When I thought about this article, it occurred to me that a different flavor might be in order. By now, our regular readers know that I have reached out to a high-level of expertise from our writers to offer their insight, experience and predictions.
This time, I wanted to stray out of the comfort zone and asked experts in disparate fields for their advice about marketing that wholesalers could use. The results are both interesting, engaging and worth considering if you're not doing it or certainly to continue to pursue if it is part of your marketing agenda.
“B2B marketers need to be more savvy than ever in order to get the attention of harried business people. Because of the ‘connected’ state that business people live in, it is more important than ever to present business buyers with extremely relevant information via a myriad of marketing channels. Using a combination of direct mail, telemarketing, email and social media is the best way to remain top of mind with potential customers, because not every businessperson will respond to any one channel. An integrated marketing approach using these four channels to engage with your prospects will allow them to interact with your business via their preferred communication method.
“As an example, many businesses are using email campaigns to drive prospects to their business' Facebook or Twitter page. Once there, these potential customers can learn more about your business and why they should be doing business with you and even receive special offers that can be used only by ‘Liking’ or ‘Following’ your business. Now, every time that businessperson logs into Facebook or Twitter, they see your business's update as part of their newsfeed. This is an excellent way to use these two channels to build loyalty and convert prospects to customers. This example can also be used with direct mail or telemarketing.”
Nancy Arter, vice president, sales/marketing, Outward Media, Inc., www.outwardmedia.com
“Our marketing firm deals with both the consumer part of the HVACR market as well as the B2B wholesaler side. My tip is to stop pitching features and start selling the benefits of your product line to contractors. You may be saying, ‘We added this new automated thermal control on all our new units,’ while your customer is thinking, ‘How does this help me make money?’ Sell the benefits to the consumer before you talk about features. In the previous example, you would say, ‘Our new automated thermal control is really in demand with your target market. It's a feature that can push the customer over the edge when they are making their buying decision.’ This answers the question in the contractor's head of how they will make money off what you are selling.”
David Wolf, CEO & marketing consultant, www.inbusinessinc.com
“The two best marketing tips I could give are simple but extremely important:
First, listen and ask the right questions.
Second, make it easy for your customers to do business with you. You won't find this advice in marketing courses or textbooks, but great companies do this every single day.
“How do you get started? Decide what market intelligence you need to execute your plans. Get to know your customers and ask them what they need and want. What are you doing right? Are there additional tools, advice, materials that you could provide to make their lives easier and businesses more successful?
“As the old adage goes ‘walk in the shoes of your customers.’ Pick the most frequent ways your customers interact with your company and try doing the same things they would do. This will help you decipher the best modes of communication for your customers. You will be surprised how many opportunities you'll identify to improve your customer service and cut cost.”
Bob Labbett, vice president of marketing, Emerson Climate Technologies, www.emersonclimate.com
“I think one of the biggest mistakes people tend to make in this space (construction) is that their ideal buyer is someone who is not online. We are a search marketing company, and we will speak with a construction-related lead from time to time, and they all say: ‘Oh, my buyer is not on Twitter, they are out driving a truck in the field.’ This is not true. Many larger contractors have office staff that sit in front of a computer all day long, and when they need something, they pull up Google or Bing. This industry 100 percent needs to be visible online at all times with a friendly website and some sort of social media interaction.”
Maciej Fita, founder, Brandignity, www.brandignity.com
“Consider starting an online marketing initiative. You can set up accounts for free on social media marketing websites such as Twitter and Facebook. HVAC contractors shop the competition just as much as the consumer does. To take it a step further, consider starting a blog. Provide relevant, practical advice for HVAC contractors. Once you build a following, these contractors will remember your name when it comes time to buy. Moreover, if your blog becomes a popular resource, you will be able to passively add business and new customers.”
Andrew Schrage, co-owner, Money Crashers Personal Finance, www.moneycrashers.com
Tom Peric´ is the editor of HVACR Distribution Business magazine. Contact him at 856/874-0049 or [email protected].