The 2015 Industrial Marketing Trends results are in and here are the top three challenges that marketers face: increased competition, limited marketing resources, and generating enough high-quality leads for sales. This is a formidable trio of marketing challenges, but we know industrial marketers are pretty formidable themselves. You can overcome these challenges. Here’s how.

Increased Competition
For the first time, increased competition rose to the top of the list of what’s making life difficult for industrial marketers. It’s easy to understand why. The digital era and its multitude of channels has largely leveled the playing field for competitors. Engineers and technical professionals now have at their disposal more resources than ever to discover information and research purchases, making it harder for marketers to be highly visible and to differentiate their company, products and services.

Solution
Carefully evaluate your online marketing mix. Are you spending on the right channels—the ones that your target audience uses most often for work-related purposes? Putting significant focus on one area (your website, for example) will limit your exposure and visibility. The key is to diversify your spending.

The top digital resources for engineers and technical professionals are search engines, online catalogs and supplier websites, according to the 2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector survey. E-newsletters and webinars are also popular sources of information. Online communities have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39 percent now using them.

You should also evaluate how you position and talk about your company in your marketing. Are you saying the same things that others are saying? Or have you found a niche that plays to your strengths and differentiates your company from competitors? You have unique attributes—your task is to identify and promote them.

Limited Marketing Resources
Let’s face it: scarcity is the nature of marketing. There is never enough budget, and never enough people, to do everything you want to do. Which means you have hard decisions to make about where to allocate your marketing efforts.

Solution
See above about spending on those channels your customers and prospects use most often. But also, look for ways in which the total impact of your marketing can be greater than the sum of its parts. The key here is to have an integrated marketing plan. Don’t just purchase a banner ad on a website; invest in a campaign that increases your visibility across a network of targeted industrial sites. Don’t simply get listed on an online directory; take the next step and drive traffic to your listing through other marketing efforts, or put your entire catalog online.

With 2016 quickly approaching, now is a good time to speak to your media partners about how you can get better results given your budget and marketing objectives. They can help you put together an integrated plan that makes optimal use of the resources you have.

Another way to make the most of your resources is to make your content work harder for you. Most industrial marketers are engaged in content marketing, and by carefully planning your content efforts in advance, you can save time and money. For example, a white paper can be re-purposed into a webinar, article or series of blog posts. A customer testimonial can become a video, a press release and a downloadable case study. Re-purpose your content and plan campaigns around promoting the content.

Generating Enough High-Quality Leads
“Marketing, please stop! We have all the qualified leads we can handle!” How many industrial marketers have heard that complaint from their sales team? None. Ever. Although sales people might tell you to stop handing over lousy leads. Year over year, generating enough high quality leads for sales appears near the top of industrial marketers’ list of challenges. You can change that.

Solution
Invest in marketing channels your target audience uses frequently, but that also generate valuable engagement opportunities for you. You should focus your efforts on the quality of leads rather than quantity, because that’s what sales people will appreciate.

Another important variable in measuring the worth of a contact or inquiry is its timeliness. Engagement opportunities coming to you in real time, as they are generated, are more likely to convert to a sale than those weeks or even just days old.

In addition, you should have lead nurturing program in place to cultivate those leads that are not yet ready for your sales team. Working this group with a drip campaign of regular touches through email communications and tracking their behavior can help you move them toward qualified and being sales-ready.

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