Marketing in the Dealer Channel: Is it an Art or Science? Blog Feature


Dominic Pontrelli

By: Dominic Pontrelli on February 4th, 2018

Marketing in the Dealer Channel: Is it an Art or Science?

How many times have you called on a customer and found they have acquired a content management system or have a new printer services provider elsewhere? Why didn’t they call your dealership? What can you do differently to be top of mind for that customer in the future?

Today’s B2B buyers are connected, impatient, self-sufficient, elusive, impulsive, and highly informed. The abundance of information available to buyers can put even the best sales professionals on the defensive. As you likely are aware, the new informed buyer is labeled Buyer 2.0. This shift in buying behavior is driven by access to digital content and resources.  With access to a wide variety of office technology offerings within a given marketplace, the power is placed in the customer’s hands to proactively select providers.

Buyer 2.0 was introduced to the dealer channel in 2013 as buyers gained greater access to information via the internet. These buyers had completed up to 57% of the sales process (researching a product or service) before even making contact with a sales rep.  Traditional marketing was done with brochures, billboards, radio ads, static websites and public relations. Many Dealers are now focusing on Digital Marketing such as website enhancements, search engine optimization, blogging, and Social Selling via LinkedIn or Twitter. Having the “right content to the right decision maker at the right time” is an important message, however, is it the Art of Marketing or the Science of Marketing that brings you there? It’s a little bit of both.

So, who is your target audience? What is the relevant message? We can state that the C-Suite makes the decisions and we can provide relevant messages to them, but does this information automatically turn into sales leads?  As these activities are required, generic messages to the incorrect decision makers will not achieve the required results.

Here are two simple steps for achieving better sales and marketing results:

Step One, The Science: Align Marketing with Sales Results and Dealer Success

Each dealer has a loyal customer base built from decades of business. Sales become comfortable in certain environments with a specific set of software or services. Often, these successes are shared over time and embedded into the Dealer Value Proposition. While some markets engage in are bid-only or box-only procurement, newer markets engage a solution sales approach that yields higher profit margin. Dealer customer data can and should be able to distinguish between these different markets and help you calibrate your content to ‘sweet spots’ within their customer base. This is where the Science of Marketing comes into play.

Marketing’s responsibility is to understand why customers buy from their dealers. What are the customers’ requirements? What are the customer pain points? What are their key applications? How are you leveraging data to provide your own unique value? The Science of Marketing identifies the “right markets to sell the right solutions to the right decision makers.”  Once this occurs, The Art of Marketing takes over.

Step Two: The Art: Align Marketing and Sales Tactics

When sales provides live feedback from customers, marketing refines messages based on this feedback. Good information harvested from sales intelligence is the basis for customer focused email campaigns, blogs, SEO and website content. This is where the Art of Marketing comes into play.

You will see measurable improvement in your digital marketing results by targeting markets in which you have proven successful and where you clearly differentiate against your competition. Educate your customer base and targeted prospects by addressing their pain points and answering questions. Once the prospect or customer demonstrates engagement, provide a smooth transition to sales for further needs identification and introduction to your value proposition.

In summary, the Science of Marketing is the heavy lifting required to target your market, while the Art of Marketing will create true value-added content which will provide relevant messaging to the appropriate decision maker.  Dealers can improve their brand image by selecting target markets where they have proven successful, are uniquely positioned, and there is ample opportunity. What’s your data marketing strategy look like today?


Resources: Don't lose a sale because you failed to learn the need behind the need. Check out these questions you can ask to prevent a sales stall out.

Dominic Pontrelli

President of Pontrelli Marketing, Dominic is a top-performing and results-driven FG500 Marketing and Sales Executive. With 17 years of Marketing leadership experience and 17 years of Sales leadership experience at the corporate level, Dominic has demonstrated the unique ability to align Marketing and Sales efforts to successfully execute common strategic growth initiatives. Dominic retired from Ricoh, as Senior Vice President, Americas Marketing, after 34 years of tenured service within the Ricoh Family Group in January 2015.Pontrelli Marketing, Inc. was formed in February, 2015.  Dominic now focuses his efforts on the development of a comprehensive Marketing Foundation within the OED channel. He is committed to work closely with clients that prefer to outsource a Virtual Marketing Officer (VMO), to enhance its Marketing capabilities through Data Marketing and Target Marketing campaign efforts.

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