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Changing Times | The New Year Calls For Changes In SME Marketing

Jan 2, 2022

While it is true that not much has changed in industrial marketing even with technology pervasiveness for a long time, the changes are slowly coming in now.

January 01, 2022 / 07:47 AM IST

Most marketers in the industrial marketing domain set budgets based on what has worked in the past, and they all believe they have a unique strategy to drive the best return on investment (ROI). It is true that for every industry some specific things will work than others. However the broad trends that sweep the B2B space will impact all companies. Knowing these trends sweeping the marketing science will help improve the ROI in these trying times – especially for SMEs.

While it is true that not much has changed in industrial marketing even with technology pervasiveness for a long time, the changes are slowly coming in now. The following five trends will be big in the coming years and industrial marketers need to be prepared to embrace the change in order to stay on top.

  • Use of multimedia will multiply. People everywhere are driven by technology today. Social media have billions of users. The industrial marketer too is surfing and watching more and more things online. It is time for him/her to make use of this trend by pushing more than printed brochures to customers. Move into multimedia using the web tools and bandwidth availability. Inexpensive tools will help in making videos of products in use or services in action. And it is much easier to connect with the target customer this way. Today it is so easy to create videos, as there are enough low-priced sources. It is possible to record interviews, demo of products and other presentations in video professionally by SMEs. More and more industrial marketers will turn to expert analysis and advice in video, and even put up the annual report in the form of AGM proceedings on the website. Another way to promote your trade shows and events will be to have a multimedia feature on it before the event and actual recordings of the event post the event. It is important also to promote the video in social media, blogs or emails. How else could your target customers see them?
  • Content will be king. Just as in articles and books, industrial buyers need useful and relevant content to help them take decisions. A B2B marketer may want to take up this opportunity to develop valuable content that would ease their buyers’ purchase decisions. This will lead to new sales and better relationships. Now is the time for marketers to look at their current content critically and make changes to suit the customer needs. If there are gaps, it needs immediate attention. If you are looking at a customer who is value-conscious perhaps it is a good idea to draw up an ROI-based model to demonstrate the superiority of your offerings. Some rational buyers may not understand your pricing and benefits calculations. Use case studies here. The best way is to start making an outline of audience desires and then fill it up with existing content that fit. Smart marketers use the content in such a way that they can use it across media. A whitepaper could be made into a webinar and perhaps a video for use later. Or a presentation to a client could be modified to a paper in a relevant industry conference.
  • Marketing channels are ever evolving. With the Internet all pervasive, all types of B2B buyers have access to different marketing channels. As a marketer, one has the task of choosing the right channels today to reach the right audience. Search engine optimisation, paid search results, searchable catalogues, social media, blogs, and other forms are troublesome for the old age marketer. The current trend is towards online events and webinars. These virtual tradeshows are very interactive in nature and can include live chats, virtual booths, panel discussions, expert talks, and much more. The best thing is that your customers can watch and interact all by sitting in their own offices. The savings in time and costs are pretty decent. It is best to work with a professional agency to bring this all out seamlessly.
  • Social media is here to stay. While B2C marketers have used social media very successfully, B2B marketers are still unsure of the way it can be used for their business. That explains the poor penetration of social media in the industrial sector. While the USA is fast embracing this media in the B2B sector, India is slow to wake up. It is critical to understand the usage amongst muneer column smart growth the buyers before embarking on spending in social media. In B2B, it is probably best to be present in Linked-In, Facebook and perhaps some of the video channels. Use a bit of market research to understand your customers’ use of the media. Based on this understanding, a social media strategy should be worked out with your agency. Social media has to be part of the overall marketing plan and not be replacing the existing programmes. What ratio you want to divide your budgets between traditional media and new age media is something you have to decide based on trial and error initially. It is best to make a person responsible for managing and measuring social media ROI.
  • ROI of everything will be critical. In India, most people do not measure the return from marketing spends. Even large companies have only recently made feeble attempts at ROI analysis. It is isolated to specific campaigns rather than overall marketing. The pressure on marketing executives to demonstrate ROI will be increasing in the coming years. What B2B marketer should do is determine the objectives and measures for the success of the marketing programme and communicate the same to all. We tell our clients: “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.”

These trends will dictate the next few years of industrial marketing. Adapt to it soon or perish!

M Muneer is the managing director of CustomerLab Solutions, a consulting firm.

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