Almost everyone understands the differences between B2B marketing and B2C marketing. For those that don’t, we’ve looked at the distinctions and how some of the lines have blurred in our articles B2B vs B2C marketing… same same but different? and B2C basics for B2B. What is not widely understood are the subtle differences that exist between B2B marketing and industrial marketing. If you look up definitions of these two terms, you’ll see a lot of writers essentially think they are one and the same.
Not quite. And if you’re a technical science or engineering company, manufacturer or distributor, it’s important to understand those differences.
Industrial marketing is a type of B2B marketing where the primary audiences are composed of engineering, industrial and/or technical professionals.
The products are often more highly technical in nature. They may be highly customised, an integrated component of some larger system, and so on. There may also be thousands of such items in your inventory.
Needless to say, industrial products can be a hard sell – even above the existing challenges of the B2B space. Because where B2B buyers are looking for something specific, industrial buyers are typically looking for something SUPER specific.
And often… these industrial buyers’ search is disappointingly futile as a lot of the industrial businesses haven’t yet got their digital warehouse (or should we say digital marketing) sorted.
Still, many of the hurdles to overcome are the same. Understanding what those hurdles are is a great place to begin.
What are the typical challenges in industrial marketing?
Some of the challenges faced by companies in the industrial space include:
- Very little to no visibility in search engines and the online space generally
- Outdated, unoptimised and insecure websites that may not reflect your current business offer
- Little awareness of your company among your target markets beyond word of mouth
- Very few fresh leads
- Inability to land conversations with those making the spending decisions
- Price-based discussions around detailed, bespoke solutions that are difficult to readily quantify
Some other challenges may be that companies recognise the steps they need to take to reach their desired audience but lack the in-house time, expertise or resources to follow ideas through to implementation.
Know who you’re talking to
Like B2B marketing, the purchasing process in industrial marketing is generally longer and involves more people – engineers, project managers, procurement specialists, and so on.
There may be purchasing committees to answer to, meaning instead of targeting one decision-maker, you may be dealing with dozens. The needs of all these stakeholders have to be taken into account.
There’s also the fact that order quantities may be very large, very particular, or highly significant one-off investments that require extensive follow-up support due to the product complexity.
That might mean different marketing strategies need to be considered for different products across multiple arms of your business. That variety can itself prove a major challenge. You might be talking to anyone from engineers, technical professionals, IT managers, or site managers.
Knowing who you’re talking to and what their needs are – and who they’re reporting to – is critical. You have to make sure they have the information they need, so they can get the a-ok to purchase.
Have the answers
Whitepapers, case studies, fact sheets and so forth remain mandatory requirements for industrial marketing. To be optimally effective however they should be informed by a strategy designed to maximise their reach and effectiveness.
Engineers for instance in the buying process will search vendor and distributor websites and consume multiple pieces of content before talking to a salesperson, according to recent findings from IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing.
They also found that of the majority of engineers surveyed, nearly 60 percent of the buying process had already taken place before any conversation with the vendor had even begun.
If you’re able to produce value-add materials that can answer specific enquiries or concerns and present solutions – rather than just feature lists and specification sheets – then your sales team can have far more useful conversations with prospects (especially if it’s your content they’ve been exposed to!).
Despite the rise in digital however there is little doubt that industrial marketing – by necessity – still leans heavily on traditional marketing tactics.
That means print ads in trade magazines and journals, billboards and so forth – but most importantly, it means attendance at key industry events, major trade shows, etc.
Face-to-face is still, hands-down, the most powerful way to maintain front-of-mind with your prospects. Marketing will absolutely help – but showing up makes all the difference.
The power of partnering
It’s always a good idea to get a strategy in place before embarking on any industrial marketing efforts – otherwise you risk throwing your money in every direction for little result.
In-depth information around marketing niches in the industrial sector are generally pretty hard to come by. Often, customers are won by word of mouth and closely held. Purchases become partnerships.
Thankfully, full-fat industrial marketing, digital and content strategies happen to be something TMM specialises in!
We take our clients through an in-depth discovery and workshop process that will help them better define their existing markets while identifying new opportunities, and the best ways to reach more customers in their space.
Check out our case-study with industrial client McLanahan to see the impact our approach can have.
Need some marketing with industrial drive? TMM are here to help. Call our office today on 0449 845 595 and let’s get things happening.