Content is the Foundation of Good Relationship Marketing

Building strong customer relationships is probably a close second only to lead generation for most manufacturers and industrial companies. Many of them will also tell you that the bulk of their new business comes from repeat customers.

It makes perfect sense then to put a good deal of effort into nurturing new leads and building strong relationships in order to convert them into loyal customers.

Here’s a quote from billionaire industrialist H. Ross Perot that exemplifies this business philosophy:

“Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships.

Relationship Marketing or Personalized Marketing as some marketers like to call it, recognizes the life-time value of a customer rather than focusing on quick sales transactions. That is its key differentiator from other forms of marketing that tend to focus more on advertising and promotional messages. Read more

How a Global Distributor’s Online Community for Engineers Pays Rich Dividends

Building a thriving online community around your social media strategy takes a lot of hard work. Sometimes it feels like you are operating in a vacuum where nobody seems to be listening or responding to your initiatives.

It is heartening then to read about an industrial company’s success in building an engineering community, which in turn generates leads, produces sales and increases the company’s awareness among its target audience.

A recent article by Paul Gillin (@pgillin) and published in BtoB Online, caught my attention because it talks about how engineers can have fun while doing serious business.

In “Who says engineers don’t know how to have fun?” Paul reports on the phenomenal success of element14, an online community for electronic design engineers. Read more

Breaking the Rules of Content Marketing Pays Off Big Time for Engineering Companies

As part of a new Web design project that I’m working on for an engineering company, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the past two weeks reviewing Websites of well-known engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies.

These EPC companies not only have a substantial presence (major employers) in Houston, Texas but they also have a large global footprint.

I figured these companies would be great examples of marketing with content. What I found contradicts the rules of content marketing as practiced today.

Yet, these EPC companies are extremely successful in how they are marketing themselves to generate sales and grow their revenues.

And the numbers don’t lie. Here are four EPC companies that I looked at and their sales figures: Read more

Engaging Content that Solves and Sells

Good content marketers know that engaging marketing content moves the needle. It persuades readers to take an action and guides them along in their sales cycle in a logical manner.

It is a balancing act to create content that solves problems for your readers (prospects and customers) without talking too much about your products and services. Product-centric sales pitches that are disguised as “how-to” content will turn off your audience and damage your credibility as a marketer.

National Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE:NSM), a leader in power management technology and manufacturer of high-performance analog products, has done a fantastic job of using engaging content that helps it core audience of design engineers while generating $1.42 billion of sales in 2010.

Their Website uses a simple tabbed interface to guide visitors quickly to the right section(s) based on what they want to do – learn, design, search/select or buy. Here’s a screenshot of the Home page with the Tools tab open (most of the valuable content is here).
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B2B Lead Generation without Lead Nurturing is Doomed to Fail

Here’s the shocking reality of B2B lead generation – 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales opportunities. (Source: Marketing Sherpa/ KnowledgeStorm). B2B marketing and lead generation experts point to a lack of lead nurturing as the primary cause of this poor performance.

Why is lead nurturing important?

It is a fact of life that the bulk of your site visitors and/or conversions from landing pages are not ready to buy now. This is because of the prevalent trend of industrial buyers using online resources to go deeper and deeper into their buying cycle before engaging with your sales people.

Handing off these semi-qualified and not sales ready leads to sales before adequate lead nurturing only reinforces the impression that “marketing generates crappy leads.”

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Why More Engineers Ought to be in Sales and Marketing

Think aligning sales and marketing is difficult? Think again.

In most manufacturing and industrial companies, engineering, sales and marketing operate in their own silos, barely acknowledging each other’s existence. The disconnect is strong and distinct.

As clichéd as this may sound, it seems Engineers are from Mars, Marketers are from Venus.

I feel I am qualified to talk about this problem because I am an engineer who makes a living as an industrial marketer. I see and experience this problem first-hand with my engineering and manufacturing clients. One of the reasons I am retained is to bridge this gap between marketing and engineering.

This misalignment is destructive and disruptive to the entire organization. The insults and accusations come hot and heavy from both sides of this great divide.

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Rules of B2B Lead Scoring – Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

Lead scoring has become very important in today’s B2B marketing. Especially now since industrial and technical buyers are relying more and more on online resources for their decision making process. Marketing’s role in interacting with prospects has expanded and goes further into the buy cycle than before. This has resulted in fewer direct interactions with sales reps from vendors.

Lead scoring, a key component of lead nurturing and management, is an effective tool for aligning sales and marketing. In developing a lead scoring system, marketing has to make certain assumptions to classify prospects as hot or not. Are they sales qualified leads (SQLs) ready to be passed on to sales or do they require further nurturing because their score qualifies them as marketing qualified leads (MQLs)?

Sales uses its front-line experience and expertise to validate marketing’s lead scoring assumptions. This builds a foundation for an effective closed-loop lead management program and keeps both sales and marketing playing together on the same team. Read more

Have Digital Marketing and Social Media Killed the Industrial Sales Job?

Remember the very first music video ever played on MTV? It was called “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the British band The Buggles and was aired at 0001 hours on August 1, 1981, the day the cable station was launched in the U.S. Every disruptive technology is known to cause major upheavals in any industry. And digital marketing and social media are as disruptive as they come.

Even though the widespread adoption of social media in industrial marketing has been slower than general B2B and B2C marketing, it has had a serious impact on industrial sales, especially on the traditional role of the outside sales rep.

Digital marketing has also changed how industrial and technical buyers behave, search and consume information that they need at different stages of the buy cycle. They are time-challenged and want to interact with salespeople based only on their needs and schedules.

The impact of digital marketing on complex sales

I am deliberately making a distinction here between simple transactional sales and complex industrial or technical sales. The first type uses a self-serve model and is typically completed in the very first sales interaction, be it in person or online.

Complex industrial sales require many face-to-face meetings with several stakeholders within the customer’s organization. Often closing the deal requires participation by many members of your sales team. Read more

5 Things Industrial Marketers Must Do to Attract Engineers and Turn Them into Loyal Customers

Contrary to popular beliefs that engineers are consumers too and therefore one must market to them as people first, I believe marketing to engineers is different. Sure, they are human beings like the rest of us but they have very different emotional triggers and needs when it comes to making work-related decisions.

I should know — I am an engineer too. So I’m not only familiar with an industrial marketer’s target audience, I am the audience or at least a member of it.

Having worked closely with many manufacturers and companies from the industrial sector, I have learned several valuable lessons about what works when it comes to marketing to engineers and technical buyers. Here are my top five industrial marketing lessons:

Lesson #1: Save them time
Most engineers, especially design engineers are already overloaded with work. Anything you can do to help them find the right information quicker will score big with engineers. Having a search function on your website is no longer an option, it is a requirement. You need to move beyond the free Google Custom Search tool for websites.

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The Disconnect Between B2B Content Marketing and Customer Engagement

While B2B content marketing has many purposes, its primary goal is to engage with prospects and customers in order to build trust so that they will want to contact you in order to do business with your company. The majority of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) consider customer engagement as their top priority according to a recent study done by Forbes Insights and George P. Johnson (GPJ).

The New Rules of Engagement: CMOs Rethink Their Marketing Mix is based on a survey of 314 marketing executives at companies with more than $500 million in annual revenue. Fifty-six percent of the participants were primarily B2B marketers and the remaining 44% were B2C. Nearly 97% of the respondents viewed customer engagement as very (67%) or somewhat (30%) important.

Robert G. Vallee Jr., Chairman and CEO of GPJ said, “This report suggests that engagement is now a key dynamic that should be considered when designing big-idea campaigns; without engagement, the message is quickly lost, its power diminished.”

That was the good news part of the study. The bad news — more than a quarter (27%) have no specific strategy for customer engagement, and more than a third (34%) feel their companies do only a fair or poor job engaging their audiences. “They [CMOs] believe they can do a better job at engagement, but often don’t know how,” said Stuart Feil, editorial director of Forbes Insights. Read more