Industrial Marketing: The 5 Most Common Mistakes

Much is said and written about marketing in general. However, eight out of ten marketing recommendations do not apply to tech companies that provide complex products and services. This makes industrial marketing a very special field. So special, in fact, that it truly demands a different vision and approach.

When industrial marketing is used for the right purposes, incredible results can be achieved. To make that happen you first have to know what works and what absolutely doesn't work. This is why we have created a list of the five most common mistakes and how you can avoid them.


Industrial marketing mistake #1:
The wrong goal

For some entrepreneurs, everything revolves around marketing, including how new products and services are developed. Some entrepreneurs even often use the word marketing as a synonym for ‘promotion’. As an industrial marketing company, If we ask the management or the sales department of the average manufacturing company why they use marketing, we often get the answer: ‘to increase our brand awareness.

But at what point can you say that you have enough brand awareness?


A common mistake made by tech companies is getting started with marketing with the wrong goal in mind. They know the general marketing principles for B2C and B2B and use them as a starting point. This approach is taken in order to create as much ‘visibility’ as possible and to reach as many people as possible.

But visibility alone doesn't win you anything at all. Tech companies tend to operate in niche markets, and reaching as many people as possible just doesn’t make any sense at all. After all, industrial companies provide specific products and services, meaning that the number of potential customers is also limited.

General marketing principles for B2C and B2B
do not apply to tech companies.

In our view, marketing for the industry has only one goal: new business; generating new customers. Industrial marketing is emphatically not about reaching as many people as possible, but about purposefully reaching the right people, at the right time, and with the right information.

Tip: Only invest in industrial marketing if you have a clear, and most importantly, achievable goal in mind: generating new business.

Industriële marketing: zicht op resultaten

Industrial marketing mistake #2:
No insight into results

The average manufacturing company does not have an in-house marketing department or marketer. And if a marketer is tasked with working on brand awareness for a manufacturing company, they will undoubtedly provide a beautiful website, a shiny sales brochure, or a slick trade show booth.

But what measurable results do they deliver?

At most, they can tell you the number of visitors and how long they linger on a web page, or how many people ordered the sales brochure and visited the trade show booth. These marketing activities do not have a clear goal and therefore do not produce measurable results when it comes to sales.

“Within three months we had fifteen serious leads.”

Henk van den Beuken, Interim Director RVS NON FERRO

Successful industrial marketing involves a high degree of marketing and sales synchronization. Marketing and sales go hand in hand when it comes to achieving the goal of acquiring new business. All actions are linked together, each one leading to the other and resulting in new leads. Potential customers follow a defined digital route with measurement points, ideally trackable in a central Sales CRM. Thanks to this valuable data, at any given moment marketing and sales, know all the ins and outs, how many stakeholders there are, what they are looking for and when it is best to approach them with what information.

Tip: Ensure that all marketing efforts are measurable, as that will make the results explainable.


Industrial marketing mistake #3:
Communication not coordinated 

Another typical characteristic of industrial companies is that the decision-making process concerning a specific purchase involves a group of people. This so-called Decision-Making Unit (DMU) makes the buying process long and complex, but at the same time also offers a number of opportunities to influence and direct the buying process with industrial marketing. This is not achieved with the more general and superficial company information that is now often found on websites or in sales brochures.

It won't inspire anyone to action.

Coordination and customization

Working with a DMU requires continuously coordinating and customizing communications. For each stage of the purchasing process, each stakeholder needs to have the ‘right information’ at all times. Again, industrial marketing plays an important role here.

Well-timed and coordinated information
acts as a lubricant for any sales process.

That means it is essential for you to map out the DMU or have it mapped out. Who is involved in the DMU? What is everyone's role, needs and leverage? Who is leading the process? Each DMU has a different composition and dynamic, and everyone involved ultimately has a say in the purchase. Providing the right information tailored to the person and to the stage of the purchasing process acts as a lubricant. Without this well-timed lubricant, the machine is sure to grind to a halt.

Tip: Map out the DMU and make sure all DMU members have the right information for each stage of the purchasing process.

Industrie marketing

Industrial marketing mistake #4:
Lack of connection

The reason for making a purchase in the industry involves a more rational and much less emotional process than in the B2C market. For example, a purchase should contribute to increased capacity or better quality. This need is always based on a specific problem, driven by developments in the market. But even in industry, no purchase is 100% rational.

Every sales manager will agree: business is about trust.

In the manufacturing industry, trust is especially important, because suppliers engage directly in the customer's operational process. That means the stakes are high, as are the costs involved. Potential customers want to experience, and ultimately feel assured, that you understand their business and that you recognize and acknowledge their challenges. That's why ‘talking about problems’ is such an important part of marketing for the industry. Take from us as an industrial marketing company; you can't start early enough.

“At TEUN, they know exactly how to
inspire our customers and prospects.”

Jan-Frederik Kalee, CEO SEMECS

Talking together about your potential customers' problems makes them feel like you really understand them. This gives you the chance to later explain to them how your solution can eliminate these problems. Any talk about solutions should be avoided until a connection has been established between the people involved. If that connection is lacking, then the foundation for your industrial marketing is also missing.
Tip: Work on establishing trust and a connection by talking about your potential customer's problems.


Industrial marketing mistake #5:
No answers to key questions

Ask your employees on the floor about ‘what’ the machine or system ‘can do’ and you will hear hundreds of stories. Not surprisingly, the average website of an OEM, machine builder, or industrial manufacturer addresses this in detail. It is all about features, specifications, production numbers, and so on. In short: the focus is on technology. Then ask these same employees about ‘what the product makes possible’ and things go silent.

This is a missed opportunity.

Determining factors

General marketing for products and services can easily capture the imagination. You can probably already see yourself driving over that high mountain pass in that brand-new car. And that discount does make the deal seem very attractive. There is a myriad of examples where you can immediately imagine all kinds of things happening. This response is much less likely (or quick) when it comes to technical, complex, and innovative products. These kinds of products require more text and explanations. But if it's not supposed to be about ‘technology’, then what is it about?

Don’t only talk about what you make,
but more importantly what you make possible.

The answer to this question is simple. Potential customers only listen to one message: what's in it for me? In industrial marketing, the answer to this question is a determining factor for success. That means ideally, that you will want to deliver a message that ‘hits potential customers where it hurts,’ such as their wallets. Giving them the message that, ‘without this solution, you are missing out on a 23% cost savings,’ guarantees that you will get their attention. Combining this message with the reasons why customers should choose you will ensure that you keep their attention.

Tip: Always give potential customers a clear answer to the question: What's in it for me?

Whitepaper: The Future of the Dutch Manufacturing Company

The Future of the Dutch Manufacturing Company

The white paper on sustainable growth, closing the deal and four tips on doing business even better.

Read the whitepaper


As you now know, marketing for the industry is a profession in itself.

The general marketing principles for B2C and B2B, mostly fail to deliver for industrial companies. There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. The goal is unclear or unattainable;
  2. The results are not measurable;
  3. Communication is not coordinated with the right person;
  4. The customer's problem is not the focus;
  5. No answer to the key question.

Thanks to research and applied knowledge, we now know in great detail how marketing for the manufacturing industry breeds success. Here are the tips at a glance for you again:

  • Only invest in marketing if you have a clear, and most importantly, an achievable goal in mind: generating new business.
  • Make sure all marketing efforts are measurable so that there are insights into the results.
  • Map out the DMU and make sure all DMU members have the right information for each stage of the purchasing process.
  • Work on establishing trust and a connection by talking about your potential customer's problems.
  • Always give potential customers a very clear answer to the question: What's in it for me?

Curious about what industrial marketing can do for your manufacturing company? Then please contact Tim van der Aa. Using a practical example, he will show you how industrial marketing works and the results it generates.

Download the free whitepaper

About sustainable growth and closing the deal.

Download whitepaper