Despite all the buzz about digital marketing and proof of results, manufacturers, engineering and industrial companies continue to use traditional marketing tactics such as trade shows, print ads and telemarketing.
According to the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks–North America: CMI/MarketingProfs report, 67% of the 1,416 B2B Marketers surveyed, continue to rate in-person events as the most effective marketing tactic they use.
It would be easy to dismiss the continued use of traditional marketing by saying decision makers at industrial companies are resistant to change and they just don’t want to hear anything about current best practices in online marketing. While true to some extent, it doesn’t tell the complete story in my experience.
I have found owners and executives at industrial companies to be sharp business people who wouldn’t continue to spend good money on marketing tactics if they weren’t producing the desired results.
These people have now become more open to listening to me talk about the benefits of inbound marketing with content. The key IMO is making a strong business case for it rather than trying to convince them that they need to be current on marketing technology and tactics. They could care less about that if they don’t see how content marketing directly impacts their sales.
They do realize that their buyers are far more informed today before engaging with their sales team. They are beginning to understand the importance of content marketing setting the table for their sales team so that they can have conversations that are more productive and as a result, increase their win rates.
Does that mean industrial companies are abandoning traditional marketing in favor of digital marketing? In my experience, the answer is NO! I see them shifting more of their attention and budgets towards digital marketing while continuing to use print ads in trade magazines, attend major trade shows, update their marketing collateral and create digital versions at the same time.
Let’s face reality, an engineer or a CEO is not going to go on Facebook or Twitter to make a decision about a 6-figure purchase where one mistake can have dire consequences. Complex industrial sales cannot happen without strong relationships in place. Building these connections can’t happen just via social media. They require a strong network of District Managers, Sales Reps and other channel partners who can stay in constant touch with their customers. In-person events and print ads help to maintain that top-of-mind awareness. In industrial sales, often it is true that who you know is more important than what you know.
Decision makers within these industrial companies realize that the traditional marketing model is difficult to scale up, especially if they want to increase their market share globally. Hiring more sales people is far more expensive than implementing a well-planned digital marketing strategy. Digital and social marketing are helping them start the conversation in order to put the customer in touch with the right in-house expert who can guide them through the entire buying process.
Industrial companies use digital assets such as white papers, case studies, application notes and datasheets to provide relevant content to engineers who must specify their products first before an RFQ can happen. Blogging is just starting to take off.
Among my engineering and industrial clients, I am seeing an increasing interest in developing mobile apps such as calculators, CAD file viewers and measurement tools. Using technical videos and developing in-depth content for online training and certification are also becoming popular.
Overall, I see industrial companies taking more of an integrated marketing approach rather than going all digital marketing in 2013.
Are you using any traditional tactics or is it all digital marketing at your industrial company?
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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.