Are Independent Industrial Distributors Helping Amazon to Succeed?

February 24, 2015

I recently read a great article in Industrial Supply magazine on how independent distributors are helping Amazon take business away from them. The article was written by Jack Bailey, CEO of IDC-USA, an independent distributor cooperative.

The article is interesting because it not only affects distribution, but ultimately the manufacturers who supply them. From a distributor’s point of view, they are either scared to death of them or they think it’s a passing fancy and this too will go away.

The problem is that most items that have part numbers and can be ordered online or through a PO are prime game for Amazon. Amazon has convinced many distributors to join their third party selling agreement to sell their products on the Amazon e-commerce site. Short term for many of them, it means more sales, but long-term, it will mean disaster. Amazon is a great collector of data and once they have enough profile info on who buys what, they can and will cut out the independents.

What does it mean to manufacturers who have resisted selling to Amazon is they run the risk of being replaced by a competitive product and literally lose millions in sales when Amazon comes to them with all this data of who bought what from whom.

This has always been one of manufacturers biggest challenges with traditional distribution of getting the names of their customers and what they buy. Now the distributors are willing to give that up freely to their biggest potential competitor that could put them out of business and they will!

How ironic!


LinkedIn Still the Top Performer for B-to-B

February 17, 2015

I don’t know about you, but LinkedIn continues to be a top performer for me and my blog posts. The top referrer is search engines, but LinkedIn is a strong second and Twitter is third for getting the right eyes on my blog.

A recent article in eMarketer.com confirms the fact that among top social sites for B-to-B, LinkedIn remains on top for both usage and effectiveness.

I use LinkedIn exclusively to share my posts with not only the folks that linked to me, but to the numerous LinkedIn groups that I belong to. I’ve had clients who have great success in recruiting the right kind of talent using their paid job searches.

Are you using LinkedIn, and if so, are you having similar success?


Online Video Training Can Make Contractors Be More Productive

February 4, 2015

From a manufacturing point of view, it’s in your best interest to train contractors on the best way to install your product. It eliminates call backs and helps contractors sell more of your stuff. No surprise there, but with sales forces that are stretched thin, now they can only do so much training. Where do they focus their efforts – on the distributor’s sales force or on the end user?

The answer is use online training for both.

  • You can train distributor sales on new products, not only on features and benefits, but also on where/when they should be used. There are several eLearning options out there that can test them after to make sure they got the point.
  • You can train contractors on new products/processes and installation tips.
  • Online lets them take the course on their timeline, not yours.

Both distributors and contractors want to get the most out of both employees as well as opportunities, so you’re better off arming them with the right info.

  • According to the American Society of Training and Development, companies that spend $1,500 or more per employee average a profit margin 24% higher than those who don’t invest in their employees.
  • Deloitte reports that 18% of all training is now on smartphones.
  • Cisco’s VNI Global IP traffic and service adoption forecasts that by 2018, 79% of all internet traffic will be videos.

If you like this post, you might want to read:

Do You Have a B-to-B Video Strategy?

Manufacturers: Are You Missing out on Video Opportunities?

B-to-B Video is on the Rise: Are You Taking Advantage?


What Will our B-to-B Marketing Responsibilities Look Like in 2 Years?

February 3, 2015

Marketing’s role over the last decade has been pretty simple. Focus on your brand and identify new potential sales. Granted, there have been several new tools and processes introduced to help us identify, track and communicate with potential new customers. But the ultimate end game was to differentiate your brand and help identify and create good leads for sales to follow-up on.

That is about to change if you buy into a recent article in eMarketer that said branding and lead generation in a few years won’t be marketing’s top priority. The article claims that the top 3 current responsibilities won’t even be on their list. What does that mean to current marketing teams? It means major changes will need to be made to support these shifting priorities and responsibilities.

According to the article, less than 20% currently have fully integrated customer data across their organization. That leaves a lot of work for the rest of us.

I think we all need to look at marketing tools that can help us work smarter. I also think most of us with our sales counterparts are trying to get a better handle on what our customers want. But what we sometimes overlook is one of the basics - talk to them and see what’s up. Isn’t that our ultimate end game?

What are your thoughts? Do we spend less time on brands and developing leads?


Why PR Should be a Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy

January 21, 2015

Everyone today is so focused on Content Marketing that they may overlook an old standby, PR, that could help in getting that all-important content out there. Content marketing drives long-term thought leadership goals. PR can help you short-term to meeting these objectives. After all, both disciplines are working toward the same goals.

Here are a few reasons to use PR in conjunction with your content marketing program:

  • PR builds corporate credibility - Foster good relationships with key editors in your field and let them tell your story.
  • PR increases brand awareness - Use your new content to attract focused audiences and new leads.
  • PR makes your content team focus on your public - Instead of selling features and benefits, use fresh insights and angles on how others have solved similar problems. Be relevant and timely on issues.

If you like this post you might like:

8 Tips for Media Interviews

The Scary Side of PR


Do you have a B-to-B Video Strategy?

January 20, 2015

We are a visual society and it’s a fact that videos are a unique way of delivering your message to a targeted audience. B-to-B companies using this media sometimes are too set in the old ways (or another way of saying it, they want to present the facts and videos are boring). No wonder their videos aren’t being watched, those that are putting folks to sleep!

Videos can be a powerful tool for any manufacturer but they need to be done right. You need to have a video strategy before doing your first one. Don’t do them because your competitor is. Do them because what you have to say is relevant, timely and well done. Yes, people would like to be entertained a bit, but what they’re really looking for in our space is a solution to a problem.

I recently read a post by Jess Osteoff, managing editor of Convince & Convert, that talks about the 8 New BtoB Video Content Marketing Trends.

Here are some highlights:

  • It’s all about the experience - We need to capture the attention of the viewer.
  • People love to laugh - Think about the videos you’ve seen. I’ll bet most had some sense of humor included.
  • Problem solving - We must not get away from the real reason why they are watching.
  • Emotion trumps logic - Emotion captures their attention.

The key to a successful video program is first, have a strategy of what you’re going to say and how are you going to say it, and second, put yourself in the viewer’s shoes. Lighten up and make them memorable. Yes, it’s ok to have a sense of humor.


What are you doing to build your “Proprietary Audience?

December 17, 2014

I had the chance to hear Jeffrey Rohrs speak at a WTWH Media event recently and subsequently read his new book, Audience.

Jeff’s take on social media and content marketing revolves around one thing – THE AUDIENCE.

Companies need audiences to survive – before they are customers they first have to be part of an audience. As we all are focusing on creating content, it won’t mean much if you don’t have someone to read and react to it.

And that’s his point, to build what he calls the “Proprietary Audience.” He defines it as ” a comprehensive, collaborative and cross-channel effort to build audiences that your company alone can access.”

He shows you how to build your database using paid, owned and earned media to identify your audience. He also shows you how to identify and communicate with Seekers (those that are looking for info), Amplifiers (those who have audiences that can share your info) and Joiners (those that are buyers).

The book is an easy read and I would recommend your marketing teams look at Audience as a new marketing discipline.


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