ADS service panel looks at creating the best online marketing campaign

An online marketing tutorial from Faron Lofton with M&D Distributors dominated the Service Member panel discussion at the Association of Diesel Specialists (ADS) Convention and Tradeshow Wednesday in San Diego.

During a brief 20-minute presentation, Lofton detailed to ADS members how his company, an eight-location distributor with fewer than 150 employees, has developed a comprehensive online marketing and messaging campaign that is allowing the business to interact with customers throughout North America.

Lofton says M&D Distributors first decided to develop an online presence as a way to better promote its products and educate its customer base. Lofton says the company’s earliest efforts focused on developing an email newsletter, but after exhausting the resource centers of its most trusted vendors, the company was forced to look inward and begin developing its own content that could be shared. It was during that transition that Lofton says the company’s capabilities really exploded. He says once the team at M&D discovered customers were interested in learning more about their operation and would engage with their content, potential marketing ideas started flowing in from throughout the company. He says today all employees are encouraged to submit ideas for future content, and M&D employees are featured in as many videos and articles as possible.

Lofton says the results speak for themselves. The company’s online educational library, Diesel University, totaled nearly 9,500 views last month, and the company’s YouTube page has more than 80,000 page views across 40 videos.

As for how M&D is using the content it is producing, Lofton says the company’s current initiatives are expansive. The company uses custom sequencing to send different messages to different customers depending on their status in the customer conversion process. New prospects get general information on M&D’s products, services, hours of operation, etc.

As those customers engage with that content, the messaging becomes more specific, with how-to videos, product specials and more. If the customer remains engaged from there, Lofton says M&D’s messaging gets even more pointed, and begins providing insider industry tips and information the customer could not find elsewhere. Coupled with interaction from M&D’s sales associates, Lofton says the new strategy allows the company to remain top of mind with its customers at all times.

“If we’re not useful, we’re not top of mind,” he says.

Lofton also notes the importance of monitoring content performance to ensure messaging lands the way it is designed. He says any M&D content that does not generate the engagement rates the company anticipates is quickly shelved and replaced with different information that pulls the customer closer to the business.

He believes such efforts are going to be required for businesses like M&D and other ADS members going forward. The market is too competitive for businesses to sit back and wait for customers to walk through the door. The days of reactive selling are numbered.

Says Lofton: “What is our relationship going to look like in 10 years if we don’t stay engaged with our customers?”

Rountree assumes ADS leadership

Lofton’s presentation Wednesday was followed by the formal introduction of ADS’ new board members. New officers for the 2018 to 2020 terms are President Laura Rountree, Vice President Al Roberts, Treasurer Paul Thoms and Secretary Bryan Menke.

In taking over for immediate past president Carl Ferguson, Rountree says she is eager to begin representing the diesel industry and is excited by the potential found in her fellow officers, board members and committee members.

“Success comes from recognizing the continuing challenges we face,” she says. “We will thrive by addressing the future of the diesel industry together.”

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