If you are using digital marketing (You are, aren’t you?) to market your industrial company, its products and services, then you need to understand the importance of the age gap and its impact on digital media usage.
I’m sure you have read many of the dire headlines about the critical skills gap in the industrial sector and how it could threaten the competitiveness of manufacturing in the U.S. If you read between the lines, the underlying cause of this problem is the age gap. Here are a few recent headlines and direct quotes to drive home my point:
I don’t want to get into a debate about all this being just a ploy for companies to ship jobs overseas for cheaper labor. The fact is we have a problem. Enough said!
Let’s look at how this age gap impacts digital marketing for industrial companies. I just finished reading the IHS GlobalSpec research report, 2014 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector. At first glance, there are no major revelations, but there is a significant difference this year that caught my attention. The results from this year’s survey show key differences in the use of digital media by age.
For example, 42% of this audience of technical professionals visits more than ten work-related websites each week. In the under 35-year-old age group, significantly more respondents than any other age segment visit more than 20 websites each week.
The primary uses of the Internet for technical professionals are to find components, equipment, services and suppliers (74 percent); obtain product specifications (73 percent); compare products across suppliers (69 percent); find pricing information (68 percent); and perform research (66 percent).
This has not changed much over the years. However, it is interesting to see how various age groups use digital media at various stages of their industrial buy cycle. The age of your target audience has become an important consideration for industrial marketers when developing marketing plans and content. The survey found some important differences by age in how they consume and use digital media in work-related decisions.
Age differences will influence the content you create for top, middle and bottom of the sales funnel. They also have an impact on the stage of the buy cycle – Needs Awareness, Research vs. Consideration & Comparison and Procurement. Technical professionals under age 35 are more likely to use the Internet for research and product comparisons, whereas those over age 35 are more likely to be obtaining product specifications and finding components, equipment, services and suppliers.
The IHS GlobalSpec survey states that “Year-over-year comparison shows the growing importance of general search engines, industry-specific search engines and webinars among the under age 35 group, whereas online catalogs and supplier websites grew in importance among those over 35.”
The age gap has a strong influence on the usage of social media and mobile devices for work-related tasks.
Independent research studies are great for stats and facts but anecdotal evidence is even better for a reality check. I had a very interesting conversation with a client who is a manufacturer of leak testing equipment and sells primarily to the Automotive and the Medical Device industries.
One of his customers told him that his (my client’s) biggest challenge wasn’t newer competitors but younger engineers who didn’t have the personal experience of the technical problems that my client’s company had solved. Many of the senior engineers on the customer’s side who knew about these engineering solutions would be retiring soon. His advice to my client was to win the mindshare of these newer engineers if he wanted to continue to grow his sales and yes, he may lose some in the short run.
The impact of the age gap on digital marketing for industrial companies is significant. Understanding and being aware of these differences will help you develop more effective industrial marketing strategies.
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Industrial Marketing Today is an integral part of Tiecas, Inc., a Houston-based industrial marketing agency. We’ve been in business since 1987, serving the marketing needs of manufacturers, distributors, and engineering companies from various industries.