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?
Expanding into North America
Many foreign businesses recognize the importance of a physical presence in the North American market. The world’s largest economy won’t wait for delivery delays or communication breakdowns that can occur ordering products from overseas. Lean manufacturing demands that products and support be readily accessible. Once a North American based satellite is established and staffed, it needs to be properly promoted for success.
Gotham has worked with companies in both Europe and Asia to reorganize and adapt the messaging of their marketing communication for the North American marketplace. In every instance, product inquiries have increased exponentially as those companies increase their
business in the Americas and Canada.
Begin With a Great First Impression
Today, a single email or web page can reach people around the world within a few seconds of hitting “enter” on a keyboard. International manufacturers who desire to communicate a new product launch or recruit new customers now have access to tools that were unavailable 20 years ago.
However, while technology has created a single online community, a manufacturer’s customers have to do business within unique cultural dynamics and national communities. What is important to a customer in Japan or Austria may not be the same as what is important to a customer in the United States, South America or Canada. And, even if those needs are similar, smart marketers still approach customers in these regions with unique messages and tactics. This is especially true when a marketing campaign needs to use creative or humorous images and copy. Cultural differences alter how people perceive messages and, if not handled appropriately, can result in poor marketing material and – even worse – an offensive campaign that alienates prospects. Hiring a North American marketing agency, like Gotham LLC, helps a manufacturer avoid common problems and ensure more targeted and effective communication with potential customers.
Building Local Relationships and Leveraging Market Knowledge
Strong marketing starts with an understanding of the target audience. Even companies that have a local sales force or engineering team in North America need professionals that understand local cultures, customers, media and industries. An experienced, national agency like Gotham offers value in many ways that marketers working across national borders cannot, including:
Keeping the Focus on the Company’s Message
Engaging the right marketing agency specifically focused on the North American market ensures that regional activity always meets global objectives. Gotham uses a proprietary six step program, called LAUNCH, to develop regional marketing programs consistent with a company’s overall strategic vision. Those steps include Listen, Analyze, Understand, Narrow, Create and Hatch.
Strategic implementation of the LAUNCH process means that Gotham can effectively act as a regional extension in North America for an international company. Agency marketing experts gain the knowledge they need to execute the most effective – and efficient – program possible.
Understanding Return on Investment
All of these factors help maximize return on marketing investment, while still implementing marketing programs that resonate with customers and support business goals. Gotham has saved companies hundreds of thousands of dollars by eliminating time consuming – unnecessary – problems.
Here’s how Gotham improves marketing return on investment:
Is One Website Good Enough for Global Audiences?
Some exporting manufacturers believe that electronic communication has eliminated the need for local marketing communications support in other countries – that cultural differences are not as wide as many believe. In truth, they are wider. How people consume media comes directly from their culture. A website that speaks directly to the American audience provides a significant competitive advantage for foreign manufacturing entities.
Strategically Approach the American Market for Sales Success
Gotham can help by tailoring the message for the North American, South American and Canadian marketplaces, improving readability in English and reorganizing the navigation tools to better align with North American standards and preferences. The same concept applies to brochures, ads, videos, photography and most other marketing materials.
No matter how big or small the business, manufacturers looking to expand or improve the way they do business in North America and Canada will benefit from engaging a national marketing communication agency for support.
To learn more about how Gotham can provide that support, visit www.industrialmarketingexperts.com or call 828.327.8099 x 800.
Ever wondered why your leads are thin, or your close rate isn’t happening for the leads you do receive?
Google Analytics is a free website resource that monitors websites, allowing you to gain valuable insight into your audience. Discover traffic sources, visitors’ demographics, which pages they visit and which cause them to exit. With this marketing intelligence, you’re able to improve areas of the site that are weak.
Products and services on pages that are trending upward can be relayed to the sales force to act upon.
By monitoring the traffic and the audience location, a more accurate connection can be made to the target audience. This powerful insight may influence the creation of your next marketing campaign.
One of the most valuable assets to Analytics is measurement of any digital campaign and whether the visits from those mediums are cost effective.
Some of the top reports we recommend adding to your Dashboard include:
Google Analytics allows you to see the entire picture, monitor metrics and ensure your marketing efforts are yielding positive results. The various reports pinpoint exactly what needs to be updated and also what’s working well—taking the guesswork away from your next marketing strategy. It can be a powerful weapon that leads to higher ROI, more conversions and keen insights.
To have Google Analytics installed on your website or your existing web results reviewed and analyzed, contact Gotham.
If you’re not getting enough organic traffic to your industrial website, it may be time to invest in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, an effective online marketing strategy for manufacturers.
Pay-per-click advertising is considered “buying your way to the top” of search engines. It is effectively an auction for key phrases. The higher the bid, the higher your ad appears. Nothing is charged until the ad is “clicked through” to a landing page or website.
There are three choices of paid ads:
1. Text ads on the top and bottom of Google, Yahoo and Bing
2. Display, or visual, ads shown on participating websites
3. Visual remarketing ads that “follow” your website visitors and are shown on participating websites
Text ads create more conversions, while display ads create some conversions but are primarily an awareness, or branding tactic.
The two big players in the search market are Google, with 66% of all searches and Bing/Yahoo that represent 32%.. For best results, campaigns should be run on both search engines. Bids for targeted key phrases are dynamic and should be monitored regularly. The other 2% represent minor search engines.
In 2018, over 30% of marketers will increase their inbound advertising budget due to the proven ROI on paid search advertising. For industrial manufacturers, pay-per-click advertising can help their site rank at the top of Google’s search page and lower cost per lead.
Here are five main focal points for successful PPC advertising campaigns:
1. Keyword / Key Phrase Relevance
The first step to successful PPC advertising is keyword or key phrase research. Start by brainstorming a tight group of keywords and phrases that will resonate with customers and be useful when searching for your industry. Key phrases should be targeted, concise and specific. Be sure to think of how customers would search for your business and include those words and phrases in the campaign. Paid search is a good supplement to organic SEO for hard-to-rank key phrases.
2. Text Ad Content
Grab visitors’ attention with persuasive ad copy before they click on the competitors’ ads. Ad copy should personally relate to customers, spur them into action and be consistent. Include the most important information in the most concise way in order to provide clarity quickly. Well-written, compelling ad content differentiates and compels.
3. Landing Page Quality
Landing pages improve conversion rates. They specifically relate to the ad the prospect just clicked through to “land” on it. Implement a clear call to action on to ensure that you’re directing visitors to conversion (phone call, online sale, contact form inquiry, etc.).
4. Create a “Sales Path”
Your website content and the products you advertise via pay-per-click should resonate with the audience and be consistent with the text and/or display ads. Make it easy for the prospect to purchase or take advantage of the offer. The “sales path” is a logical progression from seeing a pay-per-click ad, clicking on it, landing on the website and converting to a sales lead.
Want to improve the quality of your website? Read these Top 7 Signs Your Website Needs a Redesign.
5. Measure and Modify
Both Google Adwords and Google Analyitcs offer measurement tools that allow you to analyze key metrics such as ad impressions, clicks, cost-per-click, average keyword position, and ad click-thru rates. Armed with marketing intelligence, these campaigns should be regularly refined and optimized for greater efficiency.
With relevant key phrases, persuasive ad copy and targeted landing pages, you’ll see the difference that PPC advertising can have on your industrial manufacturing company’s bottom line. Pay-per-click can be turned “off” or “on” at a moment’s notice. It’s a great strategy to use to boost sales during traditional down times in the calendar year.
If you’re ready to act on this low risk, high reward tactic, contact Gotham’s PPC specialists for a free quote, and let us do the heavy lifting while you watch your business grow.
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.
So, you’re about to release a new industrial product and you want to make some sales?
In order to maximize your launch, you need to create a strong marketing strategy. It will guide your marketing efforts and ensure that you get the biggest bang possible. When it comes to promoting new industrial products, here are 7 core tactics for the campaign.
When someone opts in to your email list, this is called “permission based marketing”. It’s a way to get your message in front of people who want to hear from you. Develop an engaging, custom email blast (eBlast) announcing your new product. Include details, high-quality images and a strong call-to-action.
There are many ways manufacturers can connect with customers using social media. If you’ve developed a following prior to the new product launch, don’t be afraid to craft an announcement to your followers. They’ll be interested in the new release, and may help spread the word.
The home page of your website should feature a link to the new product’s page. This is an easy way to spread the word to new website visitors that may be interested in the product.
A press release is paramount to creating word of mouth buzz for any new product launch.
If your customers would like to see the product in action, put together a high quality video demonstration. It can both engage customers and answer questions that they may have about the product. Product releases can include links to YouTube.
Time your new industrial product launch with a trade show promotion. This builds excitement and anticipation around a new product.
Whether you’re supporting trade show efforts or passing them out to local leads, a well-designed brochure can do wonders for your new product launch. Invest in the product with a professionally designed sales tool.
Are you releasing a new industrial product soon? If so, make sure to implement these seven promotional tactics into your marketing strategy. Your new product deserves the best hype possible, and these techniques can make that a reality.
Visit Gotham, LLC at www.industrialmarketingexperts.com.