5 Ways to Get Up to Speed with B2B Distributor Marketing

By: Shawn Russell
woman using cell phone

The new generation of B2B buyers prefers to do business differently. And B2B distributor marketing has stepped up accordingly as well. Today, it’s not all about old-school tactics—though some ring true. To stay viable, B2B organizations must provide original content across multiple channels serving several different audiences. Younger generations, native to an omni-channel world, are making larger purchasing decisions, and distributors need to accommodate.

But which tactics should you try? And how can you make them work at the local level?

1. The Right Content in the Right Place at the Right Time

Buying online, especially via mobile, is pretty much common practice these days. And if you’re not keeping your mobile e-commerce capabilities front-and-center, you’re missing an opportunity for B2B distributor marketing growth.

According to a survey of 3,000 B2B decision makers 42% of researchers use a mobile device during their B2B purchasing process. What’s more, B2B researchers are not just using mobile devices when they are out of the office; 49% of B2B researchers who use their mobile devices for research do so while at work.

Your dealers and resellers know customers need information about products on the job site. And if they’re not getting it from you, they are moving on to your competition with a quick swipe and not looking back.

It isn’t just customer mobile usage that is growing. These days, B2B marketers must understand that your customers, your prospects and your buyers are all using mobile devices more frequently than ever to make critical business decisions—both inside and outside the office.

2. Provide Support with Education & Training

Resellers and dealers aren’t just selling products. Their main selling point is the ability to meet the needs of their customers better than the competition. It’s an in-depth knowledge of the industry that can’t be beaten.

Accordingly, giving your distributors the tools they need to educate their customers about this key benefit is incredibly important. Vendors that do the best job of training their channel partners will have an edge at being successful.

Greg Richey, Director Professional Services at Ingram Micro, said “vendors are coming to understand that by enforcing and creating a stringent education program, partners are more adept at selling their products.”

3. Consistency Across Multiple Locations

The brand your company was built on wasn’t accidental. It was forged through years of research. And, through marketing and advertisements—as well as social media, testimonials and word of mouth—customers have grown familiar with it.

Just like visiting a chain restaurant is roughly the same experience in San Francisco and St. Louis, a consistent look and feel for stores is imperative for B2B distributor marketing.

Signage, brand placement, consistent uniforms and a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere are all a must.

Nikki Baird, vice president of Retail Innovation at Aptos, wrote on the importance of consistency in a Forbes article.

“…Fundamentally, brands should be constant. The way that they speak to [customers] might change, but the values that the brand stands for, and how the brand promises to live those values in what they offer [customers], should not change with the wind. A retailer who executes well on brand promises offers consistency—[customers] know what to expect from the brand.”


4. Use Segmentation as a Strategy

Every distributor has many different kinds of customers, from once-in-a-while tire kickers to lifetime, loyal customers who know everyone by name. But if you’re looking at them all through the same lens, you’re missing a chance for growth.

That’s where audience segmentation comes in. By marketing to your audience in terms of their spending capabilities with you, your channel partners can achieve more. According to Carlos Hidalgo, CEO, The Annuitas Group:

“By adopting a customer segmentation strategy, businesses will see a great increase in the value of their marketing. Knowing your customer is the starting point for any successful demand strategy and marketers who do not take the time to develop a segmentation strategy put their success at great risk. In these days of modern marketing, marketers cannot afford to blast their messages—they must be targeted and relevant to their customers. With that being the case, customer segmentation is a must.”

5. Effectively Incorporate Email Marketing

New marketing technologies make it easier than ever to divvy up a larger audience into multiple smaller ones. Once your audience is segmented, bring email marketing into the picture. Get granular and send smaller batches of emails to more targeted audiences. Go even further and create online content that appeals to the different audience segments.

Email marketing specialist Jordie van Rijn suggests looking beyond the obvious to get maximum results with email marketing segmentation.


“For example, instead of making the emails fit with the current place of your subscriber in the customer lifecycle and what they are currently buying, it can also be made to appeal to their future or aspirational self; the person they want to be seen as.”

How Do You Get Everything to Stick?

Whenever companies ask their dealers or resellers to follow through on overarching company objectives, there’s always a little bit of hand-wringing. They are busy enough already, and adding new marketing tactics to their laundry list of to-dos may not go over well. How do you grab their attention? Make it worth their while with channel incentives that build loyalty, boost sales and hit profitability goals.

Need more help turning prospects into loyal customers? Hint: You have to walk a mile in their shoes. Learn how with our B2B Buyer’s Journey infographic.

Shawn Russell
Shawn Russell

Shawn Russell is a results-driven marketing and communications professional with a proven record of accomplishment in developing and leading comprehensive marketing strategies to attain business goals and objectives. She’s excited about exceeding expectations, building advocacy and driving business—but she’s just as passionate about being a soccer mom and baking.