Last month we got you jump-started with marketing planning for 2016, offering tips on evaluating your current marketing program and pointing out trends that will affect your strategy moving forward. You can read Part 1 here. This month, as we’re nearing the final quarter of the year, we offer five ideas to help you develop the optimal marketing plan to fit your business needs and meet your marketing goals.
1. Think Digital
When creating your 2016 marketing plan, weigh your channel mix heavily towards digital. Traditional print media and in-person tradeshows continue to decline as digital resources become “business as usual” in the work habits of industrial professionals.
Recent research from IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions demonstrates just how important digital media is to this audience. Sixty-eight percent of technical professionals visit at least six websites each week for work-related purposes. More than half of technical professionals spend six or more hours per week on the Internet for work-related purposes, and one-third spend nine-plus hours (a full day) online.
If you’re not allocating the majority of your marketing budget to digital channels, you’re likely missing out on opportunities to connect with potential customers when they are performing their top online work-related activities: finding components, equipment, services, and suppliers; obtaining product specifications; performing research; and comparing products across suppliers.
2. Prioritize Your Marketing Investments
You’d like to use every possible channel to connect with your target audience, but reality and budgets say that’s not possible. Instead, prioritize your marketing investments according to your audience’s behavior and how well your programs work together. Your goal should be to maximize the visibility of your brand and opportunities for engagement, and to reach prospects and customers at every stage of their buying cycle, particularly early on when they are performing research and forming impressions of potential vendors before contacting them.
Search engines, supplier websites, and online catalogs are all top resources for industrial professionals. In addition, webinars, e-newsletters, and online display ads can help you penetrate new markets and connect with hard-to-reach professionals not in your database.
3. Create a Plan for Content Marketing
Your customers and prospects are constantly looking for content to help them solve problems, understand new technologies, and make more informed buying decisions. Suppliers that can deliver valuable, authoritative content can position their companies as industry experts, build trust with prospects, and ultimately make it easier for sales teams to close deals and drive revenue.
Make content marketing part of your overall marketing plan. Think ahead by creating an editorial calendar of the content you will produce. Match up content to expected events in 2016, such as new product launches or major announcements. Select the channels for distributing content. Here’s where your multichannel strategy pays off. For example, you can promote a webinar in an e-newsletter advertisement or in a display ad and drive prospects to your site to register.
Also, review your existing content. Make sure your marketing collateral and website are up-to-date with current messaging and the latest product versions. If you choose to enter new markets, you may need to revise some messaging and re-purpose existing case studies, white papers, and other materials. Create an inventory of content assets and determine what else is needed to move your customers through the buy cycle. Do it now to avoid long lead times.
4. Make Sure it’s Measurable
If you want full support for your marketing plan, make sure it’s measurable. This is another advantage of digital media. Page views, clicks, downloads, and conversions can all be easily counted.
ROI can be complex to measure, but a good starting point is answering a simple question: For the total marketing dollars you spend, what kind of return do you get in terms of engagement opportunities? Programs such as webinars tend to have high return because prospects have proactively registered for the event, which already indicates their interest. Inquiries on your website from existing customers also offer high return; it’s lower for new customers.
Specialized search engines and searchable catalogs tend to deliver good engagement opportunities because only your target audience would be using them, as opposed to general search engines which are used by the world.
Remember that with an integrated marketing plan, your tactics and channels work together. Most prospects will have multiple touches with your company throughout their buy cycle. Keep track of all touchpoints to prevent the mistake of attributing a sale only to their last interaction with you.
5. Work with Experts
Preparing a comprehensive, integrated marketing plan can be challenging, especially with all the new channels available to you and the wide variety of preferences among your target audience. You don’t have to do this work alone. Now is a good time to consult with an experienced digital media partner that understands and has the attention of the industrial audience you need to reach. Discuss your marketing objectives and have them show you an integrated, multi-channel media plan that will help achieve your goals and objectives.
2016 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit
IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions has created the Industrial Marketing Planning Kit to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your current marketing choices, calculate the value of existing marketing programs, understand changes in the marketing climate, and plan more effective prospect and client engagement strategies for 2016. Download your complimentary copy.