Industrial Marketing – An Opportunity, Not an Obstacle
by Michael Shade, IQS Editor
Every good businessperson knows the importance of product quality and customer service. These two elements will always be at the core of good business practice, and without them no business can be successful on any sustainable terms. However, in a competitive environment, it is not always enough for a company to offer its customers exceptional products and service. In order to compete, a company must make efforts to make its products known to customers and to distinguish itself from competitors. The technical term for this process is marketing, and in the context of industry, marketing has always been important.
A company can have the best products on the market and still experience terrible sales if it fails to market effectively. This is an easy concept to grasp: if your customers aren’t aware of your products, they can’t buy them. To many businesspeople, the task of marketing sometimes seems like it should be someone else’s work; it can seem like a distraction from what a company actually does. But consider this: every company’s business is business. If marketing is one of the avenues by which a company reaches its customers, then to some extent, marketing is that company’s business. In the context of business-to-business marketing, this task becomes even more important. American industry is flooded with high quality companies making high quality products. If, for example, a plastic extruding company needed to buy raw plastic pellets, a nearly overwhelming number of qualified suppliers could be found to meet that company’s needs. The suppliers that end up being found, though, are those that know how to make themselves visible to their customers.
Suppose that plastic extruder needed access to several tons of polyethylene pellets. As recently as ten years ago, that company’s procurement manager might have turned to a paper directory of companies or even to a phone book to look for an appropriate supplier. Today, that procurement manager needs only to enter the words “polyethylene pellets” into a search engine, and a sea of possibilities emerges. Innovation in marketing is just like innovation in any other area of business; companies that can adapt and respond to the needs and desires of their customers will be more successful than those that cannot adapt. Buyers have realized that they can save time and money by turning to the Internet. Will sellers that ignore this trend be able to compete with those that take their business online?
Because so many companies have chosen to do business online, competition becomes fiercer every day. Cultivating an effective online presence involves creating and frequently updating a user-friendly website, and, increasingly, it involves achieving high rankings in search engines. Because so many users turn to search engines to find products, and because so many companies are listed on search engines, a top-tier search engine ranking can place a company directly in its clients’ line of sight. By the time a user reaches the second page of a search engine query, he or she has already been exposed to several choices; in fact, some users never even see second page search engine listings. For this reason, achieving high placement in search engines is an important part of successful online business strategy for many companies.
Achieving top-tier search engine rankings is achieved only through a combination of thoughtful web design, keyword research, networking with other websites like blogs and directories, social networking and a variety of other efforts, and this process takes a lot of patience and persistence. While this process is sometimes best left to professional marketing companies, many of the tools necessary to improve search engine rankings are available at no cost to anyone willing to become familiar with them. In addition to the vast number of internet marketing-related blogs and newsletters, Google and Bing, the dominant presences in the search engine market, offer keyword research tools as well as paid services like traffic measurement and analysis and advertising campaign management. These and other tools help webmasters establish and maintain effective web presence.
It takes time to become familiar with these and other Internet marketing tools. Think of that time and effort as investments. Hopefully, your return will be website traffic and eventually sales impact. Like it or not, today’s successful, sustainable industrial business model involves Internet marketing. It takes some effort, but Internet marketing can be a major asset to your company.