As an experienced industrial marketer with 35+ years of hands-on experience, I have witnessed first-hand the unique challenges manufacturing marketers face. In this article, I’ll discuss the most common ones and suggest practical solutions to overcome them. Manufacturers and industrial companies can achieve their marketing objectives by understanding and overcoming these roadblocks.
Let’s look at some of the unique challenges in manufacturing marketing.
The manufacturing industry presents a set of distinct challenges that marketers must navigate. First, the target audience in industrial marketing is often niche and specialized. Unlike consumer marketing, where the target audience is broad and diverse, industrial marketers must reach a specific group of professionals with industry-specific knowledge and expertise. This requires a deep understanding of the industry and the ability to communicate effectively with professionals in those fields.
Without a deep understanding of the industry and the challenges faced by engineers and technical professionals, manufacturing marketers may struggle to effectively communicate the unique value proposition of their offerings and engage with the target audience.
To overcome this roadblock, marketers need to learn about their target industries and the challenges engineers face in their daily work. I understand that not every marketer is an engineer. So how do you gain this expertise and knowledge?
One of the best ways is learning from your in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Do some basic online research and reading before you approach an SME. They are busy doing what they do best, and that is not marketing. You don’t want to waste their time by being unprepared.
Try attending industry events and meetings and talking to external experts. Attend related webinars to understand what others in your industry are discussing and the challenges they are trying to overcome.
I’m not saying it will be easy, especially at first. Give yourself time to thoroughly understand the industry so you can effectively tailor marketing messaging to connect with the target audience on a deeper level.
Another significant roadblock in industrial marketing is the limited budget and resources. With limited funds, executing some of your more ambitious marketing plans can be challenging. However, this challenge can be overcome through strategic planning and prioritization.
One effective solution is to focus on targeted marketing efforts that reach the niche audience most likely to be interested in your marketing message. Note I did not say “Product Promotions.”
Of course, your marketing goals should align closely with business goals, meaning you need to help increase sales and revenues at the end of the day. However, making your marketing overly “salesy” is a sure turnoff.
“51% said they are challenged with creating valuable content instead of sales-oriented content as well as with overcoming the traditional marketing and sales mindset.”(Source: Report published by the Content Marketing Insitute).
Reaching a niche target audience is a common roadblock in industrial marketing. Unlike consumer marketing, where mass media channels can be used to reach a broad audience, industrial marketers need to identify the specific platforms and channels where their target audience is active. This can be challenging, as the industrial sector often has its own unique communication channels and platforms.
Try leveraging industry-specific publications, attending trade shows and conferences, and utilizing online platforms catering to manufacturing industry professionals.
Don’t just rely on organic SEO for your audience to find your content. Remember, industrial buyers are not searching every day for engineered systems and components. Use other channels to drive your audience back to your industrial website and blog.
By understanding the communication habits of the target audience, marketers can develop a targeted approach that ensures their message reaches the right people at the right time.
Here’s a handy chart showing social media channels engineers use for work-related purposes. (Source: 2023 State of Marketing To Engineers, published by TREW Marketing and GlobalSpec)
Here’s something unique and different in industrial or manufacturing marketing. As a manufacturer of industrial components, you have to deal with two different types of buyers—Specifiers and Functional Buyers.
A specifier is often a staff engineer tasked with gathering all the specs and ensuring they meet the design requirements.
The Purchasing Department is the functional buyer that issues the RFQ or the PO only to suppliers on the Approved Vendor List (AVL) or whose parts are specified in the bill of materials (BOM).
Unless the specifier “designs in” your part, you will not likely get that RFQ or a PO. The specifier may not have the final buying authority but ignore him/her at your peril.
Consider creating an online library of 2D/3D CAD files. This is a proven manufacturing marketing strategy for parts manufacturers. See my earlier post, Using CAD and BIM Files in Manufacturing Content Marketing, for more on this topic.
Building trust and credibility is crucial for success in industrial marketing. Industrial buyers typically make decisions based on a combination of technical specifications, reputation, and trust in the supplier. This presents a unique challenge for marketers, as they must promote the features and benefits of their products or services and, at the same time, establish trust and credibility in the industry.
This is probably the biggest challenge faced by manufacturing marketers that I’ve seen. You can’t build strong relationships based on earned trust with short-term marketing campaigns.
A good solution to this challenge is to focus on thought leadership and educational content. Marketers can position themselves as trusted advisors in the industry by providing valuable insights and expertise through blog posts, whitepapers, and webinars. This approach helps build trust with potential buyers and establishes the company as a credible source of information and expertise.
Today’s buyers are in self-serve and self-select mode. Leveraging digital marketing strategies is essential for success in this environment.
Your digital marketing strategy should include search engine optimization (SEO) to improve visibility in search engine results, paid advertising campaigns targeted at industry-specific keywords (I’ve seen my clients have limited success with PPC), advertising on industry portals, and social media marketing to engage with industrial professionals.
Additionally, email marketing can be a highly effective strategy for nurturing leads and maintaining relationships with existing customers. By providing valuable content and personalized messaging, industrial companies can stay top-of-mind and drive repeat business.
Industrial content marketing plays a crucial role in overcoming industrial marketers’ challenges. Manufacturers can attract and engage their target audience by creating and distributing relevant and valuable content. This can include blog posts, case studies, industry reports, and educational resources.
Your content must convey that you understand their challenges and can provide effective solutions. Don’t produce content that is nothing more than thinly disguised product features. It must be more about them and less about you.
While industrial marketing presents its own set of challenges, you can overcome them with the right strategies and tactics. Manufacturers can drive success and achieve their marketing objectives by understanding the unique characteristics of the manufacturing industry, identifying roadblocks, and implementing effective solutions.
Let’s talk if you are facing some of these challenges and need help with industrial and manufacturing marketing. I’ll first listen to your concerns and then try to provide tailored marketing solutions to address your specific needs instead of serving up cookie-cutter theories. Together, we can overcome challenges and pave the way for your success in industrial marketing.
A real-world overview of industrial content marketing based on our 35+ years of hands-on experience working with manufacturers and engineering companies.
A one-hour live (online) consulting session with Achinta Mitra to discuss your industrial marketing challenges. I’ll try to provide general guidance that you can apply right away.
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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.