Upgrade Your B-to-B Multichannel Marketing Strategy
Other catalog supplements are created based on the exhibitions Carolina Biological Supply attends in a given year. “If we’re attending multiple shows or teacher conferences on environmental science or biotechnology, we’ll produce supplemental catalogs to market more effectively to those customers,” James says.
Web for Relationships
While B-to-B catalogers traditionally have been slower than consumer mailers to adopt the Internet as a transactional platform, they shouldn’t necessarily follow the B-to-C model. “The greatest shortcoming in the B-to-B space is that people look at the Internet as a transaction medium,” says Vic Hunter, president of Milwaukee-based B-to-B consultancy Hunter Business Group. “B-to-B is a relationship business, not a transaction business.” One your Web site, Hunter says, focus on building relationships rather than going for the immediate sale.
In fact, Hague notes that the most successful B-to-B Web sites enable customers to customize products and solutions to specific needs, and offer detailed product specifications that aid in researching the best solution.
B-to-B auto parts cataloger Mid America Motorworks has fulfilled both of these requirements as it has expanded its Web site. About a year ago, the Effingham, Ill.-based cataloger added an interactive Flash application that allows Corvette dealers to see what their cars would look like with Mid America custom wheels. Dealers can choose the color and model of their cars’ online doppelgangers, then change the wheel style to see what looks best. To cross promote the tool, the company placed call-outs for the interactive application in its catalog. Since the implementation, wheel sales have tripled, says director of catalog and Web marketing Ed Coffin.
Coffin notes that the catalog increasingly acts as an advertisement for the functionality of the company’s Web site, which has more than three dozen interactive Flash applications. “Our Web site gives us the opportunity to educate and give some peace of mind to the customers that what they’re buying actually is what they want,” Coffin says.