Industrial Buyers – Their Preferences and How to Market to Them

Understanding the mindset of industrial buyers is important if you market to engineers and technical professionals. There are plenty of research reports published on buyer personas and the buying habits of consumers, but they focus mainly on B2C marketing. You can find data on general B2B marketing, but it is somewhat limited when it comes to industrial marketing.

There are four annual surveys/reports that are done specifically about industrial buyers and manufacturing or engineering marketing. I read them regularly and I’m honored to be quoted in some of them.

Sources and tools used by industrial buyers

It shouldn’t surprise you that the majority of industrial buyers prefer digital or online sources and tools for gathering information when making their buying decisions. That was clear from the findings from all the reports that I am about to cite here. It is okay if you are somewhat skeptical about the findings considering the sources of the data, but it shouldn’t take anything away from you gaining a better understanding of the behavior and habits of industrial buyers.

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Using Digital Industrial Marketing for Reaching Younger Engineers

Digital industrial marketing is the norm these days, not because it is fashionable but because that’s how industrial buyers now prefer to interact with their suppliers. I’m sure you are aware of the fact that the industrial buy cycle is made up of four stages. Publishing generic content that is not tailored to each stage is not very effective.

It is virtually impossible to create relevant and engaging content unless you have a very good understanding of the roles engineers play at every stage of the buy cycle. Two more factors that you should be aware of to make your industrial digital/content marketing effective are:

  1. Engineers are time challenged – 44% of engineers are working on more projects now than they were two years ago and 55% of engineers are being asked to do more with less. (Source: IEEE Engineering360 survey).
  2. Understanding the age gap is important in digital marketing for industrial companies – 49% of engineers surveyed are less than 49 years old (Source: 2017 Digital Media Use in The Industrial Sector, IEEE GLOBALSPEC)

For more on point number 1, see my post “Overcoming the Challenge of Marketing to Busy Engineers.”

Role of the engineer in the buy decision

In this post, I’ll focus on understanding the age difference and how it affects your industrial digital marketing strategy and tactics. Before I dive deep into that, first let me give you some anecdotal evidence as to why this is important.

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Why Manufacturers Need a Multichannel Industrial Marketing Strategy

Multichannel industrial marketing strategy doesn’t get that much attention or buzz. It should, because it is a closer reflection of how manufacturing and engineering companies are marketing these days.

It’s a fact that in 2016, manufacturers and industrial companies are spending more of their marketing dollars on digital marketing tactics. This of course makes sense because 53% of engineers and industrial professionals spend 6 hours or more per week on the Internet for work-related purposes.

Manufacturing marketing budgets and satisfaction levels

Here are a few charts from research studies done by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), ENGINEERING.COM and IHS Engineering360.

Manufacturing marketing budgets and spends

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No Digital Marketing for Manufacturers = Marketing in the Past

Are you marketing in the past without digital marketing for manufacturers?Most manufacturers including precision CNC machine shops and fabricators have difficulty understanding the true value of digital marketing for manufacturers. Some that have implemented it, struggle to produce tangible results, meaning a boost in sales that they can attribute to marketing.

The need for a robust online presence (Website and customer-centric content marketing) is driven by your customer’s behavior and not because marketing consultants are telling you to do so. Today’s industrial buyers are in self-serve and self-select mode, making them virtually invisible and hard to reach. They don’t need or want to talk to your sales people to get product information. Your buyers will engage with your sales team only when they are ready. Hounding them with cold calls or unwanted spammy emails is not going to make them choose you over the competition.

The lack of buy-in for digital marketing is a two-fold problem as I see it with my industrial clients. The first issue is a mindset at the top and the second part is one of incorrect attribution.

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Planning Your Industrial Marketing Strategy for 2015

industrial marketing strategyI hope you have already started planning your industrial marketing strategy for 2015. You may be wondering why you need to spend the time and effort in creating an industrial marketing strategy when you already know the problem – not enough quality leads generated from your current website.

It would be easy to dive right into redesigning your current industrial website. That however could be a mistake because the lack of leads is the symptom you are feeling, the underlying cause of the problem may be something completely different. You need to first identify the root cause and then come up a with plan of action to solve the problem. That plan of action is what I’m referring to as your industrial marketing strategy.

Importance of a formal industrial marketing strategy

Let’s take a step back and see why formulating an industrial marketing strategy is so important. I’m sure by now you have read or heard enough about how content marketing is the best strategy for generating more high quality leads at a lower cost per lead. So making content the cornerstone of your industrial marketing strategy is vital.

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