SyncShow B2B Marketing Blog

Digital Lead Generation Strategies: Products vs. Services

At a recent SyncShow sponsored event, the crowd (and most of the discussion) consisted primarily of manufacturing companies comparing notes around various digital marketing tactics.  One of our long standing professional services clients transitioned the somewhat one-sided dialog by asking “Is it possible to contrast how a digital strategy Lead Generation strategy may differ for Tangible Goods (i.e manufacturers) vs. Intangible Goods (i.e. professional services)”  

The Key Similarity- Digital Adoption Equals Success

My experience both promoting internet marketing services and developing subsequent client lead gen strategies has allowed me to experience this comparison from “both sides of the fence”. The most common similarity discovered was that the single largest contributor to success for both product and professional services organizations was comprehensive adoption of a digital strategy, not the strategy itself.   The following Industry statistics and trending align with this experience.

A recent study by Hinge Research Institute1 concluded, “High growth (professional services) firms are using online marketing tools more aggressively.  Of the 500 firms surveyed almost 15% of firms are getting at least 40% of new business leads from online marketing”. 

In their recent B2B study, Oracle2 also discovered that measurable performance advantages exist for  “digitally mature” companies.  The statistics below are representative of companies engaged in comprehensive online strategies vs. those who do not:

  • 9% more revenues on average
  • 26% more profitable than their industry competitors
  • 12% higher market valuation 

The Key Difference- Develop Digital Content Strategies Tailored to Your Specific Customer

The primary difference for digital lead gen strategies for tangible product manufacturers and intangible services providers’ lies in the content strategy that is deployed. While the following questions are universal for product manufacturers and service providers alike, your content strategy should reflect the following slight differences between the two:

What do you do?  Exhibiting the basic value proposition with description content for a product manufacturer will typically include more specification and application data where professional services descriptive data often is more Process, “Brand” or “Thought Leadership” oriented. 

What can you do for me?  Creating profiles (or personas) for your audience is the first important step in developing a distinct content strategy. Identification of potential pain points for the appropriate audience and tailoring relevant messaging is a critical element of differentiation between products and services.  

The ideal client persona for a professional services firm may be more strategic in nature.  In this instance, content that is inclusive of enhancing revenue growth, increasing profitability and enabling improved decision making might be more aligned with pain points relative to overall company objectives.

Conversely, the decision maker for B2B product manufacturers may be more technical and/or operational. Therefore the content should be geared around solutions that highlight how your company can improve efficiencies, reduce down times, improve quality, etc.. 

A 2014 Global Spec3 study indicates the rise of digital content consumption in the industrial sector. “Forty-six percent of engineering, technical and industrial professionals visit 10 or more work-related websites in a week, Engineers go online to find components, equipment, and services; to compare products across suppliers; to search specifications, conduct research, and perform other work-related tasks. In fact, digital resources represent the top four information sources for industrial professionals” 

Who else have you done it for? Case studies and testimonials are excellent content resources that support validation of relevant experience for both product manufacturers and professional service providers alike. The difference being that the” Success Story “subject matter should be reflective a solution that is relative to the distinct value proposition and specific persona pain points outlined above.

Whether you are a manufacturer of circuit boards or you are providing services for the management team of an organization, the first important step is to adopt some form of a digital lead generation strategy. Prior to adopting this digital strategy, I recommend that due diligence is conducted to define detailed characteristics of your ideal customer.  Developing a content strategy that resonates with these identified “personas”, will truly allow you to differentiate from the competition and drive additional customer acquisition revenue through your digital channels.

1Hinge Research Institute- Online Marketing for Professional Services, Copyright © 2012
2March 2014- Oracle- Measuring Social Media ROI in the Enterprise: Myths and Facts
36-27-14- GlobalSpec- Taking a Strategic Approach to Digital Media 

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