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Internet Marketing Communications for Electrical Products Distribution

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 @ 11:26 AM / by Chuck Lohre

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Electrical product manufacturers face a unique problem when it comes to internet marketing communications directed at electrical distributors.

First of all your products have to be lucky enough to be accepted by electrical distributors or buying groups for stocking and distribution. They typically offer and stock those products most common to the industry and new products vetted for emerging markets from established manufacturers. If you have a new product that may fill a need in the electrical infrastructure, you will have to establish substantial sales and market acceptance before distributors/buying groups will carry your product.

This blog series will cover electrical connectors, resistors, transformers and generators, products Lohre & Associates has experience marketing. They cover the range from large, expensive generators that require training to connectors that are very common. Resistors and transformers are common products that are typically custom ordered but have standard specifications.

This is the first in a series of blog entries:
1. Electrical contractors for commercial projects
2. Large multi-national manufacturing facilities, municipal and institutional Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO)
3. Emerging renewable energy market for solar panels, wind turbine generation and low impact hydro-electric.

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Electrical contractors that specialize in commercial, industrial, and institutional new construction are major regional and international firms that have the experience and capabilities to perform such work. In cooperation many times with the electrical engineering firm designing the facility, the contracting firm with such close relationships and experience will be able to offer a competitive bid.

The electrical connection products are mostly standard products but always there are new products that may offer time and material savings.
1. The distributor can offer suggestions
2. Regional manufacture's representative organizations are trained in new products
3. Manufacturers can get involved if the product is a new one designed by the electrical engineering firm.

All during this design process the internet plays a part. Manufacturers need to educate the end users and the distributers about their products. From the media resources regularly referred to, to the independent research with search engines these are the places new technology can rise to the top if the manufacturer has seeded the internet with information on new time and material saving products.

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For the Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) organization such as internal departments and specialized firms, selection of electrical products follows a predictable path. Most of the time it is finding a replacement quickly and economically. Sometimes blanket purchasing agreements with established electrical distributors are in place and it would be the distributor's decision if a substitution were appropriate in form and function. It is the MRO firm that doesn't have such resources that the internet comes into play. The manufacturer's product that comes up first on the search engines for their and their competitor’s description will get the call. Quick response and delivery will get the sale. Price will be the third place criteria and up to 20 to 30% more than the lowest price leader.

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Regularly referred to product directory media, "250 MCM electrical connector":
Thomas Register - too clumsy to find a price and order a product
GlobalSpec - too clumsy to find a price and order a product
Bluebook - too clumsy to find a price and order a product
Grainger - Easy

Online distributors: "250 MCM electrical connector" Google first page results that have prices and online ordering
First image with Google Images (see screen grab above) http://www.amazon.com/Morris-Products-Connector-Bi-Metallic-Conductor/dp/B005GDFYTS

Traditional media:
Newsletter A - site down
Magazine B - poor search results
Magazine C - best results about crimping in general but didn't include mechanical, no sales information

Manufacturer's web sites:
Manufacturer A - excellent results, both compression and mechanical, only accounts can purchase
Manufacturer B - no results
Manufacturer C- no results
Manufacturer D - excellent results, both mechanical and compression. Easy to set up an account for "bill of material lists" and "where to buy" map.

From the results of this search you can see that the distributor that comes up in a search will most likely get the order for parts not included in a blanket agreement. Currently this channel is estimated at 20% but by far the most profitable. The biggest surprise is that a major industrial supply house didn't come up on a Google search.

But what is a manufacturer of "250 MCM electrical connector" to do? Write their site so the product comes up in a Google search. This is ridiculously easy but many manufacters don't write their content to show up in the search engines. All you have to do put the product description (category_model-number) in the: URL, title, headline, body, linktext and the alternative text for a photo. Only put the product description, not the company name, not the company tag line in those six places. Finally, supply the distributors that are selling online. Make sure you make it easy for visitors to find distributors close by on your site. Purchase Google Ad Words as a last resort.

The biggest problem with searching for "250 MCM electrical connector" is that most results return very small electrical connectors. As the internet matures it will become easier and easier to find very specific technical parts. Now is the time to prepare.

The future isn't here yet. Then you will be able to search for any electrical connector with your smart phone and quickly find a nearby electrical distributor with the critical item. And it is, if you just cut an underground electrical cable and the power company doesn't have the "250 MCM electrical splice connector" they need to fix it in the truck. I was there but not running the trencher when it happened ;-)

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Chuck Lohre's National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) AdVenture Presentation of examples and descriptions from Ed Lawler's book of the same title - 10 Rules On Creating Business-To-Business Ads

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Topics: Marketing Communications, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Internet Marketing, Industrial Website Design, Website Design, Business to Business Marketing, B2B Marketing, Internet Development

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Written by Chuck Lohre

Owner of Lohre & Associates Marketing Communications. The company celebrated their 80th Anniversary in 2015, his 38th.