Content marketing for industrial distributors can be very challenging. The biggest problem I’ve seen is that there is very little differentiation between distributors serving the same niche. Their competitors show the same line cards and unless they sell online directly, site visitors can’t see prices, nor do they have any idea about the lead time.
Yes, I understand some distributors use this as a strategy to force people to call them, but it usually isn’t very effective. I say that based on my experience working with industrial distributors. Here’s what I’ve seen or heard:
- “We quote our best prices, but never hear back from them”
- “We don’t want to compete on price or be the lowest bidder”
- “We don’t want our competition to undercut our prices”
You can see the disconnect here; the only content on your website is product descriptions, features and may be some benefits which come straight from your principal manufacturers. This content is exactly the same as your competition. Your customers have no way to differentiate you other than on price.
Content marketing for industrial distributors helps your customers make informed decisions
Industrial buyers are in self-select and self-serve mode these days, they don’t want to or need to talk to your sales team just to get product information, pricing and lead times. They have access to countless online sources to get that information. Content marketing for distributors can go a long way in setting you apart and bringing out some of the key selling points. In other words, set the table for your salespeople to have more productive conversations that go beyond pricing.
Examples of effective content for distributors
- Highlight your experienced salespeople who are much more than just order takers. They help your customers find difficult to find parts, unusual materials or sizes
- Bring to the forefront your USP – Are you a stocking or a master distributor?
- Provide online resources that your visitors can use to find the exact part number from your extensive inventory based on their parameters
- Give them access to cross-reference guides to locate equivalent products that you carry of discontinued or end-of-life components
- Describe the engineering or technical services offered by you that add value to your customers both before and after the sale
- Create an online resource of user manuals, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and how-to videos
- Provide valuable time savers such as downloadable CAD files and easily searchable online catalogs
- Talk about “lunch and learn” training that you may provide or online webinars
- Create an online technical forum where customers can share their own experiences and ask questions
- Set up a blog where your in-house subject matter experts can talk about unique applications and/or problems solved
Value added services is a very strong differentiator and will help distributors sell a complete solution instead of just hardware. This doesn’t necessarily have to be about services, you could also talk about how you help your customers make a more informed buying decision.
I can list many more content ideas to add to this list, but you get the picture. I have come across many distributors, both clients and others who are using content marketing to differentiate themselves from the competition. Check online, you’ll find many good examples of well-known distributors that are using industrial content marketing very effectively.
What I’ve described here does require a commitment of time and money, but the payoff can be huge when it comes to generating sales qualified leads. If there is parity in value propositions, good content marketing for distributors that’s relevant to your customers will establish your brand and earn you their trust which in turn will help to sell more of your industrial products.