Top 12 Industrial Marketing Posts of 2014

top 12 industrial marketing posts of 2014It’s time to look back at the most read industrial marketing posts that I published in 2014. I’ve culled the list down to 12 based on the data from my Google Analytics. These industrial marketing posts are listed in the order of published dates –oldest to the newest.

#1: What’s Hot and What’s Not in Digital Marketing for Engineers in 2014: I just downloaded my copy of the 2014 Digital Marketing for Engineers survey published by John Hayes and his team at ENGINEERING.com. There are some interesting and encouraging findings. I’ll use a few of the charts from the survey results that show what they found and then add what I am seeing firsthand with my industrial clients. Read more…

#2: Industrial Website Redesign Should Fit Your Sales Process: If you want your industrial website to generate qualified leads and drive sales (Of course you do), make sure you and your web developer takes the time to ask and answer the key question, “How will the redesigned website align with our sales process?” Many other related questions begin to surface whenever I ask that question. Read more…

#3. How to Create Successful Industrial Marketing Content for TOFU: Creating effective marketing content for TOFU is proving to be a challenge for many manufacturers. That’s because these industrial companies have plenty of product datasheets, user guides and other product-centric marketing collateral but very little content that is customer-centric. Why is this important? Read more…

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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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The Cardinal Rule of Industrial Content Marketing: Know Thy Buyers

cardinal rule of industrial content marketingIt may seem obvious to say that you must build your industrial content marketing strategy around your buyers but it doesn’t happen with regularity with most manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies. At least, that’s been my experience with industrial clients.

I often hear my clients tell me they know their customers very well. They can rattle off the industries they sell to and the job titles of their buyers at the drop of a hat. Some can even tell me the size of the company and other demographic data about their customers.

Unfortunately that is the extent of their knowledge about their buyers, very rarely if ever do they know the roles played by various stakeholders involved in the buying decision. Their assumption is the person who contacts their sales team is the buyer. Their entire content marketing strategy and SEO are built around that assumption.

The thinking goes something like this, “So and so from XYZ company called to inquire about our ABC widget. Therefore others (substitute job title) from similar companies must be searching for our products.”

Then they’ll ask me, “Isn’t that how it works?” My answer: Not exactly!

To illustrate my point, let me describe two scenarios that are very common in industrial buying.

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Industrial Website Redesign: Content Before Design

Industrial website redesignAround this time of the year, I get more calls and emails about redesigning industrial websites. This of course is very good news for my industrial marketing business but there is usually something missing that makes me cautious.

My “Spidey Sense” is heightened whenever I hear the other person say something like “We need to spruce up our website so we can be found in Google.”

It goes without saying that being found in Google is a must but there are two wrong assumptions in that statement.

  • Sprucing up or making the site look pretty is not going to produce better results beyond a spike in traffic right after the launch. You are not going to be any better off than you are now but will have spent thousands of dollars in nothing more than a cosmetic facelift for the current site.
  • A website redesign is not the same thing as search engine optimization (SEO). Don’t expect to suddenly appear on the first page of Google just because you’ve done a site redesign. SEO that produces sustainable results requires implementing proven white hat tactics and consistently applying good content marketing practices.

Design, aesthetics, coding and maintaining branding standards are all important. However, the single biggest factor that determines the success of an industrial website redesign is content. I say that based on my experience in successfully redesigning and launching several websites for manufacturers, industrial distributors and engineering companies.

Content is what fuels the digital marketing engine, drives traffic and generates quality leads from industrial websites. That means content is the foundation for SEO, differentiation, thought leadership, engagement, conversions, acquisitions and retention of customers just to name a few of the goals that you want to accomplish with the redesigned site.

You need to ask a few important questions about content before you start a website design or redesign project. It doesn’t matter whether you do this in-house or outsource it; you need good answers, preferably backed by data and research. Here are some of the questions that I ask to help me plan for content before starting an industrial website redesign project:
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Content Marketing for Industrial Companies – Authenticity is Mission Critical

Authenticity in industrial content marketingMarketing sometimes gets a bad rap of being deceptive. There is a fine line between persuasion and deception. Stretching the truth, exaggerating the positives and putting a positive spin on the negatives have been staples of marketing for a long time.

Today’s industrial buyers are far better informed and using deceptive marketing practices won’t get you too far with them. Authenticity and maintaining transparency are critical for industrial companies to succeed with content marketing. (See my previous post, “How Industrial Content Marketing Builds Stronger Relationships Based on Trust”)

Your buyers don’t have to take your word for it, they have various social and online channels to check and confirm your claims. The quickest way to lose credibility is for you to say/write things that you can’t validate. The old adage of “Buyer Beware” has been turned on its head to “Seller Beware.”

Authenticity and transparency in industrial content marketing sound great but are they realistic goals? Do profits, revenues and short-term goals take precedence? The honest answer is probably yes. So how can you be authentic with content marketing and still meet your business goals?

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How Industrial Content Marketing Builds Stronger Relationships Based on Trust

how industrial content marketing builds stronger relationships absed on trustStrong relationships have always been the cornerstone in complex industrial sales. That hasn’t changed and won’t change in the foreseeable future. How we start and build new business relationships have changed in today’s digital age.

Ask any successful salesperson and s/he will tell you that trust is the key to building strong and sustainable relationships. They’ll also tell you that trust needs to be earned. You can’t earn someone’s trust if all you do is talk about yourself and turn a deaf ear to the concerns of your audience.

Industrial content marketing when done right will help you earn trust by putting the focus on your customers’ challenges and issues instead of talking about your company, its products and services.

Note how I qualified my statement by saying “when done right.” That is the crux of the problem as I see it with content marketing done by most manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies.

It starts with a lack of clear understanding of what content marketing is and how it can drive the sales process. Most if not all my new client engagements start with answering the “what and why” questions about content marketing. And of course they all want to know how it will increase their sales and how quickly they can see results.

Here are some common content marketing myths that I’ve encountered in my daily conversations with industrial companies.

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How Unqualified Leads Bog Down Sales Pipelines for Industrial Companies

I have yet to come across a manufacturer, a distributor or an engineering firm that didn’t ask for more leads. No surprise there!

The more I probe, the clearer it becomes what they really want are more requests for quotes or proposals. This is understandable since the sales pipeline needs to be full and active at all times because of the long sales cycles that’s typical for industrial companies.

However, this singular focus is causing a lot of frustrations because not enough leads generated by marketing are converting into sales opportunities. If you haven’t already heard or read about this problem, here are two stats that will make you sit up and think.

  • 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. (Source: MarketingSherpa)

I can cite many reasons for this disconnect. Based on my experience as an industrial marketing consultant working with clients, the root of the problem is the lack of understanding and/or spending enough time to understand the differences between Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Sales Accepted Leads (SALs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). As a result, Sales continues to blame Marketing for generating “crappy” leads that never turn into sales.

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3 Online Content Tips for Industrial Distributors to Differentiate Themselves

content to differentiate industrial distributorsAlmost every industrial distributor that I talk to, both clients and new prospects struggle with one key problem – differentiating themselves. This is particularly challenging for distributors because the competition in their niche carries the same products. Visit any distributor’s site in any industry and you’ll find their line cards read pretty much the same.

In short, there is so much parity in value propositions that it is difficult to differentiate one distributor from another, especially online. This in turn has a very negative impact on generating qualified leads and sales opportunities for these industrial companies.

I get it that the distributors are in business for the sole purpose of selling their industrial products. However, the Internet and digital marketing have completely disrupted the old ways of generating new business.

Today, industrial buyers have many more online resources available to them to do their own product research. They no longer rely on distributors to provide them that information. Customers prefer this self-serve mode of research for a large part of their initial buying journey before they will even contact a distributor.

If they can’t find your site in Google early and often, you may be out of contention even before the process starts or become one of three competitive bids for someone to fill out their spreadsheet.

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