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

Budget-Conscious Content Marketing Ideas

saving money on content marketing

Content marketing is one of the most important and successful initiatives for industrial marketers. Your audience of engineers is constantly searching for relevant content to educate themselves and to help make more informed purchase decisions.

Eighty-two percent of manufacturers consider themselves at least moderately successful at content marketing, according to the survey, “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020,” conducted by the Content Marketing Institute.

Your ability to be successful right now might be compromised due to budget limitations and market conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. However, industrial marketers are a creative, resilient group that knows how to do more with less.

Here are some budget-conscious ideas to help you maintain content marketing momentum and success. Not every idea is appropriate for every company, but there should be several that fit nicely with your goals.

Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose

Repurposing content is an established best practice of content marketing. It saves time, saves money, and helps ensure a consistent message across different content formats and channels.

Your content library may have a few signature pieces, such as a comprehensive white paper or an eBook. White papers or eBooks can be segmented into a series of short articles, blog posts or web pages. A presentation you created for a conference can become a webinar. A single slide with figures and data might make a good infographic.

Focus on the most important content

According to the survey, “Smart Marketing for Engineers,” produced by IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing, the content most valuable to engineers includes datasheets, case studies, product demo videos, and white papers.

If you’re not able to produce all the content on your list right now, stick to these essential pieces. Technical datasheets can serve double-duty by as a page on your website—another example of repurposing content. The same survey found that the most important website features for engineers are in-depth technical information and technical specifications.

Increase Social Media Usage

Social media is an effective way to raise brand awareness and keep your company top of mind with prospects even if they aren’t ready to buy right now.

Social media posts can be short and simple. Consider starting a discussion on LinkedIn or participating in other discussions. Also, you don’t have to create all of your own social media content. Easily half of your content can be curated from other sources, such as industry experts, partners, analysts, or others. Include a short note on why the content is relevant to your audience, create a link and you’re done.

Another idea is to recruit guest bloggers. You can look to customers, partners, and your own subject matter experts for blog posts.

Narrow your target audiences

On average, manufacturers create content for four different audiences. Half of the content is for top-of-funnel awareness.

If you’re really strapped for resources, focus content marketing on your most important audiences—those that have the biggest sway over purchase decisions. Make sure that you have content for various stages of your customer’s buying cycle, but don’t overdo it.

Send an extra email or two this month

You likely have an email marketing strategy and most manufacturers use an email marketing platform that offers flexibility around how many and how often you send emails.

Now is a good time to craft a “special” email that extends the boundaries of your usual campaigns. Inform your audience what’s going on at your company. If you have any new policies or procedures for interacting with customers, this is a good way to let them know. Work with your sales team to craft a special offer. Or simply let customers and prospects know you’re staying in touch and thinking of them during these challenging times.

Bring on a summer intern

There are a lot of college students out there eager for something to do this summer. An internship in the marketing department of a manufacturer would look good on their resume.

Determine what activities you need the most help with, whether writing or designing content, updating social media, repurposing for other formats, shooting video, or assisting with analytics. Lots of talented young people are out there. You’d be doing yourself and them a favor by making one of them an intern.

Content Marketing

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

The Industrial Marketer’s Measurement Checklist

marketing measurement

One advantage of the digital age is that industrial marketers have access to a wealth of data and a trove of metrics they can track and analyze to determine if they are meeting their marketing objectives.

However, with so much data and so many options, the task of measuring can seem overwhelming. What metrics really matter? Which ones can help you make more informed marketing decisions?

Below is a checklist of meaningful metrics you should be tracking regularly for your programs. Not every metric or measurement will apply to your program. Choose the ones that are relevant to you and use the results to improve your marketing programs.

  • Email deliverability and spam reports. You want deliverability to go up and spam reports to go down, which will indicate you have an accurate and updated email list.
  • Email opens. Shows how well your subject line works and how effectively you are targeting the right audience.
  • Clicks. Links in emails, linked offers in display or e-newsletter ads, social media links and text links on your website all reveal how well your message is resonating with your audience.
  • Pageviews. On your website, directory listings, or content hubs of industry-specific websites, page views indicate the popularity of a page.
  • Time on-page. How long a visitor stays on a page before dropping off. This tells you how relevant the content is to the audience. 
  • New vsreturning visitors. An important website metric that reveals how you’re doing attracting a new audience.
  • Social media views, comments, and shares. These social media metrics, tracked by channel, can tell you if you’re using the right social media platforms and delivering content that your audience finds valuable.
  • Impressions. For display ads or e-newsletter advertisements. This simple metric counts the number of times your ad is seen and can measure visibility and awareness. 
  • Video views, drop-offs, and point of drop off. For marketers using video, these three metrics tell you how many people are watching and for how long. If they’re dropping off at a certain point, you’ve lost their interest.
  • Brand, company, or product mentions. You can use the free service Google Alerts, which will notify you of specific keyword mentions such as your company name, product names or other relevant keywords that appear in news articles, blog posts web pages. This is a good indicator of the strength of your brand and the effectiveness of public relations efforts.
  • Attendees, booth visitors. Important for measuring events such as webinars or tradeshows. You can also track drop-offs for webinars, which is a measure of relevancy and engagement.

Two More Essential Measurements
Seldom do marketing programs exist in isolation or do isolated metrics tell the full story. As every marketer knows, a prospect will have multiple touches with your company before becoming a qualified lead and even more touches throughout their buying journey before making a purchase decision.

  • You should try to track all touches a prospect has with your company to better understand what content and programs resonate with them and the cumulative touches that contribute to a sale. Marketing automation software makes this complex task much easier.
  • All the metrics and measurements listed here ultimately roll up into one measurement that most marketing teams are ultimately judged by: qualified leads delivered to sales.

If you’re staying within your marketing budget and leads are increasing, you’re doing something right. If leads are flat or declining, examine those metrics that are stagnant and underperforming programs. Weed out the weak and work with your media partners to strengthen your overall marketing portfolio.

Marketing Measurement

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