By Angela Hribar
Chief Sales and Marketing Officer
For many companies, 2008 was a challenging year. The new realities of our current market and economy impacted many sectors, and even more expect to feel the effects in 2009. This makes it even more important than ever to plan smarter, more effective ways to market to industrial and technical buyers in the year ahead.
Based on GlobalSpec’s research into market trends and feedback from our customers, here are strategic recommendations to achieve marketing success in 2009. All of these recommendations have something in common: better decision making when it comes to marketing choices.
Make the most out of finite resources
Our research shows that having too few resources is one of the biggest challenges faced by marketing professionals in the industrial sector. At the same time, marketers also are tasked with demonstrating results and improving ROI. While “doing more with less” is a challenge for any marketer, there are two ways to approach this situation.
Number one, understand what your executive team expects your company’s marketing investments to deliver. Together, you should define clear and realistic objectives and establish metrics to measure marketing performance.
Second, consider dropping programs that haven’t proven to be effective or can’t be measured, and replace them with programs that have shown to deliver quality leads as well as provide performance metrics. Quality leads are those coming from motivated prospects who fit your target customer profile and whose contact information is made available to you, providing you the opportunity to begin a dialogue. As for performance metrics, online programs are the easiest to measure: they are built on views, clicks and conversions.
Diversify your marketing portfolio
While you may be forced to make difficult decisions about reducing your marketing budget in the year ahead, you also want to make sure that you don’t allocate all of your resources to a single marketing tactic. Diversification of your marketing portfolio is important because your audience uses multiple sources to find components and suppliers, as well as conduct research. Today, the majority of these sources are online. Your customers visit industrial Web sites, use more than one search engine, subscribe to relevant e-newsletters and more.
As a marketer, your job is putting your company, products and services in those places where customers and prospects can find you. In other words, fish where the fish are. For example, according to the 2008 GlobalSpec engineering trends survey, 74 percent of engineers and industrial professionals visit six or more work-related Web sites per week; 20 percent visit 20 or more. In addition, 59 percent use two or more search engines for work-related purposes.
Many industrial marketers have made smart decisions in response to these customer and market trends. Thirty percent spend more than 50 percent of their overall marketing budget online, according to 2008’s GlobalSpec industrial marketing trends survey. Three of their four top lead generation sources are online, with online directories/Web sites and e-mail the two most frequently used marketing channels.
Remember two words: frequency, consistency
Even with finite resources, it’s vital to maintain a level of frequency and consistency — in other words, stay in front of your customers and prospects; don’t disappear for stretches at a time. If that means you need to focus marketing efforts on a few of your strongest market sectors, do it.
The benefits of regular visibility accrue over time as more prospects recognize your company. This improves your opportunity to get on a prospect’s short list of potential vendors and also shortens the sales cycle. Demand exists even in a challenging market. Only those companies that maintain their presence through marketing will stay in the minds of customers and prospects.
Plan for a consistent and frequent online presence on Web sites, directories and search engines your customers use and the e-newsletters they read. Your company will achieve stronger brand awareness and more measurable lead generation via online contact.
Your marketing message
This is a good time to evaluate your message to the market. What do your customers stand to gain by using your products and services during a challenging economy? Is part of your value proposition efficiency or cost savings, or do you offer support and service that sets you apart from competitors and lowers risk for your customers? Use current economic conditions to your advantage when planning creative and messages.
Time is short to start preparing and planning for 2009. Remain positive. Stay on top of all trends in your industry. Reach your audiences using media they use.
Focus on these recommendations and you’ll achieve strong results in 2009.