For many companies, 2008 was a challenging year. The new realities of our current market and economy have impacted many sectors, and even more expect to feel the effects in 2009. This makes it more important than ever to plan smarter, more effective ways to market to industrial and technical buyers in the year ahead.
Based on internal research into market trends, here are strategic recommendations to achieve marketing success in 2009.
• Make the most out of finite resources.
Research shows that having too few resources is one of the biggest challenges faced by marketing professionals in the industrial sector. At the same time, marketers also are tasked with demonstrating results and improving ROI. While "doing more with less" is a challenge for any marketer, there are two ways to approach this situation:
1) Understand what your executive team expects your company
s marketing investments to deliver. Together, you should define clear and realistic objectives and establish metrics to measure marketing performance.
2) Consider dropping programs that haven't proven to be effective or can't be measured, and replace them with programs that have shown to deliver quality leads as well as provide performance metrics. Quality leads are those coming from motivated prospects who fit your target customer profile and whose contact information is made available to you, providing you the opportunity to begin a dialogue. As for performance metrics, online programs are the easiest to measure—they are built on views, clicks and conversions.
• Diversify your marketing portfolio.
While you may be forced to make difficult decisions about reducing your marketing budget in the year ahead, you also want to make sure that you don't allocate all of your resources to a single marketing tactic. Diversification of your marketing portfolio is important because your audience uses multiple sources to find components and suppliers, as well as conduct research. Today, the majority of these sources are online. Your customers visit industrial Web sites, use more than one search engine and subscribe to multiple relevant e-newsletters.
As a marketer, your job is putting your company, products and services in those places where customers and prospects can find you. In other words, fish where the fish are. For example, according to the 2008 GlobalSpec engineering trends survey, 74% of engineers and industrial professionals visit six or more work-related Web sites per week; 20% visit 20 or more. In addition, 59% use two or more search engines for work-related purposes.
Many industrial marketers have made smart decisions in response to these customer and market trends. Thirty percent spend more than 50% of their overall marketing budget online, according to 2008's GlobalSpec industrial marketing trends survey. Three of their four top lead generation sources are online, with online directories/Web sites and e-mail the two most frequently used marketing channels.
• Remember two words: frequency, consistency.
Even with finite resources, it's vital to maintain a level of frequency and consistency. It is crucial to stay in front of your customers and prospects. You should never disappear for stretches at a time. If that means you need to focus marketing efforts on a few of your strongest market sectors, do it.
The benefits of regular visibility accrue over time as more prospects recognize your company. This improves your opportunity to get on a prospect's short list of potential vendors and also shortens the sales cycle. Demand exists even in a challenging market. Only those companies that maintain their presence through marketing will stay in the minds of customers and prospects.
Plan for a consistent and frequent online presence on Web sites, directories and search engines your customers use and the e-newsletters they read. Your company will achieve stronger brand awareness and more measurable lead generation via online contact.
• Revamp your marketing message.
This is a good time to evaluate your message to the market. What do your customers stand to gain by using your products and services during a challenging economy? Is part of your value proposition efficiency or cost savings, or do you offer support and service that sets you apart from competitors and lowers risk for your customers? Use current economic conditions to your advantage when planning creative and messages.
Time is short to start preparing and planning for 2009. Remain positive. Stay on top of all trends in your industry. Reach your audiences using media they use.
Focus on these recommendations and you'll achieve strong results in 2009.
Angela Hribar is Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of GlobalSpec, Inc., the leading specialized vertical search, information services and e-publishing company serving the engineering, technical and industrial communities. She has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, sales, business development and operations management, and is an expert in building and facilitating a collaborative environment across cross-functional executive teams.