Skip to Content

Industrial Distributors: Are You Up to the Marketing Challenge?

GlobalSpec-MediaSolutionsLogoFor those marketing to the industrial sector, getting the word out about your products and services can be challenging.

Currently, email marketing, trade shows and social media are the top three channels used by industrial marketers to advertise their products and services, according to IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions' annual Industrial Marketing Trends Survey.

GlobalSpec-MarketingChannelsOf the 503 firms surveyed, 60% utilize email to in-house lists, 57% attend trade shows, and 55% use social media, followed by search engine optimization and online directories/websites.

Four of the top five channels used are digital channels, indicating that many marketers understand the importance of devoting resources to a mix of digital channels.

More companies using a balanced approach to marketing

Half of industrial companies use a balanced approach, mixing both push/outbound marketing (e-newsletters, direct mail, etc.) and pull/inbound marketing (corporate website, online catalogs, etc.) However, only 25% are satisfied with their marketing mix.

Nearly half cite customer acquisition is their primary marketing goal this year. Another quarter are focusing on demand generation, 18% on brand awareness, and 12% on customer retention. The majority of respondents say that the quality of products/services offered is their organization’s main differentiator. Only 6% of companies focus on price as their differentiator.

Content Marketing More Important Than Ever

GlobalSpec-BiggestChallengeAs distributors continue to augment their offerings with engineering and value-add services, content marketing becomes more important than ever.

Content marketing has become an essential marketing tactic for industrial marketers, although 34% are just getting started. Just 28% of survey respondents had a content strategy in place.

Limited marketing resources, the need to generate enough high quality leads, and increased competition are the three most common marketing challenges.

The study listed the challenges that industrial marketers face, which include:

  • Too few resources (dollars, people and time) available for marketing — 36%
  • Not generating enough high quality leads for sales — 34%
  • Increased competition making my marketing job harder than ever — 27%
  • Need to increase the effectiveness of my content marketing program — 27%
  • Need to drive more customers to my company’s website — 26%
  • Need to increase the effectiveness of my content marketing program — 26%
  • Need to improve my marketing ROI — 25%
  • Uncertainty in the marketplace — 22%
  • Not enough customers finding our company, products or services when searching on the Internet — 22%

GlobalSpec-KeyDifferentiatorAs the manufacturing sector improves, implementing a balanced marketing strategy, including content marketing that defines your competitive differentiators, is imperative to remain competitive in the industrial distribution industry.

If you don't currently have the in-house resources, consider hiring a recent college grad with savvy social media and writing skills. There are also many industry-affiliated firms that can help you with marketing strategies and content.

You can download a complimentary copy of IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions 2017 Marketing Trends  white paper to access detailed results, analysis and recommendations.


Tribute, Inc. is a provider of business management software for industrial distributors who provide design and fabrication services. Click for more information about TrulinX, our Windows-based product designed specifically for complex fabrication projects.

Connect with Tribute on Social Media

Talk with Tribute

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign Up Now

Tribute, Inc. is a provider of ERP business management software for distributors and system integrators in the fluid power, hose, motion control, automation, fluid handling & pump industry who provide value-added services.