6 Crazy Things Industrial Leaders Say About Marketing

It's true. These things industrial leaders say just don't make sense. How can marketers respond?

Industrial leaders sometimes say the craziest things when talking about industrial marketing — not only to people outside their company but to their own teams who work alongside them to grow their business.

In this article, I’m going to break down the top six crazy misconceptions about marketing that I’ve heard from industrial leaders around the world. Perceptions of marketing are evolving at industrial companies — especially in light of the changing market conditions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic — but many industrial leaders still believe and communicate these reigning myths.

1. “We can’t invest in marketing because business is slow.”

What makes this crazy, you say? The very point of marketing is to build awareness, generate pipeline, and nurture opportunities to increase business. Not only does marketing help build new client relationships, campaigns and content that add value can also help keep your company top of mind with current customers.

The fact is, companies that invest in marketing do better than companies that don’t, especially during times of economic downturn. Here is an analysis of marketing spending trends during times of economic uncertainty that prove this point.

2. “We already have more business than we can handle.”

This statement sounds like the industrial leader who uttered it isn’t willing to make the investment to continually grow his or her business, which is the opposite of what most people want for their business. Which begs the question for all of those who want to grow their business: How can marketing prompt growth?

In the first place, marketing can assist in diversification, which is insurance that your business will be secure even if something happens to your top clients.

Second, marketing also provides the opportunity to potentially replace current customers with new, more profitable ones.

Finally, an investment in marketing is a continued investment in building your brand, which prepares you to be ready if/when business cycles change, such as we’ve seen throughout 2020.

3. “Marketing is too intangible to invest in.”

Many industrial leaders — and others working at industrial companies — have this view of marketing. While they can see the tangible benefit of purchasing a new piece of capital equipment that increases their capacity and therefore provides opportunities to generate more revenue, they say that the results of a marketing campaign are intangible.

This can be valid a point, but the truth is that it shouldn’t be that way. Without defining specific goals and key performance indicators to track the performance of your marketing, marketing can definitely seem intangible. However, with the right level of strategic planning and organization, a very intentional marketing campaign can result in very tangible, attributable results.

4. “Social media doesn’t work for us because our people don’t use it.”

To this statement, I would offer that a better understanding of how social media platforms work is needed. The truth is, a majority of industrial buyers, suppliers, workers and influencers use social media.

Moreover, social media platforms are highly targeted and measurable. These platforms, with the right content, can build awareness and trust and set you apart as an industry thought leader. Leaning into social media can help you attract and retain customers, as well as team members now and into the future.

5. “Our buyers don’t use the Internet.”

This actually might be the craziest thing I’ve heard from industrial leaders. Everyone uses the Internet. And that’s pretty much all there is to say about that.

However, I will add that this perception has started changing rather significantly now in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused trade shows to cancel and traditional in-person selling techniques to diminish in importance as they have become logistically unfeasible. Not only are more and more industrial buyers looking to source online, their suppliers are demonstrating a desire to meet them there.

And so, finally, industrial leaders are acknowledging in greater numbers that yes, the Internet is an important venue — perhaps, even, for marketing.

6. “We don’t need to market — everyone already knows us.”

Even if you are the premier brand in a niche industry with few competitors, wouldn’t you want to build the strongest brand possible and encourage customer loyalty by providing insights and thought leadership? Basically, do what you can to reinforce your winning position and ensure that you continue to occupy it in perpetuity.

In most cases, though, well-known brands have a few key competitors that are also just as well known. In those cases, building a strong brand following by sharing ideas, best practices, and value-added content can help you develop a highly differentiated position. Reminding your customer that you understand their needs and are willing to share information to help them succeed will make you not only a valued source of products and services, but also industry expertise and guidance.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Industrial Leaders vs. Industrial Marketers

If you’re an industrial leader and have heard yourself say any of these things, I’d invite you to reconsider. Marketing might actually be just the thing to do for your company. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn to discuss why. I welcome any debate!

On the other hand, you may be in a position where you are an industrial marketing advocate like me. In which case, you have no doubt heard a few crazy things said about your discipline by industrial leaders — perhaps some of the ones listed above. My heart goes out to you. I hope this has provided some consolation. And I invite you to share other crazy things you’ve heard about marketing from industrial leaders in the comments!


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