Many manufacturers and industrial companies don’t have a lot of experience working with a marketing agency. But, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t benefit from one.
We’ve been working with industrial and manufacturing companies for 15+ years. Today, we’re going to look at what drives industrial and manufacturing companies to look for a marketing agency partner, what makes advertising in this space unique and what those companies should look for in their partner.
What Qualifies Us to Give Advice on Picking an Industrial Marketing Agency?
The internet is full of people giving advice they have no basis giving. What makes us any different? We’re a marketing agency that’s been working with manufacturers and industrial companies for more than 15 years.
We know what’s unique about this space, and what it takes to create successful partnerships that drive growth.
Here are a few examples of some of our recent relevant work with manufacturers and industrial companies:
- We helped two $500M+ industrial manufacturers, Unifrax and Lydall, come together to form Alkegen, developing a new brand in record time when other marketing agencies said it couldn’t be done.
- We helped the Gill Corporation, an aerospace composite manufacturer with a 75+ year history, create a digital presence that lived up to the innovative nature of their products.
- We helped CPM, a global manufacturer of industrial processing equipment, unify 16+ brands and thousands of employees across multiple continents.
- Oh, and one of our industrial clients was just named as the 3rd fastest growing privately owned company in the country.
And we’ve worked with dozens more industrial and manufacturing companies in our 15+ year history. Which, we hope makes us qualified to help you pick the right marketing partner.
What Motivates Industrial Brands to Look for a Marketing Agency?
Many things, but in our experience there are a few common reasons that might motivate a manufacturer to seek out a marketing agency, or replace the partner they already have.
An M&A Event
Acquiring a competitor or forging a partnership can often drive the need for effective internal & external marketing communications, and updated branding.
Expanding Into a New Market
Whether that’s a new segment of an existing market, or an entirely new geography, expansion often comes with a need for marketing and communications.
Launching a New Product or Service
Whether you’re entering a highly competitive segment, or introducing an entirely new product category, effective marketing can often be the difference between success and failure when launching a new product or service.
In some markets, industrial manufacturers can operate for years, or even decades without serious competition. When that changes, marketing is often an essential part of regaining lost market share.
Changes in Leadership or Ownership
Whether it’s a new CEO, a new owner, a new partner or a new marketing director, changes in leadership and ownership in industrial and manufacturing companies often come along with a desire for increased growth that can be supported by the right marketing agency partner.
Of course, this list isn’t comprehensive. Whatever’s driving your search for a marketing agency partner, there are some reasons to pick an agency with experience in your industry, and we’ve got some tools to help you find the right one.
What’s Unique About Industrial & Manufacturing Companies’ Marketing Needs?
When it comes to marketing, are industrial and manufacturing businesses that unique?
In our experience, yes. Certainly, the core principles of good marketing can be applied universally. But, many companies in this space will pose a challenge for many “typical” marketing agencies.
Here are a few of the unique factors we commonly encounter, relative to marketing on behalf of companies in other industries.
Smaller Marketing Teams
It’s not uncommon for manufacturing and industrial companies to have small marketing teams relative to their size. A $500M industrial manufacturer might just have a single marketing director and a couple dedicated marketing employees, while a similarly sized B2C brand would have a marketing department staffed with dozens of employees.
This means that industrial and manufacturing brands often need a more hands on, integrated approach from their marketing agency partners. One that takes on many of the tasks that might typically be handled by an internal marketing department, and puts them in the hands of the marketing agency.
Longer, More Complex Sales Cycles
Industrial products and manufactured goods often have complex sale cycles, involving several decision makers over a long period of time. Many marketers are focused on sales cycles that last minutes, hours or perhaps days. They might not be equipped to deal with sales cycles that can last days, weeks, months or even years.
Driving, tracking and attributing sales over industrial time scales takes a certain amount of expertise and experience.
Extremely Niche Audiences
If you’re marketing corn chips, your audience is “anyone who’s feeling a bit peckish.” If you’re marketing a piece of industrial equipment, your audience could be “a small handful of people in very specific positions at very specific types of companies.”
That’s a harder audience to reach, and requires specialized marketing knowledge and experience.
Everyone knows what a sneaker is, or what a smartphone does. Most B2C focused marketing agencies assume a certain base-level of familiarity with the products they’re marketing.
But, the products and services that industrial companies have to market can be incredibly complex. There’s a certain amount of skill and experience required to market a highly technical product or service that very few people understand.
What to Look For
#1: Industrial & Manufacturing-Industry Marketing Experience
Most marketing agencies focus on consumer products. They might be great at selling cars, or shoes, or hamburgers or smartphones. “Typical” marketing tasks. But they might get lost when things get more complex.
A few marketing agencies focus on B2B clients, and that’s a good start. But even B2B-focused marketing agencies tend to have more experience with B2B services, software and financial products.
Very few have experience with industrial and manufacturing clients. Which is a shame, because industrial and manufacturing businesses have unique needs, and can benefit from great marketing.
If you’re in this space and looking for a marketing agency, we recommend you start your search with agencies who have experience working with customers like you.
#2: Relevant Clients Who Will Say Nice Things
Stockbrokers like to disclaim that “past performance is not a predictor of future success” – but it doesn’t hurt. If you’re looking for a marketing agency partner who can drive your growth, start with one who’s been able to deliver for someone like you.
Start by looking at agencies with relevant case studies that are in a similar industry, and once you get further into the selection process, don’t be afraid ask for a reference or two you can call. Phone calls are the worst, but sometimes you get a more authentic sense of how happy (or not) an agency’s other clients might be over the phone.
#3: A Goal-Oriented Approach
Marketing should never be the end goal of marketing. A strong agency partner is going to help you define exactly what you want from marketing, and put together a plan that shows you how to get there. Then, they should be able to track their (and your) progress against that goal.
There’s a reason your business is investing in marketing. Your agency should help make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
#4: Standout Creative
The bar for marketing creative can be pretty low in some industrial settings. But that doesn’t mean that good creative can’t be valuable, or isn’t something you should strive for. Just because your competitors are putting out boring marketing materials doesn’t mean that you should as well.
There are lots of good creative agencies out there, but not all of them can apply that creativity to the complex, or seemingly “dry” products in these industries. Look for a partner who’s been able to translate complex, niche products into compelling creative materials.
#5: Customized Solutions
There is a certain type of agency that offers a “plug and play” solution. Maybe it’s founded in a single marketing platform or CRM. Maybe it’s a specific model that they believe can be deployed over-and-over again. Maybe it’s a specific piece of software or ad platform.
There’s nothing wrong with good CRMs, or marketing platforms, or ad platforms. There is something very wrong with a “one size fits all” approach to marketing. Just because an agency prefers a single platform or model or solution doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you.
Make sure the agency you choose is going to look closely at your goals, needs, structure and capabilities, and choose the best solution(s) for you.
Let us Introduce Our Industrial Marketing Agency
We’ll admit, we’re not unbiased. Echo-Factory is a marketing agency that’s been specializing in manufacturing and industrial companies for more than 15 years.
If you agree with our assessment of what you should be looking for in an agency partner, you might just be looking for us.
We’re not the only marketing agency for industrial companies, but we might be the one for you.
Why not reach out and learn how our expertise with industrial and manufacturing clients can drive growth and success for your business. Let us build and execute a marketing strategy that resonates with your audience, and achieves your business goals.