Rarely is advertising employed by itself in the industrial arena. The complexity of most industrial products, coupled with buyers’ expectations and unique information needs, requires personal contact. It is not possible, however, for sales people to make contact with all the various individuals who may be involved in a purchasing decision. In fact, studies have indicated that on the average for every ten buying influencers, salesperson reaches only three to four. Not only is industrial advertising an effective means of reaching inaccessible or unknown buying influencers, it creates awareness, enhances the effectiveness of the sales call, increases the overall efficiency of the selling effort, and is an important ingredient in creating and maintaining demand at the distributor level.
- Reaching Buying Influences: It is not uncommon for industrial sales people to be unaware of individuals within a firm who may be in a position to exert influence on a purchasing decision. This is particularly true when deploying a new salesperson or when calling on a new customer for the first time. Also, for various reasons including the inability to get past purchasing agents, buying influencers are often inaccessible to sales people. Executive turnover is a never-ending problem. Buying influencers are constantly moving out of their areas of responsibility, moving up in the organization, or changing jobs. These influencers, however, do read trade magazines and general business publications and can be reached through advertising. Additionally, through requests for further information called for in ads, unknown influencers often identify themselves, making it possible for sales people to contact them.
- Creating Awareness: Industrial advertising is an effective means of creating awareness of the industrial supplier, as well as the supplier’s market offering. Buyers normally select a supplier after moving through several phases of the purchasing decision process. These phases include (1) recognizing a need, (2) determining characteristics and quantities of a needed item, (3) describing those characteristics and quantities, (4) searching for and qualifying sources, (5) acquiring and analyzing proposals, and (6) evaluating proposals and selecting suppliers. Effective industrial advertising creates awareness or alerts potential purchasers to problems within their operations (phase 1) and identifies the supplier’s company and its products as offering possible solutions to those problems (phases 2 and 4), which helps to assure that the advertiser is given favourable consideration when specifications are written and suppliers selected (phases 3 and 6).
- Enhancing the Sales Call: Effectively planned advertising enhances the sales call by arousing interest in the supplier’s offering and by helping to create supplier preference. When buyers are aware of a company, its reputation, its products, and its record in the industry, sales people are more effectively. In fact, according to one study, when buyers are exposed to a firm’s industrial ads, their opinion of the firm improves, dollar sales per call are higher, and the firm’s sales personnel are rated considerably higher on product knowledge, service, and enthusiasm.
- Increasing Overall Sales Efficiency: For some industrial producers, particularly producers of industrial supplies, advertising maybe the only way of efficiency reaching broad groups of buyers. Additionally, because little or no product differentiation exists between many industrial supplies, marketers of such products frequently need to remind users and potential users of their firms’ unique capabilities or make them aware of new products and services. The cost of reaching large numbers of buyers through personal contact cannot only be prohibitive, but unjustifiable.
- Supporting Channel Members: Manufacturers who use middlemen must support those intermediaries’ efforts by ensuring that end markets are aware of their products. While middlemen are interested in the producer’s support activities, resellers, because they are positioned so closely to ultimate consumers, are even more concerned with consumer acceptance. They will also want to know what profit they can expect on a product, and what the producer is doing in the way of consumer advertising and other promotional support activities.