Industrial Marketing Blog

3 Online Content Tips for Industrial Distributors to Differentiate Themselves

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content to differentiate industrial distributorsAlmost every industrial distributor that I talk to, both clients and new prospects struggle with one key problem – differentiating themselves. This is particularly challenging for distributors because the competition in their niche carries the same products. Visit any distributor’s site in any industry and you’ll find their line cards read pretty much the same.

In short, there is so much parity in value propositions that it is difficult to differentiate one distributor from another, especially online. This in turn has a very negative impact on generating qualified leads and sales opportunities for these industrial companies.

I get it that the distributors are in business for the sole purpose of selling their industrial products. However, the Internet and digital marketing have completely disrupted the old ways of generating new business.

Today, industrial buyers have many more online resources available to them to do their own product research. They no longer rely on distributors to provide them that information. Customers prefer this self-serve mode of research for a large part of their initial buying journey before they will even contact a distributor.

If they can’t find your site in Google early and often, you may be out of contention even before the process starts or become one of three competitive bids for someone to fill out their spreadsheet.

Industrial distributors have traditionally relied on their principal manufacturers to provide them all the product collateral. Creating their own content doesn’t come naturally to them nor do they have the necessary in-house resources to do content marketing consistently.

3 website content ideas for industrial distributors

One strategy that has consistently produced good results for my clients who are industrial distributors is using the power of industrial content marketing. Let me make an important distinction here, I am not talking about distributors who are successfully using e-commerce to sell industrial components and products directly to customers. My focus here is on industrial distributors that provide end-to-end solutions and want to use digital marketing to increase their sales and revenues.

  1. About us: This is one area on most industrial websites that seems like an afterthought. Look at your Google analytics and I would be surprised if your About us page isn’t the second or the third most popular page visited after your Home and Contact us pages. The content on this one page or segment is where your visitors expect to read about you.
    Yes your visitors want to know who you are, what you do, and why they should read the content on your site but don’t go overboard on bragging about yourself. Your visitors still care most about what you can do for them. So frame the content for your About us page such that your expertise, accomplishments and track record are directed towards how you help your customers buy smarter when they do business with you.
    The About us page can differentiate your distributorship by building trust and providing strong reasons to buy from you instead of your competition selling the same hardware. Adding other pieces of content such as “Meet the Team” and “Mission and Value Statements” along with connecting on social networks can significantly improve your About us page and set you apart. Don’t waste the visitor’s time by publishing the same old corporate gobbledygook. Do include a strong call to action that can start the conversation but don’t expect them to fill out a lengthy RFQ form.
  2. Value added services: This is a very strong differentiator for distributors trying to sell a complete solution. The content for this part of your website should talk about how your services add value to your customer’s business and/or buy decision. An actual client example will make it easier for you to see what I’m talking about here:
    “We access the health of the entire circuit from one convenient location with static and dynamic Diagnostic Testing. Condition based monitoring – vibration analysis, oil analysis, and thermography” and “The ultimate goal is to reduce your operating cost by getting 100% of the design life out of your equipment. Every motor failure creates an opportunity to improve, which begins with a few questions …” are direct quotes from the website of a distributor who specializes in industrial automation and electric motor solutions.
  3. Answering questions: A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page is pretty much a staple of industrial website design. This is very good content that is not only helpful to your customers but also improves your on-page SEO.
    However, you may need to go beyond the most often asked questions. It is virtually impossible to anticipate questions that are very specific to a customer’s application. These situations represent golden opportunities for an industrial distributor to demonstrate its expertise and knowledge.
    Two marketing tactics that I have deployed successfully are 1) Ask an Expert and 2) Live Chat. Both methods use simple ways to start a conversation. The second option has the added value of “instant gratification.” Both methods are meant to get a dialog started with the customer and often lead to better quality and higher value RFQs/RFPs because the distributor now has more information about the customer’s specific needs.
  4. Bonus tip – Industrial blogs: Blogging is a proven and effective content marketing technique to bring your in-house subject matter experts to the forefront and let them interact directly with customers. There are added benefits such as thought leadership, creating warmed up leads and SEO.
    Yes, blogging takes a big commitment of time and resources but the payoff can be huge when it comes to generating sales qualified leads. I have written 30+ articles on industrial blogging that you can find here under the Industrial Blogs category.

When there is very little differentiation, good content that is relevant and engaging for your customers will establish your brand which in turn will help to sell your industrial products.

Your turn now, how have you used online content to differentiate yourself as an industrial distributor?

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 35+ years of practical manufacturing and industrial marketing experience. You want an expert with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s objectivity who can point you in the right direction immediately. That's Achinta. He is the Founder of Tiecas, Inc., a manufacturing marketing agency in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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  1. Good stuff & actionable.

    I have found the same issues Achinta. Industrial suppliers have never had to think much about brand differentiation…until the web. Almost all industrial supply websites are still “me-too”. However, we do see some creative distributors moving towards niche approaches. For example, we work with two different Parker dealers in the Midwest. Clearly, “me-too”. On closer inspection, each Parker dealer has unique capabilities that can differentiate their companies from other fluid power dealers and also other Parker dealers.

    As you mention, deploying content is the best way to get the word out about unique industrial capabilities. I agree, that is no-brainer. However, so few are doing it. Sad.

    Before we start branding and content marketing we develop a Branding Road Map for our industrial clients. This exercise digs deep into the “Why” ( ) and the core values of the distributor. The Branding Road Map includes a new brand theme, tag lines, tone & voice for blog posts, examples scripts for video, best way to use logo, etc. Once we create a brand theme that differentiates and resonates, then the content that follows has much better traction. Sticky.

    To do this well, takes a branding specialist. We work with a brand specialist that has experience in differentiating chewing gum, beer, fresh fruit and snack foods. I figure if they make chewing gum, beer, fresh fruit and snack foods resonate in the marketplace they can make a fluid power dealer stand out.

    Further, Google is now paying attention to “brand mentions”. The stronger the differentiation and the brand theme, the more likely your industrial company is mentioned. (

    Bottom-line…get outside help when it comes to differentiation and industrial branding.

  2. Excellent post Achinta–well worth the read. Distributors can also support their content marketing programs by leveraging content created by their principals. This can also help with legitimate link building.

    • Thanks Joan!
      I agree about leveraging content from principals. However, most distributors can’t seem to go much beyond copy and paste. As content marketers, we need to help them understand how to add value to that content for their own customers.

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