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How Industrial Marketing Influences Buyers

Industrial marketing precedes industrial sales. That is the reality today.

I understand manufacturers, distributors and engineering service providers may find it hard to accept that fact. That’s because these industrial companies have traditionally depended on sales teams to drive their lead generation efforts from start to finish. Marketing has always provided sales support and not expected to play an active role.

Today’s industrial buyers have flipped that sales and marketing paradigm upside down. Even though the industrial buy cycle has not changed, buyers go through their buying journey very differently now. They prefer to operate in a self-serve and self-select mode by using a variety of digital sources of information.

If you are in industrial sales, hold off on your “salespeople are not dead” comments until you’ve read through to the end of my post.

I’m sure you’ve heard this digital marketing mantra ad nauseam. As an owner or a business development professional at one of these industrial companies, you are probably skeptical about that message, especially when it comes from industrial marketing consultants with vested interests.

Let me reassure you with some key research findings from unbiased, independent third parties.

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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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Variety of Content is the Key in the Early Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle

In the early stages of the industrial buy cycle, you as the marketer have very little information about the visitor to help you tailor your marketing content to their needs.

In Needs Awareness and Research phases, the first two stages of the industrial buy cycle (see my earlier post Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle) your prospects and customers use a variety of online content to find solutions to their current problems and needs.

The chart below shows the variety of content used at different stages of the industrial buy cycle (Source: Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers’ Buying Process from GlobalSpec).

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Content Auditing and Mapping it to the Industrial Buy Cycle

These days it is popular to say “Content is marketing currency.” What does it really mean to an industrial marketer, especially if you work for or are a small to mid-size manufacturer or engineering company?

Industrial giants have deep pockets to create marketing content on a daily basis. You don’t have that kind of a marketing budget; smaller as it may be in these tough times, yet a lot is expected of you or your marketing team. How can you use marketing content to generate a decent volume of sales-ready leads at a low(er) cost?

What is effective content marketing?

Content marketing does not mean churning out white papers, case studies, articles, blog posts, podcasts and webinars for the sake of putting out content. Most B2B marketers find it relatively easy to create and use content to gain search engine presence. The big hurdle they face is in engaging and converting readers into prospects, leads and ultimately customers.

Passive reading of your content will not move the prospect along in his/her decision making process. He/she must take a desired action for that to happen. While conversion may be the ultimate goal, building trust, increasing awareness, improving the company’s reputation, expertise and credibility and encouraging social sharing are all worthy content marketing goals too. Read more

Shortening the Industrial Buy Cycle in 5 Simple Steps

The other day I read an interesting article titled “5 Steps To Shorten The B2B Buying Cycle” by Kerry Spellman, Client Relationship Manager at iProspect. Even though her article is about the B2B buy cycle in general, it is a perfect follow up to my earlier post “Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle.”

The most frequent complaint that I have heard in the past year from my industrial clients is that their sales cycle has become longer, more complex and increasingly difficult to get on the buyer’s radar screen until it is too late. Any help that I can provide to my clients to alleviate the problem is greatly appreciated and rewarding for my business.

That’s precisely why Kerry’s article caught my attention. She has focused on identifying the problem and providing a 5-step solution to shorten the buy cycle. I have summarized here my takeaways on her five steps.

What is the key to shortening the buy cycle?

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Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle

B2B marketers agree that lead generation and nurturing campaigns must deliver relevant content to their target audience to be successful. Typically, that means understanding the prospect’s pain and then offering a solution for relief.

Sounds simple, right? But not easy to execute because there usually is a disconnect between what your prospect wants to hear and what you want to say about your company and its products and services.

The problem becomes more acute for the industrial sector because the industrial buy cycle can be a long and complex process that often involves multiple decision makers. Without a clear understanding of the stages, it is difficult to align your marketing content with your customer’s decision-making process.

Industrial Buy Cycle White PaperI downloaded a white paper called “Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers’ Buying Process” from GlobalSpec that has done a very good job of explaining the four stages of the industrial buy cycle and how to match your marketing content to each stage.

The white paper has deconstructed the complex industrial buy cycle into four distinct stages that the buyer systematically goes through. The stages are: Read more