We are approaching 2021, and one challenge for heavy-duty parts companies is to find new ways to increase sales. For B2B heavy-duty parts companies specifically, what is working in the available arsenal of digital marketing tools?
“Historically websites are informational. eCommerce however is a transactional place. An eCommerce site in other words is a sales channel,” said Kris Harrington, President, and COO of GenAlpha.
But it isn’t enough to just convert your informational website into an eCommerce site. If that is the “digital strategy” for your heavy-duty parts company, at best you will see existing customers who currently make purchases through traditional means start to use the eCommerce site but you won’t see net revenue growth. At worst because of this change in customer behavior, you may lose the personal relationships you have with your customers and this could lead to a net revenue decline.
The Top 3 Tools We Recommend
In our industry, heavy-duty parts manufacturers typically have a B2B sales force that travels and visits their distributors’ head offices and the regional branch offices to promote and educate their customers. The distributors that sell the manufacturers’ products have sales teams that visit fleets and repair shops every week or two.
How can manufacturers and distributors optimize B2B sales efforts with digital marketing tools?
“It is important to create content and deliver it consistently to your customers, this helps you to develop a rapport with your customers and increase your authority which leads to increased business opportunities,” said JP Clement, CEO of boomtime.
While social media sites like LinkedIn are very powerful for B2B businesses there is an inherent danger in relying solely on a social media platform or search engine. “You don’t own the platform, and the platform can be changed at any time,” warned JP Clement, CEO of boomtime.
Email is still the most effective means of delivering content to your customers. You own your email list and you can control exactly who your content is sent to, what gets sent, and when it is seen.
Email is also very inexpensive comparatively speaking to Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising on Google or Facebook. Of course, you have to develop your list and this takes time and effort but it is by far the marketing tool with the best return on investment.
Videos are very powerful tools that allow you to connect with your customers on a deeper level. I recommend using YouTube to host your videos and this allows you to easily embed them in any content that you create including your email campaigns. The easiest way to get started is to start a VLOG where you talk about important subjects that matter to your customers.
The problem with YouTube of course is that you don’t own the platform. Therefore we recommend adding another video tool to your arsenal and it is called Vidyard.
Vidyard is an online video hosting service for businesses that allows you to quickly make personalized videos and incorporate them in every part of your sales process.
Just met someone for the first time, record a personal video, and email it to them. Just had a great sales call with a customer, record a personal video, and email it to them. Just sent a proposal to a customer, record a personal video, and email it to them. You get the idea.
At the end of the day creating content is about demonstrating your competency, educating, and entertaining.
Some people are really good at talking but hate cameras, and if that describes you then a podcast is something you should think about doing.
Podcasts are easy to set up, inexpensive, and there are some great tools available to make you look and sound professional. We recommend using Buzzsprout to host your audio files, publish them to all the podcast players, and create a website that you can easily customize and showcase your podcast.
Consistency is a Secret Weapon
Regardless of what tools you use to market to your customers, the most important thing to remember is that you must be consistent. We recommend that you start with something that you do monthly and if after you master that you find that you have more capacity you can then do something bi-monthly and eventually you can build up to weekly if your customers want you to communicate with them that often.
Feedback is very important, you want to always ask your customers, “what do you want from me?” Your customers will tell you and if you listen you will start to get a feel for what works and what does not. Don’t be afraid to try things, not everything is going to work out but the things that do will put you in a different place in your customers’ mind and that can be very good for business.
Would you like some help to develop your strategy?
Jamie Irvine works with forward-thinking heavy-duty companies as a consultant. Developing a Digital Sales Channel and Marketing Strategy that encompasses adopting digital technology is the most common consulting work that Jamie does with heavy-duty truck & trailer companies.