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!


Are You a Strategic or Tactical Thinker?

February 10, 2015

Strategic or Tactical, which is more important? It takes both to ensure a comprehensive marketing program. Most of us have no problem doing tactics since we can list the tasks and check them off.

Strategic thinking is another matter. It really sets the tone from which the tactics are identified and then implemented.

Jason Falls from Social Media Explorer summed it up very simply on what the difference is.

Strategy vs. Tactic Pyramid

Strategic thinking identifies who we are or who we want to be. What do we stand for?

Tactical identifies those things (what we do) in order to support our strategic thinking.

My biggest challenge is that I always tend to fall back on tactics because I can, in my own mind think that by checking off tasks, I’m accomplishing something. I guess I am, but it’s short-term.

The best way for me to make sense of both of them is that strategic is long-term and tactics are more short-term.

Do you have the same struggle with strategies like I do ?

I know we need both and we can’t have meaningful tactics until we have a strategy.


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?


Email Marketing: Still a top performer

January 27, 2015

Do you know that the average office worker checks their email 30 times an hour? Can you imagine what the stats are for contractors out in the field?

The point is that emails are very acceptable ways of communicating with each other. The key is to have relevant and timely info for your prospect.

Heidi Cohen gives us several reasons why email trumps social media:

  • Email provides directly measurable ROI - You know immediately how many opened and read your message.
  • Email is content format agnostic - It’s user-friendly and you can use text, images, videos, audio, PDFs.
  • Email can deliver both long and short content – Content can vary from a link to several pages in length.
  • Emails you can control delivery - Whether it’s now or delayed.
  • Emails can be read on anything - Smart phones, tablets, laptops, no apps required.
  • Emails build customer relationships - Once someone allows you to communicate with them, it represents a certain level of trust.

So since you have such a powerful tool, we need to make sure we’re using it correctly to get the best bang for the buck. eMarketer, in a recent article, stated that we all should get ready for more personalized emails and companies plan on spending more money to accomplish this.

These triggered and transactional emails can be part of a nurturing campaign. The key is getting the right message in the hands of the right people at the right time. You need to ask the right questions to see where they are in the sales funnel so you can address that immediate need.

If we use and target emails correctly, whether you’re going after a contractor or a plant manager, the result improves with the more segmenting you can do. So do your homework and take advantage of a great marketing tool.


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.


Are You Getting Your Fair Share of Customer Testimonials?

January 14, 2015

I have found that there’s no better way to position yourself as a credible source than by having a third party sing your praises. Most companies, if pleased with what you did or supplied, would be happy to not only give you a recommendation, but in some cases, a testimonial.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Keep the requests to unique applications or markets. This helps you focus on something that sets you apart.
  • Ask when the project is complete - when everything is fresh in every bodies mind.
  • Get proper clearances upfront - when dealing with bigger companies or unique situations, it’s smart to get an approval upfront and let the customer know what you want to accomplish and assure them that they will have final approval before it’s used. If you have a PR department or agency, they are used to vetting out potential before you waste time and resources.
  • It’s best you control the writing. Most customers are not writers, they’re contractors. Besides, they aren’t aware of the big picture of what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish. Write an outline of what you want to accomplish and then let someone interview the contractor and write the story.
  • Utilize info in multiple places – try to get it featured in a leading trade magazine. Post it on your website. Have a sell sheet made up for your salesmen to use. If you’re on social media, post it there with links back to your web. Here’s a good example of Viega that uses case studies very effectively.

ViegaMercyHealthProfileDon’t miss out on one of the best ways to have customers tell your story and build your credibility.


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