This past August I had a euphoric moment while on vacation. I found a “brother” in the struggle.
At an outdoor cafe in South Carolina, my smart phone chirps. One of my Google Alerts is set for the keyword “industrial marketing” and I noticed Jared Fabac, a well-respected industrial marketer has written a new book, The Industrial (Marketing) Revolution. I rode my bicycle back to the condo and downloaded Jared’s book to my Nexus 7. I had the entire book read by the following afternoon, fortunately by the swimming pool.
I then wrote a blog post about my experience shortly after returning to Kalamazoo. I called & visited many of my customers and recommended they purchase Jared’s book and insert Jared’s concepts into their go-to-market strategy immediately. Some listened and some did not.
Fabac’s book is a must-read for every industrial marketer. I have written extensively on this blog, before and after reading Jared’s book, about the need to adapt to market realities Jared outlines in his, ground-breaking, book.
To summarize, “The time is now for industrial & b2b marketers to understand what must be done to remain competitive. In 5 years, it will far too late” – Jared Fabac
It is with pleasure that I present a brief interview with the author of The Industrial (Marketing) Revolution, Jared Fabac.
TR: Tell me briefly how you arrived at the point where “The Industrial Marketing Revolution” was created?
JF: We started as an agency in 2007 with the intention of servicing solely industrial markets. I come from a family that owned a large manufacturing company and it was a market that I was extremely comfortable in. At that point in time, we mostly dealt with website development and programming ERP integrations to give industrial customers access to live workflows. Through that work we became introduced to enterprise level clients. During these contracts, we quickly became aware of how underutilized even the most basic digital communications were in the industrial sector. Even some of the largest US manufacturers were simply doing a terrible job at using the web for customer communication. We ended up engaged by one client who was actively involved in digital based marketing strategies. They were following the advice from several well-known thought leaders and came to us after the standard rules of today’s content based marketing were simply not tailored enough to fit a complex industrial sales cycle. That’s when I took action and decided to begin forming a foundational knowledge base of how to interpret today’s marketing strategies with an industrial focus leading to The Industrial (Marketing) Revolution.
TR: What kind of reaction to the book have you had from the industrial community?
JF: The reaction has been great. My main purpose for this book was to quickly reengineer the industrial mindset in a manner that would allow them to change their focus. It was basically designed to align a new client’s concerns with our mindset so that we could quickly get on the same page and the book has accomplished that fully. The goal was never to create experts in the field, but rather introduce the digital concepts in a way that was relatable to the industry.
TR: Do you still feel a reluctance of industrial marketers to embrace content marketing as viable web strategy?
JF: Absolutely. At the end of the day industrial markets are still “hand-shake” markets. There are billion dollar industrial companies built on the philosophy of getting face-to-face and working through a deal onsite. It is one of the few industries that its equipment is advancing faster than its sales people and those sales reps are typically where the reluctance comes from. Reps are traditionally where 85% of industrial sales come from and content marketing is a threat to their existence, unless they are actively involved in that strategy. Introducing new marketing strategies should always include the ground level field reps and techs because they can make even the most successful content strategy look null and void since they will still hold the sale closing in most cases. So ensuring their inclusion in the content strategy is step one of overcoming the reluctance.
TR: For the companies that have embraced the new channels to market using content marketing, what has been the biggest challenge for them to move forward…and do it right?
JR: I would have to say the biggest challenge is simply organizing all the pieces of the sale cycle. Because today’s ERP systems create such an automated workflow, it’s easy for pieces of the content puzzle to get lost simply because they are always automated. These pieces are sometimes the most valuable elements in creating content that is valuable to the end user, such as keeping a product within tolerance during the manufacturing process. These types of processes simply happen through an automated check, however, these processes can truly differentiate one manufacturer from another and make for powerful content assets.
TR: What is our best strategy for an unyielding corporate culture to get off its butt and move on using a content marketing strategy?
JF: I think the best way is to tailor our messages in a way that they are already accustomed to. Industrial companies expect all of their suppliers to adhere to similar guidelines and standards, whether it’s creating content or materials. They seek clean processes that result in leaner operations and don’t value intangibles as much. One big mistake most inbound marketers make is to introduce their value as something the manufacturer doesn’t currently do and it almost comes off insulting and results in being told “we don’t need it or we don’t operate that way” by an industrial executive. It’s a mistake to try and introduce these strategies as new concepts. Industrial companies already get it. Most industrial companies are more automated and streamlined in operations than most of us can understand. Our goal is to find the connection between content marketing and how it integrates with their already enhanced operations and show them that this is accommodating their already streamlined approach to manufacturing and adjusting it to support their end user, as well. Once that connection is made, they not only see the opportunity for growth in business, but also in the dedication to become leaner industrial companies, as well.
TR: Typically, it is difficult for a company to find money in the budget for a quality content marketing effort. What should the industrial marketer stop doing/repurpose to find resources for content marketing?
JF: 9 out of 10 industrial companies will not reallocate dollars to “try” inbound or content marketing. To them that would be equivalent to shutting down a machine that consistently pumps out 50 parts a day without problems, to try a new, untested one that they hope spits out 70 parts in a shorter time. It just doesn’t happen. They will run both of them side by side, check the results and make a decision. Content marketing will be treated very similar. Usually dollars don’t need to be found. Industrial companies are typically more capitalized than other markets. I find the most effective way to have those dollars allocated to content marketing is to phase the new strategies into place in order of most effective. Once the company sees the effectiveness and measurability, they will begin to evaluate all of their marketing strategies such as trade shows and journal ads in the same light. This will naturally allow them to begin reallocating more dollars for the more effective strategies. You can never immediately recommend cutting a trade show out, because one sales rep may have one contact they meet every year and close an annual sale of significant magnitude. You begin fighting a unwinnable battle if you recommend cutting one program out to pay for another and it’s an unnecessary battle.
TR: We feel strongly that an industrial marketer…particularly industrial marketers, should re-focus or pump up their brand message before they start content marketing. As you know, most industrial marketers have pretty weak brands. Is strengthening the brand message an important first step for your customers before they do content marketing?
JF: Again, this is one of those areas where you’re going to have some that will agree and others that won’t. My initial answer is yes, BUT that’s after the acknowledgement of what the term “brand” means from an industrial standpoint. Brand is a different term in the industrial world. I feel brand revitalization can certainly be based on thought leadership. Not only through content, but in engineering, manufacturing, and quality. Take the glaring issue of offshore competition as checkmate proof of this. Industrial customers do not get as attached to brands as other markets. In traditional markets, brand is product association with an emphasis on value. In the industrial world, brand is quality association with an emphasis on integration. If there was a decision to be made on whether to spend dollars on improving the brand or gaining an additional Quality Assurance certification, I’d take the QA cert because I feel that this is a method that accommodates the industrial way to overhaul a brand. So, I feel if the branding refocus is tailored around the areas mentioned above, as in quality, consistency and process, then it would absolutely be worth the re-focus.
TR: Can a highly technical, industrial marketer outsource content marketing?
JF: Most definitely and for one major reason. Technical markets are typically the most well documented markets with piles of content already created. It’s just a matter of knowing how to create accommodating sales content around the technical documents that already exist in high volume. This is also why you can never exclude the ground sales reps. They are well versed in how to make technical data appealing in the discovery and research phases of the sales process. The resources are plentiful…you just have to know where to look and what can be duplicated.
TR: If I remember correctly you did not make a big deal about marketing automation in the book. Do you typically use your REMASS product or do you take a more holistic approach and install others such as HubSpot, Marketo, etc.?
JF: Marketing automation is a big deal in my mind. I feel the benefits of having a system in place is a giant pillar in the overall marketing strategy. The reason I didn’t get too much into it was because I did not want to promote any products individually, including our own, based on the complexities of this step in the industrial world. Some companies may operate on a basic ERP platform that they do not rely entirely on in which HubSpot, or another platform would be a great fit and work well. However, the number of industrial companies that fall into this category are few and far between. Most use sophisticated ERP systems today, many of which are homegrown. If a company is using an extremely effective ERP process, you better believe that the marketing automation better integrate into that platform, period. If you don’t connect and actively communicate with the company’s greatest information resource, the process becomes devalued very quickly and will fail. So I do believe in the power of marketing automation, as long as it’s a two way communicator with the existing platforms and because of that I cannot endorse any individual platform.
TR: What recent authors have you read that contributed to your journey and passion for what you do?
JF: My favorite authors are writers such as David Meerman Scott, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Scott Stratton. I like to think out the box when it comes to industrial marketing and these guys are all in that category.
TR: Thanks Jared for your time. I look forward to staying in touch.
Have more questions about ways to leverage the web for lead generation? Give me a call. It is no charge.
“By Tom Repp”