Sustainable Manufacturing in the 21st Century – Why You Should Be Talking About It

You might have noticed that a lot more manufacturers are talking about sustainability: both their own sustainability initiatives and how their products and services help customers pursue sustainability efforts.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources.

The increased attention toward sustainability is coming from two sides. First, manufacturers are realizing economic benefits from sustainability initiatives. And second, buyers are demanding products manufactured using greener and more environmentally sound processes.

Manufacturers focused on sustainability can achieve a number of business benefits:

Reduced costs—Whether making use of natural lighting on a shop floor, reusing wastewater, investing in energy-efficient machinery, reducing scrap and waste, or gaining tax credits through use of renewable energy sources, green practices can contribute to cost reductions over time.

New customers—Many buyers are now concerned with sustainability and are looking for greener products and products sourced more locally. This presents new market opportunities for suppliers adopting green policies and practices.

Positive brand associations—Sustainability initiatives can help increase positive attributes associate with your brand. Customers and the market are paying much greater attention to sustainability and those manufacturers that are part of the solution can become the object of that attention.

Attract new employees—As older engineers retire, manufacturers must compete with each other to attract a new generation of millennial engineers. Younger engineers tend to care more about environmental issues such as climate change, natural resource use, and green business practices. Manufacturers committed to sustainability have that extra something to offer in their recruiting efforts.

Both small and large companies are embracing sustainability practices, for economic as well as ethical reasons. They are working to educate the market about the importance of carbon footprint reduction and energy savings, and showcasing their sustainability plan in their marketing and communication efforts. You should too, if your company is committed to sustainability.

Website

Your website is the first impression many of your customers and prospects have with your company. Bring your sustainability message to the forefront by dedicating a page to your efforts. Include sustainability practices, certifications, awards, and other content that promotes your company’s commitment to sustainability.

KPS Global, a manufacturer of insulated panels, has a Sustainable Solutions page under its About Us section.  Chromalox, a company that engineers thermal solutions, leads with a sustainability message on its home page. These companies realize the importance of promoting sustainability to the market.

Marketing Content

Consider including a brief sustainability message on marketing content such as datasheets, white papers, and presentations. You might also have an opportunity to add sustainability language to boilerplate content such as company descriptions. Go further and produce a webinar that is focused on sustainability and why it matters to your customers.

If your products and services help customers save resources or energy or operate in other environmentally friendly ways, those benefits should appear in your marketing content. Make clear to your customers your awareness of the importance of sustainability.

Take Advantage of Lean Manufacturing

The goal of lean manufacturing is to eliminate all unnecessary waste from operations. Waste is defined as anything that doesn’t add value for the customer.

If your company engages in lean practices, you might find that your lean manufacturing processes produce sustainability benefits that you can talk about.

For example, Baxter Healthcare Corporation developed a value stream map that saves 170,000 gallons of water a day. Columbia Paint & Coatings reduced 15,000 pounds of paint solids from wash water and saved 18,000 pounds of shrink wrap. These are the kind of results that companies should communicate to their customers.

It’s important to keep in mind that sustainability isn’t just a buzzword you adopt to get attention in the market. Customers will see through any transparent attempts. If your company hasn’t done so already, it’s time to address sustainability in a coordinated, integrated, and formal manner. Marketing has an important role to play in this new era.

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Marketing, General

Are Tradeshows Coming Back in 2021?

This question seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. While some are craving face-to-face interactions and are eager for the return of in-person events, others remain hesitant.

A recent GlobalSpec research report, “Industrial Marketing in 2021,” found that 57 percent of marketers are not planning to attend in-person tradeshows in 2021, despite the fact tradeshows were once one of a marketer’s top strategies.

Twenty-nine percent of marketers have decided not to budget for in-person tradeshows in 2021 and 38 percent have a smaller tradeshow budget than in the past. Only 12 percent have restored their budget back to normal levels.

This hesitancy to return to tradeshows and cutting back of tradeshow budgets may signal concerns about how quickly the industry will return to its former state.

Other industry experts tend to agree. The Wall Street Journal reported, “The roughly $11 billion U.S. trade-show and exhibition industry is slowly coming back to life after a largely lost year due to coronavirus.” However, industry executives say a full recovery isn’t expected for about two years.

Industry analyst PwC expects the U.S. B2B tradeshow market, which was one of the fastest-growing B2B markets, to shrink by 64.3% to $5.56 billion. Their report forecasts a rebound next year, followed by growth in the coming years.

The PwC report states that by 2021, the market is expected to grow to $8.62 billion and by 2024, it should be $14.5 billion. However, that would leave it shy of pre-pandemic levels. PwC doesn’t see this market recovering to last year’s size until sometime after 2024.

Forbes noted that many companies’ sales were unaffected by their absence from trade shows and that those companies saved the money that previously had been spent on sponsorships, booths, collateral material, travel, and hotels. Could it be some of these companies never return to the tradeshow circuit? A lot might depend on what their competition does and how well tradeshows rebound.

Freeman, a global event firm, said in Tradeshow Executive that it’s time to “get your show back on the road.” They conducted a survey in February and found that 74 percent of attendees and 78 percent of exhibitors expected to return to the show floor by the end of the year. Freeman also reported confidence and optimism are at an all-time high, “meaning the timeline for a return to events for fall has strengthened significantly, with added confidence for even as early as July and August.”

From February to April 2021, overall positive sentiment increased from 30 percent to 45 according to Freeman, and negative sentiment decreased from 51 percent to 36 percent.

While opinions vary, most experts believe in-person tradeshows will slowly make a comeback this year. However, virtual events or at least virtual components associated with in-person tradeshows are likely here to stay. It remains to be seen what kind of staying power hybrid events combining virtual and in-person will have.

Even with those tradeshows that do take place, corporate compliance and a variety of travel restrictions may tamp down attendance. Attendees who are spending a good bit of money on products and solutions will likely show up to ensure they are getting the best products and deals for their companies. And as tradeshows come back online, early exhibitors may have less competition and a more focused audience, which will tend to drive up future exhibitors and audiences in its own way.

The bottom line: if one of your top tradeshows is scheduled for the second half of the year, you may want to exhibit or attend in some capacity, perhaps with fewer people or a more scaled-back presence. It’s unlikely there will be a huge rush on tradeshows, so it’s okay to take modest steps forward and make sure any tradeshow potentially on your schedule is aligned with your marketing objectives.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General Tradeshows

Creating a Webinar with Limited Resources

Webinars have historically been an effective way to connect with an industrial audience. During the pandemic, interest in webinars has soared to new heights due to the cancellation of most in-person events and engineers spending more time at their desks. Marketers have taken note.

Webinars can be flashy and expensive to produce, with high-end graphics, video, animations, interactive features, brand-name presenters, and more. But there’s no reason a webinar has to break your budget. Even simple webinars produced with limited resources can meet the quality test and be effective in helping you achieve your goals.

Follow these tips for creating a webinar with limited resources:

Research Webinar Platforms

If you don’t already have a webinar platform, you’ll want to research before choosing one. There are low-budget, no-frills platforms, and there are high-end webinar platforms. Even some of the budget ones offer robust feature sets. You can also take advantage of free trials that some webinar platform providers offer.

Focus on the Needs of Your Audience

Engineers attend webinars to learn and discover information to help them do their jobs better, not to be wowed by production values. If you keep your focus on your audience‘s needs and produce a webinar designed to meet those needs, you will save time and money as well as better serve your customers and prospects.

Repurpose content

You may not need to spend a lot of time or resources developing content if you have existing content you can repurpose it for a webinar. Educational presentations, keynote speeches, technical how-to’s, product briefings, and white papers can all serve as foundational content for webinars.

Another way to create content on a budget is to look in product support forums and Q&As where you will often find topics that are top of mind among your customers. You can design a webinar that answers some of the most common or pressing product or support issues, and also use a chunk of webinar time to conduct a live Q&A.

Call on Internal Experts

A webinar doesn’t require a paid external speaker to be effective. Internal technical experts can be a source of content ideas and can also serve as presenters on technical topics of interest to your audience. Not every internal expert will be comfortable as a speaker, but there are likely some who would shine in this role. It’s also likely easier to recruit a colleague to participate than it is an outsider.

Partner Up to Defray Costs

You can work with a partner to co-host a webinar on a relevant topic. Partnering has the double advantage of expanding your audience reach to your partner’s database and sharing the costs of marketing and producing the event.

Co-hosted webinars typically include multiple speakers and help add variety to the content, which can be appealing and engaging to your audience. The key is to find a complementary partner whose message neatly integrates with yours.

Use Templates for Landing Pages and Registration

Reusable templates help you save time and money when creating event landing pages and registration forms. There’s no reason to start from scratch each time. Templates also give you an easy way to maintain a consistent brand look and feel to your pages and forms.

Work with a Media Company

Sometimes the best approach, when faced with limited resources, is to work with a media company to produce and host a webinar. If resolving technical glitches, handling registrations, conducting pre-and post-event marketing, and meeting production values is too much of a resource strain for you right now, consider working with a third party for your webinars. You’ll also be able to free up some of your internal resources to focus on other pressing marketing matters. Read more about outsourcing webinars here.

Marketing, General Webinars

Why You Should Still Outsource Some Webinars

Many industrial marketers have invested in technology, equipment, and training to produce and host their own webinars. Given that the coronavirus pandemic has forced many in-person events to be canceled and replaced with online options, it makes sense marketers are running their own webinars to connect with customers and prospects.

Webinars are experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Recent research from GlobalSpec found that 84 percent of engineers find webinars valuable. Seventy-three percent of B2B marketing and sales leaders say a webinar is the best way to generate high-quality leads.

But hosting your own webinars shouldn’t be the extent of your webinar program. Marketers should consider outsourcing some of their webinar programs to a third party or media partner.

Outsourcing webinars offer benefits beyond what webinars produced in-house can deliver:

  • Expertise in webinar production
  • Access to a broader audience
  • Third-party credibility for your content
  • Extensive marketing support

Expertise

A third-party or media company that specializes in webinars will be able to manage all aspects of webinar production, quickly deal with any technical glitches, provide expert advice on the content and structure of your webinar, offer a host of interactive features to engage your audience, and more.

A webinar partner will also be up to date on the latest trends in webinars, such as what’s working best these days and what isn’t, optimal days/times to hold a webinar, live vs. pre-recorded webinars, archiving webinars, and creating on-demand versions of webinars.

As a marketer, you can’t be expected to have expertise in all these areas specific to webinars, but you can access this expertise through partnering.

Audience

Perhaps the single biggest advantage of outsourcing some of your webinars is gaining access to a target industrial audience you would otherwise have difficulty reaching, but who are still interested in what you have to say.

The right media partner will have an extensive opt-in database with information on each record so that you can precisely identify and target a new audience. Expanding to new audiences is a perfect way to increase visibility, penetrate new markets, or connect with new or underserved customer segments.  

Credibility

While you may have quality educational content for your webinar, a webinar hosted by in-house staff can still come off as a sales pitch, which would alienate an engineering audience interested in unbiased educational and technical information. On the other hand, hosting a webinar through a respected partner brings additional credibility to your content. You will gain industry name recognition that by association lends status to your webinar and content.

Marketing Support

A webinar partner can handle list generation, marketing to promote the event, registrations and reminder emails, and post-event marketing to attendees and registrants who didn’t attend. Plus, you will get contact information of attendees and registrants for future marketing endeavors.

Find the Balance

If you’ve invested in a webinar platform and are hosting your own webinars, you’ve made a smart move to fill in the gap of canceled tradeshows and other in-person events. But to take full advantage of the popularity of webinars among engineers, you should still consider working with a partner for some of your webinar programs.

You’ll gain all the benefits, plus you won’t be burdened with technical glitches, handling registrations, pre-and post-event marketing, and meeting high production values. You’ll also be able to free up some of your internal resources to focus on other pressing marketing matters.

With webinars, it makes good marketing sense to find a balance between in-house production and outsourcing to a partner. For more information on how GlobalSpec can support and enhance your webinar marketing efforts, visit our webinar page.

Marketing, General

An Opportunity to Improve Marketing Messaging You May Have Overlooked

Industrial marketers are becoming more adept at producing the technical and educational content engineers are looking for. This audience also needs information about a company that will build a sense of trust to help reassure them during these challenging times.

One way you can give engineers confidence about buying from your company is to align your messaging with the goals and measurements used to evaluate the performance of an engineering team or department.

In the research report “2021 Pulse of Engineering,” engineers were asked which factors contributed to how their performance was measured:

  • 64 percent said customer service/satisfaction
  • 57 percent said product quality
  • 35 percent said launch dates

Customer service is the single most important performance target, chosen by 27 percent of engineers. Twenty-five percent said product quality is most important.

Both product quality and meeting launch dates can fit under the umbrella of factors that determine overall customer satisfaction. In this way, all the factors of performance measurement are related.

You can fine-tune your messaging related to each of these areas:

Customer service/satisfaction

Satisfy your customers and they will be more likely to satisfy theirs. Customers at any level are satisfied when they perceive value in their purchases. That means no unpleasant surprises, components fitting and working as expected, and responsive and knowledgeable customer support when needed.

When your customers are confident in what you are providing them, they in turn will be more confident in successfully completing their projects.

Product quality

Fifty-seven percent of engineers report that product quality is a performance measurement for them. In your marketing messages to engineers, demonstrate how your products, components, parts, and services contribute to final product quality. Do you source the finest materials? Do you build to exacting standards? Do your products have a proven track record of reliability and expedient support? Use your own strengths as a company to help your customers showcase theirs.

Launch dates

In many cases, launch dates have become moving targets during these challenging times. Engineers report that supply chain/ availability of necessary parts is the most common issue impacting their ability to complete projects.

If you have any capacity to expedite or guarantee the delivery of parts to your customers, be sure to state this in your marketing materials. In addition, remind engineers of the stability and strength of your company, and of your ability to support them along the way as they work toward launch dates.

Other messaging related to pain points

Engineers report they are dealing with highly competitive markets, resource constraints, shrinking design cycles, and time-to-market pressures.

As marketers, you can step in and help alleviate these pressures by showing how your solutions can help customers rise above competitors, shorten design cycles, speed products to market faster, or otherwise gain efficiencies. Customers will respond to messaging that hits their pain points.

Advantages of updated messaging

Updating your messaging shows that you are aware of and care about the needs of your audience. It shows you are paying attention.

It shouldn’t be an overwhelming effort to incorporate these messages. A few visual tweaks or copy edits to marketing content can highlight specific points. Updated messaging also can offer a side benefit: potentially higher SEO rankings.

Adjusting and fine-tuning messaging on web pages will keep your content fresh, which is an important factor search engines take into account when determining results for search queries.

Stay current with what engineers are thinking about: how they view the pace of engineering, available resources, knowledge management practices, performance measurement, and the impact of megatrends on their day-to-day work environments. Download your complimentary copy of the research report, “2021 Pulse of Engineering.”

Marketing, General

How the Pandemic Has Impacted Engineers

The pandemic has impacted many professions and industries, including engineers working in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. But engineers have long demonstrated they are a smart and resilient bunch—they have jobs to do and find ways to get them done, pandemic or not.

That’s not to say that engineers haven’t made adjustments to how they search for and connect with suppliers, and how they source and consume content. Here are some tendencies that have changed during the pandemic and that should be on your radar when crafting marketing programs during this unsettled period.

Participation is increasing in virtual events and webinars

First, there might be some confusion about the difference between virtual events and webinars. To help clarify, consider webinars as standalone, specific events—short, often technical, and focused on a single topic.

Virtual events are more expansive and last longer. While they often contain technical presentations that you might encounter in a webinar, virtual events may also include keynote speeches, exhibitions, discussion forums, sponsors, and other content and interactive features.

Forty-eight percent of engineers have participated in a virtual event, according to the “2021 State of Marketing to Engineers” research report developed by TREW Marketing and GlobalSpec.

Of those engineers who attended a virtual event, 80 percent found the event a valuable experience. Still, engineers prefer webinars to virtual events by more than a two to one margin, while 28 percent aren’t sure which format they prefer. This makes sense, as virtual events in their current incarnation are relatively new.

Whether at a virtual event or a webinar, if an engineer shows up, they’re looking for technical content. When developing your own webinars, keep this in mind. If participating in or hosting a virtual event, make sure you have plenty of opportunities to deliver technical presentations to your audience that help them do their jobs better.

Podcasts are an emerging content type

Fifty-five percent of engineers now listen to podcasts for work. Thirty-seven percent subscribe to 1-5 podcasts.

Out of those engineers that listen to podcasts, 33 percent listen for 6-20 minutes a week, followed by 26 percent that say they listen for 5 minutes or less. Given that the average podcast is 15-25 minutes in length, this data indicates that engineers are listening to about one episode for work per week.  

If you plan to delve into podcasts as a marketer, treat them like other content you produce. Make each episode focused on a single topic, don’t be afraid to get technical, and pay attention to production values.

Other tips: use good microphones, choose speakers who have strong and clear voices, be professional but also foster your personality, add beginning and ending themes to the podcast, and edit the file to create a tight and smooth final product.

Video is popular, but be careful

A whopping 96 percent of engineers watch some videos for work. Forty-eight percent watch less than one hour, while another 48 percent watch for one hour or more. By comparison, engineers spend twice as much time watching video as they do listening to podcasts.

Video has grown steadily in popularity, particularly among younger engineers. Thirty-two percent of engineers are willing to fill out a form to access gated video tutorials, making video a viable way to begin a relationship with engineers.

However, there are signs of video fatigue setting in. This is primarily due to the quality of videos. While a smartphone is all you need to make an effective video, not paying attention to production values can derail your efforts.

One way to make the most out of video is to use this content format for what it does best: showing visuals and movement as a way to explain concepts. That’s why demos and tutorials are the most popular subjects for videos, while talking heads can be snoozy.

Keep your videos as short as possible while still covering the topic. Pay close attention to your video statistics, particularly length of view. If a large portion of your viewing audience is dropping off around the same time, you’ve got a problem.

The biggest reason for drop off is lack of relevancy. Make sure your videos are about subjects your audience cares about and keep engineers interested by moving your story along.

Marketing Trends Marketing, General

Your Most Asked Questions About the State of Marketing to Engineers

Thank you to all who joined GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing for our 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers Research Findings live webinar.

We were not able to answer all of the fantastic questions posed by attendees during our live webinar, but have since tackled them all. We thought you might be interested in reading through the full Q&A, so that you can glean information to help inform your own industrial marketing efforts.

Chat

It’s hard to get the visitors to our website to engage with Chat, do you have any suggestions for how to get better engagement? We feel like they are just using us for our content and leaving.

Chat is best used as a means for website visitors to get an immediate question answered (such as where to find information, how to get in touch with sales, etc). If you’ve set up your website so that visitors can easily find info, you may not notice a lot of engagement in your chat, which is ok. The research data shows us that only 5% of engineers want to use chat as their first engagement with sales, signaling that they are not yet bought into this means of communication. Part of this might be due to the complexity of the need, but also a hesitation to interact with what might perceived as a salesy conversation.  Consider experimenting with your chat settings and what the prompt is – striking a helpful tone may help engagement. And the silver lining is that we are seeing B2B chat growing in adoption (albeit at a faster pace than for engineers). As buyers interact with chat more and more in their B2C personal lives, you’ll see the behavior spill over more in B2B. Keep blazing the trail!

Virtual Meetings

Has in-person meeting preferences with engineers changed with COVID?

We didn’t explore this topic in our research, but what we’ve experienced with our own businesses and clients’ businesses this year is, no surprise, a dramatic shift to virtual meetings. In speaking to engineering leaders, it seems that the pandemic has shifted work culture enough that virtual meetings and virtual working environments will become more of the norm after the pandemic. This will vary based on job function, so consider updating your audience personas with this question in mind, and monitor as the year progresses.

Could you speak briefly on the use of virtual calls?

Virtual meetings on platforms like GoToMeeting and Zoom became a norm this year. Our team at GlobalSpec has conducted virtual calls for years, but we were surprised by how many of our clients were suddenly eager to turn on their cameras when in the past had not. This visual aspect helped to forge a closer “human” connection with meeting attendees, and we now advise others to turn those towards cameras on (and worry less about the dog in the background — your furry pet is fodder for a perfect meeting icebreaker). 

People are suffering from video meeting fatigue, how do you feel this will change over the next few months? 

Long video calls tethered to a computer, starting into a camera can be exhausting. Consider breaking up lengthy meetings into shorter ones (no longer than 2 hours) and provide a brief break in the middle as well. Also, consider when video is not necessary. Old school phone calls can alleviate some video fatigue. I’ve had some of the most productive 1:1 calls with team members while taking a walk or sitting outside over the phone.

Channel Preferences

Do engineers have a preferred platform for webinars? (GoToWebinar, other?)

This would be a great question for the future. My suspicion is that content prevails over platform.

What type of podcast do engineers listen to?

This would be a great topic to dive into further in next year’s research. What we do know is that almost half listen to at least one podcast episode per week for work-purposes.

Social

What are the professional networks they’re joining? What is a professional community network? How can marketers take advantage of those networks?

Professional networks include professional associations with networking opportunities and role-specific discussion boards. We did not ask specifically which professional networks (though next year I think it would be excellent topic to explore!). Examples of this include StackOverflow, GitHub, IEEE Collabratec, Quora and the CSIA Industrial Automation Exchange. Some engineering publication online sites have networking communities as well.

Why is YouTube not listed as a social channel?

YouTube’s functionality leans more towards a search engine than a social channel, though you could make the case for both. You’ll find YouTube results on page 13 of the research report, which show that 27% of respondents turned to YouTube to seek information and/or networking opportunities, where as social media as a whole came in at 17%. In our 2020 report, we did include YouTube within social options, and found it to be highly valued, coming in 2nd place to professional community networks, edging LinkedIn to third. Our conclusion is that whichever way you categorize YouTube, it is a valued channel by engineers and with the overwhelming adoption of video as valued content, an important channel for 2021.

Do social channels change based on age?

We didn’t do this analysis for the 2021 report, but here is the social breakdown by age from the 2020 research (note that YouTube was included as a social channel in 2020 but not in 2021):

  • Ages 35 and under found the most value in YouTube (46%), LinkedIn (35%) and Professional Communities (35%); they found the least value in Instagram (61%), Facebook (57%), Pinterest (54%), and Twitter (54%), and Reddit (43%)
  • Ages 36-54 found the most value in LinkedIn (35%), YouTube (33%), Professional Communities (28%); they found the least value in Instagram (53%), Pinterest (53%), Facebook (44%), and Twitter (47%), and Reddit (47%)
  • Ages 46-55 found the most value in YouTube (32%), Professional Communities (29%), and LinkedIn (26%); they found the least value in Pinterest (64%), Instagram (63%), Twitter (61%), Reddit (59%), and Facebook (50%)
  • Ages 56-65 found the most value in Professional Communities (24%), YouTube (20%), and LinkedIn (14%); they found the least value in Reddit (71%), Instagram (70%), Pinterest (66%), Twitter (66%), and Facebook (57%)
  • Ages 65+ found the most value in Professional Communities (42%), YouTube (20%), and LinkedIn (14%); they found the least value in Instagram (68%), Reddit (64%), Pinterest (66%), Twitter (66%), and Facebook (64%)

Do you see more success with organic or sponsored LinkedIn posts?

We’ve found the most success through a two-pronged approach: keep a consistent cadence of organic content flowing, ideally posted by company spokespeople (in their own voice) rather than only company posts. Supplement with advertising in short bursts with an engaging ad and enticing call-to-action. 

Content

Do you think there is a correlation between the engineers age and their seniority, for example, the more senior the engineer is the more likely they are to be ‘reading around’ their subject matter and engaging with materials as they will be seen as the local expert and conversely the younger engineers haven’t needed to perform this at this stage in their career?

Great point about the correlation between age and seniority. It is interesting to consider the need for certain types of content by stage of career and role within the organization. We find younger engineers perform more long-tail specific searches and need more basic education in what is often a “specifier” role, whereas older engineers with more experience often have a broad network of colleagues to tap. This older group may seek new ideas and different angles to complement their established expertise, while others may have a tendency to fall back upon trusted solutions of the past.

Ebooks seem to be growing in popularity, did you consider those as an option in any of your survey questions or did it show up anywhere?

We included ebooks in our 2019 research, with the descriptor “longer, more in-depth than application notes/white papers” and found them to be similar in popularity to white papers and webinars. Because there seems to be a general lack of understanding between white papers versus ebooks amongst engineers, we choose to drop that option from this year’s survey, but this doesn’t reflect a lack of preference for ebooks. Through our own experience, we find ebooks to be very popular lead generators and highly memorable due to their graphic-heavy nature.

Sales

Do you have any recommendations on how to deal with a prospective engineering customer that says “Your product looks valuable and I am interested, but don’t have the time to take a detailed look right now.”? We get this continued response a lot.

Give your prospect time to get to know your company and solutions more fully, and build preference through targeted content. One way to keep the lead warm is through a nurturing email campaign. Create a 4-5 email sequence keeping each brief with one relevant content offer, and set expectations for the engineers on how long it will take to consume the content (e.g., include something at the top of the page or even right in the email saying how long it takes to read). The goal of the campaign can be to set up a meeting with a salesperson (use a calendar app to reduce friction for this step), but hold this offer until towards the end of the campaign sequence. 

Since the majority of engineers spend half of their journey online before talking to someone, will they be “creeped out” or deterred from moving forward with us if we reach out to them early in the cycle (leads)?

The data suggests that reaching out too early may indeed repel your prospect. Using a marketing automation tool, look for buying signs such a repeat visits, downloads, and other engagement. These indicate a level of trust and implied receptiveness to receiving a sales email.

General Research Questions

What was the total number of respondents to this survey?

We had a total of 1,361 qualified responses.

What new findings surprised you the most in this year’s research compared to prior years?

The biggest surprise was the number of respondents — twice as many as last year! With the data itself, there were no massive YOY swings on the whole, rather incremental increases that support continuing trends: more of the buyer’s journey shifting online, more adoption of video, and lack of enthusiasm over most mainstream social media channels. LinkedIn was an interesting one…while it ranks high when compared to other social channels, the percent of “not very valuable” responses jumped from 28% to 46%. This suggests fatigue (I know I’m tired of the aggressive sales bot messages!) and supports a more targeted and thoughtful approach. I am hopeful with more changes on the horizon in the LinkedIn platform, this channel will be seen as more, not less valuable, in our next research report.

Is the survey data specific to US market or global? If only US, do you think these behaviors are similar across the globe?

This survey includes respondents from around the world. In our past surveys, we have found that while small differences emerge in what types of companies engineers work at and what social media channels they prefer, the larger trends prevail

I would be interested to see & analyze the survey data, is this made available?

We published the full report earlier this month. Here’s a link.


Want to access the on-demand webinar? Click here to access the 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers Research Findings Webinar.

WATCH ON-DEMAND

Are you interested in digging more into the research findings covered at this webinar? Download the full research report here.

Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General

How to Create an Effective Integrated Marketing Campaign

An integrated marketing campaign arranges multiple marketing channels that work together to achieve a specific marketing goal. While integrated marketing relies on multiple channels to achieve results, it is more than just multichannel marketing, because the integration comes from having aligned messaging and goals.

The benefits of running an integrated marketing campaign include:

  • Reaching a wider audience than you could through any single channel or tactic.
  • Strengthening your brand by increasing visibility in the market and reinforcing your message across channels.
  • Building trust among your customers by maintaining a consistent message.
  • Saving resources by reusing marketing assets such as images, copy, video clips, and other content.

Start with a SMART Goal

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Attainable and Realistic are not the same thing, because a goal can be attainable if you marshal every resource you have towards it, but still not be realistic because you can’t put all your time, energy, and resources into one endeavor.

Let’s use an example: Your goal might be to increase conversions through your website by 20 percent over the next six months in support of a new product launch. That’s specific (conversions) and measurable (how many completed forms). You have a time period of six months.

But is the goal attainable and realistic? If website conversions are down six percent, increasing them up to 20 percent might not be attainable and realistic. But if conversions have been increasing at a rate of 10 percent every six months, then getting to 20 percent is certainly attainable. If you have resources to devote to the initiative, it makes it all the more realistic.

Align Messaging to Support Your Goal

Sticking with the example goal of increasing website conversions to support a product launch, make sure your messaging is consistent around this goal. Maybe your ads focus on one or two top benefits. Your calls to action all revolve around going to your website to download a white paper or to register for a webinar.

Repeated messaging increases the likelihood of getting noticed by your customers and prospects, no matter what channel they use to find you. Conventional wisdom says that a prospect may have to hear your message up to seven times before responding in a positive manner. So make sure you’re delivering the same message across your campaign.

In addition, strive to use the same look and feel across all channels. For example, if you’re using photographs of your products, use similar style treatments in display ads, e-newsletter sponsorships, and landing pages.

Whenever possible, use the same fonts, colors and other visible branding elements across all media.

Choose a Mix of Channels

Your mix of marketing channels is your point of connection with potential customers. Engineers and other technical professionals have their individual preferences for media, but almost all of them use digital media to research products, services, and suppliers in the early stages of their buying process.

In the increasing conversions example, you might place ads in industry e-newsletters and display ads on targeted industrial websites, optimize web pages for key search terms, fine-tune messaging on content hubs, create supporting social media content, and distribute press releases.

While the messages on each of these channels can be slightly different, they all must align to support the product launch. The call to action in every case should motivate engineers to take the next step and arrive at a landing page on your website to take advantage of your offer, such as getting a white paper or viewing a webinar.

Fine-tuning your media mix in an integrated marketing campaign requires both skill and creativity to make sure your channels work together but are not redundant. GlobalSpec offers a wide range of marketing channels and the necessary expertise to help you create an effective integrated marketing campaign. Contact us today for more information or download our media kit.

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Where to Focus Your Marketing Efforts for 2021

For many industrial marketers, 2020 was unlike any year they’ve faced. And there’s no forecasting what 2021 might bring: more of the same, better, or worse?

But uncertainty doesn’t mean you don’t have any control. One thing you can do is to devote your energy and resources to three specific areas of focus that will help your marketing organization perform better, no matter what market conditions are like.

Concentrate on Digital Channels

Industrial marketers for years have been skewing their budgets in the direction of digital channels such as email, websites, search, webinars, and social. These and other digital assets are the online resources their target audience of engineers prefers to use to connect with suppliers and to find products and services.

The events of 2020 caused an even greater reliance on digital as in-person events were postponed or canceled. Beyond the acute impact of the pandemic, trending influences include a new generation of digital-first engineers as well as technological advances that make digital even more relevant and enticing.

Now, in 2021, our advice to you is to go digital-heavy to increase your visibility and generate opportunities. Webinars, online conferences and meetings, and other virtual events have proven to be highly effective in terms of results and costs. Furthermore, digital channels continue to offer the advantage of being easier to track and measure.

This year, make sure your website is the best it can be, your webinars are engaging, your display ads capture attention, and your email marketing targeted. Your media partners can help you develop an integrated, multi-channel digital marketing program that fits your budget and is aligned with your marketing goals.

Maintain a Consistent Message

Customers prefer to do business with brands they are familiar with and trust. One way to build trust and demonstrate what you stand for is to maintain consistency in your messaging.

Too often companies can become scattershot with their messaging in an attempt to “be everything to everybody” in hopes of not letting a single potential customer slip through the cracks. However, this approach can dilute your message, resulting in confused customers and becoming “nothing to nobody.”

A coherent and cohesive message that spans all of your marketing channels can help you cut through the clutter of intense competition and gain mindshare with your customers. This doesn’t mean you have to say the same thing using the same words every time, but you do want to align all your messaging within your overall value proposition and brand statement.

Use color palettes, visuals, text styles, and layouts to support and affirm your messaging. If your company can become known in the market for a couple of exceptional benefits delivered to customers, you will likely find marketing success in 2021.

Enable the Buying Process

In a survey of more than 250 B2B customers, Gartner found that 77 percent of them rated their purchase experience as extremely complex or difficult.

A data point like that leaves a lot of room for improvement—and opportunity.

The fact is, buyers are in control of the buying process, not marketing, sales, or business development. In addition, the majority of buyers don’t contact a potential supplier until they are well into their buying process.

Our job as marketers is to make the entire buying process efficient and easy for our customers.

We can do that by producing customer-centric content to meet buyer needs at all stages of their buying cycle. Content such as educational articles, white papers and webinars in the early stages, and practical case studies, comparisons, and ROI calculators in the later stages. Don’t try to wow them with fancy content—try to be useful to them.

Get content into the hands of potential customers through an easy-to-navigate website and through the digital marketing channels that engineers use.

Moreover, enable your buyers to connect with you by providing numerous and flexible options, including email, online chat, forums, phone, and social media. Make 2021 about making buying decisions easier for your customers, and you will be rewarded.

From the Maven, we wish you the best in getting off to a strong start in 2021. If you’re seeking additional ideas on where to focus and what channels to use, reach out to a GlobalSpec digital marketing expert or download the 2021 GlobalSpec Media Kit.

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

How to Use Your Mid-Year Budget Checkup to Your Advantage

Many marketing budgets are subject to changes throughout the year, based on first half results and second half expectations. But now, almost every marketing budget has already undergone significant upheaval due to the COVID-19.

Now is the time to conduct a marketing budget checkup and make the necessary adjustments to put yourself in the best possible position to achieve success for the remainder of the year.

Here are some questions to ask while reviewing your budget situation:

Have your company’s business goals or marketing goals changed?

Your company may have had to re-calibrate its business goals, resulting in marketing goals changing as well.

Perhaps a scheduled product launch is being pushed out or you are scaling back from one of your markets. On the other hand, maybe you have new opportunity with products and services that are in higher demand.

Make sure your marketing goals are aligned with any changes in business goals, and that you reallocate your budget accordingly. If you do need to change marketing goals, choose goals that are relevant to your situation, measurable, and achievable given your budget.

Are you anticipating additional financial changes?

Another round of budget adjustments could be on the horizon come the fourth quarter. If this is a possibility for your company, you may want to hold some of your budget back and plan only for the next quarter.

Consider using programs that allow you to make quick adjustments in terms of reallocating budgets and resources. One example would be to reduce paid search spending and instead invest in webinar development, or reallocate tradeshow budget to ramp up email campaigns.

Can you take advantage of cost-effective channels?

Social media, email, and public relations are examples of channels where you likely have already invested fixed costs and built marketing infrastructure. For example, you already have social media profiles set up, an email marketing platform, or a media relations expert.

If your budget is under strain, you can—with very little cost—post more often to social media, email your house list with special campaigns, or pitch story ideas to media outlets.

What about partnership marketing?

One budget-conscious marketing initiative is to team up with a partner that has a complementary product and service line and a potentially shared customer base.

For example, you can conduct joint- or cross-promotions of each other’s offerings, co-author marketing content, or develop co-hosted webinars. Partnership marketing allows you to reach a wider audience without investing more budget.

Do current customers need more attention?

There’s a well-known saying that it costs seven times as much to find a new customer as it does to keep a current one. If you need to make difficult budget decisions, make sure you don’t skimp on your current customer base.

Your customers want to know the state of your business and how your company is responding to current market conditions. During times of uncertainty, your customers are more likely to continue doing business with a familiar and trusted vendor than to take a chance on the unknown. Stay in touch with customers. Let them know you are there for them. Consider developing a special offer just for current customers.

Do you have three marketing budgets?

As part of your mid-year budget checkup, you can benefit from developing three different budget scenarios for the rest of the year:

  • Best-case scenario—if business returns to some sense of normalcy, what is your best-case budget and how will you allocate it to achieve your marketing goals?
  • Worst-case scenario—if the economy continues to drag and your markets don’t recover, what are the bare-bones marketing essentials that you must continue to fund? (Such as your company website or your email campaigns.)
  • Realistic scenario—Chances are neither the best or worse cases will come to be. So what does the most realistic scenario look like? Build your marketing plan for the second half of the year around the most likely situation, and you’ll still be ready to adjust up and down if you’ve built all three budget scenarios.
Marketing, General