It’s time to start planning your marketing strategy and programs for 2011. In order to position yourself for a strong start in the New Year, one of the best things you can do is to establish your marketing goals and objectives, and get your marketing budget approved early. Otherwise you may end up playing catch-up and scrambling to make marketing decisions without the benefit of insightful analysis, which can lead to mistakes.

This two-part article series will help you evaluate your current marketing initiatives, focus on your objectives for 2011, and choose the right programs to achieve your goals.

How are your current marketing programs performing?
To help know what needs changing for next year, analyze the results of your current marketing programs. How much did you invest in various marketing channels? What was the return in terms of quality lead generation and visibility among your target audience? Were leads delivered to you in a timely manner, with prospect contact information that your sales team could use to establish a relationship? Hopefully, you deployed resources into marketing programs that provided performance metrics.

What percentage of your marketing budget was allocated to online marketing programs? Many online programs give you 24/7 exposure to your target audience and enable you to connect with customers and prospects when they are motivated and actively searching. If you’re still using the same traditional marketing channels you were several years ago, you may be experiencing a decline in returns.

Ask your sales people what marketing programs they think work the best in terms of delivering good sales opportunities. They will be happy to tell you because they want more of those opportunities.

What industry trends impact your marketing?
Upwards of 90 percent of industrial professionals now go online to search for suppliers and components. Hand-in-hand with this trend is a continuing decline in print advertising and other traditional marketing.

As an industrial marketer, understanding how these trends impact your marketing choices is critical. According to the 2010 Marketing Trends Survey, 47 percent of industrial marketers reported spending at least one-third of their marketing budget online in 2010. Three of the top four sources for leads for industrial companies were online channels, including the company web site, e-mail marketing, and search engine optimization. If you want to connect with your audience in 2011, you should be increasing your presence in online marketing channels.

Other important trends show where industrial companies are investing. According to the GlobalSpec 2010 Industrial Indicators Survey, the worst of the economic downturn seems to be over and industrial companies are engaging in growth oriented activities. 18 percent of industrial companies have increased headcount, compared to only 5 percent a year ago. 15 percent of companies are increasing research & development spending, a 50 percent increase over last year.

47 percent of companies are focused on improving production efficiencies, 42 percent on quality, and 39 percent on new product development. Companies will need to spend on components, parts, and services in order to fulfill their initiatives.

You should account for these trends in your planning for next year. For example, if your products or services can help companies improve production efficiencies or quality, you may want to create specific messages around those points. This is a good time to check to see that your Web site, data sheets, white papers, and other collateral are up-to-date and properly position your products and services.

Another trend is the emphasis on “content marketing” which is the creation and sharing of content such as white papers, web pages, blog posts, webinars, e-newsletters, podcasts and more to attract and engage current and potential customers. Is your company creating relevant content to help build your brand and move prospects through the buying cycle? What are your plans for increasing content marketing in 2011?

What’s new for your company in 2011?
Make sure you know and account for strategic initiatives your company may be planning for next year, such as:

  • Timing of new product launches or product updates
  • Product retirements
  • New partnerships or mergers
  • Expansion into new geographic markets
  • Expansion into new customer segments

Mark important initiatives on your marketing calendar. You’ll want to make sure you increase marketing efforts to support business initiatives.

Next month, we’ll cover specific marketing programs and how they can support various objectives you are trying to meet in 2011.


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