The Thomas Blog

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

By Shawn Fitzgerald |  June 26, 2015

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If there’s one thing we can all relate to, it’s the drive to succeed in business. It’s behind everything we do at work, and it’s the reason we spend so much time trying to perfect our marketing efforts. But if you don’t really know who you’re marketing to, you might as well just stand on the roof and shout into a megaphone. Sure, people will hear you, but will they be the right people? Probably not.

Identifying Industrial Buyer Personas
To make the most of your marketing, the first thing you have to do is research your current customer base. Learn everything you can about them by diving into the data you’ve been collecting and looking into market research surveys. Once you have a better idea of your overall customer, you can create a persona from that information. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer that is based on real facts you’ve gathered. It should include their stress points, goals, demographics, etc. You can even name your personas to help bring them to life – how about Benny the Buyer or Penny from Procurement?

For manufacturing companies, there are three main types of personas you’ll want to create, as they directly influence the industrial buying cycle.

Targeting Design Engineer
Design Engineers are responsible for creating or finding the right components and parts that will solve the issues at hand. They’ll create 2D and/or 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) models and come up with a bill of materials to submit to the purchasing department. So, why should you target engineers if it’s the procurement professionals putting an order through? Design engineers determine what will "solve the problem" in their design and will often recommend products and part numbers. Frequently, these parts will be on an “approved vendor list,” but if not, the engineer will explain the reasoning behind selecting a different supplier. This could be due to newer, better materials being used, tighter tolerances needed, or even changing regulations or special requests for the end product.

What should you know when dealing with design engineers? Their jobs depend on finding the right products to solve a problem, so it’s your job to give them all the specs about your offerings. However, you’ll need extensive written information in order to do this, since most design engineers prefer to gather information on their own rather than speak to a person. Make sure you have as much technical information as possible available on your website and marketing materials. You most likely will not have a chance to win them over during a lengthy phone conversation.

Reaching Procurement Managers
Procurement managers serve an important function, balancing product and budgeting needs. Once the design engineer presents the bill of materials, the procurement manager searches for the appropriate products from reliable vendors at the most competitive prices. They typically work off of a list of approved suppliers to ensure this reliability, however if none of the suppliers on their list fit the exact specifications, they’ll consider the engineer’s recommendations based on further research or discover their own suppliers to consider.

While a procurement manager is focused on cost, they’re also paying close attention to product quality. If you’ve been lucky enough to be added to an approved vendor list, it’s a major testament of your excellence and value in the field. But getting on that list (and staying on it) is about much more than luck. Procurement managers are professional negotiators, so don’t rely on making friends here. Instead, make sure you can provide as much detailed information as possible about your business and your products/services. Procurement managers are not engineers, but they are well-versed in industrial concepts, so the more information you can provide the better.  They are relied upon to maintain a strong supply chain.  Show them how you can step in and contribute to that goal.

Remembering MRO Managers
MRO Managers (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) have more sway than many people realize. These are the people who keep a plant going on a daily basis. Without regular maintenance, equipment updates, and necessary repairs, a factory simply cannot function. And when an emergency hits, it’s the MRO Manager who is in charge of getting everything back on track. This gives them purchasing power for regular maintenance products and for those emergency situations.

For MRO managers, machine up time is the main priority.  Helping them with installation guides, mainteance plans, product bulletins, and best practices allow them to achieve this goal. It also doesn't hurt to explain how you'll be able to help them out on those "bad days" when there is an emergency shut down and the entire plant is looking to them to bring everything back online.

Now that you’ve gotten a start with these first three buyer personas, learn how to expand on them and build your own.  We recorded our latest webinar on Persona Targeting for Manufacturing Companies

Want to learn even more about persona targeting for manufacturing companies?

View Our Latest Webinar On-Demand!

Topics: Manufacturing and Industrial, Marketing Strategy, Persona Targeting

Shawn Fitzgerald

Shawn Fitzgerald

Shawn Fitzgerald is Vice President of Marketing at Thomas. He is responsible for leading all marketing efforts for the Thomas family of companies, including THOMASNET.com, Thomas Marketing and Thomas Enterprise.

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