Explore the Strategy of Industrial Marketing
Consider the differences between a candy store selling a chocolate bar to a single customer, and a chocolate manufacturer selling thousands of chocolate bars to a single candy store.
While selling candy to an individual customer might rely on salesmanship and knowledge about individual tastes and cravings, selling candy to a store takes more than attractive packaging.
Rather, the manufacturer must ensure a safe, profitable agreement between the two organizations. The manufacturer will market the quality, cost, and customer appeal of its chocolate bars to convince the candy store it will have an easy time selling them.
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Industrial marketing, also known as business-to-business (B2B) marketing, is a branch of communications and sales that specializes in providing goods and services to other businesses, rather than to individual customers (See also B2B Marketing).
Because industrial marketing often involves large orders and long-term relationships between the producer and client, the process from first pitch to close of sale is often more complex than the process between a business and a private customer.
While B2C sales might focus on one-on-one interactions between two parties, businesses are usually made up of a number of individuals. Before the product appears on the other store's shelves, the two businesses must reach a deal that will involve the manufacture, purchase, and shipping of thousands of products.
Between 2011 and 2012, industry marketing in the United States continued to put more effort and funding into information-based marketing strategies. Keyword-rich blogging jumped 13% in that fiscal year, with embedded video and ebook content following close behind.
Many companies create and market products that have little to no application on the level of the individual customer, so their only clients will be other businesses. A company that makes large-scale manufacturing machinery, for example, is either unlikely or unable to sell that machinery to private individuals because those customers are unlikely to be able to afford it or won't need equipment of such size. The machinery would have to be sold to another business that has both the resources and need to produce large quantities of their own product, such as a mass-market toy factory that needs to create one million units of the same toy each year.
Industrial marketing is an intricate process that occurs at many stages. It can involve a wide variety of marketing strategies, such as:
Many consumer product companies develop special marketing divisions specifically for B2B clients. Furniture manufacturers often do this, opening up their tables, chairs, and couches to businesses that may want them for their corporate offices.
This typically happens when the manufacturer's business grows to a large enough scale to accommodate larger orders. Service providers also occasionally expand to industrial clients to take advantage of more lucrative contracts. A legal practice specializing in contract law, for instance, could expand its scope from representing only individuals to helping businesses develop their own contracts.
The first step in developing an industrial marketing plan is the same as developing any kind of marketing plan: identify the customer. The producer must understand what kinds of businesses would benefit from the product. This creates a foundation and focus for the rest of the marketing plan.
Next, the producer needs to tailor their introduction to prospective clients. Though old-fashioned, face-to-face networking is alive and well in the business-to-business world, it is increasingly important to have a strong online presence. Potential clients will always research a company before negotiating a sale of its product. A website with detailed but not overly specific content about the company and its products serves as a great introduction. (See also Web Marketing)
In our previous example of the chocolate bar manufacturer, they might create an aesthetically pleasing, well-written website talking about their company's history and the candy they produce. They would then augment the effectiveness of the website by adding a regularly updated blog about new products, or post on social networks informing users about the locations where they can buy their chocolate.
In 2009, the fencing company Louis E. Page decided to launch a blog with tips and tricks for using iron fence material in creative ways. According to the Windmill Networking consultancy firm, LEP's dedication to good, targeted content got them thousands of page views and opened up opportunities with a new generation of industrial clients after more than 200 years in the business.
Once a potential client is interested in the product, the producer should shift focus from the general introduction of its web presence to more personalized meetings and presentations. Even if the client isn't ready to sign a contract right away, getting to know them with professional, non-pushy contact can be of great benefit.
Communication with potential clients through email, phone conversations, and in-person presentations helps nurture the business relationship. Professionals at the chocolate manufacturer might send product samples with personalized notes to develop a strong impression ahead of a business meeting.
Once the client is ready to discuss the details of a contract, the marketing phase is nearly over. The focus of all materials for this specific client should shift to maintaining a good working relationship. The chocolate manufacturer should have a solid plan with its accounts managers for how to compose emails and conduct phone conversations with representatives of the candy store, as well as how to inform them about new products. Because the store is no longer a new client, all communications should be customized to their specific experience with the producer. (See also Relationship Marketing)
Industrial marketing is a vast field with many moving parts. As such, there are many different roles a marketing professional can assume in a company's industrial marketing division.
What do they do?
The image of a product is the first thing a potential client sees. A brand manager's chief concern is crafting the image of the product and maintaining public enthusiasm for it in all channels of communication. This includes art and copywriting for a product, managing the producer's social media presence, and working with advertising partners to raise awareness about the product.
A brand manager should have at least a bachelor's degree in marketing, business, or communications, though an advanced degree like a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can both improve job prospects and increase potential salaries. Because of the prevalence of online components in industrial marketing, a brand manager needs to have excellent computer literacy with everything from design software to social media platforms. Many brand managers advance from entry-level positions in creative development, especially content-writing and website design.
What do they do?
Once a potential client has expressed interest in working with a company's industrial marketing team, its representatives will begin to develop a relationship with an accounts manager. The ultimate goal of the accounts manager is to finalize a sale. This is a highly people-oriented position, combining strong interpersonal skills with a clear understanding of the product. Accounts managers are not just salespeople; they are the face of the company. This job requires above-average communication skills, incredible attention to detail, and a strong sense of finance-related math.
An accounts manager should have a bachelor's or master's degree in marketing, business, or finance. It is also very helpful to have a background in customer service positions in retail or food service environments, and to have worked as an assistant to an account professional.
What do they do?
Businesses constantly track the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and rely on solid data to predict future needs and trends in their field. This is especially important in the industrial marketing world because trends affect the behavior of not just individual clients, but whole sectors of the business landscape. A marketing data analyst processes facts and figures about a business's past marketing plans and creates projections suggesting effective marketing strategies for future endeavors. This requires strong math skills, good communication skills, and high computer literacy.
A marketing data analyst should have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, or math. Previous work experience in computer-related jobs is a plus and an advanced degree can lead to higher salaries and more senior positions.
Industrial marketing requires a complex skill set that pulls from multiple disciplines of business. It has components of advertising, sales, number-crunching, and cutting edge telecommunications. A thorough marketing program provides aspiring industrial marketing professionals with an incredible starting advantage in a booming field of commerce.
Marketing school provides in-depth training in everything from the principles of corporate management, to data analytics software and the composition of top-quality advertising collateral. The coursework begins with surveys of topics and terminology in the general field of marketing, then intensifies the class work into focused studies of modern business technology and case studies of marketing plans implemented by real-world corporations.
Graduates who emerge from a good marketing program will enter the job market with valuable skills that can be applied to industrial-level business relations. The hands-on experiences of the class work will give students the opportunity to identify their greatest aptitudes, whether that means sealing the deal with a new client or predicting tomorrow's trends. This advanced education lets tomorrow's ambitious marketing professionals hone skills in their areas of interest so they can pursue fulfilling careers. (See also Careers in Marketing)