Winning share from competitors was the top-ranked challenge in a recent survey we conducted with 25 mid-market industrial manufacturers.
That outcome is very similar to what we’re hearing from our clients. Upper management is looking to marketing to demonstrate tangible performance improvements and results. The type of metrics these senior leaders are looking for extends beyond campaign data like impressions, clicks, leads, etc. They want to see how marketing efforts increased market share or impacted the bottom line.
The second biggest challenge among industrial manufacturing marketers is that they continue to be asked to do more with less. They have limited resources, both in the budget they have allocated and in the number of people they have on their internal teams. This scenario makes working toward winning market share even more difficult.
The other major challenges industrial manufacturers are facing include:
The survey also looked to gauge the importance of various marketing activities. Lead generation was the marketing activity that surfaced as the most important to organizations right now. That is hardly surprising, considering lead generation is a marketing tactic that can more easily be tied to gaining market share and demonstrating ROI. Marketing and sales alignment – intimately related to lead generation, came in second in the poll.
One interesting development was that creation of sales tools was third. While providing support to sales has always been a major focus for B2B marketing organizations, we were surprised at the numbers: 21 of 24 participants said it was important to them now.
That could possibly reflect some participants’ broader interpretation of “sales tools” to mean any kind of assistance or help from marketing: not just traditional sales presentations and collateral, but also lead generation or content for their individual customer communications (via CRM).
But it was clear that the top three marketing activities are all closely related in that they are about having sales and marketing working together to generate results.
The fourth most important activity, analytics/measurement, is something that we don’t necessarily view as an activity, but rather a critical element that should be applied to all marketing activities. It is one of the only ways marketers can demonstrate ROI. And with today’s digital dashboards measurement and optimization of key performance indicators allows marketing teams to make decisions quickly, ensuring those limited budgets are not being wasted.
And though it finished last as something that was “important to us now,” marketing automation was ranked first among tactics that our survey participants said they are exploring for the future. While there are plenty of B2B organizations that have been utilizing marketing automation tools successfully for several years, in the industrial manufacturing space it is still in the early stages of adoption. This can be attributed to a couple of factors, one of which is the misalignment between marketing and sales. A strong marketing automation program needs to have buy-in and ownership by both sides. Other factors include lack of familiarity with the technology, and the cost and level of effort required to implement a comprehensive marketing automation solution globally.
While these results are based on a relatively small number of respondents, we have found that they are very much representative of the realities mid-market industrial manufacturers are facing.