Do You Know the Cost of Maintaining Your Industrial Digital Marketing Status Quo?

For the past six years, more than two thirds of manufacturers and industrial companies have said that lead generation or customer acquisition is their top marketing priority according to the latest industrial marketing survey released by GlobalSpec.

The same survey also found that 42 percent of these companies have increased their budgets for digital marketing in 2012 and 47 percent of the respondents spend more than a third of their overall marketing budgets online.

Despite all the encouraging findings about the use of digital marketing within the industrial sector, it is common to find websites that are several years old. I have talked to owners and marketers from manufacturing and industrial companies of various sizes that sounded enthusiastic about launching an industrial blog and moving forward with inbound marketing with content but it seems easier for them to do nothing and maintain their digital marketing status quo. They are hoping that their lead generation problem will somehow solve itself if they continue to do business as usual.

Read more

Digital Marketing Can Increase Industrial Sales

Call it digital marketing or inbound marketing with content, the fact is marketing is now playing a much more active role in complex industrial sales. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll refer to it as digital marketing in this post and state that content is what drives this engine for generating qualified leads and creating sales opportunities.

Manufacturers and industrial companies often use solutions or consultative selling to add value for their customers and transform themselves from suppliers into trusted partners. This has worked great in the past but the Internet and digital marketing have changed how that process works today.

Here are three quotes from well-known sources to validate my claim in case you have doubts about my statement.

Read more

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.

Read more

How Manufacturers Use 3D CAD Models and 2D CAD Drawings as Sales Enablers

Manufacturers usually want their industrial marketing to generate leads that result in RFQs as quickly as possible. Inbound marketing tactics such as SEO and other content marketing strategies do fill the top of their sales funnel but converting leads to sales opportunities takes too long for their liking. Think of 3D CAD models and 2D CAD drawings then as supercharged content assets for moving leads closer to the RFQ stage much quicker than any other type of content resource.

There are several benefits to offering 3D CAD models and 2D CAD drawings on an industrial website. By far the strongest reason, at least in my opinion is that they help get manufacturers’ or distributors’ parts “designed in.” Design wins lead to prototype and production orders. That’s why I like to call them “sales enablers.”

ThomasNet research indicates that up to 80 percent of the time a buyer or engineer downloads and specs a CAD drawing into a design, that part is purchased. That is not an isolated case; I have read many comments that are variations of a common theme – design engineers will look for alternate suppliers if they cannot find 3D models on a vendor’s site.

Some of the other benefits include:

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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:

Read more

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.

Read more

Manufacturers Need Lead Management to Close the RFQ Gap

Talking to manufacturers and industrial companies on a daily basis has convinced me that when they say they need help with their lead generation, they really want more RFQ (Request For Quote) opportunities.

Generating new leads, qualifying and nurturing them until they turn into a RFQ is too much work for them. For a real-life example of this lead generation disconnect, read my post, Manufacturers: Don’t Start a Lead Generation Campaign without Sales.

During my internal discovery process, in nine out of ten cases, I’ll hear the President/CEO/Owner of manufacturing or industrial companies tell me one of their goals is to double the volume of RFQs they generate. To most of these decision makers winning new business is strictly a numbers game. They are convinced that the more they quote, better are their chances of scoring more deals.

I have to politely disagree with them because “activity is not the same as productivity.” It is not an easy sell for me to change this mindset. I have to make a strong business case before I can even get their attention.

Here are the steps I go through to change their minds and have worked well for me:

Read more