Many manufacturers and industrial companies are learning some hard lessons these days. Business as usual is not working – referrals are trickling in, if at all and the pipeline of leads is running dry. The old way of hiring away salespeople from the competition with their “ready book of business” is not producing the quick sales they had expected.
Next, they try a series of marketing tactics without a strategy or a plan, hoping something will produce results. When that doesn’t work, they turn to the Internet in search of information on how to do industrial marketing on a shoestring budget.
After being burned a few times by free tips from self-proclaimed experts online, they become frustrated and are suspicious of any more advice even if it is from a legitimate and proven industrial marketing consultant. In desperation, they start looking for a quick “Band-Aid” fix for their lead generation problems while spending as little as possible since budgets are tight or non-existent.
In short, they are now looking for Cheap Miracles or may be, Industrial Marketing Made in China.
Marketing for these industrial companies has always been a sales support function — put together a PowerPoint presentation for the next sales meeting, create a few posters for an upcoming tradeshow or make the product catalog look “pretty.” It is very difficult for them to change this mindset and think of an industrial marketing strategy before implementing tactics. Yes, there is a big difference between strategy and tactics. Google strategy vs. tactics and you’ll get 4,030,000 hits so there is no sense in me repeating all that here.
How can industrial marketing remove this disconnect?
The advice I’m about to share here is based on my 25 years of hands-on experience working with manufacturers and industrial companies. They are not marketing theories but lessons learned over the years.
- Change your mindset from marketing tactics for quick results to creating a repeatable and sustainable marketing strategy for producing high quality leads on a regular basis
- Create an effective marketing strategy built specifically for your business. It cannot be a cookie cutter template driven plan. Creating an individualized marketing strategy requires expertise, time and money. Information is free on the Internet but proven expertise isn’t
- Encourage marketing and sales to work together as a team. Business development should be owned by both and cannot operate in separate silos
- Actively participate in the development of your marketing plan. If you don’t have the time for the nitty-gritty details, then delegate it to someone who you trust and give that person the authority to act on your behalf
- Hold marketing accountable but don’t measure its real value only by the number of RFQs generated. Marketing does a lot more by building trust among your customers (branding) and sets the table for prospects to engage in more meaningful conversations with your sales team (See Inbound Marketing Must Set the Table for Industrial Sales)
- Nurture qualified leads that are not ready to buy now with effective content marketing. If you don’t, they will buy from your competition when they are ready (See my earlier post, B2B Lead Generation without Lead Nurturing is Doomed to Fail)
- Measure, refine and repeat. Marketing is a process that takes time to gel and produce results. Don’t look for an instant miracle; instead focus on incremental results and improvements as you build the process
That’s my take on how a good marketing strategy helps manufacturers and industrial companies generate leads and grow sales on a regular basis. Let me hear your thoughts, especially if you are on the inside.