The industrial products are technical in nature that have very few buyers compared to the consumer products. This makes the industrial marketers to change their promotional strategy for industrial goods and services. The promotional mix used by the industrial marketer consists of advertising, sales promotion, publicity, public relations, personal selling and direct marketing. These tools help them to build awareness, develop company image, inform about the product features thus assisting the company sales force and other intermediaries to increase their sales. Of all the promotional mix, personal selling is the most important because industrial products are technical in nature and they involve lot of direct interactions by the company people with the industrial customers. However, all the elements of promotional mix needs to be well integrated with personal selling with proper coordination in order to develop an effective industrial marketing communication strategy.
Any industrial communication or promotion program in order to be effective has to follow certain steps. The various steps that are involved for effective industrial marketing communication program are as given below.
Establishing the objectives of communication: The objectives of industrial marketing communication or industrial promotion are derived from the marketing objectives and entire company’s objectives. This calls for the marketer to collect varied data from the market regarding the present awareness levels about the company and its products, the attitudes of the target customers and their buying action. The availability of such data is prerequisite for the industrial marketers to set their communication goals. Accordingly, the marketers have to increase the awareness levels, develop favorable attitude and bring in a strong desire among the customers to buy their products. All this requires the use of combination of communication media. For instance, if the objective of the organization is to enter a new market and create product awareness, it would be apt to advertise in any magazine or journal, while to inform about distinct product features that has an advantage over the competitor’s, it would be ideal to go for personal selling by meeting the customers directly.
Identifying the target audience: The target market can be identified by segmenting the target market and then identifying the buying organization. Then their awareness, attitudes and buying factors need to be identified where their opinion about the company, its products, its competitors are known. This helps the company to change itself accordingly and keep up-to the expectations of its target audience. Such information is generally obtained by carrying out a research study.
Determining the promotional budget: This is the most difficult task for any industrial organization as how much budget it should allocate for promotional activities. There are different methods that are followed by different companies as per their individual policies and convenience. Some of the common methods that are generally used by the industrial marketers are:
- Affordable method: The budgets are set as per the affordability of the company. This has the disadvantage that promotional budget is not considered as an investment that would impact the sales volume.
- Percentage of sales method: Most of industrial marketers use this method where based on the sales figure of previous year or the budgeted current year sales, a certain percentage of it is fixed as promotion budget.
- Competitive parity method: In this method, the industrial marketer is influenced by the competitor and spends the same percentage of sales as promotion as spent by the competitor i.e., maintaining parity with the competitor.
- Objective and task method: In this method, the industrial marketer defines the promotional objectives and determines the tasks to be performed to achieve those objectives and estimates the cost of performing such tasks. The total of these costs form the promotional budget.
Developing message strategy: Message strategy is developed by creating rational appeal rather than moral or emotional appeal that are used in consumer goods. This is developed by conducting a market survey to find out the satisfaction needs sought by target audience. As the industrial buyers are knowledgeable, the message should focus on the benefits to the customer rather than on the product features.
Media selection: This depends on the kind of target audience to be reached, the budget available and the objective of the industrial marketing communication. With different promotional tools available like advertising, sales promotion, public relations and publicity, direct marketing and personal selling, the industrial marketer should make an ideal choice to select the media that would enhance his product sales.
Evaluating the promotion: The various promotional activities carried out by the industrial marketer are evaluated by measuring the difference in awareness levels, the attitude, and the actual purchases of the target audience. The difference before and after the implementation of the promotional plan is identified. This involves carrying out research study to find out the changes in the levels of awareness, attitude and buying action of the target audience.
Integrating promotional program: The industrial marketer has to integrate the various industrial marketing communication tools so that the communication plans of the company are clear, consistent and cost effective. This calls for conducting training programs for the people handling the various communication tools.