B2B Marketing Plan Myths and Realities
The mission for industrial manufacturers in general focuses on making a quality product for a fair price that has demand enough to support the growth of their company with a reasonable profit. Marketing often takes a back seat to product development, production, and sales. What are the myths and what is the reality when it comes to the need for and creation of a viable marketing plan?
If You Don’t Know How to Market to Customers, How Will They Know How to Find You?
After listening to the needs and goals of a CEO of a New England-based manufacturing company recently, we submitted a proposal tailored to this company’s objectives. The proposal was returned to the CEO from the company’s board of directors with this feedback:
- We know who our prospects are; why do we need to spend money on marketing?
- Why don’t we just pay someone $1,000 a months to run an SEO program?
- Blogs are useless.
- We clearly have the best product in the market. Why are we invisible, and why is the world not beating a path to our door?
Unfortunately these pushbacks from upper management of manufacturing companies are not unique. I have been involved in sales and marketing for manufacturers for more than 30 years. Early in my career, I often wondered how some industrial manufacturers I met with stayed in business without any B2B marketing. And maybe 30 years ago, with the right product, some excellent sales people, and a hands-on business owner, you could grow a solid company. And many, in the business climate of the time, did succeed.
Today’s Market Has Changed—Are You Paying Attention?
In today’s market, with 95% of purchases beginning via a search online, it’s not so simple. The buyer’s journey has changed dramatically. Clearly, B2C buying and selling practices have fully permeated the B2B world—and the entire selling model must change along with it. Yet, business owners and managers still think it should be easy, and many insist on using old sales and nurturing tactics. We have seen a slight turn in attitudes, with management now realizing that the buyer’s journey is not linear anymore. As well, buyers typically reach out to sales people only when they are ready to buy, and with much more information than ever before.
Buyers are self-educated, which changes the salesperson’s role significantly. How does today’s manufacturing company and sales staff prepare for the educated buyer, and how do they remain involved in the 70% of the research that buyers are doing prior to contacting sales people? Surely, they can prepare, and not just react to emails coming in. What’s to be done? How about a reality check?
Myths and Reality Check
- It’s too early to tell if the new administration will—or will not—help your business
- Nobody is going to answer your sales person’s phone call
- Nobody is going to beat a path to your doorstep if they don’t know you
- Nobody cares that you make the best products in the world if they’ve never heard of you
Biggest Myth: there is no ONE solution!
- An SEO program is only as good as the content you create
- One blog every couple of months will get nobody’s attention
- An email campaign that does not target personas and is not creative will not be successful
- A new website that is not well thought out from the perspective of your audience will not generate the leads you hope for
- You can’t win without a plan
Marketing Plan Realities
How about a marketing plan? To my surprise, many small- to medium-size industrial manufacturers do not have a marketing plan. Maybe it is because today’s marketing is really quite complex and most companies don’t have the knowledge or the resources to design an effective plan. After all, as discussed above, business is being done very differently these days, and B2B marketing and sales need to exist within a very fluid, dynamic model. It is, indeed, a lot to anticipate, create goals around, and keep up with.
There is so much more to consider when planning your industrial marketing strategy. We have a fantastic resource for you—an eBook written by a collaboration of 23 industry insiders who provide their expertise for successful B2B marketing. All of them are experienced marketers in the manufacturing sector. Download “Constructing a Winning Blueprint for 2017” and find out what else you should be doing to implement a successful industrial manufacturing marketing strategy.