The vast majority of distributors who are still in business today have good direct salespeople without whom they would not be in business. Yet the distribution world is changing – it’s not your grandfather’s distribution business anymore.
Although e-commerce initiatives are front and center for many distributors today, in-store revenue remains essential. Yet most distributors with walk-in trade place limited emphasis on in-store marketing and merchandising.
When we ask successful distribution company executives about the sweet spots in their market, they readily provide a confident answer. The problem with the answer is that it is usually incorrect or at best partially correct.
One of the biggest challenges for any sales and marketing organization is when to reach out to a customer with an offer or promotion. The objective is to reach out according to a natural buying cycle. If it is done too frequently, it loses its impact or even turns the customer off.
Good product data is crucial for any successful distributor catalog or e-commerce website. This includes accurate and complete specifications of products as well as clean photos, related items, and substitute products.
Catalogs and e-commerce are critical individual components in distributors’ marketing arsenals. Distributors that have taken advantage of clear synergies between the two are reaping huge benefits, including cost savings in product information management and marketing.
Distributor measurements of effectiveness primarily include return on marketing investment, customer retention and lifetime value, and secondarily include share of wallet and internal rate of return. Furthermore, nearly 80 percent of distributors have gather customer feedback on catalog effectiveness.
There was heavier participation from industrial, electrical/electronics, building, safety, hardware, and HVACR. Other participating sectors include chemicals and plastics, building materials, pulp and paper, janitorial, hardware, oil and gas, grocery, and pharmaceutical.
There is a very wide variety of marketing practices within the distribution sector. In general, the MDM Market Leaders more broadly embrace marketing as evidenced by resources they apply. Not surprisingly, they obtain better marketing results than other distributors.
Historically, distributors were limited to in-store marketing vehicles such as print flyers, catalogs, some telemarketing and tradeshows. Marketing vehicles that have become prevalent in the past five years include email, search engine marketing, increased telemarketing and social media.