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What Makes a Best of the Best Winner? Part III

What Makes a Best of the Best Winner? Part III

The most frequent comments I hear from marketing professionals in electrical distribution is that they feel like order-takers rather than strategic planners. It’s frustrating for marketers to spend their time producing one-off pieces rather than developing research- and strategy-based marketing campaigns and plans.

Van Meter offers a wide breadth of products and services that are managed by different groups, each with their own goals. As a result, the marketing team was constantly being asked to create different promotional pieces for different product categories.

Recognizing that they were missing opportunities to promote the Van Meter brand and sell more comprehensive solutions to customers, they came up with an idea. What if they created a family of brochures, designed to follow customers through their buying (and brand) journey in a well-thought-out and consistent manner.

Based on research with account managers and product division leaders, the team arrived at the message “Everything You Need to Succeed.” They developed four types of content-rich selling tools for each product division that also reinforced the Van Meter branding message. These tools were:

  • product division brochures
  • product/service postcards
  • solution spotlights
  • customer success stories

These pieces, targeting electrical contractors, industrial facility/plant managers, and maintenance personnel were introduced to the sales team along with reports outlining which customers to target and providing instructions for using the literature.

What The Judges Said

“I really like this. It was such a comprehensive approach and very, very strategic. They developed all the tools sales people needed and brought it all together into one comprehensive, strategic initiative. I feel like it sets them on the trajectory for success,” exclaimed Judge Shad Thomas.

“I am overwhelmed by the comprehensive nature and quality of the materials. They touch each one of the points that they brought out of their customer journey. I just think it’s a tremendously comprehensive program and a real complete toolbox full of selling tools for their personnel,” said judge Hank Bergson.

I (Katrina) appreciated that they did their research. I like that they carried their brand image throughout the materials, using their own people in the design and focusing on the customer. From a marketing management perspective, they streamlined the production of these materials that were previously mainly one offs. They asked, ‘What do you guys really need?’ Then they created the pieces to help them, and even gave them tips on how to use them.

Judge Jan Niehaus recognized the benefits for the marketing team. “Van Meter truly thought through this journey and created a package of tools to truly help the sales team. Plus it saved the marketing team a ton of time, frustration, and wasted effort creating quick-turn materials. And it’s all nicely positioned from the customer’s point-of-view—based on the need and purpose. It’s incredibly smart and efficient.”

What The Judges Loved

Of course, we loved the research and strategy behind this marketing effort. But we also loved the execution. Here’s why:

  • Van Meter used photos of real employee-owners in the printed pieces.
  • Brochure content was repurposed for postcards, website, blogs, internal e-newsletters, on-hold messaging, advertisements, billboards, radio spots, intranet, and social media.
  • The sales literature is displayed in branch locations but also available in an online directory where they can be downloaded and/or shared electronically.

Perhaps the biggest benefit was that Van Meter’s marketing team transitioned from being literature order-takers to strategists. Now they work with product division leaders to understand their objectives and develop strategies and tactics to help achieve them. This will benefit the divisions and the company for years to come.

Submissions now open!

The 2018 tED magazine Best of the Best Competition is now open for submissions and closes on Friday, March 2. So collect your best campaigns, ads, literature, selling tools, product launches, PR efforts, videos and other marketing efforts—and work on those strategy statements.

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Katrina Olson  is a marketing and public relations consultant, trainer/coach, and host of a monthly podcast called Market Boldly, available on iTunes and Google Play. She has written for tED magazine's print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine's Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and also writes for the new lightEDmag.com and lightED Weekly. She can be reached at Katrina@katrinaolson.com or via her website at katrinaolson.com.

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