What is industrial marketing management?

Sep 7, 2023

What is industrial marketing?

Industrial marketing refers to the process of marketing products or services to another company within an industrial market. In contemporary terms, it’s known as business-to-business marketing (B2B marketing).

It is distinct from consumer marketing (business-to-consumer, or B2C) in that the nature of industrial goods and services is different from that of consumer goods in both strategy and market. Think a food manufacturer selling to a retailer such as Tesco, rather than via a bricks-and-mortar shop or e-commerce platform of their own. Businesses in the same industry sell to one another in order to maximise revenues, lower operating costs and utilise innovative technologies.

Frequently, industrial marketing features long-held relationships and sizeable orders between, for example, a manufacturer and a client. As such, pitches can be tricky; often a lot more challenging than landing sales between businesses and private clients, or businesses and consumers. There are also likely to be several individuals or functions to pitch to within a business, meaning sellers need to win over multiple people who often require different pieces of information.

The major industry types that constitute the industrial business market include:

  • agriculture, forestry and fisheries
  • mining
  • manufacturing
  • construction and transportation
  • communication
  • public utilities
  • banking and finance
  • insurance
  • services.

What are the characteristics of industrial marketing?

Longer sales cycles, bidding, marketing research concerning sector size and share, and long-term business relationships all feature in the world of industrial marketing.

Analytics Steps highlight seven further key principles and characteristics of the industrial marketing sphere.

  1. Fewer, but larger, markets. The number of buyers in the B2B market is far more limited than that of B2C, however  order volumes can be larger.
  2. Higher quality interactions. For businesses, switching between sellers can be fraught – in terms of time, effort, resources and building rapport. As a result, the buyer-seller relationship is generally far stronger than the business-consumer one.
  3. Complicated processes. Buying and selling can be a challenging, complex process that often involves obtaining consent from various sources and establishing infrastructure.
  4. Derived demand. Industrial demand is connected to consumer demand. The greater the consumer demand for finished commodities, the greater the buyer demand for sellers’ items.
  5. Inelastic demand. Here, fluctuating or changing prices of products and services have no, or little, impact on industrial demand for them.
  6. Fluctuation of demand. Industrial demand can be more volatile than consumer demand.
  7. Professional purchasers. Many businesses employ professionally trained buyers to interact with sellers. These buyers have in-depth knowledge of the product, service and market, and are skilled at bargaining. This is not always the case in consumer marketing.

Further information can be found in the Industrial Marketing Management (IMM) international journal. Published by Elsevier, and with Adam Lindgreen and Anthony di Benedetto as its Co-Editors-in-Chief, it discusses theoretical, empirical and case study-led research designed to support industrial and business-to-business marketing and management professionals in their efforts.

What are B2B/industrial marketing strategies?

The B2B marketing landscape has changed – and its marketing strategies have expanded accordingly. Professional buyers today are as likely – if not more – to depend on search engines to meet their needs and find answers than they are to seek referrals from colleagues or networks. As such, online marketing methods are heavily relied upon to promote and sell between businesses.

To help guide marketing strategy and management, the following B2B marketing statistics highlight key areas in which to concentrate marketing activities.

  • Content strategy: 52% of buyers are more likely to purchase from a seller after reading their content and, in 2022, 82% of online traffic came from video content.
  • Social media: 86% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to drive sales, with 84% of B2B executives using social media as a source for purchasing decisions.
  • Sales leads: Referrals are the biggest source of sales lead, with email marketing in second place.
  • Spending: Website development is the number one area of marketing spend.

Remaining competitive in a saturated marketplace requires making full use of diverse, effective tactics and strategies. Alongside referral marketing, advertising, webinars and email marketing, there are a handful of other strategies to consider.

  • Develop a niche-driven strategy – What makes a business special is what makes it stand out. Marketers should identify their specialisations or niches to remain distinct and hyper-competitive in their industries. Providing a niche product or service also brings with it the added bonus of being regarded as a leader and expert in the space.
  • Build and develop your website – An engaging, fit-for-purpose website – which prioritises quality content, responsive design, accessibility, and intuitive user experience and user interface – is fundamental to modern business. As a visibility building tool that increases impact factor, an effective website showcases a brand’s expertise, captures leads, and gathers valuable data and analytics that can inform marketing strategy performance and provide useful metrics.
  • Implement an SEO strategy – SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) should be factored into any digital marketing strategy to increase reach and visibility. Businesses should make use of both on-site (for example, use of keyword phrases on the company website) and off-site SEO (for example, keyword-rich content on other sites and platforms).
  • Automate your marketing – Marketing automation requires choosing the correct software for an individual brand’s needs and requirements – and software varies widely. A solid CRM (customer relationship management) system is also essential lead nurturing software that enables email campaigns and similar, targeted, analytics-driven approaches can be transformative.
  • Utilise social media – Social media boosts the reach of an organisation’s content, expertise and brand reputation. Social listening – the practice of analysing discussions and trends related to the business – can help with monitoring and adapting approaches (as well as highlighting opportunities, such as new product development), and platforms allow marketers to grow their professional networks of potential buyers and collaborators.

B2B marketing trends for 2023

Enhancing the B2B customer experience is a priority for many businesses this year.

Alongside this, pushing engaging, relevant video content (streams and downloads), leveraging CRM and personalisation capabilities, integrating chatbots and similar technologies, branching out into the growing servitisation space as per other providers, and evolving as a purpose-driven brand – with strong ESG priorities – all continue to enhance competitiveness.

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