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Stop Treating Industrial Marketing like Consumer Marketing

A majority of today’s B2B, industrial focused companies continue to carry out marketing efforts with a one-size-fits-all approach. Many B2B companies looking to start or ramp up their online marketing will read about general best practices or others’ success stories to help develop an online marketing plan. But traditional and digital marketing have historically been dominated by the consumer market, so the majority of information is consumer market focused.

When a consumer-focused marketing plan is used for an industrial company with a technical and niche product offering and an average customer acquisition time frame of six months to a year, it will never produce the desired results. This type of plan rarely takes into consideration their specific industry, product and service offering, target audience, user shopping patterns, or lead acquisition cost and duration.

Right from the planning phase, the marketing plan is destined to fail. This common scenario is why marketing is still such a scary thing for so many B2B companies. But if the plan is customized for the B2B company and its target audience, the results can be groundbreaking.

3 Differences Between Industrial Marketing and Consumer Marketing

While no two businesses are the same, there are still commonalities across most industrial market segments and consumer markets. Understanding the differences between the two demonstrates why they must be treated differently from a marketing standpoint. While there are numerous differences in business type and approach when comparing consumer and industrial marketing, these are the three we see as the most important when first setting up a marketing plan.

1. Types of Products and Services

In general, the industrial market’s business offerings are more complex and/or technological compared to the consumer market. This alone should completely change your approach to online marketing between the two market segments. With the industrial market having more complex business offerings, these companies need to:

  • Educate users about the intricacies that accompany these advanced products and services.
  • Create a plan to help guide users through the longer sales funnel.  
  • Ensure employees are readily available to answer questions and assist potential customers.

2. Influencers and Decision Makers

In the consumer market, there is usually one individual who is both the influencer and decision maker: the individual buying the product. Consumers may ask others for input, do research on the product, or look at reviews to see what others think, but at the end of the day, they are the ones who decide to purchase or not.

Within the industrial market, the decision to buy or not is usually influenced by a number of people. Influencers and decision makers in the industrial segment can include engineers, project managers, procurement professionals, health and safety personnel, project managers, C level executives, and everyone else in-between. With so many different types of influencers, all with different purchasing agendas, industrial marketing needs to:

  • Define different types of influencers and decision makers and the specific challenges each faces.
  • Create lists to segment out different influencers and decision makers to better provide them with the information that is most important to them.
  • Develop marketing initiatives and content tailored toward these different types of decision makers.

With multiple people involved in B2B purchasing decisions, it is vital that companies effectively market towards each different profile and provide the right information to the right people.

3. Educated Buyers

When looking at buyer personas for industrial vs. consumer markets, industrial buyers are typically the group with better knowledge of the product or service they are looking for. This makes sense because the potential industrial buyer has extensive industry and job experience and the purchase decision can reflect on job performance. Buyers within the industrial market are not going to impulsively buy machine parts or work with a distributor they just heard about.

While marketing towards educated buyers can make the education process easier, there are several key areas that must be considered when implementing industrial marketing:

  • Include high-level content on your website and within marketing material. Educated buyers need to trust that you know what you are talking about. If readers feel the information you provide is entry level or incorrect, they probably will never do business with you.
  • Provide technical information to help with purchasing decisions. While a normal user may skip right over spec sheets, user manuals, parts lists, etc., an educated buyer will likely use this more technical information in their research and buying decision. Content and tools such as these helps educate users and build credibility.
  • Again, make yourself readily available for further assistance. Educated buyers making big purchases are most likely not going to become a customer just because they found you on the web. The industrial market still relies heavily on relationships so make sure employees are available when potential customers are ready to take the next step.

Change your Approach to Change your Results

While this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the many differences between consumer marketing and industrial marketing, these should at least get you thinking about all the different things to consider when creating your industrial marketing plan.

SVM specializes in online marketing for industrial and B2B companies just like yours. We understand the challenges your business faces and have the digital marketing expertise to produce measurable results. As every business is different, we treat each client’s approach to online marketing differently. Visit our client portfolio to learn more about the industrial businesses we have served and the different marketing initiatives that produced online marketing success for them.

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Dan Beadle

I love the fact that SVM ties both marketing services and statistics together. These are two areas I am truly passionate about and allow us to provide our clients with amazing results. Full bio

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