We work with a lot of manufacturers, especially companies that produce capital equipment and heavy machinery. It isn't stuff that's marketed on television, and it never will be because equipment is the heart of B2B industries. You have to go to a tradeshow or read an industry publication to see the kind of work these companies do. And every equipment sale is big—worth thousands of dollars (and even more in total lifetime value).
To us, B2B marketing in the manufacturing sector is about steady, sustainable lead generation, even if that means a company just needs one more sales-ready lead per month. Lead generation is also about finding the right customers for a business; not low-quality bottom feeders.
Growth in Equipment Manufacturing Relies on Qualified Lead Generation
In capital equipment, every warm lead has a high likelihood to buy because, quite simply, there's never that many competitors who make the exact same equipment. For a piece of purpose-specific equipment such as a paper converter or food processing machine, there might be only two or three competitors in the entire industry, so if a lead is qualified to buy, a company's chances of winning are pretty high.
The only problem is...
It's Hard to Find New Leads Looking to Buy Equipment
That's exactly why capital equpiment manufacturers get nervous about new marketing approaches.
If a company sticks with what they're doing now—usually three tradeshows a year and a print ad or two in the relevant publication—they might just get enough leads to sustain their current flat trajectory. Growth might be static, but at least they'll stay afloat.
If, however, they take the risk of investing in a newer marketing strategy, such as inbound marketing—which is mostly online and, of course, it takes some digital savvy—they might mess up what's going well in their current plans or even waste money that immediately sees a return on investment. This is the typical logic that marketers at equipment manufacturing companies go through: sound, risk-averse reasoning.
Then, of course, there's the secondary fear of being in a niche vertical where there's only a few competitors. If your company tries something "experimental" that your direct competitors don't yet do, then you might lose ground to their tried-and-true marketing strategies. A focus on the digital tactics of inbound marketing might mean that they beat you at the tradeshow or out-market your company in networking.
Both of these sources of anxiety in adopting a new marketing approach are reasonable—in fact, often they are the same fears that help companies survive in down economic times. However, anxiety in taking marketing risks also tends to impede progress to growth.
How Anxious Are You to Grow?
Usually, companies aren't just anxious about marketing; they're also nervous about not meeting their growth goals. When your anxiety about growth outcompetes your hesitations about trying something new in marketing, then you're more likely to take aggressive moves toward growth. The question is: just how anxious are you to grow?
Growth Should be a Mandate from the Top
Plenty of companies don't grow because from the top down, there's not enough interest in realizing growth. With increased revenue comes more demand on operations and HR, which dramatically change the scope of a company. When leadership is unsure whether growth is a good idea, then we often see frustrated marketers and salespeople, who want to be successful, but don't have the mandate to reach the growth they're looking for.
Inbound Marketing Helps Companies Find the Right Growth: Better Customers, Better Business
The reason inbound marketing works better for both your company and its customers is because when leads are coming in to your company for help, you always have the option of turning away their business, if they don't fit the kind of customer you're looking for. Growth doesn't have to mean raising your number of customers; with inbound marketing, often growth can be actualized in attracting better customers—those that pay more, value your expertise, and respect your work.