Social Media Marketing: A Strategy for Distributors
In this issue of Insulation Outlook, we focus on the best social media strategy for distributors.
Within the insulation industry, it is common knowledge that distributors sell mainly to contractors, not to retailers or do-it-yourselfers. Distributors play an important role in providing contractors with product information, which ultimately is used to influence the specifiers, building owners, and engineers. Social media can play an important role for distributors in finding and capturing a new audience.
Typically, a contractor will already know what he/she is looking for: the most convenient place to find a particular product at the best price. Enter search social media. Most people understand what “Google it” means, yet it is important to know that sites like Ask, Bing, and Yahoo! are also quite popular.
To see where your products rank among all these sites, simply conduct your search on Dogpile.com.
Dogpile returns all the best results from leading search engines, including Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Ask, so you find what you’re looking for faster.
Each search engine has its own method of searching, and each will return different results. Dogpile looks at them all, decides which are most relevant to your search, eliminates duplicates, and gives you a list of results more complete than anywhere else on the web.
A contractor who knows what he/she is looking for will likely search Google, Bing, Dogpile, etc. using the words in the product name, including the brand name. If you carry a particular product contractors seek, regardless of the brand, it is important to list your items on Google Base using all the positive keywords associated with your product and your competitors’ products. Also consider web-based aggregation sites like the MTL Product Catalog.
Even though the contractor is looking for a particular product, you want to give your product a chance of being compared to other distributors’ products. Not only will Google Base list your products and allow them to be compared, but your Google Base listing is more likely to be optimized on search engines, which in turn will help increase your website traffic.
Google has recently created the Google Merchant Center, where you can upload your product feeds and make them easy to find on Google Product Search. If you have been uploading Products through Google Base, your data feeds and account settings will automatically be migrated to the new Merchant Center.
Assume you have implemented the Google Base/Merchant strategy and in doing so have convinced a prospective contractor client to consider your product versus a competitor’s. Odds are that if the contractor does not know much about your product, he/she will contact contractor friends, partners, and/or acquaintances to see if they have ever used it and the results of their experiences with your product.
Now, instead of placing phone calls or waiting for e-mail replies, most people in similar industries use professional social media streams, forums, and chat rooms.
The Building Network, LLC, is a media company serving the construction and remodeling industry, which owns and operates www.contractortalk.com, the most common forum for contractors. The good news for distributors is that while contractortalk.com is designed for contractors, distributors are welcome to join as well. In the chat room you can search for topics of interest.
Search for your products and see what contractors are saying about them. This tool will allow you to not only interact with contractors but also make improvements and feature recommendations to your products’ manufacturers.
It is equally important to befriend the building owners, engineers, and specifiers who come in contact with contractors. They are most commonly found on the purely social platforms such as Facebook. Through Facebook, you can join groups with specific interests and ask questions that will lead to engaging conversations about products that shape the interest of the group. Do not use Facebook to try to sell your products directly. This method only works for multi-level marketing and peer-to-peer selling through the Facebook marketplace.
So, you have been successful at making your products visible, and you have educated and gained trust for your products. How are the contractors going to find you?
Nowadays, nearly every local news network, syndicate, and publication offers a city/regional social gathering place. These venues provide the ideal place for advertising the location and product lines of your distributorship. In addition, it is important that people understand the values of your business, such as that you are “green” or employ veterans.
Placeblogger.com provides a great platform for sharing information about how your business influences the local community in a positive manner. A placeblog is a blog about the “lived experience” of a place. The lived experience can include the local political news, social news, and arts news of a place. The more open you are to the public, the more likely they are to find and endorse you.
Today, you have learned not only where to find contractors and how to position your products, but you have caught a glimpse of our final discussion on finding your audience, which will be dedicated to contractors. We will examine how contractors can use micro-blogging, video, photo sharing, and search social media to win projects, track jobs, and influence the masses.