Are you struggling to break into the competitive world of industrial product marketing? Join us as we dive into the secrets of success with Kelly Olson from The Mx Group.
Discover how they transformed a packaging company’s brand, navigated the challenges of recruitment in a tight labor market, and even built e-commerce platforms for their clients.
Get ready to learn actionable strategies for brand development, targeted marketing, and customer engagement in the industrial products sector.
Tune in to this insightful episode to unlock the power of industrial product marketing and propel your brand to new heights. Don’t miss it!
Watch the Podcast Interview:
Want more niche marketing insights on the Industrial Product Marketing vertical?
This episode is Part 1 in a multi-part series on Industrial Product Marketing.
To continue learning on this niche, visit:
• Part 2: Content Marketing Strategy for Boring Industries | Industrial Product Marketing with Ross Simmonds
• Part 3: Use Account-Based Marketing or FAIL! | Industrial Product Marketing with Thad Kahlow
• Part 4: B2B Content Marketing and LinkedIn Advertising | Industrial Product Marketing with Jim Londeree
• Part 5: Organic SEO and Paid Search in Industrial Marketing Mastery | Industrial Product Marketing with Justin Smith
A Few Episode Insights and Key Takeaways on Industrial Product Marketing and More:
1. Importance of Branding: The podcast highlights that branding in the industrial products space is crucial. It’s not just about visual identity but also about defining how a company shows up in the world, what it stands for, and how it differentiates itself.
2. Understanding Buyer Personas: To effectively market industrial products, it’s essential to understand the various buyer personas in the industry. This includes decision-makers like procurement agents, health and safety inspectors, and professionals in operations, each with distinct content needs and concerns.
3. Content Strategy: The podcast emphasizes the importance of tailoring content to different audience personas. Content creation should focus on answering their questions, addressing their concerns, and providing solutions to their specific challenges.
4. Account-Based Marketing (ABM): ABM is presented as a strategy rather than just a tool. It involves narrowing targeting to specific accounts and buyers, creating personalized content, and leveraging marketing technology to engage with these accounts effectively.
5. Recruitment Challenges: In today’s tight labor market, industrial companies are using marketing to attract talent. Customized marketing campaigns can significantly increase candidate engagement and help address recruitment challenges.
6. E-commerce Platforms: The podcast showcases the growing importance of e-commerce in industrial products. Companies are building e-commerce platforms to make the buying process more convenient, with features like inventory checks, pricing details, and order tracking.
7. Sustainability as a Selling Point: Sustainability is highlighted as a significant selling point for industrial products, particularly in reducing single-use plastic and advancing environmental goals.
8. Digital Experience: Companies are improving the digital experience for both distributors and end-users. This includes creating user-friendly e-commerce portals and tools to streamline purchasing decisions.
9. Building Stronger Distributor Relationships: By focusing on branding, tailored content, and e-commerce solutions, companies can strengthen their relationships with distributors, creating less friction in the purchasing process.
10. Segmentation and Expansion: Companies should focus on market segmentation to identify potential growth areas within specific verticals or geographic regions, leading to effective market expansion.
These insights provide valuable information for industrial product marketers looking to enhance their strategies and better understand the evolving landscape of the industrial product industry.
Core Insights / Jump to Topics of Interest to You:
- 0:00 – 00:20: Introductions and setting the stage for John and Kelly to deep dive into marketing for the industrial product industry
- 00:20 – 04:55: Understanding Industrial Product Marketing – Delve into the world of industrial product marketing and discover the unique challenges it presents.
- 04:55 – 13:47: The Power of Branding – Learn how reimagining a brand can create opportunities and make a significant impact in the market.
- 13:47 – 22:11: Recruitment Strategies in a Tight Labor Market – Explore the innovative campaign that helped attract candidates in a competitive labor market.
- 22:11 – 28:16: E-Commerce Platforms for Distributors – Uncover the significance of building e-commerce platforms to facilitate convenience and boost distributor relationships.
- 28:16 – 35:27: Account-Based Marketing Strategies – Understand the importance of account-based marketing (ABM) and how it can be leveraged as a powerful strategy.
- 35:27 – 22:11: Personalized Content Creation – Dive into the art of crafting personalized content that resonates with target audiences.
- 31:39 – 32:31: Breaking into New Markets – Gain insights into strategies for penetrating new markets and expanding your business.
- 32:31 – 33:17: Sustainability and Environmental Impact – Explore the role of sustainability in today’s industrial supply market and its potential to drive business growth.
- 33:17 – 37:23: Recruitment Challenges and Employer Branding – Discover how employer branding can help overcome recruitment challenges and retain top talent.
- 37:23 – End: The Future of Industrial Product Marketing – Wrap up with thoughts on the evolving landscape of industrial product marketing and the strategies that will shape the future.
Take Action Now!
- Grab your Guide to Local SEO here – free!
- Unlock the power of branding in industrial products – it’s more than just a logo; it’s about differentiation and value. #IndustrialMarketing
- In the world of account-based marketing (ABM), it’s about targeting accounts strategically, not just a digital tool. #ABM #MarketingStrategy
- E-commerce is transforming industrial products by making the buying process more convenient and less frictional for distributors and end users. #Ecommerce #IndustrialProducts
- Building strong relationships with distributor partners is essential for growth in the industrial products space. #B2BRelationships #IndustrialGrowth
- Recruitment and retention are becoming key challenges in industrial sectors, and marketing can play a pivotal role in addressing them. #TalentAcquisition #RetentionStrategies
About Host John Bertino and TAG:
A decade spent working for marketing agencies was more than enough to know that there are too many bad agencies and not enough objective marketers within them. John launched TAG in 2014 with the mission to provide brands unbiased guidance from seasoned marketing professionals at little or no cost.
TAG advises brands on marketing channel selection, resource allocation, and agency selection to ensure brands invest in the right marketing strategies, with the right expectations, and (ultimately) with the right partners.
TAG represents 200+ well-vetted agencies and consultants across the United States and Europe.
John’s professional background and areas of expertise include: Marketing Planning, Earned Media, SEO, Content Marketing, Link Acquisition, Digital PR, Thought Leadership, and B2B Lead Generation.
About Guest Expert: Kelly Olson
Kelly Olson leads The Mx Group’s strategy team, designing innovative processes and frameworks that guide clients to impactful results. For over 15 years, she has directed successful, award-winning campaigns for clients in the hospitality, automotive, medical and industrial sectors.
She is accomplished in the areas of B2B brand messaging, creative strategy, demand generation, lead management and sales enablement. Kelly is a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and holds a B.A. in business and communications.
The Mx Group is the second-largest independent, integrated B2B marketing agency in the U.S., dedicated to impacting the marketplace for companies that shape the world. With a history spanning over three decades, The Mx Group has consistently crafted meaningful end-to-end buying experiences for B2B brands. Their strong client relationships and commitment to excellence led to their recognition as Agency of the Year by B2B Marketing in 2022.
Following a recent acquisition of Imagination, a leading content marketing agency, The Mx Group has expanded its presence and capabilities across the United States. This strategic move enhances their brand campaigns, thought leadership content, digitally enabled journeys, and SEO programs, ultimately enriching the customer experience for the brands they serve.
Imagination specializes in storytelling content that fosters connections between brands and their audiences, nurturing deeper relationships and informed decision-making. Their journalistic content is known for its objectivity and value, resonating with B2B buyers throughout their journey and elevating every touchpoint into a valuable interaction.
With a collective wealth of experience in content marketing spanning decades, the Imagination team injects innovation, creativity, and strategic thinking throughout the organization.
The Mx Group’s client portfolio includes leaders and trailblazers in automotive, financial services, food, health care, legal services, oil and gas, industrial, packaging, trade associations, technology, and SaaS. While headquartered in Chicago, their impact extends globally. Whether a client is an established industry titan or a budding B2B brand, The Mx Group offers the expertise and perspective to be a formidable and impactful partner.
Cummins, HollyFrontier Sinclair, Zekelman Industries, Whoop, Graphic Packaging, FujiFilm Electronic Materials, Cox Automotive Group, Project Management Institute, the American Optometric Association, Discover, Charles Schwab and First Citizens Bank.
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Transcripts of Interview of Kelly Olson on Industrial Products Marketing
Note: This transcript has been provided to assist you in finding extra information specific to your needs and goals. We have not edited it line by line for grammar, spelling, punctuation, or perfect formatting. Please forgive errors.
0:00:02 Introduction to marketing industrial products and the podcast series
0:02:37 Introduction to the Niche Marketing Podcast
0:03:15 Introducing Kelly’s marketing background and exposure to industrial products
0:05:00 Deﬁning industrial supply and its various categories of products
0:07:10 Importance of distributor sales teams and building sales and marketing alignment
0:09:45 The Shift in Marketing Strategies
0:10:57 Deal Sizes and Opportunities in Industrial Products
0:13:29 The Importance of Marketing and Building Brand Reputation
0:16:02 Understanding the Players and Driving Demand through Distribution
0:19:37 Cleaning supplies as a differentiator in a post-COVID world
0:21:12 Content strategy: different types of content for different goals
0:24:35 Tailoring content for different audience personas
0:27:47 Account-based marketing (ABM) as a targeted strategy
0:31:39 Highlighting Case Studies in Industrial Products
0:33:17 Recruitment Challenges and Building E-commerce Platforms
Niche Marketing Podcast, marketing strategies, industrial products industry, tailoring strategies, target audiences, building relationships, distributors, branding, keyword research, buyer personas, Account- Based Marketing (ABM), valuable insights, TheMxGroup.com
Introduction to marketing industrial products and the podcast series
John B. (Intro):
[0:02] Marketing and industrial product, it ain’t easy. But as always, we’ve got you covered.
That’s what we do here at the niche marketing podcast. And we created this multi-part, multi-episode series.
We’re gonna break down top to bottom, left to right exactly what you do to market industrial product. And this ﬁrst installment, I sit down with Kelly Olson.
She’s the vice president of strategic planning for the MX group in Chicago. The Amex Group is a 30-year-old, B2B-focused marketing agency.
30 years, that’s a long time. They work with some of the biggest industrial supply, industrial product companies in the world, in the world, in the world.
They’re also the second largest independent agency in the USA. These guys really know their stuff.
Kelly’s actually been there almost her entire career. Her entire career, can you believe that?
So in this episode, we’re gonna cover all the basics. It’s an overview episode after all. We’re gonna be
covering things like how to market across departments in one of these complex organizations that often make these buying decisions.
So from procurement, ESG department, R&D, operations, whatever it is.
And then also how to market and build trust and credibility with all of the different players in the space.
[1:16] Wholesale distribution, like the Grainger’s of the world to the IMRs, that’s the independent rep groups that rep different product lines.
The BCSs, or I think that’s business contract services is what I think that stands for.
We’re also gonna talk about ABM or account-based marketing, which is deﬁnitely the key to successful marketing in the space.
And we’ll cover that age-old conundrum of how do you secure shelf space with a distribution outlet when no one’s asking about your product by name?
How do you get people to ask about your product by name when there’s no distributions or major outlets?
By the way, if you don’t think branding matters in this space, think again. Branding is super critical as Kelly’s about to tell you.
And if you’re the type that doesn’t think that it matters, you really need to stay tuned and hear what Kelly has to say.
Do you love diving deep into different niches so that you can successfully market within them?
Yeah, who doesn’t? Yeah, who doesn’t? Then you need more content from the Niche Marketing Podcast. If you haven’t already, hit the like button, subscribe now so you can get more great content where we dive super deep to different marketing niches. one niche at a time.
Introduction to the Niche Marketing Podcast
[2:37] Hi, I’m John Bertino, and you’re listening to the Niche Marketing Podcast, where we interview marketers with unique insights into speciﬁc industries and drill down on lucrative niches to uncover the secrets to marketing success.
Today, I’m delighted to be sitting here with our guest, Kelli Olson.
Hi, Kelli! How are you? I’m well. How are you? Fantastic! Thrilled to be here. Kelli is the Vice President of Strategic Planning at the MX Group in Chicago.
We are in Chicago right now. And today, we’re going to be talking about marketing speciﬁc to the industrial supply niche.
Introducing Kelly’s marketing background and exposure to industrial products
[3:15] So, before we get into it, Kelly, could you please brieﬂy tell the audience a little bit about your professional background, how long you’ve been in marketing, and how you initially gained exposure to the industrial supply niche? Sure.
Well, I’ve been in marketing, and more speciﬁcally, B2B marketing, my entire career. And I may be a little bit older than I look, so I’ve been in the industry for 20 years.
I’ve actually been with the agency, the MX Group, for my entire career.
I know it’s really unusual this day and age to have that type of lifespan at an agency. But I’m really just fascinated by all things B2B and B2B marketing.
And so I’d say basically I’ve been introduced into kind of the industrial sector pretty early in my career, as that’s been a key clientele for the agency for our tenure.
So, I’ve been in this space for a long time.
Yeah, that’s great. Well, drilling down on the industrial supply niche is exactly what we’re here to do today.
So, you know, our podcast is directed towards marketers that are either, you know, getting their footing in the niche or thinking about getting into a niche.
And whenever we drill down on a speciﬁc area, it’s important to kind of set the stage and talk about some of the unique players in the space, maybe jargon or terminology in the space, or just unique intricacies that don’t ﬁnd themselves in other industries.
[4:43] Industrial supply, admittedly, that’s a little bit broad. But nonetheless, there are certain aspects to industrial supply that are pretty consistent throughout.
Let’s start with the players in the space, starting with the way things are bought and purchased, and any speciﬁc aspects of that you think are worth talking about.
Deﬁning industrial supply and its various categories of products
[5:00] Yeah, if you don’t mind, I’ll start a little bit broader ﬁrst than that with just industrial supply and I guess how we deﬁne it. Sure. So industrial supply being anything that goes into a building or manufacturing center to produce their goods or to run their operations.
So we’re talking about things from the building itself to the equipment in the facility to the equipment, you know, used in the ofﬁce spaces like printers.
We’re talking about raw materials that go into the operations of the business or into the actual products. And we’re even talking about, you know, like the supplies and maintenance supplies that are used to keep the space clean.
So, there is a lot of, there are a lot of players and a lot of different suppliers in the space.
And so, to your point, it’s really broad and we work with suppliers in a lot of those different categories.
[5:58] The players speciﬁcally, it’s a complex sale. So, here’s is where a big difference is for those that are new into industrial supply.
You know, you might be used to having a little bit more direct access to your end user and be able to speak directly to your customer. In the case of industrial supply, you’re quite removed in many cases from that actual end user of your product, if you will.
So, we actually were having some conversations with a client recently, and sometimes it’s easier to give an example. So we are working with a client that is selling cleaning solutions. So they’re a supplier for the maintenance side of the business.
They sell through ﬁrst, their ﬁrst stop in the chain is through wholesale or redistribution.
Like these are the buyers who take their goods and ultimately get them into the distribution channel. So then that brings us to the traditional distributors people think of easily can think of Granger as the biggest and largest industrial supplier in the space, but there are many others and they can be very speciﬁc to like the Janssen space.
In this case, there are suppliers or distributors that are very speciﬁc to that niche. Can you think of a few other major distributors?
Importance of distributor sales teams and building sales and marketing alignment
[7:10] You know what? Off the top of my head, I’m not…
Yeah, okay. We’re new. I was thinking speciﬁcally about the Janssen space and there are like new distributors there that I’m just beginning to learn.
Sure. But then moving into, from that distributor model, so then if you think about it as a difference for marketing, you’re used to working with your direct sales force and building sales and marketing alignment and helping to support them selling.
Now you have another sales team to account for in many cases, and that’s a distributor sales team.
Right, because they’re working with the end clients, right? So there’s this whole dance of selling to them, but then also educating them up enough on the products so that they can then resell it to their customers, the end user. You got it. You, And then there’s another group in the mix for this case. So sometimes you’re talking about building contract services.
[8:06] So they then this distributors may sell directly into yes, these are what they’re called, and they are actually providing the cleaning services or outsource maintenance for the organizations, manufacturing space, ofﬁce space, whatever it may be.
And then ultimately, ﬁnally, right, it gets to the actual facility itself, the manufacturer, the ofﬁce building, whatever you’re selling into.
So that’s just one example of how kind of removed you are. Right.
You didn’t even mention the rep groups, which we can probably table for now.
But a rep group just brieﬂy is this an independent sales organization that sometimes takes on a few different lines of products, and then they’ll rep those products and they’ll sell to the distributors.
But that just further complicates things probably beyond the scope of what we even need to get into. No, yeah, sometimes like this organization doesn’t have their own direct sales channel, but in other cases, there is a direct sales channel within the supplier or they’re using a third-party independent rep group, to your point, that’s deﬁnitely a real thing.
And then when you think about more on the equipment side, then you’re getting more players into the mix. You’re talking about contractors or architects when you’re talking about building a building or refurbishing a building and you need to bring equipment in.
[9:25] So, there’s a lot to deal with in this space. And that’s why we’re here to try to break it down as best we can in 30 minutes or so and help people navigate it a little bit. All right, very good.
Any other speciﬁc dynamics or unique elements of this that you think are worth covering?
The Shift in Marketing Strategies
[9:45] Well, yeah, I mean, I think we’re sort of touching on it, but the biggest one is the need to think about marketing differently.
Yes, there is the need to market direct, you know, to an end user in many cases.
But then there is also the marketing directly to distributors or to your third party sales reps to educate them, to make them ambassadors for your brand.
And then Then there is the actual enablement of those distributor sales reps or the actual third party reps to speak on your behalf.
So how do you market actually through them? What are the tools and education, training, things that they need in order to be successful selling your products?
All roads lead back to content, don’t they? Oh, yes. Indeed. Yes. All right. Terriﬁc. supply, very broad.
But part of what we want to make sure we accomplish is that marketers that are looking at the space, maybe thinking about niching down their agency into the space, or just interested in gaining market share in the space, they want to understand the opportunity.
Deal Sizes and Opportunities in Industrial Products
[10:57] Sufﬁce to say, some of the deal sizes associated with this can be quite large.
It’s one thing to help a manufacturer sell their product directly to an end user, and And obviously the price points for those products could be anywhere.
But when it comes to selling directly to distribution, we’re talking about some pretty sizable, usually some pretty sizable wins, right?
I mean, to get Grainger to adopt your line could be a massive win worth thousands of dollars, yeah? Yes. Yeah. I mean, absolutely. They’re supplying.
When you get that opportunity open, you’ve essentially cracked the door into, you know, your future customer base. so there is absolutely a windfall in getting those relationships stood up.
The actual deal sizes of the individuals can vary.
So there’s, and it comes down a little bit to what you sell and how it’s purchased.
Like for on the equipment side, for example, that might be a large single capital purchase, that happens one time every X number of years versus on the cleaning solution side of the business, that’s a repeat sale.
[12:02] So there’s like continuous supply happening there. So the actual deal sizes can range very signiﬁcantly, But absolutely, when you…
Get that mindshare when you win over those distributors and they are, you know, messaging and marketing on your behalf, it opens up a lot of opportunity.
It’s hard to quantify it, though. Yeah. Yeah. My original foray into the space, which was very early on in my career, even before I really was in marketing, I guess you could say at the very beginning of it, I was working for a prescription safety eyewear purveyor, really a service provider, but we also sold non- prescription, Which we call it in the space planos And I know more about prescription safety eyewear than you’d ever care to know yes But you know when we did an order of planos again.
That’s the non-prescription stuff usually you know you You’re selling those for anywhere from 50 cents a pair of glasses to a couple bucks Yeah, but the distributors would buy them you know ﬁve ten ﬁfteen twenty thousand dollars at a time and then of course resell them to the end-user and then on the prescription side, when we would get a factory or a laboratory to take on our prescription service, those safety glasses would go for $200, $300 a pop, and then they’d be fulﬁlling them for 100, 200, 300 employees at a time.
Again, you’re talking massive order potential.
The Importance of Marketing and Building Brand Reputation
[13:29] Sufﬁce to say, getting your marketing right matters.
[13:33] Let’s start to talk about the marketing a lot. Again, you’ve got the direct-to-consumer side, which is fairly straightforward, although there’s some intricacies there, for sure, but then the B2B side, getting the distributors to take it on or winning those large accounts, can be quite complicated.
Where do you start? What are some of the ﬁrst things that marketers should be aware of or starting to lean into to try to break into the space?
Brinsﬁeld. Assuming their business is breaking into the space, to just clarify.
So we’re actually dealing with this challenge right now and more on that, the cleaning supply side. And here, the challenge is…
[14:15] Yes, you want to get those distributor relationships, but if they’re going to give you that shelf space, they need to know that the product’s going to move.
So that then becomes a matter of building up brand reputation, creating demand among end users. Wait, brand matters, you’re telling me?
Brand matters! Yes, yes. I got more on that.
[14:34] Go on. Yes, yes. And who the end user is, that is something that is an open question.
I mean, in some cases, it might be, if we’re selling cleaning solutions, the facility manager that you’re directly going to, or the end user might be, you know, the business service contractor organization that is providing the cleaning services, for example.
Or in the case of we have another client who is trying to grow that distributed demand and having them be more advocates for their products, they are recognizing there’s a shift in trend going on with equipment and having offsite modular construction of full kind of lines that go onto a factory ﬂoor.
So they’re very focused on the end user being an original equipment manufacturer or OEM that design systems like a water system that ultimately gets plucked holistically onto kind of that manufacturing ﬂoor.
So they need to start building those relationships to being seen as the supplier of choice that gets speciﬁed then into that system that goes into the manufacturer.
So it becomes a matter of like, let’s map out ﬁrst.
Sure. What is the, who are the players? Because every space in the industrial supply will be slightly different. Who controls the decision?
And then how do you create that demand at the level of the end user, at the level of the OEM.
Understanding the Players and Driving Demand through Distribution
[16:02] At the level of the business service contract provider, whomever makes sense for your business, that’s going to drive demand up through distribution.
Or, you know, maybe distribution gets a little bit displaced in the case of an OEM being in play.
So, it’s complicated, I guess. Sure. So, I want to play devil’s advocate a little bit here, put you on the spot. Okay. Because, again, recalling from personal experience, I was working with a different industrial supplier, manufacturer, I should say.
[16:31] He sold bits for tooling, kind of like drill bits for machine shops and things like that.
And in addition to that, he had a background in the space where he kind of was always testing different brands, different products, and trying to sell through his various relationships, all different stuff in industrial supply.
And so, his feeling was that branding in the classic of senses was a waste of time.
You know, that basically branding to the degree that it was necessary was go on Fiverr, get a logo, establish a color scheme, crank out a one sheet with specs, and that’s a proper brand.
And he was adamant about this. I tried to tell him on many occasions that, you know, we should be more intentional, we should be more deliberate, there’s a lot more that goes into it. And he would say, look, look kid, because I was a lot younger at the time, I’ve been in this my whole life brand, it really doesn’t matter.
You know, so what would you say to someone like that?
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[18:38] I’d say that brand absolutely matters. I think… Why? Because it’s more than he’s described it, right? It’s not just your visual identity, which I think, you know, is a challenge when you’re working more with a sales-led organization.
The mindset is they don’t maybe have the fuller picture of what brand looks like. like. So it really becomes a matter of talking about how do we talk about ourselves?
How do we show up in the world? What do we stand for? How do we differentiate ourselves in the space? I mean, it becomes back to the previous conversation that we were just having around, you know, the need to create demand for distributors.
If that demand is to exist, people have to understand like why they would choose your widget over another widget. I’m selling drill bits. I’m selling cleaning supplies, cleaning supplies, right?
You know, what does, what does parsing that messaging look like a little bit? Could you give me a look behind the curtain? Hmm, well…
Cleaning supplies as a differentiator in a post-COVID world
[19:37] It becomes a matter of tapping into the audience, understanding the audience better, what their needs are, what they’re facing. So cleaning supplies post-COVID are absolutely critical, right? Like people need to create safe environments.
They need to feel that their people feel secure coming there, that the spaces are safe and clean. So that can be an absolute differentiator.
And if there is a brand that can stand for that level of cleanliness and safety and comfort and conﬁdence and being at an ofﬁce space or in a manufacturing center, you know, that’s a big deal and a big differentiator that’s going to matter more than just does it wipe down as good as the other thing, which is certainly needs to do that too.
But sure. Yeah. So there’s a keyword research, I think, component to this, right? And that’s the SEO background in me talking.
It’s like, you know, I was SEO is talk in terms of keywords.
Marketers usually talk more in terms of like questions, concerns, but, but, you know, same idea of like doing that research on ﬁrst, ﬁrst segmenting out those personas and then doing a deep dive on those different personas, emphasis on the different part. Right.
[20:47] And then doing the research around what are they asking? Why are they asking? What are the challenges they’re trying to solve? So, so on and so forth.
Yeah, that’s a big belief of ours for sure. That’s absolutely critical, both for messaging and then understanding how they want to buy and how that needs to be enabled either directly through the supplier or as a way that you need to enable the channel partners to support that buying process.
Content strategy: different types of content for different goals
[21:12] And a lot of that comes back to content, doesn’t it?
And I think content is one of these words that it’s used in so many different ways, understandably so, and just gets thrown around so much.
But like, speciﬁcally, if I’m in charge of marketing that product or service, you know, I need to start to build assets that accomplish, that speak to the target segment or persona and then accomplish what I’m trying to accomplish.
And that’s not always a blog post, is it? No. Absolutely not. Right?
So let’s talk about some of the different types of content and ways you’ve worked with clients to create different types of content to work the channel.
Yeah. Absolutely. Maybe where we begin is to do what you said, which is Dig in understand the actual buyers themselves do research We have a process that we actually shameless plug I guess that we use for persona development that allows us to to really for us, it comes down for.
[22:11] To personify the decision-making process and how they think and move through their buyer journey and what are the success factors, what are the barriers, what are their decision criteria, if you will, to help…
Understanding there’s objections up front. Absolutely. So then it becomes a matter of then thinking about, so what is that path to purchase look like?
How do they move through?
What then is, what are the questions that they’re asking at each phase? What are the barriers? And then how do we produce, you know, content to support it?
Like speciﬁcally then it might be your traditional work to do, you know, media, digital media, running that and creating awareness in the space broadly.
That’s probably very consistent with what, you know, marketers might see and do generally.
[23:00] But then we have to think about like, how do they make decisions?
So again, a pump kind of manufacturer, we think about, is there a piece of content we could produce that is essentially an audit of their current systems to say, here’s how efﬁcient they are performing now.
Here’s how sustainable they are for your business.
You can do better. So basically, it becomes a matter of helping to educate them on their choices, what they have now, how it could be improved upon, and that could be, you know, a tool that we build and
support the sales organization having those on-site visits to look at what they have in terms of systems in place now and what they might want to, what a change might, you know, mean for them.
It could be, you know, building out solutions that enable them to get and access information online.
[23:56] Like so there become technical pieces like for the cleaning solutions or others they have to have speciﬁcations that exist around what is the product What is its chemical makeup?
They need to know those things and have the ability to evaluate and choose the solution that’s going to match their business requirements.
So, it becomes both a matter of kind of messaging content, education content, content that they actually just need to better understand the product and whether it ﬁts within their business. And there’s probably a lot more, but that’s what comes to mind immediately.
Yeah. I love the idea of an audit as a piece of content.
Tailoring content for different audience personas
[24:35] That’s brilliant in some ways, right? Because again, like we’re not just talking one sheets and blog posts here. There’s other ways to, you know, talk to our audience personas and give them what they need to move things along.
You know, another element of the, in terms of like personas again is procurement, right? Which is its own beast.
You know, again, having ﬁrst-hand experience and knowledge in the space, dealing with a professional buyer, a procurement agent, is its own challenge, you know, and they’re looking at things so much differently than, say, the health and safety inspector, right?
So radically different types of content and information need to be built for each one of those audiences. Absolutely. That’s a really great point.
Another example is we work with a client who sells ﬁber-based packaging. So, their package becomes a part of the end product.
[25:33] And procurement is a big buyer for them, for sure. And a thing that we ﬁnd working there is that that procurement buyer needs some education.
They are strategically minded.
They care about the goals of their organization, and more and more, as it relates to this being ﬁber, we have a strong sustainability story.
So they’re even now thinking about and measured on how are we helping to advance our organization’s sustainability or ESG metrics.
So they are thinking about strategically that, they’re thinking about strategically security of supply. They’re thinking, of course, always about, you know, how much is this going to cost and can we get, you know, the better margins, you know, in the situation. But, you know, I think that’s a really good question. It becomes a matter of helping them see the difference between cost and value.
And that’s not necessarily going to be obvious for them because they may be buying across a lot of different categories.
[26:28] So, one of the things that we need to do there is to better educate procurement around the difference between cost and value and what it can enable their organization in ways that they can see that, you know, they can become the hero, yes, in terms of of price point, but also in terms of advancing what their organization is trying to do.
[26:48] Versus, you know, when we’re talking in the same space, there might be an innovations and R&D person who is thinking about how do we structure, you know, a new packaging for what we’re trying to build.
And we wanna do something that’s, you know, advanced and helps position our brand differently.
That’s another very different story. So how do we excite them with ideas and possibilities and potential for showing what the possibilities are for packaging versus then when you have operations kind of in the middle, who’s responsible for taking that idea and actually making it work in the facility.
They’re like, okay, well, what’s my downtime gonna look like?
And is this gonna be disruptive to what I need to do? And how will this actually help the things that I’m
caring about, which is productivity, making sure that we’re not, you know, disrupting our supply moving into the market.
So, there are a lot of different buyers and a lot of different things to manage.
Account-based marketing (ABM) as a targeted strategy
[27:47] That’s a good overview. Yeah, that’s a great overview. Let’s zoom out for a second and talk about ABM, which is very trendy right now to talk about account-based marketing.
You guys have some experience with ABM. I’m sure it lends itself well to the space. Could you talk a little bit about what ABM is and maybe ways that you’ve leveraged it in the past for clients? Sure.
So from our point of view, like, I think there’s a lot of feeling.
[28:16] A lot of what we hear is that ABM is almost like a tool, a digital tool.
[28:20] From our point of view, ABM is more of a strategy. You know, it is, gets to, like, how do you target accounts?
How do you target certain buyers? So it becomes a speciﬁcity from our view in terms of getting to more narrow targeting and technology, marketing technology can, of course, enable that.
So how we think about that is ﬁrst really understanding, working with the client to understand what are the segments that are going to make impact for their business and getting down to a segmentation exercise that allows us to say, here are the sectors that you want to play within with this in this vertical. Here are the companies, here are some factors that might drive them to be better or worse ﬁts for you. And it’s often a relatively short list. It’s a relatively short list.
We do, I mean, there can be one to many or one to one.
We ﬁnd that we often tend to end up doing more one-on-one kind of marketing. So, we’re working with a client in the, they’re in the space too.
They actually, they supply raw materials in the form of like food.
So, like coffee, three, um, spices, things that go into like food manufacturing and they are doing a very targeted, I think one to three accounts that we’re going to be going after. So we don’t have to go through that broader market.
It’s like, who are the accounts? Like who are the buyers? What do they currently buy?
[29:50] What is, what is the potential opportunity to expand those relationships into other areas for our business? What are their social channels?
Where do they live? How many kids do they have?
What’s their favorite sports team? And then it becomes a matter of crafting content that’s a bit more custom and personalized to that.
More diplomatic than the way I said it. Yes. Like, what do they like?
Yeah, absolutely. So then we get into content creation and we We like to keep.
[30:17] A view for templatizing, if you will, like what is a structure or construct that we can build so that we can create a tool that is usable but has components within it that enable more pure customization and personalization so that we do one-on-one but we do also create a foundation that can be scalable and can be taken into other accounts in the future with obviously some tweaks.
And then it becomes surrounding them, like, so how do you get this messaging there leveraging your, you know, the channels you might always be used to, which is digital channels, but then also how do we pull in the sales organization to be part and parcel of those conversations.
So, enabling those kind of direct conversations through sales teams or the channel partners.
Okay, well with the time we have left, let’s talk about any speciﬁc situations with MX Group. Sure. And we haven’t talked about MX much, but again, headquartered in Chicago, fairly large agency, right? Yeah. We’re the second largest independent agency in the U.S., so. Wow. Yeah. Okay.
How many, roughly how many employees?
Oh, jeez. I should have looked this up. I want to say we’re about 150 at this point. So, yeah. All right. Very good.
Highlighting Case Studies in Industrial Supply
[31:39] Actually, that went up. So, 150 to 200. Okay. And then, you know, I know, again, you guys have done a lot in industrial supply.
So, any speciﬁc case studies you think are worth highlighting that might be helpful to our listeners? You know, I guess I’ll just touch on a couple.
Back to kind of the brand conversation, I think brand is becoming increasingly important. So, you know, that packaging organization that I that I talked about.
We’ve worked with them to reimagine what their brand stood for in the market.
And that was kind of from the ground up of deﬁning what is their brand position, what is their visual ID?
Let me interject real quick. What type of packaging for what type of product?
Sure. It’s ﬁber based packaging and they sell primarily to like CPG manufacturers, food, beverage, health and beauty. Got it. Yes.
[32:31] So we helped them. It’s an interesting time to be in that space with the whole push towards sustainability, reducing single-use plastic.
There’s really a tremendous opportunity for them to grow their business as well as to do really good in the world, which we’re also obviously excited about.
If you think about the scale of their clients and the reach of their clients and reduction of plastic in that way, the potential for like actually having a big impact on the global environment is enormous.
So that was a big pride point for them. So it became then a discussion around how do we leverage that to excite internal employees, to build this sort of an employer brand to help.
Recruitment Challenges and Building E-commerce Platforms
[33:17] Quantify what we stand for within the organization and to help with recruitment and to help with retention, which is another kind of big topic, as well as to clarify in the market, you know, that they’re there, that they’re entering new markets like beyond.
[33:34] They’ve grown a lot through mergers and acquisitions, so how do they penetrate more deeply into the new verticals that they’re going into the new geographic regions like Europe, where they haven’t been as strong in the past, how do they break into those markets has been a thing.
So, brand was where we began, and we’re going to be moving into more conversations with them around demand, and also kind of the recruitment and retention side, which is important.
On that note, I guess another example is recruitment is a big deal, and more and more are something that marketers are responsible for.
So we work with a client who sells steel pipe and tube and they manufacture that and getting, they are experiencing a lot of growth and they needed to, they wanted to build additional plants, but they needed to have people that actually work there.
So that- Yeah, labor market’s tight right now. It’s very tight.
We did a campaign for them in the Chandler, I think it was Chandler, Arizona area, where they were just not getting the traction through the traditional like HR means.
[34:42] So we actually built a kind of omni-channel campaign targeted at trying to ﬁnd people who would be leads for the manufacturing ﬂoor.
And they saw, you know, like 100 fold increase in the number of like candidates coming in. So it was a business imperative. It wasn’t just a nice to have.
They couldn’t support their business growth unless they actually drove, you know, better efforts to drive in candidates into the business.
So that’s becoming a thing that we’re hearing more and more of.
[35:12] The other area is, you know, we help with kind of the digital experience, if you will. And that can be anywhere from we’re supporting website creation and development to we’ve supported building e-
[35:27] This is a really interesting one, actually. So e-commerce is a space that is growing in importance, I think, in the industrial supply.
War Direct to Consumer. War Direct to Consumer. This case is actually an e-commerce platform that we helped build for that same steel pipe and tube manufacturer for their distributors.
So it is something that’s helped increase and grow their relationships with your distributors. Again, another way to help build and strengthen those relationships.
They created a whole e-commerce with our support and e-commerce portal that enabled them to, actually see what current inventory is, look at what pricing is, ﬁgure out what they wanted to buy and how many truckloads or partial truckloads that would ﬁll, see what shipping looks like and what order. What their pass orders are, what their order status is.
So it became really, when you think about what is the point of digital, it’s making more convenient, making the buying process easier.
That should be thought about for your distributor partners. Less friction. As well as for your end user.
[36:35] So that’s something else that we’ve kind of supported clients in exploring and building. That’s a great use case of what you guys are doing at NX.
Well, fantastic. I mean, anything else that we didn’t cover yet that you think is worth mentioning?
Or do you think we covered it pretty well? I think we covered a lot today, and there’s more, certainly, to cover, but we could go on forever on this topic.
So, I think we covered a great deal. Well, if there’s a company out there that wants to learn more, and they want to get in touch with you, Kelly, what’s the best way to do that?
The best way is, you can ﬁnd us at TheMxGroup.com, or you can reach me at kOlson@TheMxGroup.com.
Awesome. Well, thanks so much for being here. We appreciate it very much. Your insights were awesome and look forward to having you on again sometime. Awesome. Thank you. Nice to be here. Thanks Kelly. Bye.
John B. (episode closer):
[37:23] I hope you enjoyed this episode on industrial product marketing.
Did you know we did a whole series on how to market an industrial product? Yeah, we’ve got it covered from every angle.
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