Marketing in the industrial space is not easy. I would go as far as to say it is the most difficult sector, I have ever had to run marketing campaigns too and for. Between highly complex value-propositions, small pools of available leads and massive buying committees it was a very tricky sector to market and sell too 12 months ago – and that’s before we throw in a global pandemic and recession into the mix!
I have been working at Bollin Green, a specialist telemarketing agency for the industrial sector, for some time now. Bollin Green’s relationship with some of the globes biggest manufacturers and technology businesses has given me a unique insight into the way key decisions are made and how the current global climate is affecting operations and future planning. In this article, I wanted to impart some of the knowledge I have learnt over the past few months, that you can hopefully use to achieve your marketing goals.
Mix Proactive and Reactive Marketing
My entire career has been spent utilising modern marketing tactics and strategy like Inbound. So much so, the first company I worked in was the first HubSpot Certified agency in Europe. What I am trying to get across here, is I am the last person you would expect to go against the ideology of Inbound. But my relationship with the Inbound approach has let me see where all the cracks are. And well, let us just say that if you offer a specialised product or have a complicated value-proposition, there is a big gaping hole in the Inbound approach.
The core premise of Inbound is to produce content that your audience wants to consume, and because they want to consume it, they will find it. Great if you are targeting B2C, a plumber who knows people search for a local plumber or an industry giant who can throw obscene amounts of money at content. But what if you are an ERP provider, who knows most of your audience aren’t proactive in finding a solution to their problems? A more directed approach is needed.
Therefore, tactics like Account-Based Marketing (ABM) are starting to take the top spot for B2B marketing. ABM is a newer strategy that focuses your marketing on a select few accounts. ABM is all about getting your content and solution in front of the people you want to be using it. If you are targeting companies like Honeywell, Siemens, or British Airways, for example, it is safe to say they are not going to be looking for your solution, you need to put it in front of them. And that’s exactly what ABM helps you to do.
Something else to think about is the different channels you utilise. In the industrial space, a lot of leads are produced using more Proactive marketing tactics. Proactively reaching out to your audience and asking if they have need or project you can help with, is a quick way to generate new and exciting sales leads.
This does not mean you should not be doing content or Inbound marketing. It simply means you need to be utilising a mixture of both.
It is a time of rightsizing
With a global recession in the air, companies across the world are in a phase of rightsizing. And this could not be truer than in the Industrial sector.
In recent months manufacturers have been spending a lot of time evaluating their channel and distribution networks as well as their partners and providers. Why? Because they are reducing the number of risks towards their operation. If you have 12 different companies that provide you with components for your product, that is 12 companies that might not survive a recession. For a lot of these manufacturers, just 1 of those partners going down can cause the whole operation or product line to come to a halt. By reducing the number of partners, a manufacturer is dealing with, they are reducing the number of relationships they need to keep.
They are also as a by-product helping to support their selected partners more. The partners that are being selected are typically seeing a bigger piece of the pie – which is helping to make them more financially stable, reducing the risk of supply chain collapse.
From a marketing perspective, budgets and the number of agency relationships are being reduced. The priority is to keep operations running and reduce the number of potential redundancies. Marketing is often seen as a luxury rather than a necessity but, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If your company is thinking about the future and planning for future growth, you should be pushing your marketing more than ever before, not reducing it. A great quote to think about here is this one by Warren Buffet:
“Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”
Some industrial sectors are seeing this as a time to thrive. Software and technology providers have never been in higher demand. The global shut down has given manufacturers the perfect amount of time to re-evaluate their internal software and ERP solutions. So, if you deal with ERP or industrial software/technology, you really should be increasing your marketing spend over the next few months.
Reduced overheads, reduced supply-chain risk, improved software, and better partner relationships – when you add all this together, the manufacturing space will never have been in a better place as it will be in the new year.
Webinars & Video conferences are not producing leads
Companies, regardless of sector or size, have been scrambling for the past few months to replace the leads they would normally produce via networking. Webinars and Video conferences have become the new norm to try and create an open dialogue between people. The issue is, they are not producing remotely enough traction to replace good old face-to-face networking – especially in sectors that have more complex value-propositions or niche/specialist products.
In the past few weeks, we have heard a complaint crop up a few times from senior decision-makers from different global manufacturing companies about webinars. And that is that most of the people attending them are their staff, sales team, or staff from partner companies. This is great if you want to drive up your webinar viewership stats, not so much if you want to produce leads and new business opportunities.
Normally I would love to link to a survey or give some realistic stats to go alongside this anecdotal statement. Unfortunately, I cannot find any recent studies into webinars that have not been completed by an unbiased source. The standard figure that gets thrown around is:
“73% of marketing and sales leaders say webinars are one of the best ways to generate quality leads.”
Companies like Hubspot and GoToWebinar have this listed often when talking about this topic, but the quote is actually from a survey completed by InsideSales in 2017. Something so old it’s not really applicable in the current global climate.
So, what I will suggest here, is if you are jumping on the bandwagon with all the other marketers hoping Webinars will save the day, it might be worth thinking about your audience. Will your target audience join a webinar and participate? And if you are already running webinars, are they producing new leads for you? Or are they being mostly viewed by staff at your company?
Socioeconomic Factors are out of your control
This is more a general piece of advice than anything else. It is amazingly easy for us to get caught up in our standard day-to-day marketing tasks. It is worth taking a step back and remembering, not everything is in our control. You might have created the perfect annual marketing plan at the start of this year, but if you have not already, it needs changing. Socioeconomic factors such as COVID will have thrown most of your plans out of the window this year. As such, you need to go back and produce a new strategy. Which leads me to the next point:
Adjust your KPI’s and Goals
If you are still being targeted on KPI’s and Goals that you set earlier this year or late last year. Change them. I cannot stress enough how much of an impact COVID has had when it comes to being able to achieve those goals. If nothing else, make sure your goals are realistic and achievable with the current global climate. Once you’ve created your new goals, make sure you set out a time to go back and Evaluate and Review them again. For more helpful tips and tricks on Goals and KPI’s check out our Back to Basics: Strategy guide.
This has been a lengthy article, but hopefully, it has been crammed with useful information that you can use for your future marketing drives. If you have any feedback or comment, feel free to reach out via LinkedIn.