Marketing industrial products requires a business-to-business approach that focuses on building relationships and establishing trust with manufacturers. Because you have niche-specific products that select companies can use, direct outreach represents one of the main tactics for industrial product marketing. However, it's still important to maintain a professional web presence and engage in traditional marketing as well.
Know Your Unique Selling Proposition
Before you start, your pitch needs to be rock-solid. Why do manufacturers want your product? Does it make production more efficient or increase the safety of workers? Fully understand what your product can achieve.
When you talk with potential customers, you're going to engage in a conversation. One of the main questions on their mind is, "Why should I bother? So what?" The purchasing department representatives for any industrial company will have a keen awareness of the need to save money. They won't approve the purchase of your product without a strong indication of the potential ROI associated with that product.
It's not just your sales representatives who need to have this pitch down pat. The marketing team should be able to talk about the product with just as much ease. After all, they also need to pitch to customers, just in a different format than sales representatives.
Cold-Calling and Direct Outreach
Because you're selling business to business, some basic research will turn up manufacturers who could use your product. Make a list of the companies and reach out to them over the phone or via email. This cold-calling approach may seem old school and a little risky, but it can yield good results if done with care.
The key is to not waste anyone's time. Be sure you ask to speak to the operations manager or production manager, as they will see the inherent value of your product and be in a position to approve your request or submit a recommendation to their purchasing department. Leave a brief message and your contact number if needed. And don't be afraid to follow up.
Whether sending an email or speaking over the phone, get straight to the point: you want to introduce your product, which can offer key benefits. Mention the potential ROI or percentage of increased efficiency and/or safety according to your current case studies. These numbers should perk up the ears of the managers.
Attending Trade Shows and Conferences
Having a booth at trade shows and conferences is a powerful way to position your brand and product right in front of customers. You need to plan to not only attend these events, but have an interesting booth to encourage browsers to stop by. Bring your product with you if possible. If it's too large, have a video that shows it in action, plus plenty of banners and handouts with pictures and taglines for people to notice while on the move.
Your ultimate goal is to gather leads, and to do that, you need to collect contact information. Have a way for people to leave their contact information for your newsletter, whether by hosting a giveaway or by simply having a notebook out on the table for such a purpose. Place a business card drop jar on the table as another way to collect information about interested companies. When you call these folks, mention the trade show as a way to introduce yourself and gain a positive first impression.
If you feel like your industrial product is a game-changer, find out how to present at a conference or trade show. You have the opportunity to give a much longer pitch in an informational context, explaining the problem your product solves. You may have to pay for these opportunities, and you should also plan well in advance because the schedules fill up quickly.
Print Advertising in Trade Magazines
Another branding strategy for industrial products involves traditional print advertising. Research various trade magazines that upper-level managers might subscribe to. Or, take a look at your competitors and find out what news outlets they focus on. You want to get in front of your target audience, so steer clear of general magazines, journals and newsletters.
Trade magazines have numerous options for advertising, including full-page, half-page and quarter-page advertisements within the magazine, or classified listings toward the end of the magazine. Establish a budget and create an eye-catching advertisement that takes full advantage of however much space you can afford. A picture of your product, a brief description of what it accomplishes, your web address and telephone number represent the bare minimum of what you should include.
Ultimately, you want people to see your print advertisement and feel curious enough to visit your website. From there, you can provide even more details about the product and encourage people to leave their contact information.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising Online
Printed trade magazines remain popular publications, but it's crucial to think about digital advertising as well. Which websites do industrial manufacturers tend to visit for resources, inspiration or industry chat? Placing pay-per-click advertisements on these sites can direct pertinent traffic to your website.
You can create banner ads to fit a variety of spaces, from the top header of a website to a sidebar. Pop-out advertisements, which expand when the user's mouse hovers over them, represent another possibility. The typical way to create pay-per-click banner ads involves using a platform like Google Ads, but it's also possible to approach webmasters directly about placing an advertisement directly on their site for a fixed or monthly fee.
If you use Google Ads, you can create highly targeted campaigns that show your advertisement to a very specific subsection of users. You can target users based on their recent search queries, location and other data. This helps your advertising budget remain efficient, so that the people who see your ads are people likely to find them interesting enough to click on them. These ads can appear around the web, including in Google search results or on YouTube.
Professional Website Design
Companies that want to establish trust and have a solid marketing campaign absolutely need to have a professionally designed website. It's not optional. A great-looking and easy-to-navigate website can accomplish so much, it can easily pay for itself.
First and foremost, the design of your website gives visitors an impression of your company. If you want their impression to be a good one, your website needs to exude quality in every way, with high-definition photos and videos, intuitive navigation and error-free web copy.
Second, your website is a marketing machine in and of itself. Make sure it is optimized for search engines from the very beginning to encourage organic traffic based off of search queries in Google, Yahoo! and Bing. In addition, make it easy for visitors to sign up for your email newsletter. Each email address you receive is a potential lead to nurture.
Email Marketing to Nurture Leads
Once you have collected contact information from interested parties, you need to keep them engaged with your brand to encourage them further down your sales funnel. Email marketing represents an ideal way to do this. By regularly sending emails to leads, you ensure your brand stays top of mind. When they're finally ready to purchase your industrial product, your brand will be the first one they think of.
But there's a fine line between encouraging leads and annoying them, so your email marketing campaign needs to offer useful information on a regular but respectful schedule. You don't want your emails to be considered spam or cause people to unsubscribe, which can earn you a poor reputation. Make sure you use an email marketing program that provides analytics about your emails so that you can perform some tests and discover the schedule that your recipients seem to prefer.
What sort of information should you send to leads in an email marketing campaign for industrial products? Although it's tempting to say "Buy now!" in each email, it's better to stick to the soft sell so as to not be considered a nuisance. You want each email to be relatively unpredictable in its content (but predictably high-quality, of course) to evoke a curious response from recipients. Send them discounts, industry news and events, practical and relevant tips from your blog, case studies, holiday greetings and more.
Industrial Product Marketing on Social Media
Promoting brand engagement and trust represent the two major goals of an industrial marketing plan for social media. Like email marketing, it represents a way to stay top of mind. However, your social media followers still need to take one more step and sign up for your email newsletter so that you can get their contact information and move them further along the conversion funnel. Therefore, sending followers to your website and encouraging email sign-ups are two tactics to include in your social media strategy.
Social media marketing can include paid advertisements as well as organic growth. As with Google Ads, Facebook Ads allows you to choose different demographic information about the people you'd like to see your ads. Then, you pay either per click or per view for people to see an advertisement or a boosted post. This is a smart way to get your industrial product in front of operations managers and production managers, encouraging future brand recognition even if they don't become followers or subscribers right away.
As with email marketing, a soft-sell strategy works best for social media campaigns. People generally like funny, interesting or heartwarming content, and it's even better if it's a video with subtitles. Try to avoid text-only posts; always include an image or a link. As with your website, your social media presence creates a first impression, so make sure it's a professional one by proofreading posts and only using high-quality images. And even if you don't have much of a budget for social media marketing, a basic presence with a few posts a week can actually help with your website's search engine optimization, so don't ignore social media completely.
Choosing the Best Industrial Marketing Plan
All marketing and advertising plans require a budget, and in an ideal world, your budget would be able to cover all of the above strategies. But in reality, it's difficult to put all the pieces together at once.
Instead, do some competitor research to see what's working for companies like yours. Create an industrial marketing plan that will work in your favor and fit your budget. Because your website plays an important role in all of the strategies, it's wise to start there.
For industrial product marketing, the importance of a face-to-face connection can't be ignored, so finding room in your budget for trade shows early on can make a substantial impact as well. You're more likely to get high-quality leads at a trade show than, for example, running a print advertisement and hoping it reaches the right people. Keep the return on investment in mind as you finalize your industrial marketing plan.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.