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‘State of the Art’
of Distributor Marketing
and Customer Engagement
Survey Results


IMARK Plumbing conducted a survey of member sales and marketing executives in March to learn more about the “state of the art” of distributor marketing and customer engagement. A special thank you to the 142 member executives who completed the survey.

The results of the survey have been carefully reviewed by the IMARK Plumbing staff and we are committed to supporting IMARK members who want to improve their ability to market and sell products and service to a growing number of customers.


1) Member Customer Mix

Small Plumbing Contractors (1-9 Plumbers) 32.56%
Medium-sized Plumbing Contractors (10-49 Plumbers) 19.20%
Large Plumbing Contractors (50+ Plumbers) 9.96%
Commercial / Institutional MRO Customers 9.57%
Industrial PVF 3.97%
Retail—from Plumbing Showroom 9.16%
Utility/Water Works 3.64%
Government / Military 4.39%
Irrigation 3.06%
Other 4.49%

2) Construction Project / Market Segments

Residential (single family homes and/or Multi-dwelling units) 54.62%
Commercial 22.27%
Institutional (schools, hospitals, etc.) 9.04%
Industrial/PVF 4.62%
Government/Military 3.42%
Water Works 3.18%
Irrigation 2.85%

Customer Feedback

3) Does your company survey customers on a consistent and formal basis to identify wants, needs, likes, dislikes?

No 90.60%
Yes, quarterly 2.20%
Yes, twice a year 0.00%
Yes, once a year 7.20%

4) Does your company conduct in-person focus groups or advisory council to gather customer feedback and direction?

No 85.60%
Yes, we do this on a regular basis 3.60%
Yes, we do this occasionally as we deem necessary 10.80%

New Customer Development

5) Does your company set specific goals relating to the addition of new customers over the course of the year?

Yes 28.20%
No 71 .80%

Sales Lead Generation And Follow Up

6) Does your company capture sales leads which are generated from your communications activities?

Yes 33.80
No 66.20

7) Does your company have a process for evaluating the leads and assigning follow-up activities?

Yes 53.30
No 43.70

Communication Resources

8) Which of the following communication resources/methods are currently used by your company?

Video on Corporate Capabilities 4.30%
Brochure (Printed/PDF) on Company Capabilities 36.90%
Newsletter (Paper) Mailed to Customers 7.10%
E-Newsletter Emailed to Customers 26.20%
E-mail Campaigns to Target Individuals with Customized Subject Matter Based on Your Knowledge of Customer's Interests, Wants, Needs 34.80%
Segment-Specific Solutions offered by Your Company 8.50%
Direct Mail (sent via USPS) Campaigns to Target Audience 24.80%
Broadcast (or Blast) emails to Recipients that have 'Opted-In' to Receive Messages from Your Company 23.40%
Broadcast Text Message 15.60%
Video Library on Varied Aspects of Your Company Services and Capabilities 5.70%
Webinars for Customers and Prospects on Topics of Interest and Relevance Offered 5.70%
Case Studies or Success Stories Describing Featuring Solutions Provided by Your Company 24.80%

New Customer Development

9) Does your company develop and use a Communications Calendar to regulate the flow and frequency of outbound communications?

Yes 13.70
No 86.30

10) Is there a person at your company that is primarily responsible for overseeing outbound communications to customers and prospects?

Yes 31.70
No 68.30

11) Does your company utilize an outside ad agency in support of your market communications?

Yes, almost always 6.40%
Yes, occasionally 17.90
No, we develop and deploy our communications in-house 75.70%

12) Does your company have a separate budget for communications, promotions and training or are all these activities included in the cost of sales budget?

Yes, our Company has a Separate Budget for Marketing Related Items 20.00%
No, These Activities are Considered a Cost of Sales and Managed Accordingly 80.00%

13) Does your company account for and spend 100% of co-op or market development funds earned from suppliers each year?

Yes 32.40%
No 54.20%
Not sure 13.40%

In-Person Training

14) Does your company have a stand-alone training room (on-site) for training of end customer personnel?

Yes 32.40
No 67.60


15) Does your company charge customers for training conducted by your personnel and/or your supplier experts?

No, never 87.30%
Yes, occasionally 11.30%
Yes, always 1.40%

Social Media

16) Does your company utilize social media to communicate with customers and prospects?

Yes 59.30%
No 40.70%

17) Which of the following social media platforms are used by your company?

Facebook 96.60%
Instagram 42.70%
Linkedin 36.00%
Pinterest 9.00%
SnapChat 2.20%
TikTok 1.10%
Twitter 20.20%
YouTube 14.60%

18) Does your company use customer relationship management (CRM) software for sales and marketing?

Yes 13.40%
No 86.60%

Promotional Techniques

19) From the list below, which promotional techniques are used by your company?

Weekley/Monthly/Quarterly Sales Promotions Which Reward Customers for Their Purchases (Products Type, Limited Time Period) 29.00%
Trips Promotions that Reward Customer Loyalty and/or Purchase Growth (YOY) 13.70%
"Spiffs" that Reward Your Sales Personnel for Sales of a Specific Product Type/Supplier Over a Limited Time Period 47.60%
Events (trade shows, Tool Days, Special Events (i.e., Golf, Cookouts) 87.90%
Formal Promotion on Key New Products on a Regular Basis 17.70%

Website Basics

20) Which of the following are featured on your companys website?

List of Branch Locations 82.00%
Your Company Suppliers Line Card 85.20%
Information on New Products (Refreshed Periodically) 22.70%
Links to Training Resources 14.80%

21) Which of the following are featured on your company's website?

Special Deals/Promos, Dead Stock Promos, etc. 17.20%
e-Product Catalog with Search Capabilities 32.00%
Customers can Place Orders on Your Webstore 33.60%
Customers can Check Your Company's Inventory 28.10%
Customers can Check Delivery Status 6.30%
Chatroom Assistance Provider by a "Digital Ambassador" 7.80%

22) Does your company use search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your website visibility and pre-eminence in customer search results?

Yes 33.80%
No 68.20%

23) For those with webstores how many full attributed product SKUs (pictures, specs, dimensions, etc.)

<10,000 17.60%
10,001 to 20,000 12.70%
20,001 to 50,000 4.90%
50,000+ 6.30%

24) From which source do you obtain your attributed data (check all that apply)?

Trade Service 38.30%
Distributor Data Solutions (DDS) 5.00%
Directly from Supplier 46.70%
Developed by Your Company 46.80%
Other 10.00%

25) Member respondents with webstores were asked to estimate the percentage of company sales generated on their website:

1-2% 20.40%
3 to 5% 14.80%
6 to 10% 4.90%
11 to 15% 2.10%
16 to 20% 0.70%
20% or more 2.10%

Mobile Marketing

26) Does your company offer one or more apps to enhance customer service to mobile device users?

Yes 8.10%
No 91.90%

27) Members that said "Yes" were asked which of the following features were included in their company's apps:

Find Locations by me 52.40%
Click to Call and/or Order by Text 42.90%
Place Order via Quick Order Form 47.60%
Scan to Cart 23.80%
Document Access 33.30%
Stock Check 52.40%
Product Search 76.20%
Warranty Search 0.00%
MSDS Sheets 19.00%

Members Favorites:
What Do We Like To Do? What Do We Do Well?

28) Member respondents were asked to select no more than (5) tactics which they use currently and believe to be most effective with their customer base:

Email Communications 44.40%
Event Marketing 58.50%
Training Customers 43.70%
New Product Launches 16.30%
Our Website and Webstore 23.00%
Sales Promotions 36.30%
Customer Loyalty Incentives Programs 14.80%
Lead Generation for Marketing/Sales Team 1.50%
Provide Real-Time Customer History to Sales Reps 16.30%
Social media engagement 14.80%
SEO techniques to promote web presence 9.60%
Use company sales data to find opportunities to spur add-on sales and increase share of customer spend 13.30%

Members Aspirations:
Where Do We Need To Get Better

29) Member respondents were asked to select no more than (5) capabilities that could be an area of interest or a priority for improvement:

Collect and Analyze Large Data Sets (from Your Company Results) and Provide Business Intelligence to Decision Makers 16.30%
Deploy CRM Software to your sales and marketing resources 22.50%
Deploy Marketing Automation Software to Increase the Number of 'Touch Points' and the Relevance of the Message to the Target Audience 17.10%
Increase Percentage of Overall Company Sales on Company Webstore 49.60%
Improve Ability to Respond to Mobile Device Users 34.90%
Improve the Quality of the Product Data Used in Your Webstore 27.10%
Improve the Ability to Sell Remotely 23.30%
Train Sales Force to Generate Revenue from Service Providers 35.70%
Use Company Sales Data to Find Opportunities to Spur Add-On Sales and Increase Share of Customer Spend 35.70%
Social media engagement 14.80%
SEO techniques to promote web presence 9.60%
Use company sales data to find opportunities to spur add-on sales and increase share of customer spend 13.30%