The manufacturing industry is not the sexiest business in the world. Manufacturers buy big, boring equipment. The equipment is also really expensive and represents a huge market. According to market research by IBIS World, the industrial machinery, and equipment wholesale market is $247 billion in the U.S alone.
Smart manufacturing equipment companies are using digital marketing strategies to increase mind share and market share. While it may look like a boring business, manufacturing equipment is as competitive as any. It is also subject to the same trend towards online product research by buyers, which equipment makers must intercept or risk losing traffic, leads, and sales.
Digital marketing revolves around content–content that uses the right keywords and has the right information to attract the people that are looking for solutions to their manufacturing challenges. According to industrial marketing consultants IMT, “Industrial content marketing can be very effective in solving two common problems that many manufacturers and distributors face. They are: 1) Lack of awareness about them among engineers and industrial buyers; 2) Inability to differentiate themselves from the competition.”
According to market researchers at Global Spec, 56 percent of industrial buyers turn to search engines to research solutions to their business challenges. This means they are not going to a company site but posting questions directly into the search engine. 70 percent use search engines to compare products. 46 percent of buyers go to company websites to research solutions and 70 percent use company websites to compare products.
What does this tell us? That manufacturing equipment makers need to a have a strong online presence, optimized for the search terms people in their sectors use, and content on their websites that contains the product information that sets their platforms and products apart from other companies.
The good news for this industry is that most of their products are highly specialized. We work with a company, for example, that makes a micro tube cutting platform for implantable stent manufacturers. That’s pretty specialized. There are indeed people searching for this type of technology, but there isn’t a great deal of competition for “micro tube cutting platform” as a keyword. That means it is relatively easy to rank in search engine results and to get found by precisely the people that are searching for this kind of solution.
Another piece good news is that it is quite likely that someone searching for “micro tube cutting platform” is not doing so to amuse themselves. They are probably a part of the company’s target audience–if not in the market for the product, someone we’d like to make aware of the product and the company.
In fact, regularly publishing new content for this manufacturing equipment maker has helped our client generate thousands of qualified leads and multiple sales of very expensive products.
Unlike some markets, digital marketing in the manufacturing equipment world does not typically lead to immediate purchases. There is a great deal of qualification that needs to happen. However, over time, as online researchers read content that helps them, they begin to trust the company that provides the content. One of the largest companies in the world requested a meeting with one of our clients after about a year of research. “I’ve been watching you,” the buyer told our head of sales. When the time was right, he contacted the company.
This is how digital marketing works in big-ticket, B2B purchases. There are no impulse decisions. Consistent, credible, helpful online content generates leads and builds trust, and leads to purchases over a period of time. How long? It typically varies according to the cost of the product–the bigger the investment, the longer the sales cycle.
For manufacturing equipment suppliers that haven’t made the leap to digital marketing, the time to start is now. It’s not too late. Tools and resources are available that make it easier than ever to get a digital marketing program up and running.