At some point in the past 20 years, marketing became incredibly complicated. People overthinking it, while others feel their business has been held back because they haven’t segmented their customer base, the message isn’t quite right, or they are still pinpointing their brand values. In reality, most dealers just want customers and prospects to receive good-quality marketing on a regular basis.
B2B marketing has always lagged behind the B2C world and still has a long way to go. Everyone is used to seeing advertising and branding all the time – messages are everywhere and the standards are excellent. Dealers need to match this. Years ago, we could just about get away with focusing on price and product but now the expectation is for something more sophisticated.
Most small businesses operating in our industry don’t have a marketing guru on the payroll and that’s ok. With a little time and effort, there are still plenty of simple tricks to ensure clients receive regular communication filled with great, relevant content.
In an ideal world, we would have a perfectly segmented database so all customers are treated individually. In practice, not only is it time-consuming, but once the data is sliced and diced, it is more than likely the message is suitable for almost everyone.
Even if the communication is different, it may be impossible to create and monitor multiple campaigns each week. If the database isn’t segmented, don’t worry. It is far better to send something consistently than nothing at all.
People make fast judgements on social media, so it needs to be up to date and current – at least one post a week if possible. A business that hasn’t posted for months doesn’t come across as responsive and forward-thinking.
Software is available to schedule posts across all social platforms or focus on LinkedIn and Facebook – the two most relevant to the workplace supplies market. Tie in themes to complement what is going on the website and email marketing and never use a hard sell approach. Follow your most valuable customers and prospects and comment on their posts to engage with them and build a relationship.
As with social media, websites need to be current. It looks poor if the News section hasn’t been updated for two years, so either post regularly or hide that portion of the site. Keep promotions and banners up to date too.
Aim to email customers once a week and prospects once a month. Emails should also avoid the hard sell and be compelling. Engage the team to brainstorm ideas and look at what other businesses are doing. Provide recipients with something interesting to read that will help or inspire them at work or solve a problem. Show off your expertise.
Most people can create an email to a reasonable standard using the latest software. What isn’t easy is creating a campaign regularly, come rain or shine. Maintaining the momentum of weekly emails and social media posts and keeping a website updated can be taxing.
One week missed easily drifts into months, so outsourcing it to a third party, such as a dealer group or e-commerce provider, might be an option. Even dealers with their own marketing department have been known to struggle, but plenty of people are available to help.
You’ll already have a prospect list of some description, although keeping it updated can be a real challenge. Don’t worry if it isn’t great, you are not on your own. If there are thousands of names on the list and no in-house resources to cleanse it, then pay an external agency, buy a new list or ask a dealer group for help.
Purchasing data can be a minefield and the quality is variable. If heading down this route, acquire good leads from a reputable company and request email addresses for individuals, not team@ or sales@.
One way to get going with prospect marketing is to work out the companies you really want to do business with. Examples could include: all the firms on your industrial estate; estate agents within five miles of town; lapsed customers; or it could simply be the organisations you’d just love to get your hands on.
In any campaign, make it easy to buy by recommending products and ensuring they are linked back to your website. Don’t forget to verify the links and consider how any mentioned items are priced.
It may sound obvious, but make sure to get someone else to proof posts or emails for spelling or design mistakes before sending out any type of communication.
Championing categories such as workwear, PPE, promotional gifts, design installations, MPS, etc is a priority for many dealers now. Here, segmenting the database can be very useful, but can be resource heavy, so come up with general ways to achieve this.
For example, include the best-selling PPE as part of a broader campaign about safety. It at least helps customers understand the breadth of product range you can advise on and supply, and how you could help their organisation to source the items they need.
Using video undoubtedly improves any open and clickthrough rates. However, it is easy to become distracted trying to make a video that takes hours to create for questionable benefit. Many manufacturers have readily available video content – just ask.
Marketing communication doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be on a regular basis. If ever at a loss for content, remember the one aspect people buying workplace supplies have in common is that they are all working and likely to have similar issues. These could be a never-ending to-do list, being stuck behind a desk all day and wanting to get more active or even what to have for lunch! Use this as a springboard for ideas.
Karly Haley is Marketing Director at Superstat