This week’s episode is a continuation from last week’s episode covering Part 1 of our Industrial Sales & Marketing Q&A at the Georgia Manufacturing Summit.
Even before the q&a officially started, many audience members voiced a lot of questions for the panel.
We presented a lot of the same information that we normally give when providing an overview about the state of marketing for manufacturers today. However, a particularly interesting insight to be gleaned from the session was not just the content itself…but also the receptivity of the audience.
1. INDUSTRIAL SALES AND MARKETING TEAMS ARE SPLITTING INTO TWO CAMPS OVER DIGITAL.
The audience’s mix of skepticism and desperate interest regarding industrial sales & marketing really floored us.
A broad divide separated those who wanted more information about how to employ digital in their organizations…and those who discounted the data because they felt it didn’t match their own experience or buying habits.
Some companies were hungry to learn how they could chase their growing audience of younger generations.
Others adamantly insisted that since not all prospects use digital methods, ignoring digital tactics shouldn’t be such a big deal.
It was a surprisingly palpable representation of the struggle we already knew existed. Many industrial sales and marketing employees are hungry to prove the value of digital tactics. However, their CEOs or executives just don’t possess any interest.
However, both our panelists and even many audience members responded to any skepticism with one of the best assets available. Data.
A large collection of statistics and reports supported these claims. Younger prospects rely heavily on digital sources, video especially, before making a purchasing decision. The presence of internet-savvy generations amongst B2B buyers is has already surpassed over 50%. Due to how aging works, the portion of your audience that relies on digital (often as their only source of information) is only going to grow. It’s not going to shrink, or even remain stationary.
And to nail the message home, Sloan and Drew shared stories about how they had seen digital tactics work within their own organizations.
2. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE FAR-REACHING IMPACT DIGITAL CAN HAVE ON OLDER LEADS, TOO.
The big turning point for Tie Down, Sloan shared, was when they decided to commit to digital content. In some cases, the application was fairly recent– they only just started posting regularly on LinkedIn about three months ago. But in that time, they’ve seen incredible growth and engagement.
Recently, an older employee asked Sloan about a LinkedIn post honoring Tie Down employees. How had he found out about it? From his grown son.
Even if older buyers aren’t employing digital methods to research B2B purchases, their younger peers are.
A lot of Tie Down staff and prospects that aren’t even on LinkedIn are still reacting to content on the platform because they hear about it from other people.
Another anecdote recounted the time Tie Down’s drone had filmed a truck driving off with a product delivery. Even though the final shot still had to be cleaned up for a different video, Sloan sent the raw footage to the client who would be receiving the shipment. The client was thrilled. Who wouldn’t be!?
It’s important to get over the initial trepidation that comes with content creation, Sloan explained. Everybody starts somewhere.
And believe it or not, content creation for industrial sales and marketing was sometimes easier than they expected. When Tie Down hired a full-time content creator, that person simply walked around the company and asked questions with a camera rolling. It was that simple.
Some of a company’s best content sources are their own staff. People care about their work. They love hearing stories, and they love telling stories. Ask them what they’re most proud of, and then just stand back!
3. REMEMBER, YOU ARE NOT YOUR TARGET MARKET.
Drew agreed wholeheartedly. He added that it’s the real people in a company who make the content human and genuine. Your message carries more power coming from your people and your team rather than a paragraph on your website.
Furthermore, your content and your message should be centered not solely around what you do, but how and why you do it. What are you in business for?
Millennials care about your company’s overriding philosophy. They want to be a part of something meaningful, and they can see through shallow profit grabs in an instant.
If you’re not certain of your business’ core mission beyond making profits, then you need to drop everything and go find it. Because competition is everywhere. Your customers can go elsewhere without any trouble at all if they decide you’re not a business they want to support.
Again, why cater to millennials like this? Why focus on using digital tactics just because this age group uses them? Why talk about your company’s philosophy instead of its products?
Because those things matter to younger buyers, even if they don’t matter to you.
As we’ve discussed on previous episodes of IndustrialSage, you are not your target market.
Many industrial sales and marketing teams struggle because they try to communicate with leads the way they themselves want to be reached. Or worse, they use old methods they themselves don’t even like because that’s what they’ve been taught they must do.
It all comes down to whether you want to keep your customer comfortable…or yourself.
You can keep your marketing and sales as-is. No one’s stopping you.
But if your growing audience is reliant on digital, then don’t expect them to change to suit you. After all, you didn’t change for them.
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