Advertising gets a bad rap in the industrial sectors since many mid-market manufacturers, distributors and industrial service providers often feel as though they are simply throwing their money out the window.
The reason for this industrial marketing skepticism really boils down to the characteristics of industrial buyers themselves. In the July 1970 issue of the Harvard Business Review B. Charles Ames wrote:
“The industrial buyer, since his decisions are usually based on economic and engineering considerations, is largely unaffected by the emotional appeals of advertising, packaging, and merchandising.”
While many things have changed in the industrial space since then, this basic theory behind industrial buyers remains the same.
With this in mind, it might seem strange for an industrial marketing blog to promote the benefits of advertising online for manufacturing companies, distributors of equipment and industrial service providers. However, that’s exactly what this article is about to do – and with good reason!
The fact is that, while traditional advertising is largely ineffective for many industrial businesses, online advertising offers a number of important differences which are particularly valuable to industrial companies.
It all starts by going where your customers are. We’ve said it before; 90% of all B2B buyers use search specifically to research business purchases (Google, 2015).
While advertising in trade magazines and industry publications gets your products in front of the right audiences, the chance that someone is looking for the exact products you offer at the exact moment they are browsing a magazine is limited. Online search advertisements only display when potential customers are searching for the products or services you provide. This means that online advertising not only offers a highly targeted audience but an audience who is already looking for the specific products being advertised.
However, it goes deeper than that.
One of the reasons industrial buyers don’t respond to the emotional appeals of traditional advertising is that they are already experts in their field. They know best which products or services will integrate into their existing systems and an advertisement isn’t going to change their mind.
This is where online advertising offers a distinct industrial marketing advantage. Instead of relying on general branding, online ads allow industrial companies to provide detailed specs about a product or service. For example, a valve manufacturer could have separate campaigns for safety relief valves and choke valves, each which offer specific details about psi, operating conditions, and fluid limits. This provides genuine value for industrial buyers who already know what they need. Rather than trying to convince buyers what they need, online advertising can help show buyers why products are a fit with what they are already looking for.
Finally, especially with longer sales cycles, the research process for buyers can be complex. Online advertising allows businesses to put a wealth of information at buyer’s fingertips. While traditional print, radio, or television ads might introduce a product or service to buyers, it still requires effort on their part to dig for more information.
Especially in the case of larger purchases, buyers may not make a purchase immediately. However, assuming a business offers a product or service that suits a buyer’s specific needs, they are much more likely work with a company who ensures technical information easy to access, than one which requires more effort.
When it comes down to it, for industrial businesses, online advertising is not really advertising in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, it is about improving the buying experience for potential customers.
The most successful industrial companies understand that their customers are going online first to research the products or services they need. Online advertising makes the information buyers are already looking for easier to find and, as a result, improves their chances of becoming a paying customer.
About Samuel Fordham
Samuel brings energy and enthusiasm to the marketing team at ActiveConversion. With a background in communications and digital journalism, Samuel focuses marketing efforts towards the goal of increasing opportunities for business growth.