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In the world of manufacturing, one of life’s biggest questions is: What are manufacturers without distributors?
Manufacturers are responsible for bringing designs to life and doing so at scale. But without distributors to push those products to a network of retailers, the manufacturer would be stocked with great products, but have no end users to buy them.
There are very few channels manufacturers can use to get their products to market. Thankfully, distributors save the day not only by pushing products to a wide network of retailers and end users, but by helping alleviate logistical and marketing costs as well.
Establishing, building, and maintaining manufacturer-distributor relationships is critical to continued success and growth for both sides. Inbound marketing is a great way to do just that: Inbound marketing can help manufacturers not only identify and qualify the right distributors to market their products, but it also provides an effective framework to stand out to those ideal distributors and then turn them into true partners.
However, for manufacturers especially, one of the most important parts of an inbound strategy happens not when you close a new distributor, but afterward.
Marketing has evolved because people have changed how they shop for products, services, and suppliers. Gone are the days when brands could shout at their market about how great they were—with the advent of the internet and search tools, consumers can simply tune them out as they sort through a magnitude of information for exactly what they’re looking for.
Inbound marketing provides a framework to help brands pull consumers to their business. This methodology consists of three principles focused on helping businesses grow and succeed by providing value to leads and customers. HubSpot further defines the inbound methodology as:
The inbound methodology is composed of three stages: attract, engage, and delight. Inbound businesses use the methodology to build trust, credibility, and momentum. It’s about adding value at every stage in your customer's journey with you.
The bread and butter of any inbound strategy is content that:
For manufacturers especially, delighting customers means ensuring your distributors have what they need to be successful in distributing your products. As the manufacturer, you want your distributors to make your company their go-to source for product information and updates, and to know that you’re dedicated to enabling them to be successful with your products. Without a solid delight program in place, you run the risk of losing distributors and business.
One way to set your distributors up for success is through highly tailored content offers. Ultimately, the more your distributors know about your products and how to use them, the more comfortable they are with marketing and selling your products to their network of retailers.
Consider using one of the following content ideas to help you enable your distributors to better sell your products:
BONUS: Consider combining some of the above content offers into a comprehensive toolkit—it could serve as a bit of a welcome gift as you onboard new distributors. Your distributors can hit the ground running with multiple helpful resources at their disposal.
Happy, delighted distributors are more likely to continue their partnership, and retention is essential to the success and growth of your manufacturing business. By providing valuable content offers that help your distributors be successful, you can avoid distributor churn and instead experience increased orders and profits.
About the author
Chelsea Boice was formerly a Junior Web Project Manager at SmartBug. She has over 5+ years supporting B2B and B2C organizations with inbound, email, and social marketing campaigns. She currently resides in Barcelona and in her free time, she enjoys salsa dancing, traveling, and true crime podcasts. Read more articles by Chelsea Boice.