MDM recently launched the first part of a research report in conjunction with Real Results Marketing analyzing distributor marketing practices. The report is based on the results of a survey that we conducted of our readers in addition to in-depth interviews with distributor survey respondents of all sizes.
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The first part of the report, The Distributor Marketing Imperative: Part 1, focuses on the channels that distributors use to market their products and services.
Jonathan Bein and Rob Kelley, who analyzed the results and produced the report for MDM, found that in general smaller distributors with less than $50 million in revenue have limited capability in channels besides outside sales and inbound telephone sales. By contrast, large national distributors with more than $500 million in revenue have built robust capabilities in almost all of the areas analyzed in the report, which included: outside sales, inbound and outbound telesales, in-store programs and websites.
Even more interesting in their results was how distributors of varying sizes view the effectiveness and importance of the various channels. Larger distributors – defined in the report as the MDM Market Leaders (the top distributors in eight sectors found here) – view more channels as effective than smaller distributors responding to the survey. The data also found that larger distributors place higher importance on in-store and outbound telephone sales than other distributors.
There was a stark difference in the perception of importance of the Web channel, as well, between smaller and larger distributors. But, interestingly, just a third of the large distributors surveyed said they thought their website was effective, but nearly two-thirds view this channel as important to overall revenue. Clearly, there are steps to take by distributors of all sizes to move toward a more effective Web model.
Of course there are exceptions to every generality, with some smaller distributors excelling in optimizing all of their sales channels and some large distributors ignoring whole channels altogether.
Bein and Kelley say that the next major frontier for distributors of all sizes is to develop more significant marketing capabilities across all channels. They write: "The companies who embrace this challenge will outperform the market and their peers, even – or perhaps especially – during recessions."
Read Part 1 of the Distributor Marketing Imperative. Part 2 will be published in the May 25 issue of MDM.