Lead Generation: What’s Working – Tactics, Budgets and Preferences

Summer is a good time to look back at what has worked for lead generation and compare yourself with your peers as you plan for the second half of the year. You could use some of these findings to validate your own industrial marketing strategy and/or find some new ideas to fine-tune it for the remainder of 2012. With that in mind, here are some useful data and charts from various sources. Click on each chart to see a larger image.

MarketingSherpa: (www.marketingsherpa.com)

What were the most effective SEO tactics used for lead generation in 2012? Here are the results from a survey of 1,530 B2B marketers during this year’s B2B Benchmark Study to find what works in online and offline marketing.

MarketingSherpa

In another survey of nearly 2,000 B2B marketers, participants were asked, “Please indicate the expected changes to your lead generation budget for the following channels for 2012.”

And the survey says…

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The Real Value of Content Marketing for Industrial Companies

In today’s uncertain economy, manufacturing and industrial companies are taking more than a hard look at their marketing spends. These companies have always thought of marketing as sales support, so it requires a lot of convincing to change that mind-set. Upper management and key decision makers are skeptical about inbound marketing with content being able to generate qualified leads and set the table for sales. According to them, that has always been a job done by sales and not marketing.

As I’ve written before, just publishing content won’t move the needle. (See Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher, Act Like an Investor). I am also convinced that these executives really want sales opportunities and not more of marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Read my post, “Manufacturers Need Lead Management to Close the RFQ Gap.”

Given this situation, how do you sell the value of content marketing to industrial companies? For the moment, I am going to set aside analytics and ROI measurements and focus on the real value of content marketing as it relates to industrial sales. Let’s look at three scenarios that are very common in the industrial sales process.

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Don’t Underestimate Industrial Marketing’s Contribution to Sales

The more I talk to manufacturers and industrial companies, the more I’m convinced that RFQs and sales conversations are all that matter to them. I get it that industrial marketing must be held accountable and I firmly believe that it should make a direct contribution to growing sales and revenues. However, ignoring industrial marketing’s role in creating sales opportunities is a fallacy in my opinion. (See Manufacturers Need Lead Management to Close the RFQ Gap)

Industrial companies are having a difficult time adjusting their mindset to the new realities of buyer behavior. I have had many conversations where I have heard the other person tell me that they’ve never had to actively market their products and services before. They are accustomed to customers calling them for RFQs/RFPs. They’ve always depended on a constant flow of referrals and repeat business. Obviously, those channels have dried up, otherwise we wouldn’t be having a conversation about needing my industrial marketing consultation in the first place.

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Inbound Marketing won’t Boost Short-term Sales for Industrial Companies

Inbound marketing is a frequent topic of discussion in my daily conversations with Owners, CEOs and Business Development professionals from manufacturing and industrial companies. Irrespective of the size of the company, they all have one thing in common – they want to boost sales as quickly as possible.

These industrial professionals have heard about inbound marketing being the “in” thing these days from marketing consultants like me and from other sources. However, it is a shock to them when I tell them “Inbound marketing is not a short-term fix. It is a long journey.”

They don’t want to hear that, they want their phones to start ringing, RFQs coming in and their sales team involved in deep conversations within 30 days.

Those are unrealistic expectations in my opinion. Here’s why; unlike a one-off ad or direct mail campaign, inbound marketing requires assessment of your current marketing programs to identify weaknesses, developing a strategic plan of action, implementing tactics, auditing existing content to identify gaps, creating new content and repurposing old ones, tracking, measuring and refining the process. These steps take time, at least six months for all the moving parts to mesh together like a finely tuned engine that will drive lead generation and generate sales.

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Is Your Industrial Content Marketing Reaching a Dead End?

In my daily interactions with manufacturing, engineering and industrial companies, inbound marketing or content marketing is a popular topic of discussion. Decision makers in these companies want to jump on the content marketing bandwagon but they really don’t have a strategic plan of action and/or a clear idea of how it will drive sales and generate revenues.

Not that I’m complaining, this gap means more business opportunities for me as an industrial marketing consultant. 😉

The problem as I see it is that many of these industrial companies still think of content marketing as a one-off marketing campaign. Their efforts are limited to spending some money on SEO and PPC to drive traffic to their websites. Some of them are filling the top of their sales funnel but the pipeline of qualified sales opportunities is running dry.

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E-commerce: An Important Channel for Industrial Sales

I am seeing more and more manufacturers and industrial distributors using e-commerce as a sales channel for growth. The adoption rate has been much slower as compared to the online retail industry but B2B marketers are catching on fast.

According to a survey conducted in 2011 by BtoB and Rainmarker Systems, while only 35% of B2B marketers are involved with selling directly online, 58% of those companies have an increasing commitment to the channel.

Manufacturers have used e-commerce to sell components, spare parts and off the shelf industrial products for a long time. However, I have noticed a growing trend among industrial companies using e-commerce as their primary sales channel.

Industrial sales are different from online consumer retailing and so the e-commerce experience has to be different too. Manufacturers and industrial companies need to be mindful of differences such as:

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Industrial Companies shouldn’t Replace Email Marketing with Social Media

Right off the bat let me say that this post is not about email marketing versus social media. However, I’ve had conversations with manufacturers and industrial companies where I am asked if email marketing is still relevant and effective since all the talk these days is about social media. Yes, social media generates all the buzz but discarding email marketing, a tried and true workhorse would be a mistake and here is why.

In a March 2012 online survey of US marketing professionals, trade publication Chief Marketer found that the most popular tool in digital campaigns, according to 78% of the respondents was email marketing followed by Email newsletters (59%) and a close third was social media at 58%.

Here is a chart from emarketer.com showing the growing number of tools used by marketers to improve Website engagement.

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Industrial Content Marketing with Purpose

In my last post, I talked about using content to convert website traffic into leads and customers. In this post, I want to continue with a similar theme and talk about why your content marketing must have a purpose.

With the abundance of content available on the Internet these days, it is difficult to rise above the noise and get noticed. Manufacturers and industrial companies cannot be content with just publishing content, their content marketing needs to drive the sales process.

Telling owners and C-level executives at these companies that inbound marketing with content takes time to produce results will only hold them off for so long. They expect, and rightfully so, that their marketing investments produce ROI sooner rather than later, now would be even better. (See Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher, Act Like an Investor).

However, creating content that will convert traffic into leads in one fell swoop is a challenge since industrial sales typically have long sales cycles and a multitude of stakeholders are involved in the purchase decision.

Consider these suggestions then to overcome the hurdle – change the purpose of your content marketing from conversion to action. What am I talking about?
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Industrial Marketing Company Celebrates 25 Years in Business

April 2012 marks a milestone for my industrial marketing company Tiecas, Inc. We are celebrating 25 years in business! It has been an incredible journey so far. Come along with me as I take a trip down memory lane…

I remember registering my DBA as “Tiecas Type & Graphics” on April 14, 1987 with the Harris County Clerk’s Office in Houston, Texas. I had read an article in Inc. Magazine about a coming revolution called “desktop publishing.” That was the impetus for me to quit my management job with an oil country tubular goods (OCTG) manufacturer and take the plunge into starting my own business.

I owe a big debt of gratitude to the late, great Steve Jobs and his innovative products. I could not have launched my company without the Apple Macintosh Plus, Apple LaserWriter Plus with a PostScript interpreter from Adobe and PageMaker from Aldus Corp.

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Do You Believe in Industrial Websites?

Just like the classic ’60s hit song “Do You Believe in Magic?” by The Lovin’ Spoonful, I am wondering if manufacturers and industrial companies believe in their industrial websites.

I am not so sure manufacturing companies are fully convinced that their website is a real sales tool. My doubts stem from some of the things that I hear in my regular conversations with these companies. Here are a few actual sound bites:

  • We are still using our first website that was created by our president’s 23-year old son-in-law
  • We didn’t want to spend too much money so we hired an offshore programmer from a freelance site to design our company’s website
  • We spent a lot of money on SEO and PPC programs but our site hasn’t generated good quality leads
  • We are not very happy with the look of our site and we want a good designer to make our site look really “cool”
  • We put up a website because all our competitors have one
  • We don’t really use the website because 80-90% of our new business comes from referrals and repeat business

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