How Industrial Marketers Can Cultivate Relationships In-house

As industrial marketers, we are often reminded about the importance of working collaboratively with our sales counterparts, ensuring that we execute against complementary goals and objectives for the benefit of our organizations as a whole.  And while there is significant value to building positive relationships with sales, the mindset of nurturing relationships with colleagues outside of marketing shouldn’t stop there.

Gartner recently released a report predicting that, by 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.  This illustrates the importance of marketing and IT professionals to work closely together to achieve shared goals.

And relationship building is not limited to IT—now more than ever, it’s important for marketers to learn how to work well with department heads in other functional roles, such as human resources, finance and other departments.

So how do you accomplish the task of building bridges and strengthening relationships with these organizational leaders?

Ask for input
Nothing builds goodwill more than recognizing colleagues for their strengths and asking for their guidance.  By tapping into other departments to get their feedback when you have a question or are facing a challenge that involves their area of expertise, you indicate that you respect their knowledge on the subject and value their insight.

Remove walls
Intentional or not, many employees find themselves working in silos, where they don’t see the impact—or value—of their efforts beyond their functional area. Meet with other leaders to brainstorm ways to break down these barriers—everything from building cross-functional teams designed to develop and execute projects together to identifying company-wide goals where everyone can contribute.

Make it a team effort
It’s one thing to make the effort to cultivate relationships in different departments across the company. Encourage your employees to do the same, and you will reap even greater rewards. If your employees work well with their counterparts in other areas of the company, the entire company can benefit from increased productivity and fewer obstacles to success.

Keep in touch
It’s important to maintain relationships with your counterparts in IT, HR and finance. Think of it as internal networking. By regularly communicating with your counterparts in other areas of your company, you nurture these relationships and have a direct line to an expert when you need it.

With all of the responsibilities that marketers have, it’s easy to narrow in on the tasks that you and your team must accomplish to meet your immediate goals.  However, by taking the time to focus on the big picture within your organization—and the other departments across the company—you can build relationships that can lead to greater success.

Chris' Corner Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General

Building a Case for Marketing in the Boardroom

B2B marketers now face more obstacles than ever before. Between a tough business environment that has led some companies to cut marketing spending, an explosion of digital marketing channels, and a heightened focus on analytics, it’s no wonder that today’s average lifespan of a CMO is fewer than four years — nearly half the tenure of other C-level executives.

Within some companies marketing is viewed solely as a cost center, an expense. As a result, many marketers are faced with resistance when having their budgets approved by finance.

But marketing is an asset that drives revenue, and is vital to the overall growth of a company — which is why it should be important to your CEO, your executive team, and your board of directors. You need to position marketing to your CEO in terms of the revenue it delivers, not the budget and program costs.

To make this happen you must align your marketing strategy with major company initiatives and have a plan in place that is measurable and can demonstrate an impact on bottom line sales.

Here are some best practices:

Align your plans with company goals. With the influx of channels now available to B2B marketers it’s easy to get caught up in the tactics. But doing so is a mistake. You want to position marketing in a holistic light, demonstrating to your executive team that you are not simply executing a series of separate tactics, but rather, aligning your marketing objectives with company goals. Only after examining and understanding the goals of the business as a whole do you execute a marketing strategy and select the appropriate media channels.

Measurement is key. Developing and executing a marketing strategy is just one part of the equation. How do you know it’s successful? Simple: You must be able to demonstrate that what you are doing is moving the needle on company goals. It’s time to embrace the analytics available to B2B marketers today, proving success to executive teams by presenting data (contacts and inquiries, impressions) and results.

Become friends with sales. It’s the job of the marketing department to make the sales department more successful. Accomplishing this is easier when you have a good relationship. Work together to understand what sales needs — and what marketing can do to help — to help the company meet its goals.

Be the voice of the customer. As marketers you cannot sit in an ivory tower. You need to have your finger on the pulse of your customers. Understand what your customers are doing, what challenges they are facing, and what they need in order to be more successful. Use research, focus groups, conversations, and discussions to gain insight and share this knowledge with your executive team.

Market your successes to the C-suite. Marketers are great at promoting their companies, products, and services. But we often neglect to market our accomplishments internally. Share your successes — this is going to demonstrate not only where your marketing dollars have gone but also how they have helped contribute to the company’s objectives.

CEOs — and your executive team as a whole — have the ability to facilitate the success of your marketing organization. By proving the value and worth of your department you will earn yourself a seat at the table and cement marketing’s role as a contributor to the bottom line.

Chris' Corner Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General

Aligning Your B2B Marketing with the Purchasing Funnel

If you are in the B2B world you know that the industrial buy cycle is a lengthy process involving multiple decision makers, which – due to recent eocnomic conditions – has only become more complex.

A key marketing strategy is to develop content and exposure for all phases of the buy cycle, including Needs Awareness, Research, Consideration & Comparison, and the final stage of Procurement.  If your products and company are not found in the early stage of awareness it is unlikely that you will be present in the final purchase phase.  Understanding what technical buyers look for during each phase and where they go for that information will help you align your marketing tactics and advertising.

Recent research shows that 42% of industrial buyers evaluate and review four or more suppliers in the initial research phase.  When they move to the last phase and ask for quotes or proposals, that number drops to 26%.  Two-thirds of buyers seek quotes from three suppliers. 

Download white paper and research report: "Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers' Buying Process". 

Comment below on what type of content and marketing have you used to reach each phase of the purchase funnel?

Chris' Corner Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research Marketing, General

Over-Reliance on “Last Ad” Concept Leads to Marketing Misdirection

The "last ad" or "last click" concept refers to giving credit for a conversion exclusively to the last ad that a prospect acts upon. 

For example, if a visitor to your company Web site was referred to you from Google, you may give Google (or your Web site) all the credit for bringing that visitor to you.  In fact, there are many influences that may have brought that visitor to your Web site downstream from Google.  The visitor may have read an article about your company's product in an e-newsletter, saw your company on a third-party industry Web site (yes, like GlobalSpec), been referred by a colleague…the list goes on.

Research conducted of more than 700 industrial buyers showed that when searching for a specific company – one that they know by name – they often type the company name into a general search engine box rather than typing the url directly.  In fact, two-thirds of the buyers type the company name in the search box at least 60% of the time when visiting the Web site of a company they know.  So when you see Google as the referring site, you need to ask yourself, "How did the visitor find out about my company?"  It is likely that many of the forms of advertising, public relations and marketing tactics you employ had an influence (unless of course you work for a company that is a household name).

The point of this is you don't want to lose sight of the various phases of the buy cycle and the need to have a your brand represented at all stages and in various media and methods. 

To read more about the last ad concept and to get the latest research on how industrial professionals are buying product and services, download the white paper: "Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers' Buying Process."

Chris' Corner Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research

New Research on the Industrial Buy Cycle

A recent study of more than 700 North American industrial buyers sheds light on the industrial buy cycle. 

Not surprising was the greater the purchase value, the longer the buy cycle.  81% of respondents said that the buy cycle is less than a month for purchases under $1,000.  For purchases greater than $10,000, 38% stated that the buy cycle is five months or longer.

If you've been noticing that there are many decision makers in the mix you would be correct.  Even for purchases under $1,000, 37% involve two or more decision makers.  When the amount climbs to greater than $10,000, 80% have two or more involved. 

Read the full research results by downloading white paper entitled "Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers' Buying Process". 

Chris' Corner Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research

Submit Your Top 10 Silly B2B Marketing Mistakes

Mac McIntosh, the Business-to-Business sales lead expert and Dianna Huff, B2B blogger and MarCom writer are compiling an e-book on silly B2B marketing mistakes. 

If you would like to contribute to the ebook you can email Mac ( ) with your list of ten or less mistakes with the top mistake as #1.  Send your submission by 2/26 along with the url of either your Web site, blog or LinkedIn profile.

Mac asked me to contribute and this is the list I’ve compiled:

1. Losing sight of the customer. It is important to get a reality check from your customer/prospect base to ensure that your marketing is on point. Visit customers, call them, sit in on sales calls, go to a trade show or conduct research.

2. Thinking that demonstrating ROI of marketing programs is a passing phase. Marketing analytics is here to stay. Increasingly the C-suite is requiring a proof of results from marketing.

3. Neglecting to work with sales. Sales is the customer too and you need to check in with them to find out what they need, what is working and what is not.

4. Forgetting that people buy. At the end of the day people are behind the buying decisions of businesses.

5. Giving credit to the last click. There are many ways that a buyer finds their way to your Web site and the last place they came from is often given full credit. Don’t forget that in the early stages a buyer may have been exposed to your brand in a number of online and offline sources and mediums. Recognize the role that your marketing efforts play in all stages of the B2B purchase funnel – from needs awareness, to research and comparison, to the final purchase phase.

6. Constantly creating new content. You might be tired of it but your entire customer and prospect audience hasn’t seen it yet. Reuse and promote your best white papers, webinars and articles multiple times.

7. Not testing email. Test days of the week, lists, headlines, conversion forms, and especially subject lines, as subject lines are what will get your emailed opened – not email copy.

8. Assuming all leads should be given to sales. Make sure you are evaluating lead quality and assign some to the nurturing track.

9. Dedicating too much time/resources to the latest social media rage. Social media is important and needs to be a part of your marketing strategy but until it starts delivering a significant portion of your revenue or leads etc… then it should not receive a significant portion of your marketing resources.

10. Failing to adjust to market conditions. Take the time to evaluate your tactics and strategies as the business environment changes so you can modify as needed.

Please comment on the silly mistakes you’ve witnessed. It serves as a good reminder to us all of what to keep top of mind.

Chris' Corner Industrial Marketing and Sales

GlobalSpec Touted As Successful Vertical

Check out David Worlock's blog post about GlobalSpec. Admittedly this is a very positive view on our company. Out of the UK, Worlock has over 25 years of experience in publishing and digital information. Most recently he sold Electronic Publishing Services to Outsell Inc and co-chairs and manages Outsell's Executive Programs. He knows a thing or two about the content and information industry.

Worlock refers to GlobalSpec as an example of successful vertical search and "a 1996 start-up which now has a commanding marketing position in its sector". Read the full post here.

Chris' Corner Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General

Starting 2010 off Right in Industrial Marketing

As a new year and decade are upon us, I have been reflecting on what is important to do to start the year off on the right foot. You could make sure that you have a social media strategy for your company or at least are monitoring what is happening with social media in the industrial space. Or you could focus on how to improve your company’s web site.  Another area of attention could be which markets are recovering faster than others and is your marketing strategy aligned with these trends.

There are certainly many things we should be doing to insure a successful start to the New Year, but I think the most important is taking the pulse of your industry. Whether you’ve been in your field for an eternity or just a year, get some feedback on the marketplace. Make sure what you think you know remains true or if an adjustment is needed.

Start with your internal customers first. Seek out sales management and your best front line sales people and customer service representatives. Ask them why customers buy your products and services. Ask them what they hear from customers – the good and the bad. Ask what has worked best for them in attracting new sales and keeping existing customers and what isn’t working anymore.

Review the competition. Take a look at what your competition is doing, how they are positioning their products and services, and where they are advertising. Their Web site is a great place to start for insight into the direction the company is headed. Look for answers to these questions: what do they have that you don’t and how do they differentiate from your company?

Most importantly, talk to some customers. Put together some interview questions and call a few customers.  Ask them why they bought and what they like and don’t like about your company. Get their take on 2010 and the economy – how it will impact their company and where they see spending occurring. Find out what major initiatives are in place for 2010 and what technology trends they see impacting their business. Also ask them to name who they see as your competition and give an assessment of the competition.

It doesn’t take any money to do these activities and the time commitment is minimal as well.  The input you receive will:

  • Confirm whether or not your current marketing is on point and whether or not your 2010 strategy needs adjusting
  • Uncover any potential issues you may have with your products, service and marketing

If you uncover major issues you may need to spend money for formal market research but do this first. A strong understanding of your customer base is the best foundation for any marketing plan.

Please share any tips you have for a successful start to the New Year.

Chris' Corner Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General

To Blog, or Not to Blog: That is the Question

With social media all the rage, there are many companies in the industrial space asking the question, "Should I start a company blog?"

I have put together a list of questions that will help you answer that very question – to blog or not to blog. By answering these questions you will be able to determine if blogging is right for you at this time. A key tip is that if you can’t answer any one of these questions you are not ready to start a blog yet.

Who is the intended audience for your blog?
You first need to define who you want to read your blog. Is it for customers, prospective customers, employees, media, and/or investors?

What is the goal/purpose for you company blog?
Address what the intent of your blog is for the company. Do you want to drive ecommerce sales? Are you hoping to drive traffic to your web site with blog content for search engine optimization purposes? Is the blog meant to be an extension of your technical sales support? Will you be promoting your company as a subject matter expert in your field?

Have you put together a content strategy for the blog?
Before you get started with a blog, map out potential content that you plan to write about and share on the blog. Without this you might find yourself scrambling for ideas. A content strategy will also keep your blog on point to address your overall goals. Types of content you could write about are:

  • New product releases or product updates
  • Applications for your products
  • Customer testimonials or case studies
  • Industry news
  • Company press releases
  • White papers, webinars, video and any other content you have
  • Your presence at trade shows and events
  • Technical issues in your industry and how to solve them
  • Frequently asked customer questions

Have you thought about who will write for the blog?
One person or a team of people can post content for the blog. You could hire an outside writer to create posts under your guidance. If an executive in your company is blogging make sure they understand the time commitment and are prepared to sustain the effort.

Are you prepared to commit to frequent and regular postings?
Some companies post daily and others sporadically. A best practice is to post frequently and regularly. You need to establish a guideline in advance of starting your blog. Once a week can be acceptable to get started but once a month is not to see the benefit. Make sure you have a schedule in place.

Do you have a blog platform selected?
There are many free blogging platforms. Two popular ones are WordPress and TypePad. Both offer a free service and for minimal investment you can upgrade for more features and functionality.

How will you get readers to the blog?
You will want to have a plan in place on where to promote the blog. This can be done on your website, in employee email signature lines, through other social media, and in company content like product collateral, newsletters and white papers.

How will you measure success?
Is it number of subscribers/readers, comments entered, or conversions to sales or lead generation?

We welcome your comments. If you have a blog can you offer any other tips for determining whether or not a company should take the plunge? Can you add to the list of ideas of potential content to write about?

Chris' Corner Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General Social Media

Some Welcome News for Industrial Marketers

The Institute for Supply Management July 2009 Manufacturing ISM Report on Business indicated that the decline in manufacturing slowed in July. Some of the leading indicators – such as new orders and production – rose to their highest levels in two years and the new export orders index showed growth as well. The Chair of the Institute for Supply Chain Management, Norbert J. Ore, said the data suggests that we will see growth in the third quarter if the trends continue.  

This is welcome news in what has been a very difficult year for anyone in the industrial space. There have been layoffs and we’ve seen that personally, with many of our customer contacts changing over the past year. For those who were fortunate enough to retain their jobs, they’ve often been left to pick up all the work of departing colleagues. 

Despite prudent wisdom to maintain or increase your marketing presence during a down economy, marketing budgets were put on hold faster than calls to your HMO. When those budgets were finally released, they were often 20% – 30% smaller.  Industrial marketers have had to deal with fewer people and less money at a time when even more is needed to make up for reduced demand. 

It is back to school time, the leaves will be changing color and the end of year is not too far away.  Good riddance to 2009. There are signs of recovery and regardless of how fast that recovery comes, 2010 will be a better year.  The uncertainty of how bad is it going to get is behind us. Give yourself a pat on the back, stand a little taller and look forward to better times ahead.  And with that, start planning early for 2010. Scrutiny of budgets and ROI won’t go away, so have your ducks in a row to support your marketing plan.  This is also an excellent opportunity to cast off marketing methods and tactics that weren’t working before and revitalize your strategy.

Chris' Corner Industrial Marketing and Sales