Don't Let Your Laggard Industry Hold Back Pioneering Inbound Plans

Greg Linnemanstons
Posted by Greg Linnemanstons on December 2, 2014

mad-men_dinner_partyHave you ever been at a dinner party with friends where you learned about a new retirement planning philosophy, or a new approach to vacations, or maybe even a hot new fitness program? On the way home, in the car with your spouse, you said "Yeah, Ed said it was great for them! I really think we should look into it." Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

It's easy to see why you had an open mind about something new, discovered in this way: it's because someone you know and trust endorsed it personally. And it's about more than just knowing them; it's also knowing that their values, tolerance for risk, and even their life goals are probably more similar to yours than different. That's what makes referrals powerful.

For many business leaders, especially in more mature industries, this is the same way they assess major changes in their field. They watch the leading organizations in their industry—peer companies, competitors they know and respect, companies they assume play by the same rules that they deal with—and they wait to see which new technologies or approaches these competitors adopt. It's an admittedly conservative approach, but in mature industries, it's an approach that may keep companies from making the mistake that weakens their ability to compete. From the manufacturing sector to financial markets, we've all seen this "wait-and-see" mentality play out time and time again.

There Are Good Reasons For Watching the Field

Taking a conservative attitude in diving into a new manufacturing technology or a new raw material sourcing strategy seems prudent, because the cost of being wrong is potentially huge. And when it comes to new technologies in mature industries, you could make the case that being second or third in your industry to jump in might have important advantages, such as learning from the startup mistakes of others, or having a better understanding of the price/value relationships based on other's real world experiences.

However, where this conservative "Followdom" seems to fall apart is in attacking better approaches/technologies for improved business operations—especially sales, marketing and finance. Consider this: The first CRM products were introduced in the mid-1980s; almost 30 years later, with no meaningful disputes over the value they can provide to sales forces, you can still find industrial manufacturers cautiously and carefully evaluating their first potential CRM installs.

Why are they slow to act? There are at least several good reasons we see. First, being conservative has helped manufacturers survive by avoiding bad capital investments that pose a risk in weak markets. Second, they haven't been harmed (as far as they know) by an immediate competitor taking more progressive steps. And third, they're probably not good at evaluating sales and marketing tools, since that's not a core competency, so they just choose not to evaluate at all.

Stay Aggressive in Improving Business Development

Today, marketing automation and inbound marketing are being embraced by thousands of progressive B2B companies around the world because these marketing changes have a clear impact on industrial sector business development. Research continues to pour in that conclusively establishes both the operational validity and legitimacy of the inbound marketing approach in high-consideration B2B transactions, while at the same time quantitatively demonstrating the very attractive economic impact through rigorous ROI and payback analyses.

Yet in the face of powerfully compelling logic and evidence, industrial manufacturers—the same people who will spend hundreds of thousands on trade shows and sales force incentives because they see competitors doing the same—still hesitate to spend a fraction of that to initiate a comprehensive digital marketing strategy—e.g. inbound marketing—simply because they don't see many in their industry doing it. In reality, however, many manufacturers are moving upstream and attacking new business development tactics.

How to Start Considering A Different Growth Strategy

If any of this sounds even vaguely familiar to you, take a minute to honestly answer these questions:

  • Do you wish you could grow your business faster than it's currently growing?

  • Are your sales people less than thrilled about the quality and quantity of warm leads they receive?

  • Would your business be harmed if your most direct competitor suddenly launched a far more aggressive and effective lead attraction strategy? 

  • Is the lifetime value of a new customer enough to justify spending money to get more, better leads?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you owe it to yourself to get out of your comfortable "Followdom" box, and take a serious look at what inbound marketing could do for your business. Start by learning a little about inbound and how it could work in your industry, for your business. Don't worry that your closest competitors aren't doing inbound yet. Leave the worrying for them, when they find out (too late!) what you're doing and how it's affecting their businesses.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing

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