Ask a manufacturer or distributor about how they engage existing customers and acquire new ones. They will often mention 1) trade shows and 2) store visits, as the two primary ways. In terms of the web, they know websites are essential. Most also think social media is necessary and often they invest time into twitter, instagram, facebook, etc to appeal to end-consumers.
Trade shows and knocking on doors for sales – pros and cons
Trade shows are great!
They get your brand to the right target audience. You get to meet a lot of your customers face to face at one time.
That said, they can be quite expensive. It can cost a couple of thousand for a stand, a couple more for your setup and presentation, not to mention travel and food expenses.
Store visits – very important.
Customers get to meet you face to face. You learn a lot about how their outlet works and where your products would fit into it.
Scheduling a visit with your customers is not always easy. You might end up waiting 30 mins or an hour to talk to the right people if you make an impromptu visit. And that to the drive time.
In short, both trade shows and customers visit are a worthwhile, yet costly exercises.
Websites and social media for marketing – pros and cons
Websites are crucial.
It’s the often the place your trade customers go to find out about you and your products. It can be a secret weapon in customer acquisition.
They are often hard to maintain and as a result the content gets dated fast.
Social media is a great way to stay in touch.
It’s a great way to reach consumers and fans of your products. It’s easy to use, making it easy to manage content.
It takes work to keep social media messages consistent and exciting.
iStockist, much more easier & effective
With iStockist, you can easily keep your content up to date, just like with social media. However, unlike social media, you can focus content efforts on your products and sales, rather than the kind of chatty, conversational voice you need to use on social media.
I would classify iStockist as a part of your website toolkit, rather than something separate. The two can be easily integrated.
In terms of sales campaigns, iStockist gives you a wholesale ecommerce site, which is easy to setup and highly-configurable. An online product catalog is central to attracting new customers online, I believe. It’s the modern version of sending out a print product catalog, and has a much wider reach than a trade show. Plus it’s always on and available anyway, so you might find it brings in interesting export opportunities.
Furthermore, iStockist gives you a super easy way to on-board new customers and keep them up dated. They simply signup or you by your invite, and once you approve their account, they have access to a product catalogue and prices configured specially for them.
Rather than you need to visit the store and keep them aware of new products, they can visit your online store anytime from a phone or tablet!
They might be walking around their store thinking about new products to stock in your section. They can search and browse your product catalogue and make an order to fill up shelves in seconds! All of the product information, prices and shipping can be set up at a customer level, and is private.
If you are going thinking about better ways to interact with your existing customers or grow your customer base, consider iStockist!