B2B Industrial Marketing: Recap of GlobalSpec’s Economic Outlook Survey 2012

Last quarter, we gave you a recap of the “Trends in Industrial Marketing 2012” report from GlobalSpec; our analysis covered the marketing trends, challenges, and expenditures specific to the engineering, technical, manufacturing, and industrial communities.  Our intention in providing the results was to help marketers determine whether their clients were striking the right balance between digital and traditional marketing programs, as well as reaching their overall goals.

This quarter, we’re pleased to provide a synopsis of GlobalSpec’s “Economic Survey 2012: State of the Industrial Marketplace.”  This annual survey measures the impact of the economic conditions in the industrial sector and offers analysis and advice to help manufacturers and suppliers succeed in the current economy.

Overall, report findings indicate companies have mixed feelings about the state of the industrial sector, with some being optimistic about the year ahead and others remaining cautious.  Forty-eight percent of those who responded to the GlobalSpec survey are engineers or work in engineering-related positions, and, while the report represents a range of industries, manufacturing constitutes the top-represented industry (18 percent).

GlobalSpec recommends industrial marketers use the following report highlights as a benchmark to measure their companies’ activities and to adjust their marketing strategies and positioning in 2013.

Fuel Growth with Increased Spending

More than half (56 percent) of industrial companies have focused more time and effort on entering new markets in 2012 than they did in 2011 (37 percent). Another 50 percent have dedicated more resources to new product design and development, up 8 percentage points from last year.  Perhaps most importantly, half of companies surveyed have ramped up researching future projects this year, indicating they are looking to support growth initiatives in the coming year.

With 42 percent of engineers and technical professionals working on more projects this year than last and companies spending more or the same for the rest of 2012 on product and service areas, manufacturers and suppliers marketing to the industrial customer will want to keep tabs on customer behavior and trends in the market in order to drive sales.

Cautiously Optimistic about the Economic Landscape

“Fifty-five percent of industrial companies are concerned about the economy, which was the only issue that a majority of survey respondents selected as an area of focus or concern,” according to GlobalSpec.  However, nearly half (49 percent) of companies in the industrial sector anticipate growth for the remainder of 2012, with 32 percent anticipating no change and only 19 percent anticipating a decline.

While the economic climate may be mixed for industrial marketers, 40 percent of companies surveyed anticipate higher sales in 2012 than they had in 2011, ending the year on a high note.  Despite the increased spending on entering new markets and ramping up new product design and development, 54 percent of industrial companies surveyed have reduced overall spending this year; this percentage is roughly the same as last year, indicating a stabilizing economy.

GlobalSpec’s Recommendations for Manufacturers and Suppliers

  • Find the Sweet Spot. By focusing on the markets expected to perform the best, manufacturers can capitalize on marketing investments and unlock opportunity to gain new customers.  According to survey results, Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals (58 percent) is expected to be the top performing sector for increased sales by the end of 2012, with Computers, Systems & Peripherals (50 percent), Industrial Machinery/Tools & Equipment (50 percent), and Medical Equipment/Instrumentation (48 percent) following shortly behind.
  • Build Out Marketing Presence Sooner Rather Than Later. With 56 percent of industrial companies dedicated to entering new markets in Q4 and beyond, “now is the time to build awareness and recognition among engineers who will need to research and specify products and components to support their growth initiatives,” claims GlobalSpec.  Industrial marketers who build out a strong online presence today will connect with their target audience now and in the future.
  • Develop Ways to Connect with Customers Online. GlobalSpec research shows engineers and technical professionals spend time online for work-related purposes such as searching for products and services. For this reason, industrial marketers should connect with customers in new markets via online channels (webinars, banner ads, and online catalogs, etc.), analyze the performance of online programs, and invest marketing dollars in the most successful programs.

As 2012 draws to a close, marketers targeting the industrial sector may want to consult GlobalSpec’s “Economic Outlook Survey 2012” for analysis and advice to help them reach new customers and unlock new marketing opportunities in the months to come.  More information about the report can be found here.

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