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Making sense of B2B distribution channels

This used to be a simple enough task. Businesses would advertise via the trade press, they would set up their stall at the appropriate industry fairs and manually contact potential clients via telephone or mail to establish a relationship. All of these channels used to be crucial ways of engaging with a customer base.

However, as most B2B practitioners will know, the Internet has radically changed how businesses market their products, and the nature of distribution channels has changed as well.

Whether they are seeking suppliers for their manufacturing projects, textiles for a range of winter baby clothes or stationery for their office operations, firms like Engelbert Strauss, Zalando or Ikea ect. now use the web as a matter of course. They use Google to search for the products that they need, and the businesses which respond to their search behaviour are often the most successful.

This means that B2B marketers have to have an eye on SEO strategies when promoting the products of their firm. However, web-based distribution channels go beyond this. Firms also seek to build lasting relationships with clients via social media, and to discuss their needs and opinions via webinars. In a sense, the web is a never-ending trade fair, and B2B marketers need to be as active in selling their products as they would be on the company stall.

However, traditional distribution channels are far from dead. Using resource management software, firms can target their telephone outreach strategy to contact clients, and hard copy is still a vital part of informing the world what firms have to offer. It is still convenient to pick supplies from a print catalogue, and the sound of a human voice can still be persuasive.

The difference is that these distribution channels need to work in harmony with e-mail, SEO web-content, webinars and social media to successfully build a B2B client base. For example, firms can bring different distribution channels together by combining solid telephone marketing with e-mails including targeted embedded video content and information about relevant webinars or learning events.

Reaching clients may have become easier than ever before, but the competition for their attention has also become more fierce, and companies need to adapt to survive.