While just about every industrial company in Australia spends considerable revenue on marketing, hardly any gain good results. That’s because most Australian businesses don’t know how to look beyond the clichés they see and hear. By Jenny Kuo.

With so many marketing technologies promising the next big thing in winning new clients, it’s no surprise business owners and managers alike find it hard to choose what they need to draw new business cost-effectively. The key is to recognise that successful marketing has little to do with choosing and buying what you perceive to be the right ‘space’. It’s really about locating and identifying everything about your potential market, its needs and buying habits, and the delivery methods that work best to reach them fruitfully.

Because they are probably looking from inside the fishbowl, very few industrial businesses ever step back and properly analyse exactly what kind of marketing mix would actually work best for them before they spend big. This is because most are confused by what tactics to use when in reality it is the strategy that needs changing. Businesses should pull back and have an in-depth, independent look at their current marketing situation and how much it is costing, yet producing ordinary results.

This highlights just how the media channel providers have pulled you into their web. Remember, common media channels including Facebook, Google, web design and all manner of digital and traditional marketing platforms all want your money, but they don’t give advice on any other methods that would suit you better – they’re only interested in their own brand.

What I advise is the polar opposite: a way of blocking out the sales pitches, stepping back, and taking a thoroughly analytical, business-minded approach to answer the following three questions:

  • Who are your best customers and where would they be?
  • How do you craft the message so it hits them between the eyes in their preferred fashion?
  • What media channels and communications streams will work best for you?

Every week, it seems some fantastic new online marketing system pops up, or some open-source offering, or perhaps even more expensive software that doesn’t just promise to overhaul your marketing, but almost puts you on a guilt trip if you don’t adopt it, or worse still you are made to feel like you are falling behind without it. But the truth is, most industrial businesses don’t need too much of a starting point to transform their marketing setup and the results they can obtain from it.

The fabrication sector is highly competitive with lots of companies battling for market share in sectors that are sometimes thought to be small, but in fact they are quite big – though nobody has researched it well enough to find out. It becomes a dog-eat-dog scenario, which often prompts a knee-jerk reaction to seek some technical, fast-fix branded product.

Even though we are in the modern, technical age of marketing, industry seems to have been thrown a curveball by marketers and marketing technology developers into believing that old-style marketing is a thing of the past. That’s not necessarily true. Once some basic, but quite intensive, research is done on your business and product, when your sales staff have identified what they really need, and your potential target markets have been comprehensively analysed and understood, you have a much better idea of what type of marketing actually suits your message.

This is likely to show just how much effort and time is forfeited in, say, constant social media marketing – an overload of LinkedIn output, or 24/7tweets, or non-stop blogging et al. This takes enormous time and resources, and all this volume is often not necessary. If someone takes a look at your potential target market, its wants and needs and all the variables, and what your product and sales staff truly have to do to reach them, it might just take an old-fashioned letter as part of the marketing mix to get that message to that target.

Our message in all of this is that Australian industrial companies may feel under pressure to conform and adopt every whizz-bang new marketing technology and social media platform that comes its way. Hard-working companies like yours are most likely to be doing this out of fear of being left out.

To put a question to the market – and within a market context easier to understand – if a new or existing client came to your business wanting components cut from the same blank sheet, would you carry out the job purely on the strength of the conversation? Or would you request engineering drawings so you can put that into your system and accurately provide for what the client has requested? No doubt you would choose the latter.

Marketing is no different – there is way too little guidance for industrial companies, so what ends up happening is a ‘spray-and-pray’ approach where lots of marketing dollars are wasted on systems and blanket solutions that give low-percentage, unproven solutions.

The smart way to do it is exactly the way you do your fabrication: you study potential markets, learn not just what they want but how they most favourably like to learn about it, so you fashion it in that way, and you deliver it in the way they want it delivered. If you can fashion components to order, you can fashion your marketing to order.

This is a strategic, logical and sensible approach to marketing. While your business regularly changes its décor, its car fleets, uniforms and other business assets to move with the times, you probably never think that your marketing strategy also needs a complete revamp.

Dedicated, independent research and analysis will easily compare your current marketing strategy against what it could be as a thoroughly tailored solution. Like magic you’ll clearly see the right tactics and find you are spending less on the entire exercise and winning more business.

Jenny Kuo is an independent business marketing research, analysis and positioning specialist.