A question often asked in business circles is whether social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook can provide above-market ROI versus conventional marketing and promotional communication tools like print ads, tradeshow banners, and the like. Strategic Market Alliance has studied this issue and we believe social media participation by distributors can and does provide compelling return on investment. “Inbound Marketing,” as the use of social media platforms is called, enables even the smallest company or even individual to become a high-impact advertiser … for little to no expense! With very little training or experience required, a company’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter page easily becomes a megawatt broadcast platform for the company to reach customers, both specifically and broadly. Social media is second only to Super Bowl advertising in terms of creating brand awareness … and a heck of a lot less expensive!
In fact, raising the group’s social media brand profile and presence has been job one for SMA’s marketing department in 2017. Adam Fox, SMA’s Marketing Specialist, has implemented the group’s strategy of daily content publication across the three main business platforms mentioned above. Adam’s content trove is derived from SMA supplier-created information, repurposed for specific application to the customer personas most common to the organization’s members and end-user customers. Content created to explain and promote the activities of SMA’s member organizations, as well as stories about the group itself comprise other major elements of Adam’s social media strategy. “SMA’s strength has always been based on the superb quality of its member distributors and its qualified suppliers,” says Fox. “That premise holds true in the world of social media, or digital marketing, as well. Information about our members and our suppliers is very relevant to the consumer, and takes the SMA brand to new levels of recognition and awareness when in a blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook post. After just a few months of concerted effort, we’re seeing large upticks in SMA brand recognition and loyalty indicators.”
Individual SMA members are doing great things within their organizations to fuel brand recognition with inbound marketing. At All Florida Paper in Miami, for instance, a committee of four millennial employees convenes for a brief time each week to plan the next round of social media postings. Since starting this effort in late 2016, the company has seen its Facebook / LinkedIn / Twitter followership numbers skyrocket, and response to sales promotions has increased response rates by six percent. South Jersey Paper has innovatively tied social media promotion to its events marketing effort and dramatically increased customer decision-maker attendance at the company’s annual warehouse tradeshow. The Philip Rosenau Company started 2017 with a focus on digital marketing by introducing a blog to help elevate the solutions that their company can offer the end-user customer. Working closely with supplier partners, internal talent, and industry experts, the Rosenau Company has compiled a trove of content that helps illustrate that point.
“The early promise shown by inbound marketing is very encouraging,” said Chris Rowe, SMA’s Director of Marketing Services. “We are focused on rapidly advancing the quality of the end-user’s experience on our member’s websites with rich content, improved ease-of-use, and better telling of the distributor’s individual service proposition. Inbound marketing takes important information directly to the customer, paving the way for them to experience these improvements first hand.”
As SMA moves into their second decade, the wholesale distribution industry is rapidly changing with new competitors moving into the market faster than ever before.
“The customer is in control,” said Dick McGann, SMA’s President and CEO. “The landscape has changed and SMA continues to position our members to tackle the millennial buyer and help augment distributor sales efforts for sustained and enhanced relevance.”
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