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Even if you're not sold on the role of social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, for distributors, you shouldn't write off online marketing as a tool for building your brand and business. After all, online marketing goes far beyond social media, starting with your company's website.
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The 2007 Facing the Forces of Change study, published by the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, found that the percentage of customers gathering price information from a wholesaler-distributor's website more than doubled between 2003 and 2006. On top of that, it was predicted to double again by 2012. In the most recent Facing the Forces of Change study, released in 2010, distributors said customers are increasingly using online tools to connect with them, and they only expect that to continue to grow by 2015. (Read Online Marketing Gains Momentum.)
View your website as a marketing hub, even if you don't do direct selling though the site. Customers are finding alternative sourcing options globally, and they often use the Internet to make those connections.
As a marketing tool, your website has to be accessible. "Begin by providing customer-focused content and interactive features that speak to the needs of your customers and provide the solution they are seeking," online marketing expert Bob DeStefano writes. (Read 9 Tips for Marketing Smart in a Down Economy.)
And establish your website as a lead-generating machine. "Unfortunately, most companies do not optimize their Web sites for lead generation – offering, instead, nothing more than passive online brochures," DeStefano says. (Read Give Your Web Site a Lead Generation Checkup.)
Make sure you are leveraging available online marketing tools to reach more potential customers. Your website can be your most powerful marketing tool in today's always-online culture.