Critical Conditions: 4 B2B Marketing Mistakes That Could Be Fatal to Manufacturing Companies

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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By Keith Booton
Founder and President
Ivor Andrew

Although the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting service and travel industries the hardest, B2B manufacturers and industrial companies are not immune. And just as human patients with underlying issues are more susceptible to the pandemic, so are B2B companies with underlying financial, organizational and marketing issues.

As the owner of a marketing agency specializing in working with B2B manufacturing brands, I’m not qualified to diagnose any medical, financial or organizational issues. But here are four underlying marketing issues that could prove catastrophic to B2B manufacturers.

1: Overdependence on Trade Shows

If your sales and marketing strategy rely heavily on trade show traffic, it’s going to be a rough 18 months. Spring and Summer 2020 trade shows have already been cancelled, and even if Fall and Winter shows happen, attendance will be down. What’s going to happen when you don’t have these opportunities to connect with customers?

Many trade shows have announced that they are moving to a “virtual trade show” environment that will allow visitors to virtually connect with vendors. This is potentially a great opportunity for exhibitors, unless that is, you suffer from Condition Two.

2: Poor Content Marketing Strategy

When face-to-face (F2F) sales is not an option, a strong library of targeted content can drive website traffic, engage prospects and make remote sales calls even more effective. Industrial buyers have more time now to evaluate potential vendors for upcoming projects, and if your content marketing train hasn’t been rolling, you’ve missed opportunities to convert new customers.

Video content is a critical lifeline when F2F sales calls can’t happen. While all of our agency’s new video shoots have been put on hold until travel restrictions are eased, we can creatively re-edit our clients’ existing footage with in-studio product shoots and stock footage for engaging new video content. Manufacturers without an existing video library are going to have a difficult time taking full advantage of the opportunities that this economic situation offers, including the new virtual trade shows mentioned under Condition One.

3: Weak Social Media Presence

Social media usage has increased during the pandemic, and this includes B2B industrial customers evaluating vendors and engaging with brands. Smart manufacturers have worked with agencies like ours to experiment and understand what works best on each platform, and it has opened new channels of communication with customers as traditional channels have suffered.

Manufacturers that are struggling have likely ignored their social media efforts. Maybe they put an intern or recent college grad in charge. The good: that person is young and they understand social media! The bad: they’ve never set foot in a machine shop before.

Whatever the reason, it’s contributing to Condition Four, the most serious of all.

4: Limited Brand Authority

Brand awareness is important, but brand authority is critical. It’s why customers trust one brand’s products over another. It’s why one vendor is perceived to be the expert in their field ahead of the also-rans.

If you’ve neglected your marketing, or worse yet, you look and sound like everyone else in your industry, then establishing brand authority on a wide scale is all but impossible. Sure, you might have specific customers who know how great you are, and you’ve probably asked your marketing team to run a campaign on why you’re the “best kept secret in the industry.”

Are you really the best kept secret? Or have you just been ignoring your marketing for far too long? If the majority of prospects in your industry don’t know of or believe in your expertise, then you are suffering from a lack of brand authority.


All of these conditions are going to make business during the pandemic more challenging. But if there’s one thing that an economic downturn is good at, it's shining a light on problems and forcing action to remedy them.

It’s time to acknowledge the marketing issues you have and get in front of them. Because pandemic or not, your company’s survival depends on it.

There are industrial marketing agencies that can help with that. Find one. Start asking questions to turn underlying B2B marketing problems into bonafide marketing differentiators.

Need more information?
Keith Booton
Founder and President
Ivor Andrew

About the Author

Keith Booton, Founder and President, Ivor Andrew

Keith Booton

Keith is the Founder and President of Ivor Andrew, a B2B marketing agency focused on supporting industrial manufacturers across the globe. Prior to starting the agency in 2005, Keith spent his career in machine tool marketing and sales. He believes that machine tool marketing should not be boring, and is dedicated to eliminating as many clichés from the industry as humanly possible.