How are manufacturers marketing today? The answer can be found in the results of the 2009 GlobalSpec Marketing Trends Survey of marketing and sales professionals in the industrial sector. In broad terms, three key trends are defining the state of industrial marketing in 2009:

  1. The difficult economy is shaping manufacturers’ marketing approach and objectives
  2. Evaluation and measurement of marketing are top priorities
  3. Industrial marketers are shifting to online marketing — but not fast enough

The Economy
In a down economy and with budgets tight, tangibles such as customer acquisition and lead generation are imperatives for industrial marketers, with branding taking a back seat. In the survey, 44% stated that customer acquisition is their primary marketing goal and 29% stated lead generation is their primary marketing goal. Only 11% reported brand awareness as their top marketing goal, down from 21% in 2008. This underscores the importance of every new lead, every new customer.

Another trend in this economy is the increasing importance of customer retention. 13% indicated customer retention is their primary goal in 2009, up from just 5% in 2008. This increase makes good business sense, as companies cannot afford to lose customers now, and many companies realize it is easier and more cost effective to keep current customers than it is to find new ones. This trend will likely lead to increased focus on customer retention strategies and programs. For a closer look at customer retention, read the article, “Customer Loyalty: How to Earn It.

Evaluation and Measurement
The demand for marketing accountability and measurement is stronger than ever. And it should be. No company can afford to spend money without knowing what return it is getting on its investment.

For years, marketing did not face the same demands for accountability as other departments had. The ROI of marketing programs such as print ads, print directories, trade shows and other traditional marketing were either too difficult or too expensive to measure.

But the old ways have changed. 69% of industrial marketers stated they will closely evaluate the performance of marketing options and reduce or eliminate non-performing programs. 53% are choosing measurable marketing programs.

Today, the most effective marketing programs are also those whose performance can be measured and analyzed: online programs, which are built around impressions, clicks and conversions. You can easily see what is working and focus marketing dollars on the most successful programs, which will help reduce waste while increasing results.

The Shift to Online Marketing

There is a documented trend among industrial marketers to invest in online marketing, due to its measurement capabilities and effectiveness at reaching a targeted technical audience. (Other research shows that 90% of engineers and other technical professionals go online to search for components, products, suppliers and services.)

48% report that online is a greater portion of their marketing budget in 2009 than in 2008. But given the benefits of online marketing, the shift should be occurring with more momentum. What’s happening is a partial disconnect between the goals of industrial marketers and the actions they are taking to achieve those goals.

For example, marketers stated that the quality of leads is the most important factor when deciding where to allocate their marketing budget: lead quality scored 9 out of 10 in importance. At the same time, for industrial marketers, 3 of the top 4 sources for generating leads are online: their company Web site, GlobalSpec and e-mail marketing. Clearly, manufacturers’ customers are online and online marketing provides quality leads and measurable results.

Yet 42% of industrial marketers still said they are not generating enough high-quality leads for their sales teams. And less than a third of industrial marketers are spending 50% or more of their marketing budget online. The conclusion to draw is that not enough industrial marketers are making the shift to add online programs to their marketing mix, or they are not shifting fast enough.

However, the trend toward online marketing will likely increase as more industrial marketers become familiar with online marketing options and discover their value, and as they find expert media partners who can help guide effective online marketing choices.

For a more in-depth analysis of the state of industrial marketing along with charts of survey results, download your complimentary copy of the GlobalSpec white paper: “Trends in Industrial Marketing 2009: How Manufacturers are Marketing Today.”

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