I 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.
A key finding from the fifth annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report published by the Content Marketing Institute states, “Having a verbal strategy is a great first step. However, as the research shows, it pays to take the time to write it down: 60% of those who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness, compared with 32% of those who have a verbal strategy.”
Okay, that should convince you to get started on writing a formal industrial marketing strategy. If you haven’t started yet or you want to take a step back and review where you are at, here are three key pillars of an effective industrial marketing strategy.
1. Review your current website
When I say review, I mean an in-depth audit of the content, user interface, calls to action, landing pages, keywords and on-page SEO. Just putting a new skin on the current website won’t cut it. Think about ways to make your industrial website an integral part of your sales process and not just a digital brochure. Refer to my earlier post Industrial Website Redesign Should Fit Your Sales Process.
2. Content that helps to sell
You are a manufacturer or an industrial distributor not a publisher of content. Of course you want your content to help you sell more of your industrial widgets. However, you will be taking the wrong approach if you start creating content with the idea of “what we want to sell.” Your latest and greatest innovation is not what your website visitors care about the most; they want to know how you can solve their problems.
Instead, think about what your customers want from your products and/or services. As the legendary Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt once said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”
Your content must address their needs and provide a compelling reason for them to contact your sales team early in their buying cycle otherwise you run the risk of becoming one of three competitive bids for someone to fill out their spreadsheet. See my previous post, The Cardinal Rule of Industrial Content Marketing: Know Thy Buyers.
3. Branding and thought leadership
Most industrial companies tend to seriously undervalue branding. Industrial branding is much more than a logo or a clever tagline, it is the perception that people have about your company. In today’s world of digital marketing and social media, your brand is what they say you are and not who you say you are.
Your online presence and content set their perception about you long before they ever talk to your sales team. Their perception plays a big role in the quality of leads that your site generates. You want more of the kind that can turn into real sales opportunities instead of focusing on quantity of leads.
Thought leadership doesn’t mean you have to publish new and innovative ideas all the time, although that will help too. It does mean that you must clearly articulate how you are different from the competition and how you do business that sets you apart. Validate your claims instead of making generic statements that your competition can make just as well.
It also means demonstrating that you are on top of issues and challenges that your customers are dealing with in their own businesses. More power to you if you have a point of view that is contrarian but can provide a logical explanation for your stand. For more on this, see Creating Thought Leadership for Manufacturing and Industrial Companies.
I don’t want to oversimplify things here but start with these three key components and flesh them out to develop a complete industrial marketing strategy for 2015.