And Why Do I Need One?
Let’s start with: what is industrial marketing? In its most general sense, industrial marketing is a segment of B2B marketing, with a specific focus on manufacturing and industrial companies selling to other industrial and manufacturing companies. Therefore, an industrial marketing agency is a firm that helps industrial manufacturing companies with their efforts to grow their businesses in the industrial marketplace.
Industrial marketing comes with its own set of marketing challenges. Industrial companies need to meet the needs of the industrial buyer’s journey. Today’s buyers have many sophisticated tools at their disposal, making them more informed and allowing them to carry much of the power when entering into sales negotiations. A 2018 study conducted by Thomasnet.com and the research firm Strategyn revealed that the industrial buying process involves 15 distinct steps.
The 15 Distinct Steps of the Industrial Buying Process
- Establish the business need for acquiring a specific product or service.
- Define the requirements the product or service must meet.
- Determine what products or services to consider.
- Determine if a new product or service is necessary to address the business need.
- Determine if buying a new product or service is financially justifiable and affordable.
- Define the criteria to evaluate the products or services under consideration.
- Prioritize the criteria used to evaluate the products or services under consideration.
- Evaluate alternative products or services against the prioritized criteria.
- Select the product or service to acquire.
- Define the criteria to evaluate the suppliers that offer the needed product or service.
- Prioritize the criteria used to evaluate suppliers offering the needed product or service.
- Determine what suppliers to consider.
- Evaluate alternative suppliers against the prioritized criteria.
- Select the supplier from which to acquire the product or service.
- Initiate the product or service purchase.
As you can see, they have done a massive amount of work even before contacting you. They are knocking on your proverbial door, most times, ready to act. By aligning their marketing activities to the buying cycle, industrial manufacturers and suppliers can be more successful. This is at the very heart—and success—of the inbound marketing process.
The Impact of Inbound Marketing on Industrial Sales
According to HubSpot (the company that gave birth to the term, methodology, and software platform to execute it all seamlessly in one place), inbound marketing is about creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business. How do you do that? You attract prospects and customers to your website through relevant and helpful content, which may be with blogs or additional helpful, content-rich web pages. Once they arrive, you engage with them using conversational tools such as chat or call-to-action buttons (CTAs) that will guide them to (sometimes) gated content that is relevant to their interest, and by promising—and delivering—continued value. And finally, you delight them by providing ongoing support as an empathetic advisor and expert.
Unlike outbound marketing, with inbound marketing, you don’t need to fight for your potential customers’ attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, you attract qualified prospects. How? As they continue to digest the content you offer, they begin to self-identify with your brand, products, and services, which builds trust and credibility for your business. In a nutshell: you’re helping them by giving them the answers they need—plain and simple.
Insights from Experience …
I have been involved in industrial sales for many years and have seen industrial marketing take shape very gradually. While most industrial companies focus on the competitiveness and quality of their products and service, those products and services will not get sold on their own. More vitally than ever, you need a marketing plan in today’s business model, as marketing is more competitive, challenging, and difficult than ever.
Answer these questions:
- Do you have a marketing plan based on your goals and challenges?
- Do you have a library of content that will answer questions your customers and prospects might ask?
- Can your customers offer feedback on how well you service their needs?
- Does your website tell the complete story of your product and services?
- Does the message and content in your website differentiate you from your competitors?
- Does your website allow for immediate engagement with prospects and customers in the form of chats or pop-ups?
- Do you have the in-house resources to write content and keep your website fresh?
- Do you have social media sites to promote your services, and are they constantly updated?
If you answer yes to all eight of these questions, you are in excellent shape. You may want to engage an industrial marketing agency to assess how well you are performing in these eight areas—even for a limited engagement—to be sure you are headed in the right direction. Keep in mind how quickly new technologies require adjustments on the playing field; it’s good to have B2B marketing professionals you can depend on who know how to monitor and modify strategies for you to meet the changing industrial marketing demands.
If you answered no to any of the eight questions, you may need some guidance to fix some of these areas, or you may want to hire an industrial marketing agency that will work with you to create a marketing plan and implement that marketing plan so that you stay competitive.
To remain competitive, a strategic marketing plan needs to consist of the following:
- A mobile-friendly and updated website with easy navigation and informative content/copy; SEO relevance of all content/copy remains a priority
- Information that will help your customers, such as testimonials, case studies, eBooks, and checklists
- Continuous update of helpful, contemporary information/articles in the form of blogs
- Capturing leads with forms, CTAs, and landing pages that help progress leads from information seekers to qualified leads who want to do business with you
- Nurturing leads with scheduled monthly email newsletters, and special offers, all launched and measured through a comprehensive marketing and sales platform, such as HubSpot email
- Capturing all visitor and lead data in the form of custom dashboards and analytical reporting so that intelligent marketing decisions can be made moving forward
Your industrial marketing agency can help with:
- Strategy—personas, campaign plan, content map, etc.
- Design—landing pages, CTAs, email template, etc.
- Content—update collateral assets, blogs, emails, social posts, etc.
- Tech—install marketing automation software, install CRM (customer relationship management), platform integrations, site integration, etc.
- Establish SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time limited)
- Develop a campaign plan around content offers
- Design and deploy associated landing pages, blogs, CTA graphics
- Design and build email templates, if needed
- Launch campaigns
Marketing’s Vital Role
Most importantly, don’t ignore the vital role of marketing in your business plan. The old saying, “If you build a better mouse trap, the world will beat a path to your door,” does not apply if nobody can find you on the internet (or if once they get to your website, they see your “house” is not well kept). So, if you need help in putting a marketing plan into action, consider hiring an industrial marketing agency that can get you started, and using its proven experience, help you avoid pitfalls along the way.
For a look at what B2B marketers world-wide considered important in 2018, lending insight on where industrial marketing is heading, download the State of Inbound 2018.