Smart, connected technologies are changing how parts and products are designed, produced, and used. As this new digital reality transforms factory floors, it is accelerating the digital transformation of the entire company. Manufacturers underestimate how Industry 4.0 technologies will affect sales and marketing.
Here are five ways Industry 4.0 will change marketing and sales.
1. Changing Sales Channels
With this new connected paradigm, manufacturers are considering taking more business direct. If you sell through OEMs or indirect channels, your traditional sales channels may not be ready or want to move into Industry 4.0 technologies. There is a significant challenge to educate a reluctant sales channel about a paradigm that promises to transform the entire industry. However, it is necessary for long term growth. For example, we recently developed a campaign to help one of our clients determine its channel readiness for selling and supporting IoT-based solutions. One-third were ready now, one-third wanted more information, and one third had no current interest in selling the new IoT-enabled product line. These results helped our client refocus the sales team to spend more time helping earlier adopters become successful and moved channel partners that have no interest in the new product line to more phone and video support rather than dedicated direct touch support. The first group is strategic and essential to the longer term growth of our client's business while the second group is important for today's revenue. The company has put a nurturing program in place for the second group to continually educate them on the changing paradigm. Triggers have been set up to move partners from group two to group one once the trigger criteria have been met.
Tip: Assess the readiness of your sales channel for IoT-based solutions, adjust your sales and marketing resources accordingly, and keep nurturing laggards.
2. Increased Direct Contact with End Customers
In this new world, end customers are directly connected to manufacturers early in the buying process. This helps manufacturers learn directly from customers rather than relying on a middleman. New insights bring new opportunities for revenue streams. Connected technologies and products allow for revenue opportunities after the initial sale that were not readily available before. With traditional sales, sales teams interacted with customers up until the point of sale. IoT actually lengthens the relationship by providing constant connectivity and leveraging it to now deliver upgrades, service additions and even new features throughout the life of a product; dramatically changing the way modern sales is conducted. Sales and marketing now directly engage with the customer post sale and throughout the entire life cycle..
Tip: Put a CRM system and digital marketing infrastructure in place, without it, you will not be able to take advantage of new insights and new revenue opportunities that arise from smart products.
3. New Buyers, New Target Audiences
Smart products are engineered for a connected environment won’t be adopted without IT buy-in and support. Because of this, the buying journey for all smart products now include IT roles, such as the CIO, CTO, and IT directors and managers. B2B manufacturers need to market to this new audience in addition to traditional design engineers. Design engineers care about functionality and support while IT has unique challenges such as data storage, compatibility, security, and different desired outcomes. IT buys differently and consumes information differently.
Tip: Learn more about these new roles by interviewing people in these roles and creating personas – a fictional representation of each role that includes customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, challenges, and goals.
4. Expanded Content
More roles in the buying process means you need more content to educate the targeted the new audience. Your traditional audience will also need more content. In addition to capabilities, increased productivity and cost efficiencies, design engineers need to understand how the data produced can be used for decision-making.
IT’s primary concern is aligning technology to business goals and objectives. They need to understand any technology initiatives and evolution, compatibility, security and data storage.
Tip: Because two very disparate disciplines are coming together, assume zero knowledge for both audiences. Design engineers like data sheets and may not be familiar with how IoT works or how it is affecting their industry. IT wants proof and validation and of may have no idea about what your products do or how your products work.
5. From Brochure-ware to Modern Marketing
Now that B2B buying has moved online, first impressions matter. Many manufacturing marketing departments still rely on a basic website and trade shows to generate leads. In fact, manufacturers are behind every other industry in terms of digital marketing and are missing out on the value it can bring to the bottom line.
The modern manufacturing marketing department is connected, optimized, transparent, and agile. It can help manufacturers understand what buyers are doing at every stage of the funnel and engage them with the right information.
Here is what you need as a foundation of a modern marketing program.
- A sales-ready website – Traditional websites no longer are effective. You need to transform your digital brochure into a lead generation machine that is polished and responsive so that can be viewed by any device.
- Landing pages – This is where you offer content that educates your prospects.
- Forms – Digital forms capture your visitor information.
- Marketing automation – Automatically drip content to prospects and leads find their own path to purchase.
- Email and lead nurturing – Use email to nurture your leads down the funnel.
- Social media – Promote your content, interact with customers and demonstrate thought leadership.
- Blog - Publish relevant, engaging, conversion-optimized content
- SEO tools – Boost your search rankings.
- Reports - Measure everything against your business goals.
there is free software available to help you get started. Click blow for more details.
Tip: You can run all of your digital marketing on a software platform like HubSpot or you can use separate tools for each function. The benefits of a platform is that all of the various tactics are integrated and you can track all activity at every step of the way. You can see how prospects and customers interact with your content and brand.