That sound you hear may be the gears of the industrial marketing engine turning a bit faster compared to recent years. According to the 2011 GlobalSpec Industrial Marketing Trends Survey, sales for manufacturers are increasing, along with marketing spend.

87% of industrial companies expect sales to increase in 2011 over 2010 levels, while only 3% expect sales to be down. On the spending side, 38% of industrial companies are increasing marketing spend and 24% are adding headcount in marketing.

You can download the full set of survey results, along with analysis and recommendations for marketers in the white paper “Trends in Industrial Marketing 2011: How Manufacturers are Marketing Today.”

Marketing challenges and goals remain the same
While the industrial economy may be changing for the better, some things seem to never change, namely the fact that manufacturers face the same marketing challenges and goals year after year. For the second consecutive year, not generating enough high quality leads for sales topped the list of manufacturers’ biggest marketing challenges. 52% selected this as one of their top three challenges. Not having enough marketing resources and needing to drive more traffic to company Web sites were the other highly ranked marketing challenges.

In terms of goals, 71% stated that lead generation or customer acquisition was their top marketing goal, a trend that has remained the same year over year. What’s slightly different in 2011 is that 19% of companies selected branding as their primary marketing goal, up from 13% in 2010. This metric indicates the importance of being noticed and recognized in competitive and crowded markets. It also indicates the need for manufacturers to implement targeted online programs that offer both lead generation and branding, such as online searchable catalogs, online events, e-newsletter advertisements, and ad networks.

The industrial sector is paying attention to emerging marketing channels
In 2011, for the first time, the majority of industrial companies (57%) plan to use social media as a marketing channel, compared to only 24% using social media last year. LinkedIn is the most popular social media application among industrial companies. Facebook and Twitter are also seeing more activity from industrial marketers. Overall, 63% of industrial companies are using more social media. At this point in the maturation of the social media market, the outcome most effectively achieved is increasing brand awareness. If that is one of your marketing goals, you may want to evaluate social media tactics for your company.

Other emerging marketing channels are being funded as well. 64% of companies are spending more on video and 47% are increasing spending on online events. Among all of these emerging marketing channels there is one common thread: they are all online channels, which brings us to the next topic…

…Online marketing is the number-one area for marketing investment
The survey shows that as marketing spending increases, the areas for investment are online. The top eight channels for increased marketing spend in 2011 are all online, from search engine optimization and social media, to Internet banner advertising networks and online newsletter advertisements and more. Industrial companies now spend an average of 38% of their marketing budget online and 50% of companies report that online marketing is a bigger percentage of their marketing budget in 2011 than it was in 2010.

The takeaway for manufacturers is that the industrial audience has largely migrated online to search for products, suppliers, and services. The way to precisely target this audience, connect with potential customers, and gain measurable results is through online marketing and working with the right online media partner.

One other takeaway: download your complimentary copy of “Trends in Industrial Marketing 2011: How Manufacturers are Marketing Today.”

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