Virginia Roberson is part of our INDUSTRIAL team on a fact-finding mission to surface the technologies and trends impacting manufacturers and to share what we discover along the way.
As industrial marketers, we talk a great deal about how to “sell” to manufacturers. But without understanding the buying influences at each stage of the buying cycle, we are not marketing; we are simply spraying and praying. How do manufacturers evaluate, research, and decide on purchases? How does industrial media and marketing influence and inform at each stage of that purchasing process?
Fortunately, we may have some new insight to help answer these questions. Gardner Intelligence just released Industrial Buying Influence 2020 with in-depth feedback from 800-plus executives, managers, and engineers at companies engaged in durable goods manufacturing.
One of the key takeaways from the survey is that media is king when it comes to preferred channels for manufacturers researching potential vendors. Manufacturers are three times more likely to use magazines, industry publications, and familiar company websites in their vendor evaluations, than non-industry sources like searches and social media. Nearly 90% of industrial buyers use a minimum of three different media types to make their purchases.
The industrial buying 2020 report dives into the different types of “push media” that drive manufacturers towards the sales funnel, such magazines, catalogs, and industry events. Pull media, such as white papers and industry forums, are consumed by manufacturers to learn more about specific solutions they need to address a need or challenge (pulling these leads into the sales funnel).
Brand is key to engaging manufacturers in media and to keeping them engaged in the buying process, which includes:
- Discovery: Consuming information that provides introduction to brand, products, best practices, and services.
- Research: Accessing media and other channels for topics, technology, and vendors.
- Evaluation: Buying team (facility managers in their 40s and 50s) identifies multiple vendors and products that meet the manufacturer’s criteria to fulfill a specific need.
- Decision: Senior level decision makers (over 50) make their evaluations and narrow down their vendor choices.
During the industrial sales process, which typically lasts a few months, vendor value is evaluated, based on:
- The combination/portfolio of services.
- The company’s technology offerings.
- The price and overall value of products and services.
The report focuses on the importance of telling the “story” of the company behind these products and services. The story is the essence of each company’s brand. Brand is critical to driving sales leads.
Who provided this valuable industrial marketing insight? Most of the surveyed manufacturers were small companies with 50 or fewer employees. The majority of these manufacturers are in metal, plastics, composites, and coatings industries.
Note that these manufacturers' customers are driving the NEED to buy. Their customers include:
- Automotive/transportation - 54%
- Aerospace - 42%
- Defense/military - 36%
- Consumer products - 32%
- Oil/gas/mining/ - 31%
- Off-road/heavy machinery - 30%
Advertising and industrial content marketing is key to serving these manufacturers and their customers. Advertising helps manufacturing buyers get to know the vendor’s brand and story. Content marketing is how they decide if a vendor offers the specific solutions that fills the customers’ needs.
The gist? The report offers three takeaways for Industrial B2B marketers:
- Build solutions networks, not just social media networks. Your social media is one channel to convey your solutions.
- Inform and influence industrial buyers through media.
- Tell your story, which is key to defining your brand.
For more insights on what’s shaping the industrial buying process, listen to our interview with Dave Necessary of Gardner Business Media, Inc. on the Industrial Strength Marketing podcast.
To learn more about the critical data trends driving marketing investment through uncertain times, listen to our interview with Steve Kline, also of Gardner Business Media.
Need help telling your unique manufacturing story or mastering the top challenges and trends in industrial marketing? Visit our INDUSTRIAL Insights page to learn how to make marketing the strength of your business.
Take Action in Uncertain Times
If you're looking for strategies to create opportunities in the "new industrial normal," we can help.