for your industrial machinery distribution company? We can help!