Remember the movie scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where he had to choose from the grails wisely to avoid death?
Like Indy choosing drinkware, decisions regarding marketing help can make or break you.
My 30-year career has been devoted to helping industrial companies strategically market their products and services, build revenue, and, in many cases, improve the valuation of these firms for a better “cash out.”
Industrial companies that depend on business-to-business (B2B) relationships have a few options for marketing:
1. Do it yourself
2. An “everyman” agency that will work for you . . . and the vet clinic down the street
3. A focused, industrial marketing agency
The “do it yourself” option is the worst of these. It steals time from valuable internal staff, is typically disorganized, often suffers from poor and inconsistent creative, and is the least cost-effective.
The “everyman” agency most likely doesn’t have industrial experience and will require significant hand-holding time while training the agency. They may not understand current best practices for B2B industrial success, either.
Full disclosure: Of these choices, my company, Gotham, is a focused, industrial agency. For many industrial companies, we are their marketing department. We invest time to understand a company, the competition, and their goals to build an annual strategic marketing plan. We then uncover the competitive differences/advantages and leverage it in professional, branded communication. This results in attracting the right prospects, improving close rates, and building sales.
Thomasnet is a directory of 500,000+ industrial companies. Some are free listings with minimal descriptions, while others are paid listings that can be a literal web presence within the directory. I have marketed my own company, Gotham, on Thomasnet and engaged them for some of my clients. Thomasnet was formerly an aggregator of data regarding industrial companies. Each company was charged a fee to appear in the Thomas Register® or the “Big Blue Books.” Once the digital age took over, they created a huge digital database known as Thomasnet.com.
I have found Thomasnet effective for some companies and not for others. This information is based on personal experience and clients’ comments. For some customers, they deliver quality web visits and leads. Primarily, Thomasnet is used by corporate purchasing departments to quickly compare vendors and their offerings.
Thomasnet also offers marketing services as an additional revenue stream for their primary goal of directory building. The websites I have reviewed have a homogenous, “Thomasnet” look. If carving out a custom identity is what you desire, it makes sense to hire an agency for web and collateral design and then Thomasnet for the directory benefit.
Industrial marketing agencies will provide a more personalized approach to understanding your company and crafting a message that really sells. Agencies will be more experienced at both inbound and outbound marketing, whereas Thomasnet’s focus is primarily inbound.
Choosing the right industrial marketing company is a monumental investment of time and resources. Start with an organization that is immersed in B2B industrial marketing for the best path to success. If you feel we can be of benefit to your industrial marketing effort, don’t hesitate to visit our website at www.IndustrialMarketingExperts.com and submit an inquiry.
ThomasNet is a registered trademark of Thomas Publishing Company. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is more accessible and affordable now more than ever. Popular services such as Salesforce, HubSpot and Dynamics365 offer immense leverage over big data for manufacturing businesses of all sizes. Most companies are adopting inbound marketing strategies that are yielding a higher volume of qualified leads. Purchasing and implementing a CRM system can greatly enhance the ability to capture and act on this higher volume of leads, automate follow-up and task reminders and ultimately lead to growth in sales and customer satisfaction. Let’s break down how you can get the most utility from a CRM system for your business.
Most popular CRM software vendors offer their products using a cloud-based platform. Outside or field sales personnel run these services as an app on their smartphone, tablet or PC. The software enables users to log customer information in real time such as size, category and industry type, create maps for customer visits and access order history. Imagine making a customer visit or receiving a call inquiring about your product. You can enter the details of your visit or inquiry and process quotations, check stock levels and add valuable follow-up information that seamlessly adds appointments to your integrated calendar.
For inside sales, customer service and sales management, a CRM system provides an efficient way to catalog and track leads and opportunities resulting from the company’s inbound marketing strategy. Users can enter and track the source of leads whether from a website visit (contact form), direct message on social media platforms, direct mail, repeat customer or email campaign. Having the ability to track the source of leads ultimately reveals the efficacy of marketing dollars spent. A CRM system also allows the ability to track and regain lost customers and identify emerging markets and industries.
Integrating CRM with your ERP and even your e-commerce platform can automate customer communications such as follow-up opportunities, customer satisfaction surveys and testimonial solicitation. Real customer feedback that you can use as website and social media content tells a more relatable story for your brand. It shows your customers you genuinely care about their feedback, loyalty and patronage. Using services like Microsoft’s free PowerBI, users can link data from Google Analytics, ERP, CRM and social media paid advertising services to track target audience buying behavior, geographic density of sales activity and product seasonality.
These are only a few examples of the utility of a proven CRM software. The automation and integration across your company’s platforms versus manually tracking these ubiquitous selling processes are where the real value lies. At Gotham, we advise our industrial clients on how to adopt CRM software to leverage data from their marketing campaigns. Are you ready to start taking advantage of the latest CRM products to grow your sales and increase customer satisfaction?
Do you know with certainty what your target audience truly thinks, feels, or believes regarding your brand, products, and/or services? Would the truth about these things change the way your products are promoted, or would you even modify the products you make and sell? Surveying your customers and prospects will yield specific data and critical insights that can be used to build and grow brand awareness, perception, and customer loyalty, thus positively impacting the bottom line.
First, let’s unpack what exactly a brand perception survey is. These surveys include polling your customers and prospects with open-ended questions regarding what they think about your products, how they explain your products to their friends or colleagues, or what emotions they feel when they use your products. Understanding these behaviors and actions can reveal a lot of information that may not be intuitive in product design and testing. Learning about your target audience’s actions and emotions toward your brand can help you respond with better, more tailored products.
Product quality and reputation are certainly important, but a large component of brand perception is how your message resonates with the target audience. A company should always strive to align the company values with the product experience. Surveying customers on how they feel about your brand and products will reveal whether your company is perceived positively, negatively, or neutrally. A neutral perception is almost as bad as a negative impression because a neutral impression generally means you haven’t done a good enough job educating your audience on who you are, what you stand for, or the purpose of your products.
Reliable subscription services like SurveyMonkey and SurveyAnyplace simplify and automate the survey process and quickly help you determine customer loyalty. These services allow subscription holders to benchmark their results against other companies in their respective industry. This will help your company identify and act on best practices to better serve your customers and set goals that align better with customer behavior and habits. Most capable survey management services offer CRM integration to further enable data collection for trend analysis and other stratification goals.
Don’t let your company’s brand perception be a mystery. Be proactive: poll your current and potential customers during all stages of the sales cycle. The knowledge and feedback you receive may change your company’s perception dramatically and ultimately yield more sales. Gotham’s industrial marketing strategists can help you plan, design, and execute surveys in a variety of channels to best understand what your customers think of your company. We’ve been helping B2B companies since 1989 do just this. Are you ready to enhance your brand’s perception and awareness across the board? Get started at www.industrialmarketingexperts.com.
Many industrial companies outsource their marketing efforts. A primary reason to contract with an industrial marketing firm is the overhead to maintain an internal marketing team that can keep up with strategic planning and the demands of ever-changing best practices of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), social media marketing, paid digital advertising (AdWords, Pay-per-click), print ads, media reps, maintaining the company website and more. It is critical to select a team that understands your business goals and is agile, responsive and experienced enough to build your brand both online and off. Below are a few tips to help you make a wise choice.
1 – Make sure the marketing firm you are considering knows your business.
Evaluate their current and past customers. Have they worked with your industry in the past? There are many marketing agencies out there with broad appeal (serve everyone) and those that only focus on one or two verticals because the demand is high and it has allowed them to specialize in targeted markets. If you are in the industrial products business, you should seek industrial, B2B experience. These agencies will already be up to speed on the pain points your customers experience, the industry jargon and other nuances associated with your business. This will give you a tremendous head start in building a productive relationship with your marketing contractor and they can get right to work building on your brand.
2 – Consider the size of the agency you want to work with.
Typically, the bigger the agency, the higher their services cost because they have to pay for all those heads and the facility to house them. Larger agencies also require retainers and long-term contracts. Smaller marketing agencies are nimbler and more adaptive. Inherently, there is less turnover in a smaller agency because there are less people. This typically means the staff are generally more involved with you and your business. Properly building a strategic marketing plan and subsequently executing it requires constant communication between the client and the marketing agency. Having fewer points of contact that are devoted to your goals and mission is extremely important.
3 – Clearly define your goals.
It may sound simple but knowing what you want to achieve is the most crucial part of succeeding with your marketing agency. If it’s conversions you are after, make sure the agency you choose can provide you the metrics tracking campaign efficacy and the ROI of your marketing spend. If you are looking for a heightened awareness of your brand across social media channels, your agency should provide you with growth numbers of followers and engagement. You are looking for proof that your goals are aligning with the achieved results. An effective marketing agency provides a myriad of reports like those from Google Analytics, Facebook Ad Services and LinkedIn Sponsored Content.
Are you ready to outsource your B2B marketing? Contact Gotham, LLC, an industrial marketing company comprised of a tight-knit team of marketing experts that provide strategic, creative services to manufacturers worldwide. Learn more at www.GothamStrategic.com.
Does your company sell industrial products to other businesses? Here in the digital age, there are many compelling reasons to add to your company’s sales channels using e-commerce. Let’s explore whether or not e-commerce is right for your industrial company and how adding online selling can not only increase your sales growth but also your overall digital footprint through enhanced search ranking, referring links, content and validity.
E-commerce is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year. This gives your target audience or market ultimate flexibility to purchase your goods anywhere and anytime. A well-executed e-commerce website gives businesses the perfect opportunity to add comprehensive item descriptions, related items in submenus and application data in one easy-to-find place. One could consider it a repository of product information that subsequently makes it easier for your customers to purchase. E-commerce versus traditional customer service and inside sales offers a much more agile, real-time advantage furthering your company’s value proposition. Making it easy for your customers and prospects to do business with you should be your top priority.
Maintaining a product catalog on an e-commerce platform is good for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The catalog not only adds validity to your brand and website, but it also adds valuable content. Showing how a product works for different applications through thorough descriptions, videos, high-resolution imagery and real-world examples not only helps the customer determine the right item but also becomes a helpful resource for reference data. There is also the opportunity for customers to review these products and offer even more “free” product support through their own experiences. When companies maintain an effective e-commerce portal in their respective industry, they own a competitive advantage.
E-commerce can help separate the winners from the losers in a company’s catalog. Search ranking, volume and frequency for certain keywords and keyphrases show the popularity of products. Interpreting this data could also reveal trends in demand, seasonality and cycles. If you sell your products online, you will quickly learn what your end users are looking for and will be able to adjust inventory stock levels and responsiveness accordingly. The integration of e-commerce with your company’s ERP and CRM programs add even more capability. You will have the ability to show real-time inventory and synchronized order processing, confirmation, and tracking and notifications all from one login. Relationship management is enhanced because sales now expands the follow-up channel with even more customers that may not have been discovered otherwise.
Consider whether or not building an e-commerce portal is right for your business. Gotham Industrial Marketing can objectively evaluate your business model, target markets, customers and goals. We then help determine the best course of action using best practices of e-commerce website design, function and performance to create an online marketing strategy and most importantly, consistently measure and leverage the results. Are you ready to use e-commerce as a tool to add to your sales growth?
One of the biggest mistakes in industrial product marketing is not identifying or describing your products or services to the customer. Keep your descriptions simple and understandable for the greatest marketing success.
Rather than trying to be all things to all people, find your niche. To get ahead, focus on your strengths, what you do best, and how you are different from the competition.
Find your target audience and gear your marketing plan to that audience. Marketing to a defined group allows you to better control how your message is received.
Too often, businesses focus their marketing toward bringing in new customers rather than capturing repeat business.
By building relationships with your current customer base, you generate brand loyalty and longevity and save marketing dollars. It typically costs four times more to recruit a new customer than to retain an existing one.
Timing is everything when it comes to marketing. Planning your B2B industrial marketing campaigns in advance allows you to generate greater interest and better target your audience for seasonal sales, new products and services.
Continuously using the same marketing format, such as print only, limits your creativity when it comes to promoting your business and product. Get out of the marketing rut and discover new ways to promote your marketing message.
No matter how fantastic your service or product may be, the message you send out says it all. Make sure that your headlines have impact and that your copy is loaded with benefits, not just features.
Don’t encourage your customers to follow blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts if you’re never going to use them. Commit to regularly refreshing your entries and posts with exciting updates, offers and news for your customers.
If your budget is limited, evaluate the use of your marketing dollars and see where they can best be spent. Create campaigns where customer responses can be tracked, measured and analyzed through resources such as Google Analytics.
Getting the word out is simple with print and web marketing available today, but enticing the reader to go the next step in contacting your company can be tough. Creating a dynamic call to action with phrases such as “Download Now, Click Here, Receive Free Tips, and While Supplies Last” generates excitement and motivation while increasing your chances of turning a prospect into a customer.
To add new life to your marketing program, contact the industrial marketing experts at Gotham, LLC.
We’ve spoken about how outbound builds your brand, and how it differs from inbound marketing. Today, we’d like to take that a step further in this practical guide for manufacturing and industrial marketing in 2015.
In this article, we’ll expound on these points:
Marketing for manufacturing companies requires a great deal of time, energy and investment. However, if you do it right, you will reap abundant rewards for years to come.
Great marketing happens through precise planning and strategic vision.
Start by identifying your end goals. What do you want to accomplish in 2015 through your marketing endeavors? Some typical marketing goals include:
Your plan will center on accomplishing these goals. It will feature research on your company, your competitors and the industry as a whole. After that analysis, you will build an execution strategy based on your findings.
Outbound marketing includes channels like: marketing strategies, advertising, sales presentations, direct mail, public relations, brochures, email marketing and trade shows.
Each presents its own benefits and challenges. Smart marketers use a combination of several channels to reach a large, targeted amount of people. Because outbound marketing focuses on pushing your message outward, you should position your content to pull at the emotional tendencies in purchasing behavior.
Value happens when you properly position multiple channels of outbound marketing. Every marketing effort should align with your company’s overall brand, messaging and marketing strategy. Do that and you will succeed.
Some manufacturing companies view marketing as another annoying expense. But it’s so much more than that. Without marketing, you will never build a recognizable brand, drive a large amount of customers to action, or create an obvious value to potential customers.
You must invest in great marketing.
It provides an essential element to the overall success of manufacturing and industrial businesses. Don’t look at it as just another expense. Recognize it for the powerful, profitable investment it becomes when done properly.
Marketing for manufacturers starts with a great strategy, valuable channel alignment and an investment-centered mindset. It’s practical, yet effective.
When you and your employees embrace outbound, you can reach deeper depths and higher heights with your customers. People will take notice of your brand and want to know more about your mission.
Ready to see success with your marketing endeavors? Visit Gotham, LLC, and North Carolina-based industrial marketing firm, at IndustrialMarketingExperts.com for more information.
New marketing tools are created and abandoned every day.
New channels for message distribution appear and skyrocket in popularity, only to fizzle just as fast.
New companies appear, shine brightly for a few months or years, then disappear.
While marketing seems to be a young, constantly evolving industry – and it is, to an extent – the fact is that 99% of what actually works in marketing today is simply a new variation on a very old theme:
This is why marketers and companies that have survived over the long-term warrant your attention. They’ve proven that they know how to achieve Return on Investment over and over again despite variations in product, industry, economy, and current flavor-of-the-month marketing tools available.
These experienced marketing professionals can stay on top of trends in their own industry, because they’re experts at staying on top of trends in their clients’ industries. And combining the two is where the real magic happens.
They know that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach or solution.
They also realize that tools and tactics may come and go, but the underlying principles of human psychology don’t change. So, while they will hone their skills in trendy new methods that make sense, they’ll keep their eyes on the big picture too, taking a holistic approach to helping their clients.