Most of these electrical and industrial distributor marketing strategies work for industrial/electrical distributors of any size.
Online Marketing and IT Convergence:
The lines between IT and marketing are blurred. Essential skill sets for e-Business professionals ideally should include: 1) database skills to tame product data attributes for thousands of SKUs to normalize web catalog data. 2) General knowledge of web development/design; 3) Hands-on internet marketing skills and tactical execution 4) Web analytics and reporting. These will build you a good foundation.
Legacy Branding Knowledge:
Industrial/electrical e-Business professionals should understand the supply chain, particularly influential electrical manufacturer mergers and acquisitions that create legacy brands over time. Think Eaton/Cutler Hammer/Westinghouse. Plant maintenance managers and buyers use them interchangeably, as do end-users. Being familiar with product series and associated model numbers gives insights for how online buyers will search for your inventory. The same Model Number can apply to multiple brands. Reading trade journals to know what’s going on in the industry help you speak the language of sales force and customers and demonstrate your macro view of the industry.
Hubs and Spokes:
Most organizations exhaust an inordinate amount of energy focusing almost exclusively on their parent website. Think of your main company web property as a Hub, and find influential “spokes” where customers are also looking to buy what your have to offer: Amazon Supply (Prime), Google Shopping (SEO), and of course, eBay Stores (Spoke) where not only reconditioned equipment sellers have established themselves. OEMs and distributors have sprouted up. These highly visible “syndicated” properties will get you a new customer, and if you offer a good first-time buying experience, you can convert them to a direct customer.
Be a sleuth with SEO and analytics software. You can find out what your competitors are doing online. Specifically, the source of competitor inbound traffic links and volume indicators. Consider investing in inbound links where search engines weight their popularity. Get links from them and see your search rankings rise above competitors with a myopic view of the internet that does not go far beyond their parent website. The analysis can also identify problems with your own site (e.g., page errors, duplicate content, and broken links) and other ways they might improve site performance.
Become an expert in not only navigating your CRM and ERP. Earn the trust and build relationships with IT for access to the bowels of data centers. Customer contact locations, company names and contacts can be linked to Orders and Invoicing for raw data to crunch and create custom reporting. Discover new dimensions and relationships among these sources. Applications include: Data cleansing,electrical distributor Web Catalog categorization/sub categorization targeted database marketing, and more granular reporting of web analytics. Don’t rely on canned reports.
Social Media (Linked-In):
Linked-In has become the defacto networking tool for the industrial electrical community. E-Business and IT staffers can join forces to place “Share” buttons on your web site’s Product page. This means the page with product attributes and a bargain price for a SKU/model number can be pushed to your customers’ purchasing or sales counterparts. Your blog articles (you do have a blog, don’t you?) can be posted to industry-specific Linked-In Groups where thousands of customers hang out. Connect with them and export their email addresses using the Linked-In export feature.
Chart your Verticals:
Take the time to diagram any Business Units/Product Specialists and the Applications of the end user can help electrical distributors segment business units. For example, your Industrial Automation group may serve Material Handling, Mining, or Utilities. Sponsored search advertising (e.g. Google Ad Words) Campaigns will have different Ad Groups and keywords for each industry to optimize conversions. Your website will have different messaging for each market. Give a presentation to sales and top decision makers, offering to plan a sales and marketing strategy and tactical implementation.
Script Technical Sales:
Sales teams should know the right questions to ask the customer in helping them choose the correct product configuration. Meet with sales managers and help them develop and distribute a customer “decision tree” for applicable product groups. For example, circuit breakers are perfect for scripting the right questions to ask customers for specifying the product: “How many Poles, Voltage and Amps are needed”? The “greenest” new members of a call center agents can narrow down the Series and Model with well thought out product attribute configurators to earn new accounts.
Industrial Electrical equipment is perfect for showing the quality of your products and services and end user applications. These days most industrial/electrical suppliers and OEMs have a web store with product catalogs. Most are not video marketing and educating customers. Your YouTube Channel is just another way to a direct traffic back to you. Consider product-specific stop-motion photography focused on a new product or service. Voice-over videos, even Power Point presentations can be 30 seconds with Title listings that attract search engines. Convey an aura of expertise and educate customers. Plan ahead and crank out these productions.
It’s worth subscribing to a electrical distributor data publishing service to link OEM datasheets with your web catalog products. I’ve discovered many open sources for OEM catalog data and images. Database skills and familiarity of programming techniques will make you a unique resource for building a web catalog, discovering relationships between model numbers and product categories essential to building the catalog. There’s huge SEO benefit too when you give the documents meta descriptions, content that search engines want to offer their customers (e.g., Googlers) a good search result with the information sought.
Merchant Seal of Approval:
Vendors of Identify theft protection, Purchase Guarantees, Reseller Ratings or Lowest PriceGuarantee charge a relatively small monthly fee that give new customers peace of mind and lead to greater conversions. A perfect place for displaying your “guarantee” badge is on the Product Page where customers are “In the Moment” and can easily convert.
International Live Chat:
Lower the language barrier with Chat. Though you should have at least one multi-lingual customer service representative, they are usually swamped with calls due to the global economy. You may think that chat is intrusive, but facilitating a dialogue to close a sale outweighs the cost of mis-quoting or a returned product due to a misunderstanding. Canned scripts for chat operators can speed lead pre-qualification for funneling to a product specialist who can read the transcript and follow up by email to further define the requirement.
Greg Carter is V.P. of Electrical Marketing content and data services. Carter is an educational speaker at industry conferences and meetings. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org or direct 856.381.7834.