It’s Time to Up Your Webinar Game

With many in-person events canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, marketers are putting more resources into exhibiting at virtual tradeshows and hosting webinars.

While virtual tradeshows are a relatively recent phenomenon, webinars have been part of the manufacturing marketing portfolio for years. What’s the difference between the two programs? Think of virtual tradeshows as novels and webinars as short stories.

Virtual tradeshows can go on for days and have multiple tracks, just as a novel might have multiple plotlines. Webinars are still short—rarely more than an hour—and typically focus on one key theme, such as an emerging technology or a novel manufacturing process.

With marketers everywhere suddenly turning their attention to webinars, and engineers seeking out webinars as an educational and informational resource, you need to up your game to stand out, keep your audience engaged, and show your company and brand in a positive light. How do you do it?

Webinar software

If you’ve been hosting any webinars, you likely already have a webinar platform. If not, the market is flooded with new entries, and you’ll need to vet your possibilities. If you’re working with a partner, you’ll want to learn about what their platform of choice offers.

Compare the features, benefits, support, and policies of the various platforms. Whether you have an existing webinar solution or are searching for one, the most important aspects are that you use a webinar platform that enables you to:

  • Deliver the type of content and user experience that aligns with your marketing goal
  • Includes interactive features to engage your audience
  • Gives the host robust command of the event
  • Is easy to use and offers tracking and support

Engagement is a must

In many ways, webinars offer advantages over in-person events. There is no travel time or travel expense. There are no crowded rooms with screens or speakers that are difficult to see from the back. With a webinar, the presenter can easily and quickly switch what appears on the screen.

While you can’t replicate an in-person experience, you can take advantage of webinar features that help engage your audience and deliver a more personalized experience.

  • Use live polls offering the ability to publish results in real-time. It’s a great way to interact with your audience and gain intelligence by asking them questions.
  • Combine traditional slides with video. The video can be the speaker, a product demonstration, a process animation, or other content of interest.
  • Try a live roundtable discussion on an important topic in your industry, using video to virtually place the panelists in the same room—on your audience’s screen.
  • Implement a chat window for the audience to interact with each other during the webinar or to contact the host.
  • Have a button for the audience to submit questions. The moderator or host can screen the questions so that they are focused, relevant, and clear.
  • Some webinar platforms offer virtual breakout rooms, which allow people to leave the webinar to then attend smaller group chats. This is useful for a webinar that might attract different audiences with varying interests.

Get Ready for Your Closeup

Everyone and everything looks different on camera than in person. If your webinar includes video of people speaking, pay attention to:

  • Lighting and camera angle. Make sure the speaker’s face is clearly lit, but not washed out, and is at a natural distance and angle from the camera—neither a pinhead nor a looming blob. Speakers should look directly at the camera.
  • Background. A lot of people have been putting up custom backgrounds when attending a virtual video meeting. Use a background that is clean, tidy, and neutral.
  • Visuals. Don’t crowd the screen with too many windows. Don’t crowd slides with too much content. Engagement isn’t a function of the quantity of information, but rather a function of relevance and quality.
  • Post-webinar activities. After you master the technology, prepare the event, practice your presentations, and finally deliver the show, you can sometimes forget you’re hosting the webinar to build relationships with your audience. Deploy your marketing expertise to follow-up with attendees and use the webinar metrics to shape your response.

Don’t Forget Partnerships

Not every manufacturer has the time and resources to develop and host a webinar program. And yet, webinars are such an important tactic right now.

Many manufacturers are partnering with GlobalSpec to jointly host a webinar. We provide the qualified attendees and manage the entire program for you, including:

  • Promotion of your webinar
  • Audience registration and attendee tracking
  • Webinar registrant and attendee reporting, both for the live day event and 90 days on-demand
  • Live day rehearsal and review of webinar platform functionality
  • Electronic files of final presentation for use on corporate website, YouTube, etc.

Working with GlobalSpec on webinars, you can extend your reach to a broader, yet still targeted audience, as well as leave the technology and tracking to us. It’s a great way to showcase new products and emerging technologies, demonstrate manufacturing processes, train and educate your audience, and more.

Check out our live and on-demand webinars here.

Webinars

Read This Before Committing to a Virtual Tradeshow

With many in-person tradeshows and other live events canceled due to COVID-19, many organizations and industry groups are looking to virtual tradeshows as an alternative.

You may be interested in exhibiting at or sponsoring a virtual tradeshow as part of your marketing mix. If you are, this article will help guide you on what to expect and what you should look for from a virtual tradeshow opportunity.

Attractive, Intuitive Event Spaces

The show host is responsible for creating an inviting virtual lobby, exhibit hall, and meeting rooms. It should be intuitive to access the event’s schedule, find exhibitors, participate in sessions, and generally wander around to see what’s of interest—just as an attendee would at an in-person tradeshow.

If you aren’t comfortable and confident using the show’s interface, attendees will likely struggle as well.

Exhibitor Profiles

The event platform should allow you to create a robust exhibitor profile that can serve as your “tradeshow booth.” You’ll want visitors to have easy access to your content and sessions, as well as engagement tools such as chat, Q&A, and discussion forums.

The host should be able to provide you with profiles of registered guests who visit your booth, such as name, company, contact info, and other data they capture from attendee registration forms. This can allow you to get to know a prospect and engage with them in a more meaningful way, just as you would at an in-person event.

A Robust Content Library

The event platform should offer you strong and flexible capabilities for a content library. You should be able to upload content at any time throughout the event, organize content logically (for example, by buyer persona, product group, or other attributes), and track who accessed what content.

Support for Live Streaming and Scheduling

You may want to seek out a virtual tradeshow that offers you both live streaming as well as pre-recorded sessions.

Make sure your live events don’t conflict with the overall schedule of the tradeshow. For example, you won’t want to schedule a live roundtable discussion during the tradeshow’s live keynote presentation.

Engagement and Networking

The most challenging aspect of virtual events is engaging your audience. Engagement features include live polls, live chat, Q&A tools, and social media integration that allows your audience (or you) to post and share content from the event in real-time.

Networking features you should look for are robust attendee profiles, group and private chat for attendees, one-on-one meetings, and live roundtable discussions. The more engagement and networking features offered, the better chance you have of keeping your audience interested.

Registration and Lead Retrieval

The host should offer attendee registration and lead retrieval tools. Find out in advance what information you will receive about attendees.

So far, there are no instant lead capture systems for virtual events such as badge scanning at in-person events. But as an exhibitor, you should be able to click on the profile of anyone who visits your booth. You should also be able to see who attended what attended sessions, engaged with your staff, or downloaded content.  

Security

The event host should be able to demonstrate the security measures in place for the event. Some virtual tradeshow platforms are new to the market and are still working out the kinks, while others have been around for years. Experience counts in terms of providing secure connections and protection for data. Ask the trade show host about compliance with GDPR regarding data security and privacy.

Support

There are a lot of moving digital parts when exhibiting at a virtual tradeshow. You’re bound to run into a few bumps along the way. How will the host support you? Find out ahead of time what kind of help is available to you and when for the technology or business processes involved.

Three Tips for Exhibiting

Many of the same best marketing practices for in-person tradeshows apply to virtual tradeshows: planning, promotion, event execution, and follow-up. Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind when sponsoring a virtual event:

  • Choose your speakers and booth staff wisely. Whether you are live-streaming a session or offering pre-recorded presentations, use speakers who are comfortable in the digital arena. Staff your booth with people skilled at both online chat and moderating a virtual roundtable. This requires both writing and speaking skills. These aren’t necessarily the same as the hand-shaking, person-to-person skills.
  • Pre-Book virtual meetings. Many companies taking their trade shows virtual will share with exhibitors a list of attendees like they would for an in-person trade show. Look for the most promising attendees and try to pre-schedule meetings with them. Many meeting-scheduling tools allow you to include an access link to a virtual meeting to make the process even more seamless. You can also promote your meeting sign-up link on your social channels for interested leads to sign themselves up for meetings with your team.
  • Promote your presence during the event. You’ll want to do your usual pre-show marketing around the tradeshow. In addition, look for ways during the event to advertise your presence, presentations, or content. Your vendor may offer sponsorship packages that include banners, top positions, branding, and other opportunities to increase your visibility.
Tradeshows

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 Lead Nurturing Has Changed During COVID-19

In February, the Marketing Maven published “Lead Nurturing Simplified: Five Core Principles.” In the months since then, a lot has changed in marketing due to COVID-19.

The core principles of lead nurturing still apply: use a lead nurturing system, segment your audience, nourish prospects, hand-off to sales, and track and learn. By adhering to these principles, you can successfully turn your long-term leads into satisfied customers.

However, you will need to make some adjustments within these core principles during the time of COVID-19 to account for the dramatically altered economic and marketing landscape.

In some ways, there has never been a better time to reach key decision makers through a lead nurturing email campaign, as many professionals are at their desks at home and not otherwise occupied with in-person meetings and travel.

Here are some tips to help you to continue to find success through lead nurturing:

Demonstrate empathy towards your audience

Empathy is the ability to identify and understand the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of another. You can do this by lending an ear to prospects

Why not add a phone call to your lead nurturing campaign? Simply ask your prospects how they are doing during this challenging time and listen to what they have to say. Or leave a message that you are thinking about them. If phone-calling isn’t practical, make one of your emails a simple statement letting your prospects know they are in your thoughts.

Adjust messaging to fit the times

If your company is doing something helpful, such as making monetary or equipment donations, protecting employees, or providing other COVID-related assistance, you can let your prospects know this. Certainly not every marketing touch should mention the coronavirus impact, but you should acknowledge the situation: it’s impacting you and it’s impacting your audience as well.

Back off any hard selling

Lead nurturing has always been more about educating prospects than getting aggressive and overly promotional, and now more than ever this holds true. Forget the sales pitches and limited times offers.

Instead, offer prospects that new eBook you’ve compiled of all your best content. Or invite them to a new webinar series that is replacing a cancelled in-person event.

Focus on brand awareness over sales

Chances are, your customers’ budgets are in disarray and spending may be on hold. Many prospects are not looking to buy right now—but they are still looking. If you stay in front of them through your lead nurturing campaigns and continue to offer relevant, educational content, they will be more likely keep your brand top of mind and turn to you when they are ready to buy.

Keep a positive tone

There’s plenty of bad news out there and all kinds of reasons to be frightened, making it easy to fall into a negative mindset. Don’t contribute to that.

Acknowledge the challenges your customers may be facing, but keep your messaging positive. Example: you’re looking forward to conditions improving, you’re hoping for an opportunity to do business with your prospects in the future, you’re always here to help them and answer any questions they have.

In other words, be the beacon of light, not the agent of darkness.

As you navigate this disruptive period, be sure to adhere to the five core principles of lead nurturing, and integrate these tips into your efforts. You and your customers can come out better on the other side.

Lead Management

How to Create Your Best Email Ever – 9 Tips

Now that COVID-19 has vastly reduced face-to-face time, email marketing is more important than ever.

Manufacturing marketers have for years relied on email to connect with their target audience to generate engagement opportunities, strengthen their brands, and nurture leads. Email campaigns to house lists, e-newsletter advertising, and co-branded emails with marketing partners all have their place in your marketing portfolio.

Given the current climate, more emails are being sent and inboxes are even more crowded than usual. You have to stand out to get your audience to pay attention.

Here’s how to send your best emails ever:

1. Match your message to your list

You need to deliver the right message to the right audience. The first step is segmenting your list in a way that makes it easy for you to craft targeted emails. For example, new customers get welcoming emails, current customers get upgrade emails, hot prospects get purchase offers, nurtured leads get educational information.

2. Treat every email component as a call to action

Even the ‘From’ line is a call to action (CTA). It’s telling your recipient to pay attention because this email is from a person and/or company they know and have opted-in to receive emails from.

The subject line should also be treated as its own mini-CTA. Its purpose is to have the reader take the action of opening the email. Use active and benefit-oriented words in the subject line, such as watch, download, register, get, discover, and meet.

3. Take advantage of valuable real estate

Many email programs offer a preview pane, which allows the user to see the top few inches of an email before deciding whether to open it. Those top inches are of utmost value: use them wisely. Instead of displaying a large graphic masthead or logo, use that space for teaser copy or the most compelling content you have.

4. Answer this one question

The most successful marketing emails are simple, targeted emails that answer one major question your audience asks: Why should I? Give your audience a compelling reason why they should open, read, and act, and you will have a winning email.

For example, if the purpose of your email is getting your audience to register for a webinar, tell them why they should. What will they learn? How will this information help them do their jobs better? What’s so special about your presenters? Why is your webinar the best source for this information?

5. Make it easy for your recipients

You want your audience to take action—make it easy to do so. Include bold buttons with action verbs: register, download, watch, etc. Include the CTA in text links. Place the CTA in several locations in the email.

When writing the email, use plain, straightforward language. Use short paragraphs and sentences, bulleted lists, and headings. In your copy, extoll benefits, but don’t be too salesy or promotional.

6. Keep your eye on the conversion prize

Your goal is to convert—that’s why you pepper your email with CTAs. The conversion could be a simple click-through to watch a video or read an article or download an infographic. It could also be getting your audience to fill out a form to access gated content or to register for an event. Or, it could be enticing them to fill out a survey or answer a poll question.

If you are using a form, ask for as little information as possible. Three fields—name, company, work email address—are all you need to get a relationship started. You can fill in the rest of your prospect’s data as they move through their buying cycle and interact with you further.

7. Render emails for mobile devices

Reading email on mobile devices is now the norm. By making your email communications mobile-friendly, you make it simple for your recipients to review your communication on any device.

8. Be relevant

The number-one way to stand out is to send emails that contain relevant, useful content to your prospects and customers, such as white papers, articles, how-tos, or special offers.

If you understand your audience’s information needs and work to meet or exceed them, prospects and customers will look forward to getting your emails and will hunt them down in their inbox clutter.

9. Work with a partner

If you’re strapped for resources or want to broaden your reach beyond your internal lists, you can advertise in third-party e-newsletters or send a co-branded email to a new, yet targeted audience.

IEEE GlobalSpec offers 70+ newsletter titles focused on specific industry segments and products. You can gain access to a highly engaged audience of decision-makers who use them as a key resource during all stages of their buying process.

E-Mail Marketing

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

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

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