During one of our recent client events, we were asked the following question: “How can my company reach more potential customers and generate additional revenue when we are a distributor-driven company?”
In this three part blog series, we will tackle the answer to this important question and help clarify how inbound marketing can help distributor-driven businesses.
Reaching More Potential Customers:
In the old days, your customer came to you (or your distributor) knowing nothing except that you might be able to provide the product/service that they need. They required hand-holding throughout the buying process, explaining every aspect of the product they were purchasing. Information—and the advantage—was on your side.
Fast-forward to today’s information age: buyers using the Internet might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their buying journey before they contact a vendor (Forrester). Customers often know what they’re looking for; they just don’t know YOU (or your distributor) have it. And chances are, before they even know your name, they will investigate every aspect of what they’re ordering. They most likely will review your competition in the course of their research as well. While the traditional buying stages of Research, Consideration, and Commitment have not changed, much of this process has moved to the digital arena.
Implementing effective search engine marketing around relevant search terms is a vital element in reaching prospects that are engaged in the initial research stage. A recent study of the industrial/manufacturing sector (GlobalSpec) identified that 86% of industrial professionals utilize search engines to find components, equipment, services, and suppliers. GlobalSpec also reported that social media content strategies are also becoming a more important element as well, with “61 percent of industrial professionals using social media sites to keep abreast of the latest company, product and technology news.”
Once potential customers have discovered your website, their consideration stage begins. Comprehensive content including detailed product information and specific success stories are influential components. Social media content inclusive of blog posts, YouTube videos and social media profiles will also support your subject matter expertise and reputation. As GlobalSpec summarizes, “Buyers are relying on digital resources to discover and research information about products, services and suppliers, and to narrow down their options. Furthermore, 57% of these buyers are in the second or third stage of the buying cycle before they decide to contact the vendor."
Therefore, it is important to somehow connect with the prospective customer in the research and/or consideration stages. A common practice with inbound marketing involves “gating” some of your valuable content that is necessary for their research behind a website request form. Examples of gated content include whitepaper downloads, product specs, and newsletter (email) requests. However, be careful, if you ask for too much information, people are likely to exit your website believing that the information you are providing is not as valuable as the personal information they are providing. An email address, name, and company name are usually a good starting point.
Now that you understand how to reach potential customers based on where they are at in the buyers’ journey and appropriately gate your content, learn how to generate revenue from these leads in Part Two and Part Three of the series.Image courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul via FreeDigitalPhotos.net