Marketing doesn’t work.
Probably not the introduction you expected for an industrial marketing article. However, it’s a statement we hear from industrial companies on a regular basis. Many small to medium sized industrial businesses are hesitant to invest in marketing efforts simply because they fail to see any measurable return on investment. In many cases, though, industrial companies view marketing through a more traditional B2C lens, which is a problem, since industrial marketing and consumer marketing are two very different animals. Confusing one with the other results in wasted resources, so it’s easy to understand why some industrial businesses distrust marketing altogether.
So what are the differences?
Longer Sales Cycles
One of the most immediately obvious differences between consumer marketing and industrial marketing is the longer sales cycle. Consumers often make purchases on the spot, or with less than a few days consideration. Industrial purchases are different. Buyers make calculated decisions, often after a lengthy review process, analysis, and comparison between similar products. As a result, industrial marketers that are expecting fast sales from marketing investments are going to be disappointed. Instead, industrial marketers should prepare for more lengthy nurture-based approach to growing revenue.
Buying in Teams
Industrial marketers also need to understand exactly who they are speaking to with their marketing efforts. In consumer marketing, sellers generally market their products at an individual. With industrial marketing, this can be challenging. Industrial buying decisions are rarely made by a single person. Instead, teams of people are usually involved in the decision-making process (this is another reason for the longer buying cycle). It is important to understand the different people that will be involved and ensure that you have marketing content that appeals to them.
For example, a shift manager at a warehouse may be sold on the fact that a new piece of material handling equipment will allow his staff to work faster. However, the operations manager at the facility might be interested in the in labor cost savings associated with the equipment.
Selling to End Users is Not Enough
In consumer marketing buyers are directly exposed to marketing efforts. In industrial marketing this is not always the case. The employees who will actually use a product are generally the ones who are exposed to marketing. In many cases though, it is company executives who sign off on the final purchase agreement. As a result, industrial marketing efforts need to equip buyers with information that they can take to senior management to help them realize the value of a purchase. Simply selling the end users on an industrial product or service is not enough.
Technical Specs, Not Emotions
Effective consumer marketing encourages us to make purchases based on emotion. That doesn’t work in industrial marketing. Industrial buyers are thirsty for information and specifications. They are experts in their field and are very knowledgeable about the products and services they need. Buyers want to know exactly what a product is capable of, why it is an improvement, and how it will fit into their existing systems. Plain and simple.
Industrial buyers behave differently. By understanding the differences between traditional B2C customers and industrial buyers, companies can develop effective marketing efforts, proving that, when done properly, marketing does work after all.
Samuel Fordham the marketing and content specialist for ActiveConversion, a sales and marketing technology firm in North America for industrial companies.