Industrial Marketing is not Disconnected Tactics

Many manufacturers and industrial companies are learning some hard lessons these days. Business as usual is not working – referrals are trickling in, if at all and the pipeline of leads is running dry. The old way of hiring away salespeople from the competition with their “ready book of business” is not producing the quick sales they had expected.

Next, they try a series of marketing tactics without a strategy or a plan, hoping something will produce results. When that doesn’t work, they turn to the Internet in search of information on how to do industrial marketing on a shoestring budget.

After being burned a few times by free tips from self-proclaimed experts online, they become frustrated and are suspicious of any more advice even if it is from a legitimate and proven industrial marketing consultant. In desperation, they start looking for a quick “Band-Aid” fix for their lead generation problems while spending as little as possible since budgets are tight or non-existent.

In short, they are now looking for Cheap Miracles or may be, Industrial Marketing Made in China.

Marketing for these industrial companies has always been a sales support function — put together a PowerPoint presentation for the next sales meeting, create a few posters for an upcoming tradeshow or make the product catalog look “pretty.” It is very difficult for them to change this mindset and think of an industrial marketing strategy before implementing tactics. Yes, there is a big difference between strategy and tactics. Google strategy vs. tactics and you’ll get 4,030,000 hits so there is no sense in me repeating all that here.

How can industrial marketing remove this disconnect?

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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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Is Your Industrial Website Leaking Leads?

One persistent problem for many manufacturers and industrial companies is the small number of leads generated from their Websites. By default, they assume that the issue is the lack of traffic because of poor SEO. It is quite likely, that your industrial Website is attracting enough traffic but suffers from poor conversion. In short, you may have a leaky industrial Website. (See my earlier post, You’ve Got Traffic. Now What?)

Look at your Google Analytics, one quick indicator of a leaky Website is your bounce rate. Google defines bounce rate as “The percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.” Anything over 60% is worrisome and you may have a leaky Website.

One caveat to the above rule of thumb – a page for downloading case studies probably will have a very high bounce rate but that doesn’t mean it is bad. If you are sophisticated enough with analytics, you can set up conversion tracking within Google Analytics to get a better handle on where the leads are leaking from your Website.

Often, I find industrial websites designed with no thought given to traffic conversion. The most common conversion mechanisms I see are a toll free number in a big bold font and a Contact Us or a lengthy RFQ form. While making your contact information very visible on your site is a good idea, it is not very effective in converting site traffic into named contacts or leads.

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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:

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Most Industrial and Manufacturing Websites are Still Stuck in Web 1.0

Lead generation from their Websites is the number one objective of most manufacturers and industrial companies that I talk to. Yet, their existing Websites have little to no lead generating capabilities.

That statement may come as a shock to many site owners because they are convinced that sales leads will just roll in because their site includes a toll free number in a big bold font, there are links to the “Contact Us” page everywhere and/or there’s a RFQ form on the site.

Here’s what’s wrong with that picture: 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 Twofold Benefit of Optimizing Marketing Content

Online optimization is usually associated with natural or organic search engine optimization (SEO). Optimizing your marketing content around keywords or phrases is the first step in your content marketing strategy. After all, that’s how your prospects and customers will find your blog and/or Web site.

However, there is another strong reason for optimizing your marketing content that has nothing to do with SEO. I am referring to optimizing customer engagement in B2B marketing.

Why is it important? Because B2B and industrial buyers tend to be more sophisticated in the use of online content in making their decision over the entire buying cycle. BtoB marketers need to create and deliver content that is relevant to those searching for their solution while mapping it to the prospect’s buying cycle. Read more

Optimizing Your WordPress Business Blog

Probably the biggest benefit of creating a business blog is to engage with your readers, build deeper relationships and convert most of them into paying customers. However, none of that can happen until you drive lots of interested traffic to your business blog.

Optimizing (SEO) your business blog is critical because it allows your target audience to find you in search engines and attract traffic. An invisible blog doesn’t draw a crowd and neither will you have the opportunity to engage with them.

Organic or natural search engine optimization (SEO) has always been shrouded in mystery, bordering on voodoo. It seems the secrets of SEO are known only to a few high-priced consultants. However, you can do it too with some help. See my earlier post, “Do-it-Yourself Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Your WordPress Blog.”

I don’t deny that effective SEO does take experience, expertise and time to produce results. So no one should expect a DiY solution to achieve the same kind of results as a paid SEO expert (ethical one!). Start with some baby steps and fine tune as you learn more.

In this post, I’m going to focus on a powerful DiY SEO tool for WordPress blogs. It is called All in One SEO Pack (AIOSEO) and you can download it from here for free. After you have installed it, log into your admin panel, go to Settings > All in One SEO (See screen shot). Read more

How Relevant Marketing Content Helps B2B Branding

Branding is usually not a popular topic in B2B marketing, especially in the industrial sector. Most CEOs of manufacturing, engineering and technical companies do not believe in the value of brand building and consider it the domain of consumer marketing (B2C). Branding is an expense item like the rest of marketing.

That’s a shame and here’s why — among the top ten in Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2009, IBM was listed at #2, Microsoft, GE and Intel at number 3, 4 and 9 respectively. Yes, GE and Microsoft sell directly to end-users but they are primarily B2B companies.

According to a study done by Professor John A. Quelch, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, the common characteristic shared by the top B2B Global Brands is that their “CEO is a willing brand cheerleader, loves the brand heritage, and is a great storyteller.” He suggests that B2B marketers take a cue from their B2C counterparts when it comes to increasing brand awareness.

One of the key findings from the study was that B2B marketers are realizing that developing brand awareness among their customers’ customers can capture a larger share of channel margins and build loyalty that can protect them against lower-priced competitors. Professor Quelch provides the example of Intel and its very successful advertising campaign “Intel Inside.”

He ends his post by asking, “Would Dupont’s shareholder value be the same today if it had not made consumers aware of nylon, Lycra, [Teflon], Stainmaster and linked these innovations to the Dupont name? Definitely not.” Read more

Social Media with Email Marketing – is it the Super Combo?

Lately, social media seems to garner all the attention in the media and blog posts with very little mention about email marketing. This long time staple has become the Rodney “No Respect” Dangerfield of B2B and industrial marketing.

I’ve read several articles about the impending death of email marketing because of the steady decline in open and click-through rates (CTR). Are those predictions a little premature? Can we deliver a powerful 1-2 punch by combining  social media and email marketing? I came across two research studies that answer the last question with a big YES!

The first study done by AWeber (aff. Link), was a survey of small business owners and found that the two most common tactics used in 2009 were tweeting e-mail newsletters and sending out blog entries to e-mail lists. In 2010, almost 50% of small businesses will include “follow us” links in their e-mails, and about 44% will include share options in their messages. (See charts below). Read more