Awareness marketing doesn’t get much attention from manufacturers and engineering companies because it is usually associated with branding in B2C marketing. If you Google brand awareness, it will return 14,700,000 results and the top hit is Wikipedia (no surprise there) which defines it as…
“Brand awareness refers to the extent to which customers are able to recall or recognize a brand. Brand awareness is a key consideration in consumer behavior, advertising management, brand management and strategy development. The consumer's ability to recognize or recall a brand is central to purchasing decision-making.”
That definition may mean very little to you if you are an industrial marketer. However, I can tell you that brand awareness does matter in industrial marketing. I say that based on my 30 years of hands-on experience in marketing to engineers and industrial buyers.
Two common marketing challenges faced by engineering marketers
According to ENGINEERING.COM’s own Research Report: Engineering Marketers’ 2017 Spending Plans, the two biggest challenges faced by engineering marketers are:
- Need more leads (56%)
- Prospects haven’t heard of our company (35%)
These two marketing challenges are interrelated in my experience. I intend to show you how in the rest of this post.
Importance of brand awareness for industrial companies
I’ve found that most industrial companies undervalue branding to a large extent. Industrial branding is much more than a well-designed logo or a clever tagline; it is the perception that people have about your company. In today’s world of digital marketing and social media, your brand is what they say you are, not who you say you are.
Your industrial website and more importantly, the content that you put out create these perceptions long before your prospects ever contact your sales team. Site visitors’ perceptions play a big role in the quality of leads that you generate.
Manufacturing content marketers have become keenly aware of this problem and have shifted their focus from just quantity of leads to raising brand awareness as seen in this chart from the study, “2017 Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/ MarketingProfs.”
The pool of qualified prospects is limited for most manufacturers and engineering companies. Compounding the problem is the fact that the competition is also fishing for leads from the same pool. Often, there is very little differentiation and there is parity in value propositions.
Raising awareness about your company’s expertise is critical in creating true differentiation that cannot be easily copied by the competition. This is where bringing your in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to the forefront plays a big role in engaging with other engineers. One engineer to another is a powerful industrial marketing strategy to win the trust and the mindshare of this audience.
Another survey done by ENGINEERING.COM found that engineers have the highest trust in content written by an engineering expert at the vendor company.
Earning trust and building strong relationships with awareness marketing
Strong relationships have always been the foundation in complex industrial sales. That hasn’t changed and won’t change in the future either. How we start and build new business relationships has changed in today’s digital age.
Ask any successful salesperson and s/he will tell you that trust is the key to building strong and sustainable relationships. They’ll also tell you that trust must be earned. You can’t earn someone’s trust if all you do is talk about yourself and turn a deaf ear to the concerns of your audience.
Awareness marketing done right will help you earn trust by putting the focus on your customers’ challenges and issues instead of talking about your company, its products and services.
Understanding the age difference is important. Younger engineers are taking on more decision-making roles on the customer side. Your sales team can’t rely on old relationships.
Your website content and other marketing efforts must win the mindshare of the younger generation of industrial professionals who depend more on the connected world. They don’t respond very well to the traditional means of communication such as phone calls and face-to-face meetings.
You may be marketing in the “past tense” if you continue to operate in the old ways just because they worked in the past. Digital marketing for awareness can help you bridge the gap between Baby Boomers and Adult Millennials.
Multichannel approach to awareness marketing
While it is true that industrial content marketing gets all the buzz these days and most industrial companies allocate a bigger share of their marketing budgets to digital marketing, that doesn’t mean you should ignore other channels of marketing.
53 percent of industrial companies use a balanced approach, mixing both inbound/pull marketing and outbound/push marketing according to a research report published by IEEE GlobalSpec.
Targeted banner ads (behavioral remarketing or retargeting) in niche online directories and publishing content in e-newsletters sent out by industry associations and portals have proven to be effective in raising awareness.
Webinars are effective in engaging with engineers and technical professionals. Print advertising in trade publications and trade shows are not dead. You just have to be very selective about them and understand that their main purpose has changed over time.
You can’t just rely 100% on organic SEO to drive traffic to your website and neither can you rely on just publishing content on your website and blog. Give some serious thought to content distribution when planning your awareness campaigns.
Today's guest blogger is Achinta Mitra of Tiecas Inc. :
Achinta Mitra is the President of Tiecas, Inc., a Houston-based industrial marketing and consulting company. Tiecas is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017.
Achinta combines his engineering and marketing education with 30 years of hands-on experience to effectively communicate with engineers and industrial buyers. That’s why he calls himself a marketing engineer.
Follow Achinta on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/achintamitra/