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Marketing Momentum: Making Trends Work for You

By Katrina Olson

In late June, I spent three days with 11 sharp distributor marketers, plus nine smart representatives from Legrand North and Central America. I learned so much from these bright, committed professionals. I hope they also learned something from my two-hour session on marketing, trends and ROI.

We talked about trends and opportunities—how we need to look one, three, five and even 10 years ahead. As marketing leaders and strategists, we need to know what trends are affecting our customers, their customers and end users so we can be prepared to meet them.

Following are a couple of trends we discussed, plus a couple we'll address next year. All of them are currently impacting the industry.

1. The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding. Being able to connect any device with an on and off switch to the internet and/or to each other is now possible—e.g. smart phones, coffee makers, washing machines, dishwashers, headphones, lamps, security systems and even an airplane's jet engine or an oil rig drill. In short, the IoT connects people to people, people to things, and things to things.

The IoT makes it possible for you to turn on your TV and change the channel from anywhere in the country or the world. You can control your lights, security system, and refrigerator from your phone, computer or tablet.

The convergence of broadband internet availability, decreasing internet costs, growth of WiFi devices, decreasing technology costs and skyrocketing smartphone penetration has created a “perfect storm” for the IoT. By 2021, global IoT spending is expected to reach $1.4 trillion as organizations continue to invest in hardware, software, services, and connectivity.

Is the IoT on your radar? If not, you may be missing out on a huge market.

2. The Amazon Factor

Now that Amazon is directly targeting contractors with advertising and a dedicated website, electrical distributors need to step up their game. Distributors must reinforce their existing relationships and build new ones with prospects.

Happy customers who are being well-cared-for by their distributors will be less likely to jump to Amazon. How can a distributor use their unique knowledge about what contractors and other customers want and need to make their lives easier? If you don't know, ask them! Then address their pain points.

3. The Rise of Millennials

As senior members of electrical distribution retire, Gen Xers will replace them. These more tech-savvy leaders will incorporate more technology, be more committed to social responsibility, provide a more flexible workplace and further challenge the status quo. The corporate culture will change as will the speed at which we do business. Distributors and manufacturers who recognize and adapt to these changes will leap ahead of the competition in terms of recruiting, customer service and ultimately profits.

4. The Quest for Power

We've become so attached to our smart phones and other digital devices that we're constantly looking outlets and charging stations. Whether we're outside, in airports, or working in our offices, we want our power conveniently located and easily accessible. Some manufacturers anticipated this need and responded by offering outdoor charging stations, attractive floor boxes, outdoor ground boxes, USB outlets, pop-up outlets, and furniture power.

Others see marketing opportunities, like ABB's sponsorship of this free charging station at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina (in 2016). How can you capitalize on and profit from this need for power?

What trends are currently impacting your business? What trends do you see that will impact your business in the future? Share your thoughts below or email me at katrina@katrinaolson.com.

Olson is a marketing and public relations consultant, and principal of Katrina Olson Strategic Communications. She has written for tED magazine's print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine's Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and emceed the Best of the Best Awards ceremony for a total of seven years. She can be reached at Katrina@katrinaolson.com or via her website at katrinaolson.com.



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