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

Industrial Marketers Look Toward the Future as Coronavirus Continues to Impact Plans

Over the past few months, IEEE GlobalSpec has been tracking how industrial marketers have been impacted by the coronavirus. While things are far from back to normal, the initial shock of the pandemic has begun to wear off for many, and marketers in the manufacturing space are beginning to think about how the rest of their year might play out. As some businesses begin to reopen across the United States and around the globe, we asked industrial marketers how their 2020 marketing strategy has been affected.

Currently, 51 percent of respondents are required to work remotely, and another 25 percent say remote work is optional or encouraged, but not mandatory. Fourteen percent are required to work on site and 12 percent are working reduced hours.

Regardless of their current work situations, 34 percent would be comfortable working on-site now, and another 28 percent would be comfortable returning to the office in the next 1-2 months. At the opposite end of the spectrum, 16 percent of respondents indicate that they are not comfortable returning to work until a vaccine is available.

Overall, industrial marketers are reluctant to return to their previous ways when it comes to tradeshows. More than one-third of respondents indicate that they will not be comfortable attending a tradeshow or large in-person until a vaccine is available – the top survey choice among respondents. Another 24 percent wouldn’t be comfortable attending an event for at least six months.  Only 16 percent of respondents said that they would be comfortable attending a tradeshow or other large in-person gathering now.

Additionally, 61 percent of industrial marketers say shows they planned to attend or exhibit at have been canceled, and 30 percent have canceled all the 2020 tradeshow plans. 

This data brings up real questions about the future of tradeshows and in-person events. Most industrial marketers attend at least one tradeshow per year, and it is often cited as a top marketing channel. (2019 Trends in Industrial Marketing) Industrial marketers will have to find other ways to connect with potential customers when in-person conversations and demonstrations aren’t possible.

Our research also examined marketing budgets in the industrial space and the impact of the coronavirus. 44 percent of industrial marketers report that their budget had decreased, and another 14 percent anticipate that it will decrease. Conversely, 33 percent of respondents say their budget has not changed and they don’t anticipate that it will.

In response to the budget changes and the effects of the coronavirus, marketers have made modifications to their plans.  The most popular response, with 39 percent, is the choice to postpone some marketing spend. Twenty-eight percent have canceled some of their spend.  Thirty-five percent had shifted funds from other areas to digital advertising, and 27 percent have shifted funds to content creation.

With all these changes in the first half of the year, industrial marketers are only mildly optimistic about their plans. When asked how confident they are in their marketing plan from 1-10, the average answer is 6.3. Given such uncertainty and unprecedented economic and social changes, it’s not surprising that marketers are wary about what the second half of the year might bring.

With all these changes, what are industrial marketers confident about? When asked to predict what their most successful 2020 marketing channel will be, 36 percent chose content marketing. Organic website traffic and webinars were also popular choices, with 11 percent each. Other popular answers were e-newsletter advertising and email to in-house lists.

What else are industrial marketers thinking about? Here’s a selection of their commentary:

We’re focusing on radiating internally within our existing customers to consolidate opportunities as they emerge. Like everyone else, we know that things look good on the other side of the pandemic, but we have to survive to get there.

There is still much left unknown, but we are working as fluidly, creatively, and cost-effectively as we can while remaining relevant and delivering timely content to our audience across predominantly digital platforms.

People are distracted. Customers’ budgets are being cut to conserve cash. New projects may have a very hard time moving forward no matter the ROI.

We are ramping up certain areas of our marketing frequency, revising strategies, and planning for when customers fully reopen.

So, what should industrial marketers do to help increase their chances of success in 2020? Many are already on the right track. Without tradeshows and in-person events to connect with prospects, look to webinars to replicate that experience. Webinars offer you the same chance to demonstrate your products and answer questions in real-time.

Remember, while engineers have also had their workflow disrupted, they are still in need of technical information. Continue to create relevant content and stay tuned in to your audience’s needs.

Market Research Marketing Trends Marketing, General
working from home marketing

Updated Tips for Marketing During COVID-19

working from home marketing

Many businesses have never faced the level of uncertainty they are confronted with now during the global pandemic. Some are experiencing declining revenue and are beginning to institute cost-cutting measures, including reducing their advertising and marketing spending.

In the wake of the last recession in 2008, ad spending dropped 13 percent, as reported in Forbes.

But history shows that cutting back on marketing during challenging times can be a risky move, leading to depressed results over a longer period of time.

The Advertising Specialty Institute compiled a century’s worth of data about the benefits of continuing to market and advertise during a recession.

One example: McGraw-Hill Research analyzed 600 B2B companies from 1980 through 1985. Their research found that business-to-business firms that maintained or increased advertising expenditures during the 1981-1982 recession averaged significantly higher sales growth, both during the recession and for the following three years, than those that eliminated or decreased advertising.

Why Maintain Marketing Momentum?

Discretionary spending such as advertising and marketing may be easy targets for CFO’s attempting cost control, but executives should look first to reduce other operating expenses. Maintaining marketing momentum during this time has numerous advantages:

  • With some companies cutting back, there is less competition for your audience’s attention, and therefore getting noticed becomes easier.
  • You may be able to gain market share from competitors who don’t maintain their marketing presence.
  • The cost of advertising space can be lower as demand for inventory decreases.
  • By maintaining a marketing presence, you can project a company image of stability and strength. No one wants to do business with a company that is perceived to be struggling.
  • You can stay top of mind with your customers and prospects.
  • If you let campaigns languish, and your customers’ buy cycle is long, you may continue to struggle even when conditions are more favorable because the top of your sales funnel will be empty.
  • Currently, there is a huge surge in internet traffic with many people working remotely, helping to expand the potential audience for your digital presence.

Continue Marketing, but Make Changes

While the arguments are strong to continue advertising and marketing during economic downturns and other challenging times, you may not want to do exactly what you have been doing in the past.

  • Check your messaging and revise as needed. Make sure that all content you share with your audience at this time is relevant, authentic, and sensitive to what your customers might be going through. Also, if customers must interact with your company in a different way now, be sure to communicate that clearly.
  • Reposition products and services. If your product and service offerings are in any way related to providing assistance during the current crisis, you can do some repositioning. Testing equipment, protective material, products that increase efficiency, or a service that benefits a remote workforce—these are just a few examples of areas that might be ripe for repositioning. Make sure your messaging reads as being helpful rather than as taking advantage of the situation.
  • Share good news. Maybe your company is performing some type of community service to help others afflicted by the coronavirus, or you have employees who are volunteering their time for the cause. Highlight these cases in your next newsletter, or even publish a special edition. We could all use some positive news.
  • Justify your marketing budget. When potential cutbacks loom, you may be asked to defend your budget. Make sure you are prepared. Track your marketing metrics and produce reports to demonstrate to executives that your marketing programs are working—and prepare your talking points on the detrimental effects of pulling back on marketing.

    This infographic—“8 Talking Points to Justify Your Content Budgets and Projects During COVID-19”— from MarketingProfs, is an excellent complimentary resource to share with key stakeholders in your company.
Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General

Native Advertising 101

Although almost everyone has seen a native ad, not everyone knows what they are or how best to use them. Native advertising is rapidly growing in the B2B space. MediaRadar saw 50% growth in native advertising from 2018 to 2019 – more than mobile, video, and display. When it comes to manufacturing marketers, 34% of marketers are already using native advertising to promote their content (Manufacturing Content
Marketing 2020 – Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends
).

While native advertising is gaining ground, questions remain for many industrial marketers.

WHAT IS NATIVE ADVERTISING?
Native advertising is simply paid advertising that matches the look, feel, and function of the media format in which they appear. Unlike traditional display advertising, these ads are designed to be non-disruptive. The consumer will be exposed to the advertising content seamlessly during the user experience, and in some cases will consume the content without realizing right away that it’s paid promotion.

While it is most common to see native advertising on web properties as an alternative to display ads, if you start to look at the content you consume, you’ll see native advertising in magazines, social media, and even television.

Native advertising is designed not to replace display advertising efforts, but to complement them. Display advertising remains an important component of your strategy, especially when it comes to brand awareness and intent to purchase.

HOW DO I KNOW IF NATIVE ADVERTISING WOULD BE A GOOD FIT FOR MY MARKETING PLANS?
If you’re considering adding native advertising to your arsenal of marketing tools, it’s important to consider a few things first. Native advertising is a good fit for those who are looking to build their thought leadership and brand awareness positions.

Many industrial marketers are investing time and resources into content marketing. If you already have whitepapers, videos, or other educational content to promote, native advertising can help you generate additional exposure for your content. Because native advertising blends in seamlessly with the look and feel of the page, you’ll want to promote your content on a website that is relevant to your audience.

If you currently run display ads, native advertising may also be a good fit for your marketing mix, as the objectives are often similar.

HOW CAN I GET THE MOST OUT OF NATIVE ADVERTISING?
Once you’ve determined that native advertising is a good addition to your marketing plan, here’s how to make the most of your campaign.

• A successful campaign always starts with a clear definition of your goals. In this case, you’ll want to outline a comprehensive content strategy. It should include a thoughtful mix of useful information in addition to promotional tactics.

• The content you’re promoting in your native advertising should be hosted on your website ungated. The focus of native advertising is primarily to drive traffic to your content. Allowing your audience access to the content will diminish your bounce rate and increase time on site, as well as time spent consuming your content.

• Understand how you are measuring your campaign’s performance, and how that relates to your campaign goals. Impressions and click-through rate should be your primary measurements.

• Invest in a robust A/B testing strategy. Regularly check on your campaign
performance and choose several variables to test. This could include headline, imagery, and changes to the content landing page.

• Pay close attention to the content. Your headline will be one of the first things readers notice about your ad, so take care to craft one that is relevant rather than promotional. It should introduce your reader to the text so that they immediately understand what the content is about. Use high-quality photos that match the look and feel of your brand. Images should be simple and easy to understand.

• If you’re just getting started with native advertising, be sure to lean on your media partners for guidance and support. Because the best native advertising aligns with the editorial content of the host site, they should be an integral part of your campaign. For example, IEEE GlobalSpec’s Native Advertising program includes ad creation – you provide the content assets, and they do the rest.

Native advertising is quickly finding a place in the B2B industrial marketer’s toolkit. Now’s the time to explore this advertising channel further, and how it can fit into your marketing goals and objectives.

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

8 Tips for Creating a Successful Webinar

woman learning attending webinar

In an era where engineering technical and industrial professionals are being bombarded with information, they continue to seek out webinars for valuable and timely educational information. Webinars are even more important in a time where digital encounters are our only option. Because an online event may be the only first impression a prospect gets of your company, it’s more important than ever to modernize your webinar experience and drive deeper engagement. Here are some tips for creating a successful webinar.

1. Coordinate an ideal promotion schedule.
A successful webinar is not built in a day. You should begin plans for your content at least eight weeks in advance, including thinking about audience, topic, and materials. Your promotion should include your initial invitation, a reminder, and emails when your webinar is available on demand. In addition, you should encourage your sales team to share the webinar in their email signature and with customers in conversations. Add information about the webinar to your social media channels, website, and any other customer communications.

2. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.
Your topic should focus on solving a prominent problem for your audience. Before diving into content, make sure to define your goal. What message is right for this stage of the customer journey? Align your subject matter to your customers’ interests and pain points.

3. Strike a balance between education and product pitch.
Engineers can spot a sales pitch a mile away. Your webinar should provide value and education that engineers cannot find anywhere else. Tap into the unique information that only your organization can provide. Coordinate with subject matter experts internally, or consider asking an analyst in your field to contribute.

4. Get on board with training.
Engineers are most interested in training and upskilling, followed by insight and industry trends.* Think about what you can teach engineers, or what industry insight you are uniquely positioned to provide.

5. Success starts with the title.
List titles attract more registrants than non-list titles. Try to choose a title that includes “How To,” “101,” “A New Way to,” or “Trends in.”

6. Include visual interest.
Webinars today don’t need to be limited to just slides. Keep your audience’s interest with video clips when possible.

7. Experiment with interactive tools.
Another way to hold your audience’s attention is to get them involved. Make sure to solicit questions before the webinar, as well as during the presentation, if possible. If the poll option is available to you, it can offer valuable insight into your audience and even help you tailor your content.

8. Use webinar questions as ideas for future content offerings.
A successful webinar is not only measured in attendance and leads. Monitor the questions you receive, even if you don’t answer them during the live broadcast, to gain insight into your audience’s areas of interest. The polling tool can also help you meet your audience where they are in terms of sophistication.


*2019 Benchmarks, BrightTALK

Marketing, General Webinars

It’s Time for a Marketing Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning isn’t just for your home. Marketing efforts also need periodic polishing, and this is a good time to complete some of those cleanup tasks that might have been on the back burner.

While marketing spring cleaning may take a bit of effort, it shouldn’t have much impact on your marketing budget. The results can help your company, brand, and marketing programs shine a little brighter.

Website

As one of your most important marketing assets, your website always needs to look and perform its best. Here are some cleaning tips:

  • Purge any pages that are no longer relevant, and update those that are out of date.
  • Refresh pages that play a role in your SEO efforts by updating content on those pages and making sure you are using the right keywords. Don’t forget to update meta tags.
  • Check that all internal and external links are working properly, including navigation elements and links in footers.
  • Review any conversion forms you have to make sure you are collecting the appropriate information from prospects and that the forms are getting delivered to the right people in your company.
  • Check all other contact information on the website for accuracy.
  • Make sure news items such as press releases are still relevant.
  • Replace any outdated logos and product imagery.
  • Review downloadable content such as white papers, presentations, and data sheets to ensure you have the most recent versions.
  • Play videos from beginning to end to check for any issues.

Marketing Content

  • Audit your other marketing content, including whitepapers, technical content, and videos to make sure they are up-to-date and accurate.
  • Eliminate old content, lacks current messaging, or is no longer useful.
  • Take note of any holes you have in your content marketing portfolio. If you don’t have the resources to create new content now, you can 
  • still compile a wish-list of your content needs and estimate the time, effort, and cost to get the job done.

Social Media

  • Over the past few years, you may have opened accounts on a variety of social media platforms as they were introduced or became popular. If you no longer use those channels or rarely post to them, consider closing the account. If you close any accounts, don’t forget to remove those icons from your website or other locations.
  • You may also choose to keep a page but make a post informing readers that the page is no longer active. You can then redirect them to your website or a page where you are still active.
  • For channels you continue to use, update your company profiles for accuracy and currency, including descriptions, products, logos, imagery, and contact information.
  • Review what companies and individuals you are following on social media. Stop following those that are no longer relevant. Conduct some quick research to discover any social media accounts in your industry that you should be following but haven’t yet.
  • Delete any inappropriate user or spam comments on any of your social media posts. In contrast, negative comments are not necessarily inappropriate—and can often be enlightening. It is better to keep constructive criticism or negative reviews on your page, as deleting them can backfire and cause the negative poster to leave more reviews.

Programs

  • Check that you are tracking the relevant metrics and KPIs for your marketing programs.
  • If you take advantage of marketing hubs or product discovery solutions such as those offered by IEEE GlobalSpec, make sure your profiles, product listings, and content are accurate and up to date.
  • Do a quick refresh of stale programs. For example: Update the headline in an advertisement to focus on a different benefit. Swap in new imagery for old. Change typeface and colors. Change the offer. Advertise in a different e-newsletter. Reposition an ongoing webinar.
  • Contact your media partners to set up reviews of your programs and to discover any new marketing possibilities you might have overlooked.

Marketing, General

Six No-Cost Marketing Ideas

Are you looking to get more mileage out of your marketing budget? Perhaps you’ve spent more than you expected in the first quarter of the year and need to increase marketing efficiency moving forward? Or maybe you like the idea of getting a positive return for very little investment (who doesn’t?).

If so, here are six no-cost marketing ideas that can give your marketing effectiveness a nice bump. You’ll still need to invest time, of course, and perhaps enlist the help of colleagues. But you shouldn’t have to spend your marketing budget.

1. Email your house list

You’re already using email marketing and likely publish a regular newsletter or send email campaigns to your internal list. Now is a good time to craft a “special” email that breaks your typical boundaries.

You could work with your sales and support teams to develop a free-trial offer, extended support policies, or a customer loyalty program. Or you could simply point out content that you’ve recently updated on your site, profile one of your employees or executives, list innovative ways customers might be using your products, and more.

The idea is to step outside the usual email marketing routine and do something fresh that will attract your audience’s attention without adding to your marketing costs.

2. Pitch stories to the media

Compile a list of editors of industry publications and websites that are relevant to your business and pitch them your best story ideas through email (or phone calls.)

Editors are always looking for interesting and relevant content for their readers. While they don’t want a sales pitch or product promotions, the story you pitch will likely include some aspect of your company’s offerings.

For example: How a customer solved a problem or used one of your products in a unique way. Or pitch a story idea based on the results of recent research you’ve compiled or conducted. Or how recent technological advances are changing or disrupting markets.

3. Shoot some video

All you need is your smartphone and a colleague who likes the limelight. Make a video showing how to perform a task or how one of your products works. You could also services like Webex or Zoom to interview one of your subject matter experts, a company executive, or even a support rep to associate people and faces with your company.

Make sure the lighting is decent. Narrate as needed. Keep the video short (1-5 minutes). Post the video on your website or use email to promote it to your house list.

4. Post more frequently on social media

Whatever social media platforms you use, ramp up your efforts. A blog post might take some time to write, but tweets and Facebook updates are quick. You can also consider starting a discussion topic on LinkedIn or participating in other discussions. You can repost or share content from partners or other allied professionals, or comment on their posts.

Increasing your presence on your current social media channels can help raise your visibility and brand awareness with your audience.

5. Re-purpose existing content

We’ve always been fans of repurposing content for use in other formats. You’ve already invested in producing the original content, why not get extended use from it?

Examples: White papers can be segmented into a series of short articles, blog posts or web pages. A presentation can become a webinar. A single slide with figures and data might make a good infographic.

Another idea is to curate educational or informational content that others produce, such as industry experts, partners, analysts, or others. Post links on your website and social media to the content.

6. Conduct market research

There are several free survey tools on the market you can take advantage of to survey your customers and prospects.

Create a brief survey that asks them questions about their needs, product wish lists, opinions about the industry, uses of technology and more. Only ask questions that will give you information that is useful and can help your company make business or marketing decisions.

Compile and publish the results. The benefits are two-fold: you have additional marketing content to distribute and you’ve gained valuable insight into your customer base.

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Tips for Marketing During Challenging Times

Your plan was set in place and the marketing machine was humming along, but then uncertainty set in.  You suddenly find that external factors you simply cannot control, such as the economy or the impact of the coronavirus, are affecting your marketing efforts.

Your instinct might be to pull back from marketing during difficult times, but this is unlikely to be the best strategy. Cut back and you could lose market share to competitors or you begin to fall behind leading to a downward spiral.

Instead, when faced with external challenges, you need to find ways to adjust your current marketing plan to be more effective. Your mantra should be to “prepare not panic.”

Here are some tips:

Focus on what you can control

While you can’t control the emergence of external factors, you can control how you react. For example:

  • Recognize where demand is and what markets are strong and allocate your investments in those areas.
  • Keep track of what your customers and prospects are saying and doing and adjust your marketing channels and messaging to align with their needs.
  • Maintain visibility in your most important sectors, even if it means reallocating budget from less essential or more experimental programs.

Re-examine your marketing goals

During challenging times, it’s important to take a close look at your marketing goals. You might have to make decisions regarding what goals are must-haves, such as supporting a new product launch, while others might be nice-to-have, such as trying to enter a new market.

Given the current situation, some of your goals may no longer be achievable or your plans no longer viable. The sooner you recognize what you can and can’t achieve—and prioritize what you must achieve—the quicker you can take effective action.

For example, if you usually promote a product launch at a trade show that has been canceled, you can reallocate that marketing budget to other activities, such as e-newsletter or display ads, webinars, or content marketing.

Stay on top of measurement

More than ever, you need to get the most out of every marketing dollar during challenging times. While it’s always the right time to purge marketing programs that don’t perform, it may be time to suspend or scale back any marketing plans whose results you can’t measure or are unsure about.

If uncertainty is causing rapid changes in the market, increase your frequency of measurement to spot any disturbing (or encouraging) performance trends in your marketing programs.

You might find that some programs are working better than expected, while others are underperforming your stated goals. Use this opportunity to reallocate your budget to those programs that are most effective.

Get more from your existing marketing assets

This could be a good time to focus on updating web pages, repurposing content for other uses, or even combining programs.

Whatever the external climate, your website is still the face of your company and prospects will continue to visit. Make sure the content is current and accurate, links work, and pages are optimized for search.

In addition, repurpose and reuse content. Take that white paper and create a series of blog posts or develop a webinar. Create infographics using market or product data. Conduct a customer survey. You remain the owner and in full control of your content, so focus on making the most of what you have.

Another possibility is combining programs. If you are running a webinar series and planning to exhibit at a trade show that is no longer part of your plan, you may want to integrate your tradeshow message into your webinar series and use email and e-newsletter advertisements to promote the combined event.

Stay visible in your most important markets

If you do have to make program adjustments due to external pressures or other factors, don’t sacrifice your most important markets or most effective programs. If anything, reallocate budget to those initiatives from weaker performing programs or uncertain markets. Challenging times are often the right time for “circling the wagons” and defending your territory.

Reap the benefits of working with media partners

In challenging times, you may be forced to make harder and smarter decisions about allocating budgets. You don’t have to do this alone. Ask existing or potential media partners, who may have a broader and deeper view of the market, their advice on how to handle market uncertainty.

Ask media partners to demonstrate how their marketing solutions can help your company achieve its goals during challenging times. You may come away with unique ideas to navigate this period of uncertainty and come out the other end in a position of strength.

Content Marketing Digital Media Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General Productivity

What to do About Tradeshows

Tradeshow

With many tradeshows and conferences being cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, industrial marketers are facing significant disruptions to their marketing plans.

An IEEE GlobalSpec survey conducted in the earlier days of the coronavirus outbreak found that 56 percent of marketers said the shows they planned to attend or exhibit at have been cancelled. Thirty-eight percent had cancelled their own plans. Those percentages can only be higher now.

The question for marketers is what they should be doing in place of tradeshows to pick up the marketing slack.

Reinvest or Cut Back?

The survey showed that 28 percent of industrial marketers will shift their tradeshow budget to digital ads, while 46 percent said they will not reinvest that budget.

It’s understandable that companies may want to save their budget during uncertain times. However, by reducing your presence in the marketplace you may lose business to competitors who don’t cut back and you may have a harder time regaining marketing momentum when conditions stabilize again.

Those companies that reinvest at least a percentage of their tradeshow budget to digital platforms can continue to maintain visibility and generate engagement opportunities with prospects who are in various stages of their buying cycle. When the situation improves, you will be in a better position to win new business.

Tradeshow Substitutes

One coveted feature of tradeshows is the ability to meet person-to-person. While that is no longer possible when a tradeshow is canceled or postponed, you can still engage your audience, show prospects who you are, and provide a personal touch.  

Webinars

For years, webinars have been carving into the tradeshow market, and with good reason. Ubiquitous broadband and technology advances have allowed webinars to become an interactive, engaging experience between presenters and their audiences.

You can include real-time polls, offer live Q&A, and show video during webinars, while your audience remains at their desk.

Webinar solutions from IEEE GlobalSpec offer additional benefits, including:

  • Promotion of your webinar to your chosen target audience
  • Audience registration and attendee tracking
  • Webinar files for continued on-demand viewing on your corporate website or other marketing channel such as YouTube

Video

Video is another effective substitute for a tradeshow. From your office, you can film that keynote speech or educational workshop you were going to present at a tradeshow and post the video on your website, social media or supplier hub on IEEE GlobalSpec.

Engineers, particularly younger ones, are steadily increasing their use of video as a way to discover companies, products and services.

Digital Ads

Digital platforms such as e-newsletter ads and display advertising can help you reach your tradeshow audience and achieve similar branding and visibility benefits:

  • Advertise in targeted, opt-in e-newsletters that reach the same audience as you were targeting with your tradeshow. You can use the ad to promote a video or webinar that might be serving as your tradeshow substitute.
  • Stay visible to your audience and keep your message in the market through the use of display ads on industrial websites. You will be able to showcase your brand to many of the same engineers and technical professionals who might see you at a tradeshow.

Content Marketing

Tradeshows have a reputation as being time and resource intensive. You can put some of the saved time and resources to good use by updating or creating content. Your audience is always looking for educational information to help them do their jobs better, and with travel and tradeshows down, many engineers and technical professionals will be conducting more online search for content to help keep them current.

You can also consider contributing content to Engineering360.com or taking advantage of an Engineering360 product advertorial which provides engineers new ways to learn about your product offerings—a good alternative to a tradeshow. Click here for more info.

Yes, these are uncertain and challenging times both personally and professionally. However, it’s no time to panic. Instead, carefully evaluate your situation to determine how you can best persevere and succeed in your role as a marketer.

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy Marketing, General Tradeshows

Lead Nurturing Simplified: 5 Core Principles

A prospect could be anywhere in their buy cycle when they first reach out to your company, but few of them are ready to make a purchase decision at that point.

That’s why lead nurturing is so essential to your marketing success. You must be able to keep your prospects interested, encourage them along their buying journey, and pass them off to your sales team when appropriate. That’s lead nurturing in a nutshell.

The lead nurturing process can be long—research shows it takes anywhere from six to thirteen touches to deliver a qualified lead to sales. Lead nurturing can also be very fruitful—studies show that 70 percent of business comes from long-term leads, those that aren’t ready to buy when you first connect with them.

Lead nurturing can also be complex, with many moving parts and variables affecting your ability to execute. However, if you adhere to these five core principles, you can simplify the process, gain efficiencies, and deliver more qualified opportunities to your sales team.

1. Use a Lead Nurturing System

It’s possible to use manual processes and spreadsheets to nurture leads, but the process will be labor intensive.

Many industrial companies are adopting marketing automation to help manage lead nurturing and other marketing efforts. Marketing automation allows you to capture prospect engagement across all digital channels and can help you score leads, create landing pages, track prospect actions, trigger automatic emails, report on the effectiveness of various content, produce analytics and much more.

Other companies are embracing specific email-based lead nurturing platforms such as IEEE GlobalSpec Catalyst. Whatever system you choose, the three core capabilities you must have for lead nurturing are the ability to segment your audience, create and send campaigns, and report results.

Develop the process you want to use for lead nurturing, then find the system that best supports that process.

2. Segment Your Audience

Unless all of your prospects are about the same, you will need to segment your audience so that you can craft different lead nurturing campaigns to meet the needs of different audiences.

Segments vary for different companies, but common segments include area of interest, phase of buy cycle, market, geography/territory, among others. You’ll also want to segment out hot leads that are sales-ready and that you immediately pass to your sales team.

The definition of a sales-ready lead, as well as your audience segments, should be determined jointly between you and your sales team. Lead nurturing only works if sales and marketing organizations are on the same page working from the same playbook.

3. Nourish Prospects

To maintain and grow prospect interest until they are ready to make a purchase decision, you should continually offer them educational, relevant information they want and need to feel confident that you are the right company.

Nourishing takes place through what are called email “drip” campaigns—meaning at regular intervals, you show up with a content offer in their inbox. Your campaign could touch prospects once a week for six months or once a month for a year. You decide, based on your segments and your prospects’ needs.

With each campaign touch, you should offer your prospects something of value: a white paper, infographic, webinar, video, article or other helpful content. Keep the content educational in nature rather than sales-oriented. Engineers hate to be sold to; they want to learn and discover.

If you are using marketing automation, you can set up rules for your campaign, such as “any prospect that downloads a white paper receives a webinar invitation the following week.”

4. Hand-off to Sales

Because you’ve already come to an agreement with your sales team about what constitutes a sales-ready lead, you’ll know when a prospect in a nurturing campaign is ready for sales.

Often a lead reaches sales-ready status when it achieves a score based on a scale you develop that awards points for specific prospect behaviors. For example, a prospect that clicks on every offer is a five and likely sales-ready, while a prospect that only visited a web page remains a one.

5. Track and Learn

Keep track of how the prospects in your campaign interact with your offers and content. You can find out what offers resonate and are popular, and which fall flat. Get rid of offers that don’t perform well, while building on content that is popular with other similar offers. Continually refine your campaigns and you should see improved results.

Those are the five basic principles. For a deeper dive into lead nurturing, including best practices to optimize your lead nurturing efforts and quick tips for following up with leads, download the complimentary toolkit, “The Industrial Marketer’s Guide to Lead Nurturing.” You’ll learn the finer points to be successful at lead nurturing. Download here.


 

Customer Relationships Lead Management Marketing, General