Why some small to medium sized industrial marketing efforts fail and others don’t…

Most large industrial companies always have a decent marketing budget and make it a priority because they know they need it to remain a trustworthy competitor in the long run. But, I keep noticing a pattern that happens over and over in the marketing efforts of small to midsize companies.

Out of the blue, these industrial companies will hire a new marketing team member or agency. You suddenly see all kinds of activity from the company. New ads, press releases, lots of posts on social media, new brochures, updates to the website, weekly eblast, videos are produced, a blog post, etc.

Then in 6 months, you see less activity from these same companies; you see even less about the company in a year. In two years, you don’t see anything and totally forget they exist.

Three to five years later, the cycle repeats itself…lots of activity, then less and then nothing.


Each company probably has a different story. But based on my 20 years of experience, I will stick my neck out and give you 2 scenarios on why this most likely happens.

#1 Scenario

XYZ Company is losing sales and wants to stop the bleeding. They decide they need to invest in marketing, and they need to hire the best. They spend time and $$$ to hire an MBA or a big agency with plenty of experience. Everyone is excited and engaged. They give marketing the budget to advertise, they answer marketing’s calls and give them all the input they need. They have a great booth at important trade shows. Employees share the company’s social post. The sales team follows up on leads, and the CEO gets interviewed in a vital marketplace magazine. The company looks golden and someone you want to do business with.

The CEO is happy with the improved the numbers, sales stop complaining about no leads, and the phone keeps ringing with new projects. And the marketing team is having fun because they get to do their job.

Next, the company wants to spend money on other large ticket items such as a new machine or building an addition. The CEO and VP of Sales start to think about reducing the marketing budget. They think maybe we don’t need to spend so much $ to get the same results.

The marketing budget slowly gets smaller. The marketing person stops pushing so hard to get things done. It takes weeks or a month for anything to get finished. You turn all the ads off, no one cares if there are social posts, an essential trade show gets skipped, and so on.

Now, the marketing efforts are moving at a snail’s pace. The marketing person leaves for greener pastures. The company puts a receptionist or customer service person in charge of marketing, and nothing happens. People in the industry start to think the company has gone out of business.

# 2 Scenario

Company ABC is losing sales. They plan a small budget. After all, they can’t or do not want to spend too much on marketing. They decide to hire a new graduate, someone with just a few years of experience, or a local agency with lots of young enthusiastic team members. Everyone is very excited and tries to get things moving.

The problem…their new hire or agency has never had to start a budget-friendly marketing plan for an industrial client from scratch before, nor do they really understand this marketplace. The marketing plans are a little off because there is no real focus. Social posts are all over the place. Trade show booth doesn’t arrive in time, ad deadlines are missed, and website updates are delayed continuously.

The CEO does not get any interviews with any magazines with a good reputation. Why? Because the person or team they hired has no real experience putting together a good pitch or the know-how to build relationships with industrial editors.

This new hire or agency is lucky to last a year because nothing happens, and there are no real results. The company decides they only made a wrong decision on the hire or the agency. This is probably true. So, they try again but it takes time to put everything back into place.

In the meantime, they continue to be out beaten by their competitors. How? Their competitors have small budget too, but found an experienced person to run things part-time, and they continue to make a consistent marketing effort year after year.

Companies don’t understand how hard it is to find someone or an agency that can really do THIS job and do it very well year after year. If you do spend time find the right person who understands the industrial marketplace and can help with the basics such as website, email marketing, blog content, public relations, and social media. You will see success.

Most importantly, don’t totally cut the marketing budget when times are tough— like right now— because in a year, people will think you went out of business or don’t need their order.

Let me know if you want to discuss what kind of marketing budget and personnel is necessary for your company: [email protected]