How to Build a Modern Industrial Marketing Strategy

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Introduction: MJ Peters, VP of Marketing at Firetrace (Time stamped at 1:00)

MJ Peters has been in her position for two and a half years. Firetrace sells and manufactures automatic fire suppression systems that detect and suppress fires that start inside of equipment. They sell through OEM, distribution, and direct channels.

How should marketing be viewed inside of an organization and what is marketing’s role at the executive level of the organization? (Time stamped at 2:00)

Marketing teams need to be deeply involved in marketing strategy and actively bring insights to drive the strategic direction of the company as a whole.

How do you structure a marketing team within an organization and how do you set that team up for success? (Time stamped at 3:30)

There are three marketing components. Product marketing, growth marketing, and product management. Product marketing is going out to market understanding your customers, what solutions are out there, and what opportunities exist. Growth marketing amplifies the value proposition that you bring to the right customer on the channels where they spend time. You can generate opportunities for the sales team regardless of the medium you’re going to market with – traditional or digital. Product management is the whole lifecycle. It addresses things like:

  • What are the new product opportunities?
  • What is currently moving through the new product development pipeline and is it going to meet the customer’s needs?
  • What’s ready to launch and how are you supporting the launch of new products?
  • Does the sales team know what they’re going out to sell?
  • Is the operations team ready to deliver it?
  • Is engineering ready to support it?

How should marketing manage the voice of the customer and how do you get those insights delivered back to the organization? (Time stamped at 10:30)

Try to set up conversations where the objective is not a sales call. The purpose of the call is to really find out what the customer needs. That will bring the most insights forward. Start broad and then zoom in. The first couple of questions you ask should have nothing to do with your product. You should aim to find out what they think are the most important elements of their job because it can help you uncover latent needs.

How do you set up customer meetings to capture insights? (Time stamped at 14:45)

It’s easier said than done. Try working with sales because sales can open doors for you – especially with the customers they have good relationships with. But you don’t only want to talk to your friends. You want to talk to customers that might have cooled off or customers you aren’t selling to right now. You will need to do some cold calling – especially if your organization hasn’t done customer research like this before. People won’t always take your call, but if you send enough targeted emails you should be able to set up seven or eight calls and that’s all it takes.

How do you determine the most effective marketing channels for your business? Once you do that, how do you begin to scale that strategy? (Time stamped at 17:20)

Start running experiments by channel type, and you need to start thinking of events as a channel, too. If you want to have good results you should only be looking at two channels at a time – especially if your marketing team is small. Use experiments to find out what works and then scale up or down accordingly. SEO and paid ads are a good place to start.

What are your thoughts on integrating MarTech and how did you start building your digital strategy? (Time stamped at 21:30)

Start working on the tech stack earlier than you think you need to. Having an effective tech stack (website feeding information to your CRM and then Google analytics) can accelerate your knowledge about the customer. MarTech systems, like Hubspot, can identify how your new leads arrived and you can learn more about the customers from their contact information. Tools like Hubspot can provide you with information that you wouldn’t otherwise have. If you don’t have a marketing automation system in place, you’re going to have to find things out manually and it will happen slowly. Make sure your website plays nice with your CRM and follow it up with Google Analytics (make sure you set it up properly). HubSpot is a great tool. It’s a marketing automation system, it’s a CRM, it’s a social media management tool, and it will manage your paid ad accounts. Start implementing MarTech earlier than later and start with something that can do a lot out of the box.

With Hubspot, were you able to start making progress early on or did you have to tailor the tool to fit your process? (Time stamped at 25:24)

I had to tailor the tool and made a lot of mistakes at first, but I kept going. Eventually, the right metrics to measure surfaced, and the right fields to ask the sales team to fill in surfaced and we were able to get rid of the elements that weren’t helping. You need to minimize the number of asks on your sales team to make the technology work. Do it step by step and do it in small chunks.

What metrics did you place your focus on? How do you view those data points in terms of attribution? How did that help you grow your effectiveness as a marketer in the B2B industrial segment? (Time stamped at 28:45)

One of the challenges with MarTech tools is that there is too much data. You have to figure out what data is actually going to be useful. It’s difficult to manage more than two or three metrics. I don’t agree with linear attribution models because they aren’t a reflection of what’s actually happening. They can be very misleading. Attribution models aren’t at the point where they can give you the whole story, so it’s best to sometimes tune them out. Look at two metrics: inbound dollars of opportunities and the number of opportunities in the pipeline from marketing sources. Keeping it simpler is better.

Take-aways (Time stamped at 34:20)

  1. Effective marketing is not just communications. Most industrial marketers are still thinking in terms of broachers and trade shows. The companies that are winning are thinking about marketing in terms of strategy.

  2. The digital opportunities in the B2B industrial space are huge because there are still many companies that are focused on traditional marketing methods. Trade shows happen once a year, but with digital, you can reach out to the same people every day on social channels.

  3. There’s a lot of technology out there that can help you accelerate everything from your customer insights to how quickly you can reach the right customers with the right message. But, at the end of the day, it’s all about fundamentals. It’s about understanding what your customer wants, keeping your message simple, being disciplined about what you measure and what you’re doing, and taking away what’s not working.


MJ Peters LinkedIn profile

Firetrace website

HubSpot website

Dave Karr LinkedIn profile website product platform