It can be difficult to rethink your approach to marketing. It may require a leap out of your comfort zone into the unfamiliar; it may require extra effort. But in the case of marketing to the industrial sector, rethinking traditional marketing methods not only makes sense, it’s a requirement for success.

Gone are the days when your entire marketing portfolio can consist of direct mail, print ads, tradeshows and other traditional marketing vehicles. Today’s industrial marketer must integrate online marketing programs to reach their target audience and gain customers. Here are six reasons why you must rethink your traditional marketing ways.

1. Your customers are online
In this case, statistics tell the story. According to the GlobalSpec 2009 Economic Outlook Survey, more than 80% of engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial professionals use the Internet to obtain product specifications and to find components, equipment, services and suppliers. 73% spend three or more hours per week on the Internet for work-related purposes. If you don’t have a strong online presence, your chances of being found by this audience go way down.

2. Traditional media usage is declining
As online media usage increases, traditional media usage declines. Ad pages and circulation have been trending down for magazines; trade show attendance is declining as well. Many industrial marketers have recognized this trend and have shifted marketing dollars away from traditional media: 38% have reduced trade show attendance and 30% have reduced print advertising in the past year, according to the GlobalSpec 2009 Industrial Marketing Trends Marketing Survey. 

3. You need a persistent presence in front of customers
The urgent needs of your customers do not align with the timing of traditional marketing methods. Print magazines have a short shelf life. Direct mail is delivered on a specific day. Tradeshows end. But your customers may have a sudden inspiration or need, or a project gets funded and launched, and the search for components, products and suppliers shifts into high gear.

Traditional media don’t provide the persistent presence you need to be found when customers are searching for answers. However, you will be found if you establish and maintain a strong online presence on the Web sites, search engines, directories and e-newsletters your prospects use on a regular basis.

4. Measuring the effectiveness of traditional marketing is difficult

The demand for marketing accountability and measurement is stronger than ever, and marketers must respond by allocating their budget to programs whose performance can be analyzed. Some traditional marketing vehicles are difficult to measure, but online programs, which are built around measurable impressions, clicks and conversions, let you know exactly what is working and help you channel more of your efforts and marketing dollars on the successful programs — reducing waste, increasing results.

5. Costs add up using traditional marketing
Traditional marketing options like direct mail or print advertising – with delayed results (if any), extra cost of print, production, mailing services and postage – were acceptable to businesses at one time because they didn’t have many other choices. Still today, traditional tradeshows require expensive tradeshow booths and graphics — plus travel expenses and the opportunity cost of staff being absent from the office.

Online marketing programs have changed the way businesses market themselves. They offer new and better options where measurability is standard practice and efficient digital files allow you to forego paper, shipping and postage costs. As an example, an advertisement in an e-newsletter typically consists of a photo and some text, which can be easily produced by your current marketing team.

Instead of expensive tradeshows-consider exhibiting at an online event – the Web 2.0 version of a traditional tradeshow. Online events are developed and hosted by businesses to offer the same interaction as traditional tradeshows, only without the added expense.   E-events work the same way that tradeshows do – you can choose the events that focus on your target audience. They offer the same networking opportunities, conference speakers, and break-out sessions. What falls aside is the added cost and loss of efficiency.

To learn more about GlobalSpec-sponsored online events, go to: http://www.globalspec.com/events/

6. Your Web presence is the new corporate brochure — and much more
In today’s online world, it is expected that you have a professional and informative Web site. While there still may be a place for the traditional corporate brochure in your marketing collateral, your Web site should also represent your brand. It should include company information as well as at least a summary of what your products and services entail. Most importantly, make sure it’s up-to-date, accurate and reflective of your brand values.

It should be also said that your Web site is only one of the multiple places your company and it’s offerings should be present online. Online directories, electronic catalogs, vertical search engines and online ad networks are also opportunities to get your company front and center when your prospects are searching for products and services like yours.

In Summary
These six reasons drive home a key takeaway: now is the time to “right-size” your marketing spend. You cannot afford to waste marketing dollars in places where your audience isn’t looking—print advertising, trade shows and other traditional media just aren’t as effective anymore. Your customers and prospects are online, and that is where you need to reach them in order to compete and win business. What’s more, online programs give you 24/7 presence in front of your target customers and are easy to measure in terms of impressions, clicks and conversions—so you know exactly how your marketing spend is performing.

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