Industrial Marketing Blog

Why Manufacturers Need a Multichannel Industrial Marketing Strategy

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Multichannel industrial marketing strategy doesn’t get that much attention or buzz. It should, because it is a closer reflection of how manufacturing and engineering companies are marketing these days.

It’s a fact that in 2016, manufacturers and industrial companies are spending more of their marketing dollars on digital marketing tactics. This of course makes sense because 53% of engineers and industrial professionals spend 6 hours or more per week on the Internet for work-related purposes.

Manufacturing marketing budgets and satisfaction levels

Here are a few charts from research studies done by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), ENGINEERING.COM and IHS Engineering360.

Manufacturing marketing budgets and spends

Engineering marketers budgets 2016

Industrial marketing satisfaction research findings

According to the findings from IHS Engineering360’s survey, 42% of industrial companies have marketing budgets under $50,000 and 12% have marketing budgets greater than $1 million. For those companies with marketing budgets of $1 million or less, the average marketing budget is $162,000. 42% of industrial companies are increasing online spending as a portion of their overall marketing budgets and 50% are remaining the same.

Yet, 45% of industrial marketers feel neutral about their company’s online marketing efforts and another 30% of the survey respondents indicated a level of dissatisfaction with their online marketing. There is a disconnect somewhere. Hence, there is the need for a multichannel industrial marketing strategy.

What is multichannel marketing?

Here’s the definition from Wikipedia—“Multichannel marketing is the ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms. In this sense, a channel might be a print ad, a retail location, a website, a promotional event or word of mouth.”

Retail locations may or may not apply to you unless you are a large industrial supply company like Grainger or Fastenal.

I found the definition put out by Gartner a better fit for industrial marketing. They define it as “Multichannel marketing represents a coordinated program orchestrated across digital and traditional media to acquire and retain customers, extend the brand, condition the market and engage communities.”

Multichannel marketing is not a new idea. Forrester Research published their “The Multichannel Maturity Mandate” back in 2012. One of the key findings from their study was “Marketers who claimed to be mature practitioners of multichannel marketing reported significant business gains. Benefits range from the tactical (improving campaign results) to the strategic (increasing ROMI).”

Multichannel industrial marketing strategy in practice

More than half of industrial companies (53 percent) use a balanced approach, mixing both inbound/pull marketing (such as corporate website, online catalogs and search engine marketing) and outbound/push marketing (such as e-newsletters and email). However, industrial marketers stated they want to diversify their mix more. 

Push/pull mix for industrial marketing

Multichannel industrial marketing strategy

NOTE: In the chart above, I’ve highlighted with red arrows the three traditional marketing tactics that are in the top 10 tactics used.

As far as effectiveness is concerned, nothing beats in-person events as shown in this chart from the findings reported by the Content Marketing Institute in their 2016 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/ MarketingProfs. This is not a statistical anomaly. As they did last year, manufacturing marketers say in-person events are the most effective tactic (66% last year vs. 75% this year).

Effectiveness of trade shows for manufacturing marketers

These research findings clearly show that manufacturers are now using a multichannel industrial marketing strategy.

My own experiences with clients are very similar. No doubt, industrial content marketing is the cornerstone of current manufacturing marketing. However, my clients are seeing good results from attending selective trade shows, just “walking the floor” and/or presenting technical papers at others. This strategy fills the gaps nicely because exhibiting at major trade shows is very expensive.

Targeted banner ads (behavioral remarketing or retargeting) in niche online directories and publishing content in e-newsletters sent out by industry associations have also proven effective. Print advertising in trade publications is not dead but its share of the budget has decreased and its purpose has changed.

Gone are the days of relying 100% on a single channel such as SEO to drive traffic to industrial websites; manufacturers now need to plan for a multichannel industrial marketing strategy that includes both digital and traditional tactics because their target audience has more sources of information today than ever before.

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 35+ years of practical manufacturing and industrial marketing experience. You want an expert with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s objectivity who can point you in the right direction immediately. That's Achinta. He is the Founder of Tiecas, Inc., a manufacturing marketing agency in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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  1. Thanks for the post. I’ll share it. I’m wondering about the market research part of industrial marketing. When you can distill your market down to 30 prospects you normally just go after them at a trade show, with a case study or demonstration video, or application illustrations and photos. What are the best market research tools for industrial marketing research?

    • Chuck,
      Thanks for sharing.
      I haven’t found too many resources for industrial market research. I’ve seen some reports that show the overall market size of a specific niche, major players etc. Some of the sources I’ve used in my post do their own annual surveys. You could try an industry portal such for additional market data. I’ve come across a few market research companies and consultants that do research for their own clients but not much else that I know of.

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