Which direction should I take my industrial marketing?

16 replies
Hello everyone, I am an engineer who has joined our very small family engineering firm. We are an OEM that does furnace control systems (PLC, SCADA), custom control systems, piping skids, and sell burners/control valves/etc.

Up until this point, there has been almost no online presence, yet my father has been able to keep the company going for about 30 years. Since I've come on officially a couple months ago, I've decided to take on the marketing side of things. With zero experience in this, I'm having some trouble.

What I've started with:
-I put analytics on the current website (30-50 visits a month)
-I'm working on putting together a more current and responsive website.

Target Audience:
-Aluminum smelters
-Glass melters
-Factories

What resources do you suggest so that I can get an idea of what my next steps are? Facebook marketing seems too personalized for these types of industrial products.

Any help would be appreciated, even if it's pointing me in the right direction for resources regarding industrial marketing. Thanks!
#direction #industrial #marketing
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    Linkedin and getting your hands on a list of decision makers at companies that use what you sell and start contacting.

    For you website, start with your ideal customer in mind. What are they looking for - besides piping skids? What makes them buy? What do they need to see on your site to buy from you? People have certain expectations, if your site convinces them their expectations are going to be met, they'll buy.

    Testimonials, reviews, guarantees, logos of companies that make sure transactions are not going to be hacked, they all help.
    Do you have such things?

    Do you need to have white papers? Case studies?

    Who else sells to your ideal customer? Have you thought about joint ventures?

    Originally Posted by Frank Nabors View Post

    Hello everyone, I am an engineer who has joined our very small family engineering firm. We are an OEM that does furnace control systems (PLC, SCADA), custom control systems, piping skids, and sell burners/control valves/etc.

    Up until this point, there has been almost no online presence, yet my father has been able to keep the company going for about 30 years. Since I've come on officially a couple months ago, I've decided to take on the marketing side of things. With zero experience in this, I'm having some trouble.

    What I've started with:
    -I put analytics on the current website (30-50 visits a month)
    -I'm working on putting together a more current and responsive website.

    Target Audience:
    -Aluminum smelters
    -Glass melters
    -Factories

    What resources do you suggest so that I can get an idea of what my next steps are? Facebook marketing seems too personalized for these types of industrial products.

    Any help would be appreciated, even if it's pointing me in the right direction for resources regarding industrial marketing. Thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author Frank Nabors
      Thank you for a detailed response. Case studies would be a great thing to add, especially as a means to get some leads. Often times, at least from what I've experienced, the website isn't doing anything much more than a little more digging after I've made initial cold contacts.

      Partnerships is one of the things we have been focusing on. It's in everyones benefit the more that is sold.

      How would I move a thread?
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  • Profile picture of the author savidge4
    Originally Posted by Frank Nabors View Post

    Hello everyone, I am an engineer who has joined our very small family engineering firm. We are an OEM that does furnace control systems (PLC, SCADA), custom control systems, piping skids, and sell burners/control valves/etc.

    Up until this point, there has been almost no online presence, yet my father has been able to keep the company going for about 30 years. Since I've come on officially a couple months ago, I've decided to take on the marketing side of things. With zero experience in this, I'm having some trouble.

    What I've started with:
    -I put analytics on the current website (30-50 visits a month)
    -I'm working on putting together a more current and responsive website.

    Target Audience:
    -Aluminum smelters
    -Glass melters
    -Factories

    What resources do you suggest so that I can get an idea of what my next steps are? Facebook marketing seems too personalized for these types of industrial products.

    Any help would be appreciated, even if it's pointing me in the right direction for resources regarding industrial marketing. Thanks!
    I would get the new site up.. look at others that do what you do and see what their site looks like. I suspect install diagrams, tech details etc?

    Marketing? I would start with each and every past customer and a brochure that hi-lites your site and the information that is available.

    Once you are comfortable with that.. I would suggest trade mag ads, and maybe hit a convention or 2.

    And as DABK mentions you can directly communicate with who you need to communicate with thru LinkedIn. Join the groups that you would like to target.. see what is going on within them, and maybe produce some content that helps your target, and not selling to them. and over time create more and more content expanding that help and creating a working relationship with those group members. In other words be SOCIAL and not so much a salesman.

    YOU have the knowledge to help these folks.. and with time if you provide that help it will pay for itself in spades.
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    • Profile picture of the author Frank Nabors
      Thank you, the current website that's up isn't much more than a basic brochure with contact information. I'm working on giving leads more information so they can have a better idea of what we offer before making sales calls.

      Right now, 98% of our leads come from word-of-mouth or being given names from others in the industry. It's exactly how you are suggesting, especially since the process from an introduction to PO can be 6+ months. I didn't think about the website being a supporting aspect for them to follow up with after I start communication.

      We are working on some demo-units for conventions as well, but nothing with the trade magazine ads yet. We have the happy customers and knowledge of our industry to provide reliable systems. I'm just trying to take some of the reigns for growth.
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  • Profile picture of the author Odahh
    i'm not giving advice here ..because you are not dealing with low end or impulse purchases ..

    who does your father or the people who sell for your father actually sell to ..to me .. and i am just going from my experience in working in a few factories and warehouses ..is that something like this doesn't get sold to the end user .. but to instillation and repair companies . hvac people and such..

    you might want to go to your current client base and build a site with feedback from them in order to better serve current client needs ..with a lot of attention on a smooth smartphone interface ..so when a repair person is in the field seeing the part they need ..they can pull their smart phone out look through your selection of part you offer ..and have a phone number their to call

    this might be something you develope to serve current clients .to better serve them..and can then be rolled out to get new clients

    so i might just be making this up.. so it is not real advice .. but first you digital marketing to or digital/internet systems to better serve current clients ..building it along side or onto what your father has been doing for 30 years
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    "I just wanted a good job ,but i could not find a good job, So i do it myself"-Jack Ma

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    • Profile picture of the author Frank Nabors
      That's a really good idea, to focus on something that could support older customers. That will inevitably help newer contacts as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author himmatrathore
    Hi Frank Nabors,

    Facebook is the cheapest option but It will not work for your target audience.
    You can use Google Adwords + Advertise on Popular Local Business Directory Sites.

    1. You have a website
    2. You set up Google Analytics.
    3. Did you add a contact form?
    4. Do you have proper contact details on the website?
    5. Did you setup Goal and Funnel on your website to track conversion?
    6. Did you register your business in Google My business?
    7. Did you mention product U.S.P on your website?
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  • Profile picture of the author Frank Nabors
    Thank you everybody for all of the great responses. It's a lot to absorb. From looking at other websites within the industry, the current one is not too far off. It just needs a facelift. I've been overlooking the more traditional forms of marketing as well as LinkedIn. I'll work on all of the suggestions and report back!
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Originally Posted by Frank Nabors View Post

    Hello everyone, I am an engineer who has joined our very small family engineering firm. We are an OEM that does furnace control systems (PLC, SCADA), custom control systems, piping skids, and sell burners/control valves/etc.

    Up until this point, there has been almost no online presence, yet my father has been able to keep the company going for about 30 years. Since I've come on officially a couple months ago, I've decided to take on the marketing side of things. With zero experience in this, I'm having some trouble.

    What I've started with:
    -I put analytics on the current website (30-50 visits a month)
    -I'm working on putting together a more current and responsive website.

    Target Audience:
    -Aluminum smelters
    -Glass melters
    -Factories

    What resources do you suggest so that I can get an idea of what my next steps are? Facebook marketing seems too personalized for these types of industrial products.

    Any help would be appreciated, even if it's pointing me in the right direction for resources regarding industrial marketing. Thanks!
    Hi Frank, use the Quote function so we can see who you're responding to (and you can on future visits.)

    I would post your question in the Offline subforum, as most of the experienced brick and mortar business owners are in there and usually not up here. Though savidge4 and DABK are representatives of the subforum.

    2010-12 I was the sole technical writer for an Inc. Top 500 scientific & testing equipment sales co. I think the result you want is similar to what they got: engineers, scientists, * intelligent buyers * coming in who need to take your content seriously.

    One of the big reasons this company hired me and kept me working for them until they got bought by a larger Canadian firm--and my time became too valuable to spend on writing technical articles--was the response of the people reading them. Since my background out of college was in power generation and control equipment, the readers knew what they were reading was technically competent...and they said so in their comments. Then they bought, because they knew the people they were buying from gave a damn.

    If they had felt the company was simply "slinging product," they'd have run in the other direction...after expressing their displeasure.

    The level of awareness of your typical prospect will be high. You won't have to explain what a PLC does...instead, your content should focus on how best to use your equipment, or how it is more robust and lasts longer than a competitor's.

    Often the decision, in the absence of any differentiating factor, can boil down to price. You want to avoid that situation.

    Make sure your site has an opt-in feature, so you can collect their name & email and maybe phone number (though you could get that later; make it easy for them to get started), and continue to market to them.

    If I was in your position I'd do some information interviews with decision makers at the smelters and factories. Who actually makes the decision? Purchasing dept.? Or a Facilities Manager or Operations guy?

    What problems do they admit to having? (Once you learn this language you can repeat it back to new prospects.)

    Think about what the process looks like that you want your ideal customer to experience. Right now from what I'm seeing a dozen people come to your site a week, look and leave. Capture that lead. Take it to email. Continue marketing through email, where you can send them video case studies, use case stories, tell them about problems they never thought of before about this kind of product, and so on. Then you can get them on a phone call for a real discussion.

    By having good quality articles on your site, you can develop SEO authority and start getting found by the right people searching for relevant terms.
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    • Profile picture of the author Frank Nabors
      Really great stuff! People keep coming back not really because we can provide a reliable system(which we do), but because we will answer the phone at 3am to help them with a problem or fly out to make sure they are up and operating again quickly. As you know, downtime can mean losses of even a few days can mean hundreds of thousands worth of lost revenue.

      Just as you mention, in the sales process we deal with the management, engineers, operators and accountants. Money typically isn't a big concern, but making sure we can make up in areas that their are lacking is.

      It is a lot right now to walk into a manufacturing environment and be able to ask the right questions to figure out their problem areas, but I guess that comes with more experience.

      In addition to retaining those who do come to the website, is cold calling in person still a viable option?
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      • Profile picture of the author savidge4
        Originally Posted by Frank Nabors View Post

        In addition to retaining those who do come to the website, is cold calling in person still a viable option?
        For you specifically.. YES this would be a very viable option. Specifically if you are out of town "Fixing" an issue for a client. Rolling into another place of business and stating WHY you are in town and thought you would just stop in would be a huge leap in relationship building.
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  • Profile picture of the author luciesmazanska
    As @DABK mentioned LINKEDIN is perfect for this you can aim your marketing to a lot of small and big conpanies out there the market is huge

    I would also consider a google adwords which is I think very effective but If you dont have any idea how to do it hire someone so you dont lose money
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  • Profile picture of the author sgalla414
    I could be wrong, but i'm thinking your demographic is going to be fairly confined to your specific region. I'm still guessing but you're likely not looking to ship to other countries? You could start an instagram page showcasing all that you guys do, maybe a few indepth videos of the processes and then do some paid promotions specific for your area.

    Linkedin is probably a good suggestion but one thing I would suggest that doesn't really fit this forum is carrying on offline. Do you have any large mobile signs advertising your business? Are there any local business that you can cater to that you can do a walk through? During your walk through find things you can improve for these people as potential customers and then pitch your idea to them.

    Are there local events you can sponsor to get your name out there and attached to? Not entirely related but we have a local brewery here that has their hands in EVERY event and fundraiser you could imagine. Helping other people can really help you.
    Hope this helps and good luck
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  • Profile picture of the author sgalla414
    Also, on the off chance you are looking to ship far outside your region is it possible to advertise one off prefabricated parts? I know a guy who owns a large boat dealership and they have literally sent boats around the world from just posting them on online marketplaces
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  • Profile picture of the author vedicastrologym
    Banned
    Thank you everybody for all of the great responses. It's a lot to absorb. From looking at other websites within the industry, the current one is not too far off. It just needs a facelift. I've been overlooking the more traditional forms of marketing as well as LinkedIn. I'll work on all of the suggestions and report back!
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  • Profile picture of the author Medon
    It is good you are already here. The first thing you will need to do is to join forums where you will easily meet your potential customers. Discuss and share ideas about what you do and you never know, you may get some leads. Also, think creatively and use email marketing as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author Huenelde
    Welcome to the forum. Start by choosing a niche in which you want to practice.
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