The Thomas Blog

Industrial marketing and manufacturing sales tips to help you grow your business.

By Shelagh Dolan |  September 18, 2017

Now is an ideal time to check on your progress toward your 2017 marketing goals. Are you on track for lead generation? What about spending? More importantly, have your efforts shown signs of profitability?

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According to a recent ENGINEERING.com Market Research Report on 2017 spending plans, marketing budgets are trending upward as more and more companies recognize the value of marketing for all aspects of their business. Businesses still face various challenges, however, when establishing and maintaining a successful marketing strategy, and as the bar for effective marketing continues to rise, so too do expectations for results.

To see how your team compares, here are some of the top challenges marketers have said they are facing this year.

Securing More Leads

Marketing has always served to pull in new leads, but now the stakes are higher than ever; ENGINEERING.com survey respondents not only reported that more and more resources are being allocated for marketing, but also noted a spike in the frequency of lead-generation evaluations. Of these respondents, 70% are being evaluated on the number of leads they produce — a huge jump from last year’s 53% — while 56% said that securing more leads is the #1 challenge of 2017. In today’s shifting landscape, leads are also being more closely examined for quality; respondents reported that the range of metrics used to analyze lead quality has broadened significantly. Evaluation categories — such as company revenue, leads that turn into sales, and ROI — have all become increasingly relevant.

Marketing automation platforms and CRM databases like HubSpot and Pardot help businesses trace relevant lead information back to its original source: Which form did a prospect fill out to give you their information? What industry are they in? Are they sales qualified? By tracking critical data about these leads’ buyer’s journeys, marketers are able to more clearly illustrate the payoff of their work.

Prospects Who Haven’t Heard Of Your Company

Expert report panelist and marketing engineer Achinta Mitra points out that the need for more leads and the challenge of raising brand awareness are interconnected. In industrial marketing, particularly, the pool of qualified lead prospects is both limited and known. As Thomas Marketing Services founder Shawn Fitzgerald often says, people don’t come to industrial manufacturing websites just for fun — they typically know what they need or what to look for.

The challenge, then, is making sure the marketing team puts your company in front of the right people at the right time. To ensure this, it’s critical to prepare a wealth of effective marketing content for many different stages of the buyer’s journey; a blog post might help someone better understand a specific industry problem, for example, while a detailed eBook about the solution may assist them in their decision-making process when they’re closer to buying.

Getting in front of your target audience as much as possible while they’re researching all their options will help establish and maintain top-of-mind awareness — making it much easier for your sales team when it’s time to begin a conversation.

Working With Too Small A Budget

Though the survey reported an upward trend in marketing budgets for 2017 (2.5 times as many marketers reported a growing budget than a shrinking budget), 31% of respondents still struggle with a lack of resources. When marketing funds are limited, it’s crucial to ensure that the money spent produces high-quality results.

To get an idea of some of the most effective marketing methods that can be employed on a budget, we can look to areas in which “top performers” — companies outpacing the growth of their industry — are seeing results. Spoiler alert: It’s digital marketing. The survey’s top performers are also digital enthusiasts, investing upward of 70% of their budget on digital marketing.

The places they’re allocating the most money? Creating and distributing content: 72% and 69% of respondents plan to put at least 10% of their budgets toward these efforts, respectively. This now brings us to the final major challenge of 2017. 

Creating Engaging Content

ENGINEERING.com President John Hayes pointed out a paradox in this ENGINEERING.com survey: Over the past few years, with trade show budgets on the decline, businesses across all industries are releasing more and more content. Although it’s more important than ever to continue generating content and pushing it out to your prospects, this trend has actually led to an oversaturation of low-quality material, while stronger content is still lacking — meaning the opportunity for you to capture someone’s attention with a really great piece is there for the taking.

Think outside the box on this one; you don’t need to write eBook after eBook. In fact, as Shawn notes in the report, prospects are looking for varied types of content, such as videos, spec sheets, calculators, and testimonials. Providing a range of valuable content will allow you to catch prospects’ attention throughout many different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Final Thoughts

Want more tips on how to overcome the top marketing challenges of 2017? Our blog and resources pages are great places to start; feel free to browse for ideas on how to hone your strategy and, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us with any questions you may have.

Topics: Marketing Strategy

Shelagh Dolan

Shelagh Dolan

Shelagh Dolan is a digital marketing professional who specializes in researching and developing blog posts, eBooks, case studies, web pages, and press releases.

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