Industrial Marketing And Focus

Many of my industrial marketing consulting clients offer a wide range of products. While this is obviously an excellent way to cover the market it does pose some risks. The major risk is the fatal mistake of trying to serve all needs of all markets all the time.

When I mention this risk to my industrial marketing clients many of them will say things like “Walmart seems to be doing just fine.” While Walmart and other large retailers do have vast product lines (and seem to be making a dollar or two), there are some significant differences between retail and industrial sales transactions.

A couple of obvious differences (there are many more than this) immediately spring to mind. First, the majority of items retailers sell are low cost transaction based purchases which do not have complex buying processes with multiple buyers. Second, purchasing decisions like ROI seldom apply to a high percentage of retail purchases.

The following are three ways being everything to everyone dramatically decreases the effectiveness of your industrial marketing.

You confuse your marketplace
The first problem you run into is that unless you are very careful you will confuse your marketplace. It is a fundamental truth in industrial marketing that a confused prospect is a prospect who won’t buy. It’s equally true that when faced with too many choices prospects will choose to not make a purchasing decision. Focused industrial marketing simplifies choice.

You dilute the strength of your position in the marketplace
When you think of the car manufacturer Bentley you get a very clear picture in your mind of what its brand is supposed to represent. So while Bentley may well offer various price points in their product lines (expensive to unbelievably expensive), the concept of the cheap Bentley is absurd. A cheap Bentley would really harm their brand and weaken their hard-fought position in the marketplace as a high luxury/performance vehicle. Focused industrial marketing strengthens positioning.

Your messaging lacks focus 
This is another problem you may encounter. While it is tempting to think that by simply putting together a catalogue featuring all your lines and offering something for everyone you will then gain prospect interest, this may not be so. The prospect interested in the high-end machine in your catalogue assuredly has less interest in your bargain basement option. To put this in a different way it would be like your car dealer giving you a single catalogue featuring the Sonic, Cadillac, Fiat, and Bentley—incongruous. Focused industrial marketing motivates prospects.

How can a full-line manufacturer or distributor improve their industrial marketing?
I want to stress there is nothing inherently wrong in offering a full line of products. What you want to avoid at all costs is finding your company stuck in the middle. To put this another way, “ABC Company sells 25 brands of drill presses” may not be the best position in which to find your company.

For best results your industrial marketing processes should be clearly delineated based on the price point or value you are trying to sell. What this means is the way you market your high-end products must be different from the way you market your inexpensive lines. You need to target, approach, qualify, and sell individual markets in totally different ways. You want to customize the buying experience. These markets have vastly different perceptions and needs.

As I have said for years, you can be all to everyone, just not all at once.

Andrew Shedden

Andrew is the president of Broadfield Communications. When he's not working he likes reading history and biographies. He enjoys classic cars, music, and everything about rural settings. He loves to travel the world.