Recently I attended the Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) conference, whose attendees were primarily executives and salespeople (with a few marketers sprinkled in) from manufacturers, distributors, and sales representative firms in the electronics industry.
During the two marketing sessions, it became quickly clear to me that many of the companies were painfully behind the times, overly-reliant on dated sales and marketing tactics to reach prospects.
This being the first in-person event since the pandemic, it was clear that while some of the laggard companies tried to evolve out of necessity, they haven’t found confident footing in the inbound marketing world.
Hearing the questions and discussions swirling around me, I was inspired to capture the common mindsets and tactics that stood out like red flags as a company who needs to evolve their marketing.
6 signs that your marketing is behind the times
1. You use the world “blast” to describe how you communicate
Technical buyers are very wary of marketing and sales inherently. If you overwhelm them with irrelevant, self-promoting content such as “we launched a new product and it’s awesome,” or “we just won this great award,” they are much more likely to unsubscribe or at the very least ignore future communications from you.
Move from blasts to targeted communications based on persona, context and timing. Yes, you can still announce news, but do it in a way that connects with how your new product/award/etc. will solve a customer need or challenge.
2. Your website is older than three years.
Think about how much evolves with your smart phone in three years! Well, web technology is the same way. Older websites are less likely to be secure, load quickly, and be effective at helping you in search rankings. On top of this, many of you have sites that have broken links and are difficult to update, leading to stale content which again hurts you with search.
Redesign using a template-based site, such as the HubSpot CMS, where the platform remains updated through a subscription model (rather than updating a myriad of plug-ins every time Chrome has an update). Publish a steady stream of content on a consistent basis (at the very minimum one new page per month) and keep your content on key pages fresh with links and resources to help along the buyer’s journey.
3. Your website is a digital brochure with a prominent contact form…everywhere.
Yes, you want customers to know what products/solutions you offer, and of course you want their information, but publishing a digital brochure is lazy and may put you at a competitive disadvantage. With your website, you have an opportunity to create a unique online experience that helps the buyer gather information to make a purchase decision, and builds trust in your brand as a credible, experienced source of information. The State of Marketing to Engineers Research Report shows that 87% of engineers will fill out a form if they find the information useful (e.g. educational content, not a sales contact form).
Map the buyers journey for one of your target personas, say, a Design Engineer as an example. What will they search on to find you? What do they need to learn as they visit your site? What digital tools can you provide to remove friction from their search for a solution? What helpful information can you provide that is so compelling they will give their contact information in exchange to download?
4. Your social marketing is managed by the CEO’s college kid.
This is another example where some companies tend to blast self-promotional information “we will be at X event!” versus sharing helpful information with a point-of-view. We have found a clear preference by buyers to interact with people at companies rather than the anonymous company brand itself.
Having interns is great, but they need appropriate direction from you!
Prioritizing LinkedIn, choose one or a few spokespeople for your company to be the face of your company social efforts. Post 1-2x/week with a point of view, and comment on other relevant industry posts. Measure these efforts, tweak, and then train your salespeople to use similar tactics, with an attitude of helping, not selling. This is way easier if you are creating content on a consistent basis (blogs, case studies, white papers, webinars, videos, etc.) as you’ll have something to talk about. As you may guess, you’ll need to resource this differently than relegating to an intern.
5. Your only video is a slick, dated corporate overview.
Did you know that 98% of engineers watch video for work on a weekly basis? They look to video for how-to instructions, demos, and other technical information. Overproduced corporate videos are not high on their list.
Even a cell phone video can provide value!
Don’t be afraid of a lower production effort to create videos faster and cheaper. Platforms such as Zoom and Camtasia, heck even your iPhone provides an approachable way to produce video…just nail the sound and lighting.
6. Search engine optimization equates to keyword stuffing and other inauthentic ways to game Google.
Google is constantly updating their algorithm to reward web pages that thoroughly cover a topic and are part of a website that provides a good user experience. Keyword stuffing is out, and relational content is in. The more content you have on a subject that links together to form a theme, the better you will do at search.
Use long-scrolling topical web pages with resources along the buyer’s journey. This is a great place to serve up FAQs with short answers that link to longer blog posts and additional web pages. It’s also a great place to push traffic towards gated content such as white papers, CAD drawings and webinars.
Keeping pace with current marketing trends and technologies is challenging. Having a solid marketing plan that you update and revisit annually can help. Check out our Guide to B2B Marketing Planning to learn how to establish your marketing plan, step-by-step.
TREW is a marketing agency dedicated to reaching engineering and technical audiences through a range of marketing initiatives. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer.
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Wendy Covey is a CEO, a technical marketing leader, author of Content Marketing, Engineered, one of The Wall Street Journal’s 10 Most Innovative Entrepreneurs in America, and she holds a Texas fishing record. She resides in a small Hill Country town southwest of Austin, Texas, where she enjoys outdoor adventures with her family.
TREW Marketing is a strategy-first content marketing agency serving B2B companies that target highly technical buyers. With deep experience in the design, embedded, measurement and automation, and software industries, TREW Marketing provides branding, marketing strategy, content development, and digital marketing services to help customers efficiently and effectively achieve business goals.