Getting digital marketing right isn’t always easy — especially if that marketing is aimed at the manufacturing and industrial sector, which often involves high-volume, high-cost transactions and very long purchase cycles.
The decision-making process in this field is inherently slow, and oftentimes industrial marketers struggle to connect with their audience in a way that moves them through the buying cycle while providing them with directly useful, engaging content.
It’s never too early to start planning your business goals for next quarter. Setting marketing benchmarks is the only way you’ll be able to achieve scalable growth throughout the next few months and beyond. To help you plan, we’ve outline the difference between marketing goals and a marketing strategy so you can improve yours and connect with higher-quality prospects.
The Difference Between Marketing Goals And Marketing Strategy
Increase revenue. Expand market share by 20%. Improve brand recognition by next year. Boost website traffic. These are all examples of marketing goals — outcomes you would like to achieve moving forward.
Many marketers turn to the SMART mnemonic when defining key goals. Here’s what SMART means:
- Specific — The desired outcome should be defined in clear, specific terms. Set real numbers and real deadlines to hold yourself accountable.
- Measurable — Your goal should be easily trackable and measurable.
- Attainable — Make sure the goal is realistic given the resources available. Set high standards, but take things a step at a time.
- Relevant — The goal should make sense for your specific needs and should tie in with a big-picture plan.
- Time-Bound — All goals should have clear deadlines for achievement. Without set dates, your goals will just be a form of wishful thinking.
While many people assume objectives, tactics, and strategies are basically the same thing as goals, these are all distinct concepts.
- Objectives are milestones along the path to achieving goals. If the goal is to increase leads by 40% this summer, an objective may be to have new “lead magnets” — like content freebies — in place within two weeks to entice more registrations.
- Tactics are the actual methods or channels we use to pursue the objectives. In the above example, industrial marketers may leverage paid advertising as a tactic to bring interested prospects to the new freebies. Tactics fuel the attainment of the goal.
But none of these concepts offer a map of how to get to the destination defined in a set goal.
This is where strategy comes in.
- A strategy is a fully fleshed-out blueprint outlining the specific approach (which may be the amalgamation of two or more separate approaches) that will make it possible to achieve the goal.
To meet the goal of increasing leads by 40%, for instance, an industrial marketer may create a strategy focused on becoming an authority on the hot topic of lean production.
40% more leads by summer
Become an authority on lean production
Offer content freebies about lean production on website
Use PPC to drive traffic to these freebies
What Does An Effective Industrial Marketing Strategy Look Like?
An effective marketing strategy is a blueprint for marketing success. It should:
- Eliminate confusion
- Show the way forward, helping to set clear objectives
- Guide in the choice of specific tactics during the different stages of execution
- Ensure proper budget utilization
There are four key characteristics of successful marketing strategies:
- Targeted — A good marketing strategy starts with the buyer persona, or the ideal customer profile. Strategy should be guided by a clear understanding of the end user or consumer, so that the other pieces of the puzzle can use buyer pain points, expectations, and communication-channel preferences to craft robust campaigns.
- Dynamic — A strategy is not written in stone. In fact, the biggest advantage of having a well-thought-out strategy is being able to quickly identify what isn’t working and swap it out with better, more effective ideas.
- Data-Driven — A strategy isn’t just a set of assumptions. Rather, it should be driven by data analysis, evaluation of past results, and consideration of trends on the horizon. A data-driven strategy allows marketers to take calculated risks once all variables have been carefully evaluated.
- Scalable — A strategy should be able to accommodate larger budget inputs in order to produce the desired outcome on a much bigger scale. Think of a strategy as a machine: The direction you take for a 40% increase in leads should also apply to a 200% spike, without resulting in serious logistical complications.
Industrial Strategy Planning Involves Research
You’ll want to keep your goals at the forefront when creating and executing your marketing strategy. Before jumping right in, reflect on what you’ve already tried. What worked, what didn’t, what exceeded expectations, and what fell flat? This is why analyzing the data you have available to you comes into play and will help you make better informed market predictions for the future.
Planning for your new industrial strategy also involves analyzing your competitors — but don’t dive too deep into their work. Take a look at how your competitors go about their marketing campaigns. Subscribe to their emails and newsletters, and follow them on social media to better understand their approach and how they’re targeting potential customers. Understanding what your competitors are investing in will give you a better sense of the marketplace and what will work best for your own business.
Download The Complete Guide To Social Media Marketing to learn which key accounts you should be following.
Examine your roster of current customers as well as those you’re pursuing. You’ll notice there are significant distinctions between them; different clients and potential clients have different needs and goals, and will be navigating different stages of the buying journey. So why would you deploy the same marketing strategies for all of them?
Work on establishing buyer personas and try classifying your target audience into different categories based on industry, geographical location, revenue level, company size, business needs, and ultimate goals. Scrape together valuable insights from your sales data and website analytics, and don’t be afraid to reach out to current clients to ask them about their buying experience and overall needs; they’ll likely appreciate the personalized attention.
Once you’ve established who your customers and prospects are, refine your marketing strategy for each group according to their unique requirements and goals. This will help establish you as a knowledgeable industry leader attuned to the specific needs of your clients.
Putting together a strategy that hits all of these checkboxes is a big task, especially if you haven’t done it before. And for those new to the world of industrial marketing, it can often be tough to get ideas off the ground and stay up-to-date on the newest innovations; it seems there’s a new groundbreaking strategy to adopt every week, and trying to stay ahead of the curve can be daunting. There will naturally be some questions and uncertainty, but this is all part of the process.
To stay ahead of the competition, it’s critical to create a well-thought-out marketing strategy tailored to your unique needs. Equally important is maintaining the discipline to stick with the plan and grow your business.
Not sure where to start? The experts at Thomas Marketing Services have created blueprints for some of the biggest names in manufacturing, and we’re here to help with your specific B2B marketing goals. Reach out to the team today to discuss your options with an expert and learn more about effective marketing for manufacturing companies.