Distributor Marketing: 7 Marketing Ideas for Distributors

Joanna Okedara
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    Distributor marketing is a major factor to consider when starting a wholesale distributorship business. As you may know, the distribution industry is an integral part of the supply chain. Wholesale food distributors serve as intermediaries between producers and consumers of products.

    However, market competition is tough and a lot of distributors are affected by the growing challenges of the supply chain. For instance, manufacturers are now adopting the D2C business model and creating more efficient logistics management systems. They are also building efficient business systems to reach end users directly. 

    eCommerce businesses are also exploring the dropshipping business model. With dropshipping, online retailers do not need to store any inventory or worry about bulk shipping

    Large online marketplaces like Alibaba and Amazon are taking advantage of these new business models in the B2B online industry. As a result, there is a severe disruption to the ways distributors and wholesalers are used to when running a wholesale business.

    Key Takeaway - With these visible challenges and competition in the distribution industry, there is a need for agility and the creation of a more innovative business process flow. Distributors may need to provide B2B customers with value-added solutions such as an automated billing system, the subscription billing model, or kitting services to stand out.

    Wholesale distributors need to offer high demand products and finished goods, outstanding stock availability, quick turnaround times, and flawless operation to remain competitive in the market. For the distribution pipeline to be successful, wholesale distributorships must develop B2B distributor marketing strategies.

    If you are looking for expert advice on the top marketing ideas for distributors you are in the right place. Read on to learn the best distributor marketing strategy for wholesale distributors and business owners.

    What Is Distributor Marketing?

    Distributor marketing encompasses the promotional strategies and processes employed by wholesalers, distributors, or product suppliers to promote their wholesale products to retailers or consumers. B2B companies also use distributor marketing strategies to reach wholesale customers.

    Most distributors market their products to retailers in a B2B wholesale marketplace, brick and mortar stores, and B2B eCommerce businesses operating an online to offline model. The truth is manufacturers depend on the mechanisms of distribution channels to make their products available to customers.

    Distributors operate a B2B business model. They buy products in large quantities from producers and resell them in smaller quantities to retailers and other small businesses. Therefore, it is important to understand the fundamentals of B2B distributor marketing.

    Wholesale distributors offer a sales and marketing service that allows other businesses to sell to consumers they might not otherwise reach. B2B businesses and wholesale distributors benefit from distributor marketing by using it to make their products more appealing and boost sales.

    Unlike B2C marketing, your B2B marketing plan depends on the type of distribution business you operate. For instance, if you operate an exclusive distribution business, you may need to have a significant marketing budget to promote the product since you are the only marketing distributor.

    For a quick recap on the types of distribution business you can operate, read our article on getting started with a Wholesale Distributorship business.

    The case is different if you operate a direct distribution business. In this wholesale distribution model, your marketing strategies will take a B2C shape rather than B2B.

    Whatever marketing model you choose, setting your marketing goals from the beginning will help you track your eCommerce metrics and marketing performance. Your marketing strategies should not only focus on selling products, it should also help you promote your brand and business.

    7 Marketing Ideas for Distributors

    With various marketing models and strategies to choose from, which one is best for your wholesale distribution business? Let’s find out.

    Here are some marketing ideas for distributors to boost your business:

    • Start With a Marketing Plan
    • Build Relationships With Existing Customers
    • Try Digital Marketing
    • Participate in Industry Trade Shows
    • Take Advantage of Online Directories
    • Move to a Digital Catalog and Online Ordering Platform
    • Use the Right Wholesale Distribution Tools
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    Let’s discuss these points:

    1. Start With a Marketing Plan

    You may need to write this down: every marketing campaign begins with a plan. Before launching your marketing campaigns it is important to draft out your wholesale marketing plan and strategies.

    It does not have to be something elaborate. For example, you can use Google Docs or Microsoft Word to write down your plan.

    Remember to add these sections to your marketing plan document:

    • Marketing goals and objectives for each product
    • Target niche market
    • Total marketing budget and SMART goals
    • Unique selling proposition (USP)
    • Marketing channels
    • Budget for each channel
    • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
    • Measurement
    1. Build Relationships With Existing Customers

    Leveraging your relationship with existing B2B wholesale retailers and customers is another marketing strategy to explore. Most businesses within the same industry network with each other.

    Offering referral bonuses or starting a loyalty program is a great way to get your existing customers to help refer new customers. This strategy causes a chain reaction for referrals as even new customers can enlist in your referral program.

    What are the various referral bonuses you can provide, then? The best solutions are as follows:

    • Trade discounts for future purchases
    • Cash discount for unpaid balances
    • Free inventory, goods, or products
    • Prioritization of the next orders
    1. Try Digital Marketing

    Online eCommerce marketing strategies are by far the most sought-after methods for promoting any eCommerce business. With millions of potential customers using the internet daily, it’s only sensible that you explore this option for your marketing.

    Digital marketing encompasses a series of online marketing channels. Utilizing these channels can bring you the results you need.

    However, you need to create your digital marketing plan to target the B2B market. It is important you streamline your online marketing strategies. You can use eCommerce marketing automation tools for this.

    Looking to get expert advice on how to market your wholesale distribution business to your target audience? Check out our free Comprehensive B2B Business eBook to learn how to scale up and expand your bakery and restaurant business in the online marketplace.

    For instance, some social media marketing channels may not bring relevant and qualified leads for your business. Instead of wasting your time and money on online marketing channels that do not work, you can channel that budget into what works.

    Here are some digital marketing channels that you can use:

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    1. Participate In Industry Trade Shows

    Trade shows are meet-up points and marketplaces for sellers and buyers. Participating in industry trade shows, online webinars, fairs, and exhibitions is a great way to reveal your products to potential buyers and get new leads.

    You can make the most of trade shows by focusing on the following:

    • Hire a salesperson with experience and strong communication abilities.
    • Reserve a prominent spot or time period.
    • Put as many product samples on display as you can.
    • Create a spreadsheet to keep track of all lead information.
    • Give discounts for spot purchases.
    • Invest in eye-catching signs or displays.
    1. Take Advantage of Online Directories

    Another great distributor marketing idea is using and registering on online and offline directories. Most online directories offer huge organic and paid traffic that you can leverage to create more brand awareness across key demographics.

    A typical online wholesale directory creates categories for wholesale distributors based on the type of product they sell. These directories may charge a small fee for listing your business website and can offer premium services like banner advertising.

    Online directories are great, but they do not help you get your target market. You should be prepared for a few unqualified leads.

    Offline directories, on the other hand, are niche-focused. Listing your business in magazines, industry directories, and other B2B publications will get you much-needed, targeted brand awareness.

    Here are some important things to list in a directory:

    • Phone number
    • Email address
    • Website
    • Business locations
    • Brand names
    • Product categories
    1. Move to a Digital Catalog and Online Ordering Platform

    Using a digital catalog and online ordering platform will help you streamline order processing for your customers. In addition, a digital catalog will make it easy to display your products, product descriptions, and features.

    You can send product updates and pricing information to customers as well. Some digital catalog software like BlueCart helps you accept payments online and offer an all-in-one eCommerce solution for wholesale distributors, with support to complement our eCommerce business guide.

    Here’s the best way to make the most of a digital catalog:

    1. Use the Right Wholesale Distribution Tools

    Using wholesale distribution management software will help streamline a lot of marketing operations. From helping you track inventory to sending customized invoices to customers, wholesale distribution tools offer all you need to run your distribution business in one place.

    Here are some top wholesale distribution management software features to look out for:

    Other Distributor Marketing Strategies and Channels to Use

    The aforementioned marketing ideas are just some of the popular ways distributors can do their marketing. Allow us to expand some of them and share a few other distributor marketing strategies.

    1. Content marketing. That includes adding useful case studies, blog posts, and other forms of informational content. In recent years, video content has become the most popular form of content.
    2. Email marketing. A business should always look for ways to build solid email lists. It’s recommended to have different email lists for the different stages of the funnel. Furthermore, email marketing for distributors can also be used to upsell current customers and share special offers with them. 
    3. Trade shows and industry events. When it comes to B2B businesses, trade shows and exhibitions are a certain way to meet thousands of potential customers. These events gather a lot of professionals from different sectors. That makes them a very potential option for distributor marketing.
    4. Referral program. With the help of affiliate marketing, distributors can increase their sales and bring in a lot of new customers. Distributors can advertise their referral program to their current customers, to industry associations, or to movers and shakers in the sector.
    5. Data-driven marketing. Gathering and combining data from orders, invoices, and other sources can be used in distributor marketing. This data can help distributors with price management, and choosing products to advertise.
    6. Influencer marketing. This strategy has become one of the most popular in the last decade. Although it’s popular for B2C businesses and popular products, it can also be part of a distributor’s marketing. For example, suppliers of produce can partner with influencers in the field of organic food and recipes.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Distributor Marketing

    Now that we’ve explored various marketing ideas for distributors that you can implement into your business, let’s answer some questions about distributor marketing you may have.

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    What are the 4 Steps in the Distribution Process?

    The distribution process is essential to the success of supply chain management. These processes or distribution channels serve as a link between manufacturers and consumers.

    Here are the four main steps in the distribution process: 

    • Manufacturer
    • Wholesale Distributor
    • Retailer
    • Consumer

    How Do You Distribute Products to Customers?

    There are various ways to get products to customers. After designing new products, manufacturers can follow the below steps to distribute products to customers:

    • Sell directly to customers
    • Partner with wholesale or retail distributors
    • Operate a dropshipping business model
    • Work with online retailers
    • Try local resellers and supply stores

    Who Is a Distributor In Marketing?

    A distributor is an intermediary between product manufacturers and final consumers. The distributor incorporates various strategies to make the product available to different target markets that manufacturers can’t reach.

    Distributors are also responsible for buying goods in large quantities, storing warehouse inventory, marketing the products to new retailers, bulk shipping, and tracking different orders. Some distributors also provide additional services, depending on what their market wants.

    Saving the Best for Last

    Distributor marketing makes it easier for distributors to reach their target customers faster, which leads to a reduction in inventory carrying costs. This means you can order new products from manufacturers and get a high ROI.

    Remember to create a test environment for each marketing campaign before launching it fully. Optimize your marketing with top marketing automation tools. Stick with what works for your business and don’t waste money on what doesn’t. 

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