Industrial marketing, also known as business-to-business (B2B) marketing, is a branch
of communications and sales that specializes in providing goods and services to other
businesses, rather than to individual customers (See also B2B Marketing).
Because industrial marketing often involves large orders and long-term relationships
between the producer and client, the process from first pitch to close of sale is often
more complex than the process between a business and a private customer.
While B2C sales might focus on one-on-one interactions between two parties,
businesses are usually made up of a number of individuals. Before the product appears
on the other store’s shelves, the two businesses must reach a deal that will involve
the manufacture, purchase, and shipping of thousands of products.
- Who uses industrial marketing?
Many companies create and market products that have little to no application on the
level of the individual customer, so their only clients will be other businesses.
A company that makes large-scale manufacturing machinery, for example, is either
unlikely or unable to sell that machinery to private individuals because those
customers are unlikely to be able to afford it or won’t need equipment of such size.
The machinery would have to be sold to another business that has both the resources and
need to produce large quantities of their own product, such as a mass-market toy
factory that needs to create one million units of the same toy each year.
Many consumer product companies develop special marketing divisions specifically for
B2B clients. Furniture manufacturers often do this, opening up their tables, chairs,
and couches to businesses that may want them for their corporate offices.
This typically happens when the manufacturer’s business grows to a large enough scale
to accommodate larger orders. Service providers also occasionally expand to industrial
clients to take advantage of more lucrative contracts. A legal practice specializing in
contract law, for instance, could expand its scope from representing only individuals
to helping businesses develop their own contracts.
- The industrial marketing process
The first step in developing an industrial marketing plan is the same as developing any
kind of marketing plan: identify the customer. The producer must understand what kinds
of businesses would benefit from the product. This creates a foundation and focus for
the rest of the marketing plan.
Next, the producer needs to tailor their introduction to prospective clients. Though
old-fashioned, face-to-face networking is alive and well in the business-to-business
world, it is increasingly important to have a strong online presence. Potential clients
will always research a company before negotiating a sale of its product. A website with detailed but not overly specific content about the company and its products serves as a great introduction. (See also Web Marketing)
In our previous example of the chocolate bar manufacturer, they might create an
aesthetically pleasing, well-written website talking about their company’s history
and the candy they produce. They would then augment the effectiveness of the website
by adding a regularly updated blog about new products, or post on social networks
informing users about the locations where they can buy their chocolate.
Communication with potential clients through email, phone conversations, and in-person
presentations helps nurture the business relationship. Professionals at the chocolate
manufacturer might send product samples with personalized notes to develop a strong
impression ahead of a business meeting.
Once the client is ready to discuss the details of a contract, the marketing phase is
nearly over. The focus of all materials for this specific client should shift to
maintaining a good working relationship. The chocolate manufacturer should have a
solid plan with its accounts managers for how to compose emails and conduct phone
conversations with representatives of the candy store, as well as how to inform them
about new products. Because the store is no longer a new client, all communications
should be customized to their specific experience with the producer.