Independent Distributors: Take The Plunge Into Digital

As Amazon, Grainger and other national distributors aggressively expand their digital footprints, the time is now for independent distributors to do the same. AgoNow's Chet Hood explains.

As Amazon, Grainger and other national distributors aggressively expand their digital footprints, the time is now for independent distributors to do the same. Invest now and leverage digital tools to grow sales and become a more efficient and effective organization.

Thanks to the cloud and the rapidly falling cost of technology, distributors of all sizes have more access than ever before to the digital tools they need to compete.

I read and learn something new every day about the future of digital marketing.

I recently revisited an article from McKinsey and Company originally published in 2014, “The 7 Traits of Effective Digital Enterprises.” While published a few years ago, the message remains important: Companies need to stop viewing digital as an experiment or a fad and instead commit fully to transforming themselves into digital businesses. But to do that successfully, they should embrace the seven traits outlined in the article.

Two traits in particular resonated with me:

  1. Think big, and build a plan for your business that is “aspirational.” That means viewing digital as something that creates value. Aim high, the authors say: “If your targets aren’t making the majority of your company feel nervous, you probably aren’t aiming high enough.” My take: Yes, make a plan, and never be afraid to veer from the plan. What’s more, continue to invest in digital tactics that exceed your expectations.
  2. Challenge everything. Don’t let “that’s how it’s always been done” be an excuse. The authors encourage companies to examine how everything is done, including the products and services you offer and the market segments you address, and ask “Why?” Are there areas where you can apply digital tools to improve efficiencies or serve the customer better?

Where to start with digital marketing

In my role as vice president of marketing for AgoNow, I am always thinking about how we can apply digital tools to make our marketing efforts, as well as those of our distributor and supplier partners, more effective. Data and a digital mindset should drive the modern marketer. I view marketing as a silent salesperson, and when you align sales with marketing, you will see greater results.

Digital allows us to measure the effectiveness of marketing materials much better than before. Quality analytics and data are key to understanding the ROI from your digital marketing activities.

Based on the McKinsey article and my experience, here are a couple of places to start:

  • Think about the customer first. How can you use digital tools to make it easier to do business with you? Digital is not just about taking orders. How can you remove the obstacles that stand in the way?
  • Be data-driven; target the right markets with the right messaging for the biggest impact. For example, if you have an email list with details such as geography or market segment, create and send relevant offers based on those characteristics. Build trust by not blasting them with email after email, with little regard for relevance.

AgoNow has made digital a centerpiece of our value proposition. We want to support our distributor and supplier partners as they continue to make this critical transition. Give us a call at (844)-462-4666 if you’d like to learn more about partnering with AgoNow.

Chet Hood is vice president of marketing for AgoNow. Reach him at [email protected] or call 918-406-8846.

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