How do we market to an industry that already knows who we are, we know our potential clients, and we bid against the same competitors for the sale?
So far our strategies include:
1) Top-notch outside sales people who know the industry and build relationships.
2) We rely on our longevity and reputation (60+ years).
3) It is easy to find us and learn about our business.
Are you finding yourself always competing on price? If so that's a tough situation, but not uncommon for commoditized markets. The key is how you're positioned in the marketplace. It sounds like you own the "longevity" position in the marketplace, but that that position isn't necessarily winning business.
Try filling in these two sentences, it might help. And it's more difficult than it appears.
Our company is the (what type of company) that provides (what unique benefit) to (what target customers). Unlike (our competition), we do (what unique differentiator(s)).
Here are some options:
Ask you customers if they would recommend you and find out the primary reason for your score.
Develop new products and services that solve the next problem your clients will have after they've already purchased from you.
For the rest of the industry, you should ask - if they already know you and your potential clients, why aren't they buying from you?
Consider whether your brand is reaching the next generation of decision makers.
Disrupt yourself the way a new industry competitor or a startup would disrupt you.
You value proposition should be better than your competition. Too many companies want to be number one. It is ok to be number two if your value proposition is better than anyone who is number one.
1) Training center. Teach engineers of your buyers and prospects how to exploit properly equipment you sell and award them by certificates of your suppliers. Basics is free, advanced is paid.
2) Responsibility. Find the significant social project ( like city plumbing ), take part ( sell old stock at a maintenance price for example ) and make a broad ad that you are social.
I had a look at your site, how do your clients decide to offer up their equipment for bid? Do they just calculate useful life of the equipment and then ask for bids for replacement at a given milestone or is it more of a full service maintenance arrangement?
A few suggestions without knowing the answer:
1) Utility: If remote monitoring is not already possible, I am wondering if there is anything you can do to with sensors and IOT capabilities to do remote monitoring, to provide a more comprehensive service. Additionally you should provide information to the market on lifespans of the different pumps (or any other appropriate metrics). Make this public but behind an email address gate to get the latest data.
Then once customers get used to coming to your site to determine the most appropriate device for them, they are likely to buy from you providing all other criteria are competitive.
2) Education: Create a web tool for estimating lifespan costs of running the equipment that you supply, make sure you make it as easy as possible for the client to get a ballpark estimate. Ensure an email address is required to get the final quotation, follow up with a sales call.
-Publish a series of videos on the most catastrophic pump failures or shortest time replacements (mission impossible style).
- produce a weekly cartoon and publish it to a blog satirizing mining life
- do a regular tear down of replaced equipment showing the wear and tear endured by the products..
Hope this helps.
Appeal to your potential clients emotionally. Emphasize strong communication and relationship-building. Also tell them that you compete on pricing to offer them the best quote.
With a track record of over 60 years you could use that as a theme in your marketing. Your industry already knows you so I would focus on reminding them of your existence in an inspiring way.
Since you posted this question in the Social Media section with the tag "seo-website-blog-industrial-equipment" I assume you are either entering or improving this medium.
If that is the case I would at least keep in mind the following:
•Keep your communication in line with your core values because these are there to guide content marketing strategy.
•Keep up to date with social media trends. Early adoption is not always necessary in my opinion but do adopt to the general trends. The risk of early adopting is spending too much time and effort in a short lived fad.
•Keep up to date with modern web design trends. A Blog and website is like an online business card and should give a good impression even to long time returning customers.
Lastly I would like to remind that even though a company might be around for years, that does not necessarily imply they are doing everything right. Stay critical about everything that is happening in your company, not just your own department and when you notice that something is out of tune or could be improved talk about it with the regarding people or departments.
My first thought is to ask your potential clients.
You know who they are and they trust you, so (assuming they don't buy strictly on price) your opportunity is to align with them more closely. It's possible that your longevity and experience lead you to make assumptions about your market that it's time to validate and evolve.
There are a lot of creative ways to approach this, but one that I really like is to present a list of your services/features and ask potential buyers to rate how important each is to them.
You might be surprised by how they rank their priorities that's different than how you assume they rank them. Sometimes they see things on the list that they didn't even know you did. Either way, this exercise can show you where to focus your marketing.
You can ask other questions about their challenges and wishes for your industry or the problem you solve in general that can be helpful.
No matter how you approach it, given your situation, they're the ones to ask how you can better speak to their needs and desires, right?
Unraveling stated preferences from revealed preferences can be a bit tricky, but that's the fun of marketing :)
I believe the you need to ask yourself first "what sets our company apart from our competitors and do our clients know it" Then build on the differences with the potential clients.
I would work on taking care of my existing customers. I am sure this is something you already do. But really take a look at how happy they are. Make sure they have everything they need. Develop products and services for them. Don't overlook your best PR weapon.
Your current clients are the ones talking about you. They can be your biggest form of advertising. Better make sure they are happy. But beyond that, make sure they are up to date on the services your offer.
If you are in a market where everyone knows all the competitors, then new targets are going to look for what sets you apart. One of the biggest things they will focus in on is how your current customers feel about you. If your audience knows they are going to be treated well, they are more likely to come your way. Just keep things simple and focus on relationships.
Hi Randy, in addition to the 3 areas you listed in your question, are there other ways you can differentiate yourselves? For example, can you offer something better in the area of customer service? Or perhaps team up using exclusive deals with providers of related, but non-competing products/services to yours, combine them with your offering and then create special packages for your clients that the competition doesn't offer? Are charitable giving and/or non-profit activities a buyer value for your clients? If so, perhaps you can support one or more causes in a way that sets you apart from your competition. Same goes for environment-related issues if that's relevant to your business and your customers.
Re-branding is always a good idea to consider provided you can find that tangible benefit. As a well know old company, re-branding is a double edge sword, it can make you gain or destroy you overnight (see how Coke was badly hurt when the NEW COKE was introduce).
On going improvement in areas like:
1. product improvement via R&D
2. productivity and quality of services
3. leadership quality
4. CSR and publicity
All the above will send message to customers via marketing function to give the following signal to customers:
1. We are still here
2. We are still the best
3. We keep on improving
4. You can rely on us
5. You always get more from us when compare to competitors
6. You receive the "latest technology" from us
7. highest quality with fairest price
Never underestimate the power of a re-brand. Perhaps your company needs a face lift if youve been in business for so many years. Giving your brand a modern look will not only set you apart from competitors but also let people know your up-to-date on trends and keep you fresh in the marketplace.
If you need help, Im always available. Feel free to connect if you need a consultation.