5 Key Steps to Building a Direct to Market Website

During my time as a consultant I have seen a dramatic increase in manufactures marketing directly to their consumers. The day when sales channels relied solely on distributors is fading away. With the advances in technology, websites, mobile usage, and powerful analytics manufactures are able to reach directly to their users with ease never experienced before.

Here are 5 key steps to building a direct to market website that will help to develop your company’s website into the best sales channel you have.

Step 1: Leverage the power of social media

It is no secret that social media is everywhere, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and others are where your customers are. Use this power eco system to be where your customers are.

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs, Apple

When you exist where your customers are they will notice you. When you exist where your customers are in a way the is contextually relevant they will adore you. Having access to a potential customer that is the mindset to consume your message is not only beneficial to you, but to your new customer. You are not offering them the right product at the wrong time.

Step 2: Build a connection to your customers

It is easy to be in front of your clients but it is something else to build a branded connection with them. We have all seen the TV ad’s where a family is living a higher quality life using Brand X’s product. That method of connecting is still in use for large corporations but we are become a society that wants a high touch connection with our brands. Have you seen Coca Cola using their named cans and bottles of Coca Cola products? This puts YOUR NAME on their product. That is a direct connection that makes people feel like they are connected. Short of that the next best method is to interact with conversations they are in. Participate in groups, and sponsor content they care about.

Step 3: Shorten the distance between your ERP and your customers

Manufacturers rely on using an ERP like Fourth Shift, Dynamics AX, etc to run their business. Creating a website that integrates to your ERP is critical to keeping operations running smoothly. It is not enough to have a beautiful website that offers products but it has to work with who you are as a company. Digitally speaking that is a direct reflection of your ERP and not all websites are created equally.
There is no doubt that you can get an ecommerce website inexpensively, but what cost will you pay for late orders, missing orders, or the manual errors resulting from syncing online sales with your manufacturing process? This can result in your customer service department using the words “I am sorry” so often you may mistake that for the representative’s name. Imagine instead, a customer receiving a call, text, email, or even tweet letting them know their package was shipped (ever use Amazon to buy something?). What about your order is delayed and your customer getting a proactive notice?

This is the goal of every fulfillment system; shorten the distance between your systems and your customers.

Step 4: Allow your customers to promote your content.

It is common practice to spend time and energy creating your message. Why not let your customers share it for you? Integrating social sharing is crucial to building that awareness and developing the connection to your customers. That means creating content that is interesting, engaging, or even humorous. We take this world so seriously and we all need a good laugh. Don’t be afraid to introduce a sense of humor to your message.

Developing content can be in many forms; written content, images, and videos are the main methods that are used. Just look at your Facebook or LinkedIn feed. How many messages have you read that don’t have an image or video included? How many posts have you shared when you found the content interesting, engaging, or just funny?

Step 5: Measure the results of your efforts for ROI.

This is a new venture for your company. You are going to make mistakes. You will head down the wrong road and make wrong turns. That is all part of developing a new strategy. It is important to keep track of the data along the way and analyse the data often and carefully. The mistake is not in the error but in letting that error persist for too long.

Use tools that help you better understand the metrics of your website efforts, your social media efforts, and your overall effectiveness as a direct to market sales channel. You are doing the same thing for your distributors. Don’t think you’re exempt from the same scrutiny.

Conclusion

Following the growing importance of social media, manufacturers need to come up with a clear strategy for maximizing their revenue and ROI from this channel.

Five steps can guide you through to this objective:

Step #1: Leverage the power of social media to identify the social media users who are actively involved and engaged in brand-related social conversations.

Step #2: Build a connection to your customers by inserting your brand and message where they are at.

Step #3: Shorten the distance between your ERP and your customers.

Step #4: Allow your customers to promote your content

Step #5: Measure the results of your efforts for ROI.

Make sure to follow us on our social media outlets that are on this page to learn more about the next step:

Developing a plan to engage your customers and select the right resource to implement it.

About the Author

Samuel Mindlin is a Product Manager and has been with the Mindlin Consulting Group since 2009.

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