Last month in this two-part article series about planning for 2011, we asked three questions to help you evaluate current marketing practices and next year’s plans (view Part 1 article here). This month, we offer three marketing strategies that will help position you to achieve your goals.

1. Maintain a persistent, comprehensive marketing presence.
The industrial buy cycle is a well-documented and often complex process that buyers engage in to identify and procure products and services meeting their needs. It is essential that manufacturers and suppliers get found in the early research phases of the buy cycle, when potential customers are looking for vendors who can meet their needs. Otherwise, you may be shut out of a number of business opportunities.

In order to be found early in the buy cycle, you must maintain a persistent marketing presence where buyers begin their products and services search—online. Research shows that buyers have significantly reduced their reliance on traditional information sources such as printed catalogs, trade shows, and trade magazines, in favor of online resources. The Industrial Buy Cycle Survey reported the top three most frequently used sources for searching for products and services to purchase are search engines, supplier web sites, and online catalogs.

From the beginning to the end of the buy cycle, the supplier that is eventually selected is exposed to the buyer many times. The company may have first become visible through an Internet search, or exposure to its online catalog, or a banner ad on an industrial site, or any number of other ways. Therefore, build a comprehensive and persistent online presence to reach buyers and increase opportunities to gain customers.

2. Commit to marketing programs that deliver real leads, real fast.
By real leads, we mean real people with full contact information and an expressed area of interest. Real fast means you get leads in your hands almost as soon as they are generated. This type of data and timing is what your sales team needs to be successful, and it’s marketing’s responsibility to provide it.

While branding and visibility do play an important role in marketing, lead generation is still a top priority. Think twice about investing in lead generation programs that deliver only anonymous clicks to your Web site. Your sales people can’t do anything with that list—and neither can you for follow-up marketing purposes.

In the same vein, avoid marketing programs that deliver leads after they’ve already gone cold. Your prospects are on Internet time, and if they express interest in your company and products, they expect a response in 24 hours or less. If they don’t get it, they will move on to other vendors.

Marketing programs such as GlobalSpec.com provide you with leads containing full contact information and area of prospect interest. And, as soon as the lead is generated, it is available to you online, helping ensure that you can reach out to a potential new customer in a timely manner.

3. Discuss your marketing challenges and goals with media partners.
Each year presents new challenges in marketing planning, whether it’s a tough economy, constrained budgets, company strategy shifts, a decline in effectiveness of traditional marketing, or changes in the buying behavior of your customers.

You don’t have to face these challenges alone. You should take the time now to discuss your marketing challenges and goals with existing or potential media partners. Before committing program dollars for 2011, find the partners you are most comfortable with and who offer the best programs to meet your needs. Here is a checklist of questions to ask media partners; based on their answers, you should be able to better allocate your marketing dollars and choose effective programs:

  • Do they have the attention of your target audience?
  • Can they keep your company visible to prospects and customers at all times? In other words, help you maintain marketing persistence.
  • Do they offer a variety of integrated marketing solutions aligned with your goals rather than trying to fit you into cookie cutter programs?
  • Do they deliver targeted, quality leads with full contact information in a timely manner?
  • Do they provide reporting you can use to measure the performance of your marketing and justify your marketing investments?

Download the 2011 Marketing Planning Kit to start planning how you can find the results you are looking for next year.

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