Marketing Tactics that Don’t Work for Industrial Buyers


One of the most common concerns we hear about digital marketing for industrial audiences is that the same tactics used to sell mattresses and shoes won’t work for custom manufacturers and industrial OEMs. The truth is that many of these tactics can work, when implemented with the target audience in mind.

Still, there are several things that industrial marketers should pay close attention to when setting digital marketing budgets – such as tactics and tools incompatible with the audience they are working with.

Social Media Considerations

Many manufacturers think of social media as the face of all digital marketing. The posts and ads seen on Facebook and Twitter every day when they log in. Social media is certainly an important tool for distributing and promoting content to a wide audience, but it needs to be used in accordance with how your target prospects are using it.

Are procurement managers on Facebook during the work day, or do they use it at home or during their commute? Are they more likely to engage with visual posts in Instagram, or with in-depth business-related articles on LinkedIn Pulse?

Smart industrial social media focuses first and foremost on the channels your target audience might use when they are thinking about what you offer. That means LinkedIn, YouTube, SlideShare, and to some degree Twitter. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and similar sites focused on long form content and non-business topics tend to be ineffective. Is that a hard and fast rule? No, but with limited time or budget, it’s an important distinction.

High Cost Pay Per Click Ads

Advertising can be very effective for industrial outreach, but it requires a careful understanding of your target audience, where they spend their time and what terms they use to search for what you offer.

So, why is it listed in the tactics that don’t work? Because often, PPC ads on Facebook or Google are poorly implemented, targeting broad terms and phrases that aren’t specific to the problems you solve for your customers. While OEMs and distributors have an easier time of it – promoting specific products and item numbers – custom manufacturers need to focus on what they do that addresses pain points for their prospects. This is less conducive to effective paid search, and can become quite costly if implemented improperly.

Writing Only About Your Company

Another major issue a lot of industrial companies have with their digital marketing campaigns is an overabundance of self-referential content. This is the type of content that focuses first and foremost on the company, their staff, their upcoming events and tradeshows, and their products and services.

No mistake, this is still good content – important stuff that highlights your key differentiators. But, for a procurement manager looking for buying guidelines in your industry or a design engineer who wants to know how to select the right material for a metal stamped part, your on-time delivery rate doesn’t address their most pressing questions.

Good content needs to be a mix of useful, company-oriented materials, alongside in-depth educational material that helps prospects better understand the key decisions they need to make related to your services. Material selection, installation guidelines, compatibility charts, different edge types and cuts, and the machinery being used – these are common questions that few manufacturers take the time to answer.

Building a Digital Marketing Campaign that Addresses Key Questions

If you are concerned about the efficacy of your digital marketing efforts, take a step back and focus first on the audience. Are you addressing the key questions and concerns your target prospects have? If you’re not, it won’t matter which tactics you select – you’re going to have problems. But if you take a step back and rebuild your marketing efforts to focus on these pain points first, and the flash and sizzle of your marketing strategy second, you’ll find that almost any tactic can work to build an audience of prospective customers.


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