From competitive differentiation to common objections, here are five questions every industrial leader should know the answer to.
by James Soto
As an industrial leader, you already know the critical outlets for reaching potential customers, including the most prominent publications, industry associations, major trade shows, and more.
While industry expertise is essential for continued revenue growth, part of making marketing a true strength of your manufacturing business is also knowing how to leverage customer insights to achieve your goals. Knowing the answers to these five fundamental marketing questions will help you do just that.
1. What Differentiates You from Competitors?
Defining what makes your company different from competitors is critical to delivering value to customers at every stage of the buying process. Regular competitor analysis is one way to identify how companies in your niche are communicating brand and product differentiation.
Another way to decipher what makes your company stand out from the pack is to listen to current customers. Learning what keeps your customers loyal is a great compass point for digging deeper into how to position your industrial business in a competitive landscape. Start by surveying current customers and interviewing your frontline sales reps. Leveraging this, when identifying how to effectively reach and communicate to your ideal customer, can help you maximize results where it counts.
2. Who Is Your Ideal Customer?
In simple terms, your ideal customer is an industrial buyer whose needs align with your products and services. Whether those needs are supplying parts and materials, or ideas and solutions, your ideal customer values what you provide because it fulfills a need or solves a pressing challenge.
If you’ve done the work of identifying your company’s strengths, you’ll have a solid idea of who you are and what you have to offer. Spending time to develop an ideal customer profile (ICP) with at least basic demographic and psychographic details will help your sales and marketing teams home in on qualified leads that will most likely value what your organization does best.
Taking the time to map out your ICP also creates efficiency. Targeting an ideal customer who is more likely to convert is a jumpstart for your marketing ROI, and increases the likelihood of repeat business and future referrals downstream.
3. What Are the Top Objections Potential Customers Have to Your Business?
Understanding your strengths and who you want to reach is important in developing a marketing campaign. However, understanding how to overcome potential customer objections to working with your company is just as significant.
Encourage close collaboration between your marketing and sales teams to integrate their experiences and develop content that can effectively intercept buyer intent at key points in the customer journey. This will also help align the sales and marketing teams around key strategies from the beginning.
4. How Do You Communicate with Your Ideal Customer?
In this digital age, buyers are making it increasingly clear that they want to buy from brands they trust. As a rule, content that educates provides value to your ICP and sends a clear message that customer needs trump self promotion. This approach is surprisingly rare in manufacturing, so not only is it a potential competitive distinction, it builds trust and confidence and opens the door for connecting with prospects on a more meaningful level.
5. How Did You Reach the Customers Who Converted?
The first goal of proper attribution in reporting is to clearly assess outcomes on a per campaign, tactic, and channel basis to understand how specific efforts are contributing to your overall goals. This allows for agility in reallocating marketing budget when one channel or tactic is outperforming another. Plus, it lets you test new outlets and fail (or succeed) fast without burning your investment on expensive, longer-term experimentation.
Reporting has to be a multi-department effort. Including sales, finance, and other teams in the process of determining your attribution goals will create a common language and shared sense of purpose.
Center Your Marketing on the Customer
Investigating these five customer-focused marketing questions more in depth will help you build on the industry expertise and success you’ve already established and will help you be more targeted, limiting wasted spend and ensuring your marketing investments are as effective as possible.
As Founder and CEO of INDUSTRIAL, one of North America’s top industrial marketing agencies, James has 16+ years of experience working with iconic industrial brands and speaking at major manufacturing and B2B marketing events about the challenges manufacturers face in the era of disruptive business models and Industry 4.0.