Problem-centric Industrial Marketing

Please indulge me if my headline made you go “Huh?” Read on…

Industrial and manufacturing marketers are trained to sell solutions. Nobody buys product features, they want solutions. That’s marketing 101, right?

I get that. However, if you are a manufacturer or an industrial services company, ask yourself this question, why would anyone buy your products or services if they don’t know they have a problem?

It seems to me that industrial marketers need to first focus on raising awareness of the problem before they can sell their solution. That’s what I’m calling problem-centric industrial marketing.

As radically different as that may sound, it is based on very sound advice from none other than Seth Godin. I consider him to be a pioneer in many ways and someone who is always on the leading edge of marketing.

Seth summarizes problem-centric marketing brilliantly in his post Sell the problem where he wrote, “When a prospect comes to the table and says, ‘we have a problem,’ then you’re both on the same side of the table when it comes time to solve it. On the other hand, if they’re at the table because you’re persistent or charming, the only problem they have is, ‘how do I get out of here.’”

Here’s how I would adapt his ideas to industrial and manufacturing marketing.

  • If you use a blog as part of your inbound marketing with content, focus more on real pain points of your customers. Offer only a hint of an available solution in your blog posts with links back to product pages on your company’s Website.
  • Use case studies to help your audience identify a problem that they may not be aware of and lower their skepticism about vendor claims. Instead of following a standard format of problem (challenge), solution and results, tell a more compelling story built around a problem that is costing the customer money or causing issues with productivity and compliance. Then talk about how your solutions provided real relief to the customer.
  • Email marketing is a very useful tool for maintaining top-of-mind awareness. Use application notes to educate engineers about the latest developments and new applications for industrial products.
  • Publish and present technical articles. They are excellent content marketing channels for raising awareness of industry-wide problems. These articles will position you and your company as a thought leader and the go-to source for solutions. Gaining this competitive edge will make it difficult for your competition to be on par with you by doing just a comparison of features.

Those are some of the ways I would use problem-centric industrial marketing. Can you think of others?

Footnote: I first learned about Seth’s post from an email that I received from Kevin Goldstein, Sr. Account Manager at Pardot. He sent it to me as helpful content as part of his lead nurturing program. Thanks Kevin!

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3 thoughts on “Problem-centric Industrial Marketing”

  1. I think it’s a very good title, Achinta.

    Yes, we sell solutions, but only by presenting the symptoms clients experience, not even the real problem, can we draw their attention to our messages.

    Also, the reptilian brain, the ultimate decision-maker, is a problem seeking device. It constantly scans the horizon for the proverbial sabre-tooth tiger. It’s naturally tuned to danger.

    So, when we present problems and long-term consequences of ignoring the problem, we can have the market’s attention.

    Reply
    • @Tom,

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your insights on how customers think. Glad you liked my title and agree with my perspective on presenting the problem first before suggesting solutions.

      Reply

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