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Industrial Content Marketing for Engineers to Make a Buy Decision

Manufacturers want their industrial content marketing for engineers to generate Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and not just Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) from content downloads. There is a big challenge faced by manufacturers of components targeting Design Engineers. These Design Engineers often don’t have the final buying authority but unless the industrial parts are “designed in” by these engineers (Specifiers), the Purchasing Department (Functional Buyers) can’t or won’t issue a Purchase Order or contact you with an RFQ.

Search this blog for my earlier posts on MQL vs SQL and understanding the differences between a specifier and a functional buyer. In this post, I’ll focus on a specific industrial marketing strategy that is an effective sales enabler when targeting engineers.

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In Industrial Lead Generation, a Lead is a Lead, Right?

Defining leads in industrial lead generationEvery discussion I’ve had with manufacturers and industrial companies starts with “we need more leads” or ends with “we need results.” I understand and accept the fact that the main goal of industrial marketing is to generate leads. I have no issues with that but do these companies know what a qualified lead is?

That may sound like a dumb question to ask in industrial lead generation but in reality, you would be surprised by how fundamental and serious that question is. I’m not making this up or trying to be clever here.

Let me explain with three excerpts from conversations I have had in just the past few months.

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Industrial Marketing Can’t Succeed Without Sales

Industrial marketing and sales - mythbustersI can assure you this is not another post about sales and marketing alignment. Plenty has been written on that topic already.

I am sure you’ve read many articles about today’s industrial buyers completing most of their decision making long before they ever contact anyone in sales. Various statistics show how Sales is not involved until the final procurement stage, thus making a strong case for using content in inbound industrial marketing to bridge the gap.

I read an article where recent Forrester research found that 75% of the buying cycle is completed before sales is engaged.

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Subscribers to Free Content are NOT Leads

I’ve heard some of my manufacturing clients call their subscribers to free content leads. I’ve also read articles by other industrial marketers where they recommend using free content to generate new leads.

That is good advice and it is a proven tactic for inbound marketing. However, I do have a problem with classifying these new subscribers as leads.

IMO, these people have merely raised their hands to indicate some interest in your company, content and the free offer. They are prospects by my definition.

Let’s face it; you are going to get a few sign ups just because it is free. They found your content interesting and valuable but are not likely to become customers ever. Some of them may even be your competition.

Visitors who sign up to download your white papers, eBooks and other free content definitely grow your list of contacts but calling them leads without taking the next step is premature at best if not a costly mistake.

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Rules of B2B Lead Scoring – Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

Lead scoring has become very important in today’s B2B marketing. Especially now since industrial and technical buyers are relying more and more on online resources for their decision making process. Marketing’s role in interacting with prospects has expanded and goes further into the buy cycle than before. This has resulted in fewer direct interactions with sales reps from vendors.

Lead scoring, a key component of lead nurturing and management, is an effective tool for aligning sales and marketing. In developing a lead scoring system, marketing has to make certain assumptions to classify prospects as hot or not. Are they sales qualified leads (SQLs) ready to be passed on to sales or do they require further nurturing because their score qualifies them as marketing qualified leads (MQLs)?

Sales uses its front-line experience and expertise to validate marketing’s lead scoring assumptions. This builds a foundation for an effective closed-loop lead management program and keeps both sales and marketing playing together on the same team. Read more