In brief: Many industrial companies underestimate the value of creating a solid marketing strategy. It’s time-consuming, it requires a fair amount of thought and research, and the idea of starting can be intimidating for some. If any of this sounds like you, let me say that you’re overthinking it. Step 1: Lay the foundation with a strong brand, Step 2: Know your competition, Step 3: The 7 Ps of marketing, Step 4: Create your buyer personas, Step 5: Define your S.M.A.R.T. goals, Step 6: Establish your marketing budget.
Why do you need a marketing strategy?
Because every company must be a marketing company.
Marketing builds awareness.
Marketing builds credibility.
Marketing converts prospects to leads and leads to customers who buy your products and services.
And as you know, sales are the lifeblood of your company!
No kidding, you say.
But the fact is that while many industrial companies may engage in a mix of marketing tactics and ad hoc campaigns, they may not necessarily have a sound industrial marketing strategy, and dare I say, for some very good and logical reasons:
- They are a pain to build (especially for those who aren’t passionate about marketing)
- The process consumes quite a bit of time (so is anything else worth doing – like new product innovation)
- Implementing a marketing strategy is expensive and difficult to measure (untrue)
- With all the different marketing vehicles available, it can seem almost impossible to select the best mix of tactics to produce the best R.O.I. (Mostly untrue, and I’ll explain why.)
If this is or has been your mindset, you’re overthinking it, which may be why you may not be doing any marketing, doing the bare minimum, or just doing ad hoc campaigns.
In other words, you’re sweating it. Don’t sweat it.
So, let’s take this one step at a time.
We’ll begin with defining what a marketing strategy is:
A marketing strategy refers to a business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services. A marketing strategy contains the company’s value proposition, key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements. (Investopedia)
Contrary to what many companies and marketers think, a marketing strategy doesn’t need to be a 100-page document. How long should it be? It’s not important. If you follow the steps in this article, you will have an impressive strategy document that will provide you with the clarity and direction you need to start attracting customers and winning new business.
STEP 1: LAYING THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY
Your marketing strategy must be built on the foundation of a strong, relevant, and meaningful brand that appeals to your customers’ needs and wants.
If your brand is blurry, weak, or not as differentiated as it could be, pouring marketing dollars into promoting it will do you and your company more harm than good. You’ll simply tell the world you’re pretty much like everyone else. There’s no better way to camouflage your brand and underwhelm your prospective customers.
A well-differentiated brand articulates a unique set of distinctions that make a noteworthy and positive difference in the lives of customers, employees, and stakeholders.
Let’s pause here for a moment.
Two questions for you:
1. When did you last assess how well your brand stacks up to your competition?
2. Do you have a strong brand value proposition that puts your competitors in second place?
If your answer to the first question is “no,” or if you’re doubtful about the strength of your value proposition, consider doing a brand assessment. The purpose of your brand assessment will be to identify and measure the perceived value of your brand within your industries and the markets you serve. Do this before going through the time, effort, and expense of creating your marketing strategy.
If it turns out that you need to update, fortify, renew, or rehabilitate your brand, we can help you get that taken care of. It’s what we do, so contact us.
STEP 2: START INVESTIGATING COMPANIES THAT ARE WINNING CUSTOMERS AWAY FROM YOU
You’ve heard the phrase – keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Okay, not really your enemies, but those companies that target the same customers as you.
Investigate their websites through the lens of a prospective customer and note their value propositions, marketing messages, buyer’s journey, and anything else that is appealing and noteworthy about their brands. What are they “selling?” (e.g., technology, service, easy to do business with, experience, being green, confidence, etc.)
Check out what they are up to on the different social media channels. How convincing are their claims of being the best or most obvious choice?
Question: If you were a prospective customer, would you contact them?
STEP 3: FORGET THE 4 Ps OF MARKETING – IT’S NOW THE 7 Ps OF MARKETING
I’m sure you’ve heard of them – the (original) 4 Ps of marketing. Thankfully, they’ve expanded to the 7 Ps, and for good reasons. The original 4 Ps were:
Product: What are you selling?
Place: Where are you selling it?
Price: What are you charging?
Promotion: Where will you be marketing and promoting your product?
But now, they have expanded to:
People: Who is connecting with and influencing your customer?
Packaging: How do you make your product appealing?
Process: What is your customer experience journey and strategy?
It may seem like an elementary task or an exercise in futility to answer these seven questions because you may think the answers are obvious.
To you, they are.
But are they, really?
Here’s what I mean…
Product: How intricately have you thought through and defined “what” you are selling in a way that appeals to your buyers? For example, if you’re a kiosk manufacturer, are you simply selling a great looking kiosk that meets the basic needs of end-users? Or are you selling the best possible end-user experience in the industry? And if so, how exactly?
Place: Where are you selling your products and services? Again, instead of simply naming the places or mapping out your distribution channels, you’ll want to articulate how and why you selected your distributors. What was your strategy?
Price: Why are you charging what you’re charging? Based on what research, metrics, value, etc.? What is your pricing strategy?
Promotion: As I stated earlier in this article, every company must be a marketing company. With the seemingly infinite options available, which tactics and promotional channels will be right for you? If you’re a little cloudy on this, the answers will become clear as you create your buyer personas, which we’ll get to in a bit.
People: For companies that require or at least benefit from a human connection throughout the sales cycle, think about training. What types of training are necessary to ensure your brand is properly and appropriately represented by your people – anyone who touches or has the slightest chance of touching one of your customers? Think beyond sales and service people. What about office and shop tours, and how people throughout your company are presented and introduced?
Packaging: I’m surprised packaging wasn’t a more obvious “P” initially. Packaging is everything from your website to how your people present themselves to how your products are delivered. In other words, it’s not just the box – it’s every visual element of your buyer’s journey.
Process: And finally, the pre-sale to post-sale process. Your customer experience will influence how you and your brand are discussed within your industry, offline and online.
STEP 4: CREATING YOUR BUYER PERSONAS
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers, based primarily on the attributes that describe your best customers and those you wish to reach. Buyer persona attributes include:
• Job title
• Job responsibilities
• How their job performance is measured
• What causes stress in their job
• Common misperceptions and misconceptions
• Income bracket
• How they learn about information
• How they make decisions
• Buying criteria
• Pain points that push them toward investigating solutions
• Associations groups they belong to
• Industry events they attend
• Publications they read
• And more…
Once you clearly understand who your buyers are, how they buy, and how to connect with them, you’ll have greater success identifying and prioritizing the most effective and efficient marketing channels to reach and influence them.
• Social media (LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc.)
• Email marketing
• Public relations
• Website rehab
• White papers
• Direct mail
• Case studies
• Success stories
• Trade shows
STEP 5: DEFINE YOUR SMART GOALS AND KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
You may think waiting until this last step to define your goals is odd. However, it will be easier to do so now instead of at the beginning of the process because you’ve worked through your brand, you have a better understanding of your competitive landscape, you’ve gone through the rigorous process of defining your 7 Ps, and you have created your buyer personas.
In other words, you’re in the right frame of mind to create your list of SMART goals:
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound
When thinking through each, link them with those marketing metrics that will matter the most, such as:
• Cost per lead
• Cost per acquisition – how much you’re spending to get one new customer
• Customer lifetime value
• Click-through rate
• Bounce rate
• Lead-to-customer conversion rate
• Many others, based on your specific needs
If all you’ve done is ad hoc marketing, assigning a number value to some KPIs may be challenging. Start with calculating your cost per lead. Next, divide your total marketing spend by the number of new leads acquired from specific channels or groups of channels. From there, you can approximate your cost per acquisition and customer lifetime value.
STEP 6: ESTABLISH YOUR MARKETING BUDGET
If you’re reading this article, you’re most likely a B2B company, where the rule of thumb on marketing spend should be between 2 and 5% of your revenue.
However, companies that consistently monitor, measure and adjust their marketing strategies will spend quite a bit more when they begin to see the ROI they are getting from their marketing efforts. Think about it this way – at the most fundamental level, every company must be a marketing company because no company could survive without it. Marketing builds awareness which leads to sales and is a multi-billion dollar industry because it works.
When you begin to see that you can reduce your cost per customer acquisition through a strong marketing effort, you will likely spend more on it, year after year.
THE FINAL STEP: LET SEROKA INDUSTRIAL BRANDING BUILD AND IMPLEMENT YOUR INDUSTRIAL MARKETING STRATEGY
In the event you’re spread to thin and have other pressing priorities, let us do this heavy lifting and create your plan for you. Much like you would hire a CFO or outsource your human resources, consider outsourcing your marketing to us.
You may be asking yourself, Why should I hire Seroka? Click here for your answer.
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