There are two core reasons why marketing technology to manufacturers is more challenging than it may be to your other target buyers.
- Many manufacturers are marketing laggards who may not respond to your most innovative, trendy marketing techniques.
- U.S. manufacturers have been on an incredibly tumultuous ride over the past decade and times are still uncertain.
By understanding and embracing these two facts, and adjusting your approach accordingly, your technology firm can successfully market to industrial manufacturers.
Industrial Manufacturers Are Marketing Laggards
Manufacturing marketers traditionally have reported that they lag behind B2B marketers in general, and this year is no different. In Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 Industry Benchmark Report for Manufacturers, participants acknowledged this fact:
- 69% say their overall content marketing approach is moderately, very, or extremely successful compared to 77% overall.
- 22% call their content marketing program mature or sophisticated, compared to 34% overall.
And in a study we recently conducted on digital lead generation for manufacturers, we found that:
- Only 15% offer gated resources to their site visitors to drive lead conversion.
- A whopping 78% have no customer case studies or testimonials on their site.
- Just 36% publish content on a blog.
Technology marketers, conversely, tend to be ahead of other B2B marketers in their efforts. This is a good thing to keep in mind when creating and executing a marketing approach to manufacturers. While you never want to talk down to a prospect or dumb down your plan in a way that is insulting, you will want to speak and act in a way that avoids being too trendy, slick or soft. Manufacturers will hate that!
But manufacturers do not hate marketing overall. While many acknowledge they are catching up as marketers for their own firms, they show a real appreciation for high quality, relevant content that is delivered directly. While most manufacturers are not tweeting or posting animated infographics on their own websites, they do check email. They read blog articles. They like video. They appreciate application stories about your real customers. They will want to talk with your customers as references. They love data, research and studies.
If you commit to be where the manufacturers are and deliver useful, relevant content, your technology firm will increase its engagement rate with this audience.
A Crazy Ride for U.S. Manufacturers
These are unprecedented times economically and politically, and manufacturers are riding the wave in a unique way.
The recent overhaul of the U.S. tax code is expected to stimulate U.S. growth and investment and U.S. job growth was at its highest rate since 2011 in a December 2017 report – potentially good news for manufacturers. At the same time, trade agreements are being reviewed, so manufacturers with plants in places like China and Mexico may have to revisit their business models – potentially bad news. This all comes after the incredibly painful 2008-09 recession and slower than desired rebound from it.
Manufacturers face constant pressure to maintain output, quality and profitability as global competition, especially from countries that pay lower wages, continues to intensify. Improving efficiencies and performance while lowering costs is paramount to success always, but especially so in an uncertain economic and political climate.
It’s no wonder that this audience is skittish about committing to new technology investments, even when they make perfect business sense. In fact, implementing new technology was a top answer in a recent survey asking manufacturers about their biggest challenge.
As a technology marketer, then, your job is to ease the way. Be a resource, a guide, an expert who is committed to helping their business, not to touting your solution’s features and selling a software license. Keep the message and the approach focused on the manufacturer’s real business challenges – and how your solution will be an asset.
5 Ways Tech Firms Can Market to Industrial Manufacturers
It’s a lot to consider, for sure. But you are selling a complex solution in a complex climate to a complex buyer who can be prone to pessimism and resistant to change. Consider these five strategies when you are targeting manufacturers.
- Use facts, not fluff. Industrial manufacturers want data, reports and studies. Show them, don’t tell them.
- Serve as a resource who is not simply selling a solution but who is helping their business achieve something tangible. Deliver helpful articles and videos that address problems engineers and plant managers are experiencing on a regular basis.
- Focus on business challenges as opposed to technical features. Avoid getting sucked into the greatness of your technology and keep your eye on how it will contribute to the industrial manufacturer’s success.
- Offer social proof – but keep it real. No grandiose testimonials from anonymous sources. Choose application stories from companies like theirs. Give them client references to speak with.
- Meet the industrial manufacturer where they are with marketing. They may not be active on social media, so you can email your blog articles. Use LinkedIn in a targeted, helpful way.
Incorporating these steps should give your tech firm an advantage over competitors and help you build strong engagement with manufacturers.
For more technology marketing tips, check out 8 Ways to Power Up Your B2B Technology Company Website. Or feel free to contact us to get the help you need!