Industrial Marketing: What Manufacturers Need to Know

Industrial marketing, or as some refer to it as manufacturing marketing, is very different from B2C marketing. In my experience working with manufacturers and engineering companies, I’ve found differences with other B2B marketing even though industrial is a subset of B2B.

How is industrial marketing different from B2C and B2B marketing?

(Source: CADENAS PARTsolutions. See the full infographic below)

Industrial marketing frustrations faced by manufacturers

I work with in-house marketers and management in manufacturing companies, so I hear some of their frustrations firsthand. Probably the most common complaint I hear is, “We’ve been working with a B2B marketing agency for a while now, but they seem to force-fit their strategies into our industrial business. That just isn’t producing the results.” 

Marketing to engineers and technical buyers is a challenge. Yes, I understand and acknowledge the fact that you are still marketing to people, and of course, engineers are people too. However, they make work-related buying decisions differently from their personal lives even though the lines have blurred somewhat.

Let me also put to rest a myth that engineers hate marketing. No, they don’t. I should know because I’m a Mechanical Engineer and have been in industrial marketing for 30+ years. However, engineers can easily see through marketing fluff, and they don’t react well to that.

Understand the unique differences in industrial marketing

By now, I’m sure you know that the industrial sales process is long and complex, and usually, a committee of stakeholders makes buying decisions instead of an individual. There are other challenges too. Let me zero in on two unique differences in industrial marketing

  • Specifier vs. functional buyer: You are most likely to run into this issue if you manufacture industrial components. Your part needs to be “designed in” and added to the Bill of Materials (BOM) by a Design Engineer before the Purchasing Department can send out RFPs and RFQs. In essence, you need to market the Specifier who doesn’t have the final buying authority. Engineers today are time-challenged and under tremendous pressure to do more with less while time to market has become shorter. As a manufacturer, you have to do everything you can to save them time and improve their design accuracy. (See Using CAD and BIM Files in Manufacturing Content Marketing)
  • Attribution issues: If you are an in-house manufacturing marketer, you have to prove ROI or Return on marketing investment (ROMI) to upper management. Showing charts and graphs from Google Analytics is not going to satisfy them. They want to see proof of growth in sales and revenues. That’s not an easy task in industrial marketing because of the long sales cycles and multiple touchpoints with different stakeholders. I’ve seen industrial marketers give 100% attribution to the last interaction since that’s how the sales lead was generated. I call this the “last click” syndrome. You will get a distorted picture of what is working and what is not with this method. I’ve also seen in-house marketers give up on measuring ROI because it is too complicated. You’ll need a Marketing Automation tool to track leads from start to finish for proper attribution.

These two major differences in industrial marketing were key talking points in my presentation at the Industrial Marketing Summit as part of Content Marketing World.

I could continue and write hundreds of words explaining more about what is industrial marketing. However, if you are a visual person, you will benefit a lot more by referring to this comprehensive and well-researched infographic by the team at CADENAS PARTsolutions. I’m honored to be quoted in it along with other industrial marketing experts.

Infographic by CADENAS PARTsolutions

Industrial Marketing

You can download a PDF version of the infographic from here.

This post and the infographic should give manufacturers an in-depth understanding of industrial marketing and its differences from B2C and general B2B marketing.


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