The industrial buying process has evolved. Your customers (architects, engineers, designers, and contractors) are using 3D computer-aided design (CAD) to design their products. They are searching online for parts and components they can include in their design. By the time you reach them, either your parts don’t fit their design specifications, or they have already completed their evaluations and chosen one of your competitors.
As an industrial supplier or B2B product manufacturer, you need to gear your marketing to achieve 3 things:
1) Help your customers find your parts. This could be through a digital parts catalogue or SEO
2) Get your parts specified or designed into products by helping customers download CAD models from your website
3) Influence the buying process by reaching the design engineer at the right time with the right information
Your customers want to learn as much as possible about your products before making a commitment, and they want complete control of information. They expect you to make your product CAD models and specifications available and they expect a rich customer experience. For manufacturers with complex products, multiple distributors, and different file formats, this is a growing challenge.
The bottom line? You can’t follow the old and familiar ways to generate leads or get specified into projects. The need of the hour is to focus on sharing valuable information. Here are the top 3 areas you need to look at to up your B2B marketing game.
a. Getting ‘Spec’d in’:
‘Getting specified’ means that the designer or architect factors your product specifications directly into their design. Imagine the immeasurable ease with which a sale could be made if this were to happen! The designer is the main decision maker on which components get included in the design.
In any project, once the design reaches a certain point, the designer or architect begins to think about the materials or products they want to use. If they find that your product matches their design vision, voila, you get spec’d and the probability of them reaching out to you for a quotation rises dramatically.
Your 3D CAD models can save them design time since they can download rather than draw from scratch. Designers are under pressure to complete their design projects on time and within budget, and so they rely on suppliers’ online catalogues and CAD models to do this.
Being in the right place at the right time:
How does one reach designers and architects at the design stage of their project? Be where they are. The design phase takes place in CAD and BIM software and your product catalogue needs to be accessible there.
b. Getting Higher Quality Leads at Lower Costs:
Helping customers access your product information in the form of 3D models along with detailed specifications and information has many upsides. For one thing, you are saving yourself a ton of effort by helping your customers self-serve. They can access your information 24/7 even when your sales team isn’t at work. If you provide the information in different formats and structures, you can reduce the number of technical sales queries coming your way, so your designers can focus on creating new products rather than emailing CAD models to customers or helping them select products.
Sales leads that you obtain in return for CAD model downloads can convert faster and cost less. Considering that your customer has already selected a product and included the CAD model into their design this is not surprising.
Being Accurate and Available:
When customers want to know if your product is the right fit, a long, wordy description simply doesn’t cut it. They expect to be able to see and feel your products as best as they possibly can. Customers expect to be able to download 2D and 3D CAD and BIM files directly from your website in formats that work with their set-up.
However, with large, constantly evolving product lines, maintaining a single version of truth can be hard sometimes. Imagine if a customer arrives on your website, and what they see there doesn’t match the e-catalogue mailed to them by the distributor! Part numbers or product dimensions are different or descriptions don’t allow them to visualize the product properly. Of course, they don’t stop and spend the time to figure things out. They cross you off their shortlist and move on. You, on the other hand, are still waiting for the phone to ring never knew any of this happened.
Unfortunately, a lot of manufacturers present outdated, inconsistent, or sometimes even conflicting data and never realize why they got eliminated from consideration!
We have been helping manufacturers create rich, dynamic databases of product information that can be accessed by customers across markets. Input/Output Plugins can make sure your designers are able to output CAD/BIM files in every possible format your customers use. 3D viewers on your website can help your customers view product models without needing any software at their end. Delivering information in the most usable format at the right time is imperative to create positive customer experience!
c. Getting More Sales:
At the end of it, sales are what it all comes down to. Let’s say you get all of this right. Your customers are accessing your 3D models and your products are getting specified into designs. Now what? How do you make sure your sales team meets its numbers? How do you help your distributors grow their customer base?
When someone uses your plugin or downloads a CAD model from your website, it triggers a sales event. Your part might be on its way to get specified into a product. The lead is passed to your sales team or distributor and it’s time to hit the iron while it’s hot. The only thing you need to worry about now is making a strong impression.
Creating Attractive Touch-points:
When it comes to generating leads, you can throw the old rules of doing business out the window. Your end users — engineers, architects, and contractors — don’t want to be sold to; they want to self-educate and learn as much about your products as possible before committing them to their projects. With large and constantly evolving product lines, maintaining a single version of truth can be hard sometimes but this is what you can do. It’s easy to overlook how much importance customers attribute to appearances. If your sales and marketing materials aren’t sophisticated, they assume you aren’t either. Imagine a customer who has been reviewing and evaluating companies just like yours all day. Their eyes have glazed over and they can’t wait for the day to end. Will your product catalogue really grab their attention? With a massive product line it’s not possible to create quirky, engaging content for every product, but does that mean you have to be boring?
We’ve had the opportunity to help suppliers create beautiful, interactive 3D product brochures that can breathe some much-needed life into their distributors’ conversations. Customers can experience your products while they form a positive impression of your brand of innovation. Mail your customers a 3DPDF and they’ll be flipping through the virtual pages for hours playing around with drawings.
Competing in this digital world calls for innovative, coordinated efforts. Customers call for readily available and diverse sets of information that make their lives easier, and providing poor data is tantamount to throwing an opportunity out of the window.
-Author: Varun Bhartiya
This article was originally written for entrepreneur.com. The author is a partner at nCircle Tech.
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nCircle Tech (inCorporated in 2012) empowers passionate innovators to create impactful 3D visualization software for desktop, mobile and cloud. Our domain expertise in CAD-BIM customization driving automation with the ability to integrate advanced technologies like AI/ML and VR/AR; empowers our clients to reduce time to market and meet business goals. nCircle has a proven track record of technology consulting and advisory services for the AEC and Manufacturing industry across the globe. Our team of dedicated engineers, partner ecosystem and industry veterans are on a mission to redefine how you design and visualize.Over the last 7+ years, the organisation has worked on more than 150 large and complex projects for 50+ customers across 15+ countries.