Why Marketing is More Important than Ever

The global spread of COVID-19 is new territory for all of us, but what’s not new are disruptions in the market. Recessions, wars, and even technological breakthroughs such as the Internet have all impacted markets and marketing strategy throughout history.

Historically, some companies have cut back on marketing during disruptive times. They consider marketing to be discretionary spending, or they believe that marketing is a cost center rather than an investment in growth.

The fact is, many of those companies that cut back on marketing faltered, and others took their place as market leaders. Amazon became a leader during a recession. Toyota beat Volkswagen. Kellogg’s gained market share from Post. Pizza Hut and Taco Bell grew sales, while McDonald’s suffered.

You can go back one hundred years and see more examples of companies that innovated during economic declines ended up experiencing a surge in revenue and profit. Advertising executive Roland S. Vaile tracked 200 companies during the recession in 1923. He found those that continued to advertise during the downturn were 20 percent ahead of where they had been before the recession, while companies that reduced advertising were 7 percent below their 1920 levels.

When other companies cut back, there is less clutter in the market, fewer competitors seeking your customers’ attention, and often better rates on advertising placements.

The old adage is true: “During good times you should advertise. During bad times you must advertise.”

Sure, that’s easy to say, but may be hard to do if budgets and other resources are being threatened. That’s why companies need to look to marketing innovation and efficiency to see themselves through the economic impact of COVID-19.

Rely on marketing technology

The big three areas of marketing technology are email marketing platforms, web content management, and digital marketing analytics. Chances are you’ve already made some investments in these areas. Now is the time to get the most out of your investments.

In many ways, the global pandemic is presenting the perfect convergence of marketing technology and marketing tactics. Email, websites, and search (both paid and organic) are all working right now—and each of these marketing tactics is supported and optimized by marketing technology.

Continue to invest in sending emails to your house lists and advertising in industry e-newsletters. Maintain a robust and up-to-date website. Use search to drive qualified traffic that converts.

Even if customers aren’t ready to buy right now, they are continuing to work and are looking for the right vendors for when they are ready to buy. You want to be noticed during this period, you want to be remembered, and you want to be seen as a stable brand during uncertain times. You can only do that by continuing to maintain your marketing momentum.

Adjust your messaging

In your messaging to customers, you have to acknowledge what’s going on and how your company is responding.

Your customers are people, not just revenue sources. They have concerns just as you do. Their jobs and career and lifestyles may be in danger. It doesn’t help to pretend the pandemic isn’t happening or to act “business as usual.” An important part of marketing—during both good times and hard times—is showing empathy, and the current climate presents an opportunity for you to stay in close touch and tell your customers you are thinking about them.

You may also have an opportunity to reposition some of your products and services. Issues such as business continuity, supply chain security, and reliability of vendor partnerships are all on the minds of your customers.

This is the time to reassure, to show how your company is helping, to let them know if your products might play an important role in addressing their issues. Highlight the stability of your company, the reputation of your customer service and support, or the reliability of your product line.

Build a bridge through marketing

Marketing is the bridge that will get you from today’s difficult situation to a more stable future. It will keep you connected with your customers, visible in the market, and prepared to face additional uncertainty.

There may not be a “return to normal.” But there will be a future. Those companies that realize marketing is more important than ever will be best positioned to be successful, whatever the future may bring.

Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends

How to Fill the Marketing Gap Left by Canceled Tradeshows

With most tradeshows and other in-person events canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, industrial marketers are facing unprecedented challenges.

According to a recent survey by IEEE GlobalSpec, 35 percent of industrial marketers will not attend a tradeshow until a vaccine is available and another 24 percent say they will not be ready to attend a tradeshow for more than six months. Sixty-one percent said tradeshows they planned to attend or exhibit at have been canceled.

Translation: Tradeshows are by and large off the table for 2020.

The challenge for industrial marketers is how to fill the gap left by canceled or postponed tradeshows.

First, a little perspective. As the digital era continues to advance, tradeshows have been on a steady decline. Although still an effective and much-utilized strategy in the industrial marketing portfolio, tradeshows are not as important as they used to be. Still, marketers must do what they can to replace the high-touch, high-visibility benefits of tradeshows. Here are some ideas:

Invest more in content marketing

Marketers are now predicting that content marketing, followed by webinars and organic website traffic, will be their most successful 2020 marketing channels.

Engineers report the most valuable type of content are datasheets, case studies, product demo videos, and white papers, according to the “2020 Smart Marketing for Engineers,” survey conducted by TREW Marketing and IEEE GlobalSpec.

When it comes to accessing content, engineers find value in various information sources, including supplier/vendor websites, industry directory websites, online trade publications, emails, e-newsletters, and more.

Now is the time to make sure your content is accurate, up-to-date, and educational. This is an opportunity to present your company’s expertise and build trust with customers through your content. Distribute your content across as many channels as you can in order to reach the most engineers.

Hone your webinar skills

As you can imagine, many companies will be hosting more webinars as a way to connect with their target audiences. To capture and maintain attention, you’ll need webinars that stand above the others:

  • Keep webinars laser-focused on specific topics and your marketing goals. Consider a series of short webinars (20 minutes or so) that build on each other but also can individually stand alone.
  • Produce one or two foundational or showcase webinars that feature an industry expert, journalist, customer, or analyst who can tell a powerful story.
  • Engage your audience through interactive webinar features such as live polls, chat, and Q&A sessions.
  • Test all technical aspects of your webinar platform to make sure there are no glitches on game day.
  • Record and archive all webinars or other streaming events for on-demand viewing from your website. With a simple registration form (name, company, email), on-demand webinars can continue to provide engagement opportunities.

Refresh your home page

Because your customers and prospects cannot visit you at a tradeshow right now, you will likely be seeing more traffic to your website.

It’s a good time to update your homepage to make sure you’re offering an easy path for engineers to find the information they are looking for. This audience is not so concerned with the bells and whistles that a website has to offer. Instead, the large majority is looking for in-depth technical information and technical specifications. Can they navigate easily to this content from your home page?

Focus on Search Engine Optimization

Seventy-three percent of respondents to “2020 Smart Marketing for Engineers” survey are willing to view three or more pages of search results before selecting one or starting a search over, up from 54 percent the previous year.

You don’t have to launch a huge SEO effort, but you should pick your most important and relevant web pages and optimize them for specific keywords, keep the content fresh, update internal and external links, and fill out all meta tags.

Continue using email

Engineers still look to their inboxes for important content. Two-thirds of engineers subscribe to at least three newsletters, with 18 percent subscribing to six or more. Email is still a highly valuable and relevant communication channel, but you need to work to get the attention of engineers. Create subject lines that capture attention, and newsletter content that clearly provides value to your audience.

Work with your media partners

Your media partners should be up-to-date on changes occurring in the media landscape. They know what’s working and what isn’t during these challenging times. Ask them for help with your media plan for the second half of the year. They may be able to offer effective ideas and opportunities that you hadn’t considered or known about.

Marketing Strategy Tradeshows
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

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

Why You Should Document Your 2020 Marketing Strategy

Document

Most manufacturing marketers craft a marketing strategy for each new year. The “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019—Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends” research report by the Content Marketing Institute found that 78 percent of survey respondents now have a content marketing strategy.

However, only 41 percent have documented their strategy. This is problematic, given the importance and benefits of having a documented marketing strategy. A documented marketing strategy can:

  • Align your entire team, and even those outside marketing such as subject matter experts and salespeople, around a common mission and established goals.
  • Define what success means for your marketing efforts and the metrics by which success is measured.
  • Help you prioritize your own resource allocations in terms of people, time, and budgets devoted to creating content and managing programs.
  • Help you respond quickly and intelligently to unexpected marketing opportunities or company/market changes that arise throughout the year.
  • Provide a basis on which to justify and defend marketing budgets.
  • Serve as an historical record and source of learning to improve your marketing strategy over time.

That’s a significant list of benefits for having a documented marketing strategy. But how do you create this document and what should go into it?

It’s Similar to a Business Plan

If you don’t yet have a documented marketing strategy for 2020, it’s time to get one written. There’s no single template to use, because every company’s needs are different. It may be helpful to think of your document as a business plan, especially if you need executive buy-in.

Most marketing strategy documents include some or all of the key components discussed below.

Start with Your Goals

Goals are statements of what you want to accomplish through your marketing strategy. Examples of goals might be to grow brand awareness, increase market share, generate qualified leads, enter new markets, or support new product launches, among others.

Your goals drive all other marketing decisions and serve as an arbitrator when you might be deciding between alternative programs, channels, content, etc. You always ask the question: What goal will this help us achieve?

Define Your Audience(s)

Who are you trying to reach through your marketing efforts? The best way to clearly identify audiences is to create buyer personas. Much more effective than vague definitions that include only title, industry and demographics, buyer personas are detailed descriptions of the different types of customers that you have, including their needs, motivations and influences. Buyer personas are essential aides in helping to product the right content. Here’s a helpful article on creating buyer personas.

Allocate Resources

Your documented strategy should outline the resources required to achieve your goals and fulfill your marketing strategy. These include people to create and design content, marketers to manage programs, and budgets. Who is on the marketing team? What secondary people are needed to support a successful marketing strategy (such as subject matter experts, website personnel, or your media partners)? Have you budgeted for key initiatives such as product launches or new market penetration?

Determine Metrics for Success

How will you measure the success of your marketing strategy? What metrics are most important? How will you define key performance indicators?

The answers will vary depending on your marketing tactics and channels, and will also be different for high level goals vs. campaign-specific goals. For example, you might measure the success of your overall email marketing by the number of qualified opportunities generated, but specific campaign measurements might include opens, clicks, shares, downloads, and conversions.

Be aware that measuring marketing ROI is not an exact science. The nature of your customers’ buying cycle can make it difficult to correlate sales to specific marketing channels. The industrial buy cycle is often long and complex, involving multiple stages, from needs assessment to comparison and evaluation, to a final purchasing decision. In the vast majority of cases, buyers will interact with your company’s content and brand many times and through multiple channels, often without contacting you, before they make a purchasing decision.

For these reasons, it’s best to track every interaction a prospect has with your company, because ultimately each touch contributes to a sale. For more on measurement and ROI, read the “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit.”

Programs and Channels

The meat of your strategy is how you will execute it. Your documented strategy should include a list of marketing programs and channels you plan to use throughout the year.

In this era of digital media, few companies rely on just one or two channels. Rather, manufacturers need a mix of traditional and digital media to successfully connect with their target audience.

The top five channels that manufacturing marketers plan to use this year are email marketing using in-house lists, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), tradeshows, and organic social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

How do your channels compare to others? Are your programs designed to meet the documented goals of your marketing strategy and the needs of your defined audiences?

Additional Resources

These two complimentary reports can help you develop and hone your marketing strategy, putting you on the path for success in 2020. Download them today:

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit – Part 1

Many industrial marketers are deep into planning for 2020. If you haven’t started yet, now is the time, and we’ve got resources to help you.

By beginning your planning process now, you can gather evidence to justify your expected expenditures, receive executive endorsement for your budget, and be ready to launch when the calendar changes. Companies getting an early start on their marketing plan can get a jump on competitors and be better positioned to win business going into the new year.

This two-part series (Part 2 is coming in October) will help you create an effective marketing plan for 2020 that aligns with market and customer trends, fits your budget and capabilities, and helps achieve your marketing goals.

Part 1 focuses on evaluating your current program and understanding the industrial marketing trends that will affect your strategy for 2020. Part 2 will offer tips to help you develop the optimal marketing plan.

Assess the performance of your current plan

How are your current marketing programs performing? The complimentary IEEE GlobalSpec “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” offers a number of tools to help you measure the performance of your marketing. The kit includes a chart to plot the engagement and branding capabilities of your current programs and to identify gaps, a grid to compare the quality of your leads to your ideal customer profile, and a matrix to help you analyze the effectiveness of your expenditures across various media channels.

Access your complimentary copy of the “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” here.

The foundation of any performance assessment of your current marketing is the ability to measure marketing results. Measurability is just one of many reasons why industrial marketers are increasing their use of digital media, along with the engineering audience’s preference to seek information through digital channels.

Digital marketing programs offer the inherent advantage of measurement through page views, clicks, downloads, shares, conversions, and other trackable metrics. If your current channel mix is not mostly digital, then you should consider allocating more budget towards online in 2020.

Account for all channels

Keep in mind when evaluating current programs that your customers typically have multiple interactions with your company and content before they make a final purchasing decision. They might meet you at a trade show, visit your website, click on an e-newsletter advertisement, watch a video, and attend a webinar all as part of their buying journey.

Each of these marketing touches contributes to the eventual sale—not just the first action they took to connect with you or last action they took before making a purchase decision. Be sure to track all of these activities to properly evaluate marketing performance.

Five trends that can influence your plan

Before you begin to plan 2020 marketing programs and choose channels, you should familiarize yourself with industrial marketing trends that will influence your decisions. These include:

  1. According to the most recent IEEE GlobalSpec Industrial Marketing Trends survey, 60 percent of industrial marketers rely on email marketing and 43 percent expect to spend more on email in the year ahead. The trend in 2020 will be toward personalization, from connecting to email recipients by name, to providing email content based on their preferences and behaviors.
  2. More industrial marketers will invest in marketing automation software to help segment audiences more precisely, guide prospects through the buy cycle, and deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time.
  3. Industrial marketers will improve ROI measurement by not only counting leads but also tracking all prospect engagement and marketing touches through the sales cycle. In addition, definitions of marketing success will become agreed upon across the organization, particularly with sales and executive teams, to ensure collective buy-in on the metrics that matter most to an organization.
  4. More than half of buyers complete at least 60 percent of their buying process online before speaking to someone at a company. This trend announces an imperative that industrial marketers continue to produce high quality content. In 2020, expect more industrial marketers to create content marketing strategies based on achieving specific, measurable objectives and to produce content designed for specific stages of the customers’ buy cycle. To avoid long lead times, now is the time to audit your content and determine what content you will need to create, refine or re-purpose to support your 2020 marketing plan and goals. Also make sure your marketing collateral and website are up-to-date with current messaging and the latest product versions.
  5. Digital and traditional channels will be more closely integrated. For example, many industrial marketers will continue to include traditional tradeshows in their marketing portfolio. However, now they will rely on digital channels before, during, and after the show to gain momentum, increase engagement, and build relationships.

Study your company’s 2020 business plan

If your company is planning to introduce new products, expand to new markets or customer segments, or launch other strategic initiatives in 2020, you will need to build your marketing plan and create content to account for these initiatives.

Meet with executives to learn about the timing of new plans. You should also meet with sales leaders to understand revenue growth objectives. This will not only give you information you need to create your marketing plan, it will demonstrate that you are proactive about developing a plan that supports your company’s goals and objectives.

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit

IEEE GlobalSpec created the 2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit to help you develop an effective marketing plan that targets your audience of engineering and technical professionals. Add this valuable resource to your 2020 planning efforts today. Click here to download.

Content Marketing Digital Media E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Nine Ways to Stretch Your Marketing Dollars

Ask almost any industrial marketer and they will tell you there are never enough marketing resources. According to the research report, “2019 Trends in Industrial Marketing,” the leading marketing challenge is a lack of marketing resources—in terms of dollars, people and time. It was reported as a top three challenge by 37 percent of marketers, and as the single biggest challenge by 21 percent.

Further constraining resources, headcounts, and budgets are staying steady for the majority of industrial companies. Only 25 percent of companies are adding marketing people; just 31 percent are spending more on marketing.

Bemoaning the lack of resources doesn’t help, and subpar marketing performance because of a shortfall of marketing dollars simply isn’t acceptable. It’s up to marketers to find ways to stretch their budget and meet their marketing goals. Here’s what you can do:

1. Always Be Aligned

Your marketing programs should be perfectly aligned with your goals. This is the simplest way to make sure you are making the most efficient use of your resources. Before you invest in any program, always ask the question: Is this the best program for achieving our marketing goals? If not, don’t spend on it.

2. Repurpose Content

Content creation can be a resource drain. Look for efficiencies when creating marketing content. Make it a priority to create content that can be easily adapted for use across multiple channels, in multiple formats, and among different audiences. This offers the additional advantage of delivering a consistent message. Other content hacks include using templates to save on design costs, creating PDFs rather than printed pieces, and recruiting internal subject matter experts (SMEs) to help write technical content.

3. Use Marketing Automation Software

There is a good selection of low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market that can help you increase efficiency and save money. With marketing automation, you can easily segment lists, streamline lead nurturing, quickly access detailed reports and much more. A small investment can pay significant dividends.

4. Be Smart About Search Marketing

Optimize the pages on your website to rise in search results rankings for specific keywords that are important to your business. Keeping content fresh and current will also help. For paid search, focus on narrow search terms that will deliver more qualified traffic to your site. Don’t waste money on expensive keywords that everyone else is bidding on.

5. Focus Your Social Media Efforts

You don’t need to create and maintain profiles on every social media platform. It’s a waste of time and money, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep up or attract the attention you’re looking for. Instead, choose the social media channels that work best for you and that engineers are more likely to use. LinkedIn and Facebook are the two most popular channels for engineers. They’re great places to promote that reusable content you’ve been creating.

6. Don’t Purchase Email Lists

Purchased lists are a bad idea. They historically and dramatically under perform a clean in-house list. Plus, are you sure every name on that purchased list is verified as opt-in? Purchased email addresses are expensive and if you’re not careful you can run afoul of data privacy and protection laws.

A better idea is to advertise in a respected industrial email newsletter that you know is opt-in and is targeted to the audience you want to reach. Plus, your media partner will handle all list management functions, helping you to preserve your resources for other projects.

7. Cut Back on Travel

Industrial marketers still find tradeshows an effective marketing channel. But if you exhibit or attend multiple shows every year, the expenses pile up. Can you free up resources by going to one less show this year? If not, can you opt for a more modest presence? Can you negotiate a better sponsorship deal if you also host an educational session of interest to attendees?

8. Conduct Joint Marketing Programs

Work with a partner that offers complementary products and services to a similar target audience as yours. With two companies sharing the costs of a marketing program, your dollars can go a lot further. It’s also a good way to gain access to a potential new customer base.

9. Find a Trusted Media Partner

One way to help alleviate the lack of resources is to find a trusted, expert media partner who can help you optimize your mix and get the most out of your budget, while allowing you to free up some internal resources for other efforts. The right media partner will help you more efficiently reach your target audience and will be nimble enough to help you tweak programs along the way for better performance.

E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy