“Help! I’m a marketer, I know all about PPC/newsletters/instagram/insert-marketing-technique-of-choice-here, and I was just hired to market for a manufacturer – but I don’t know how these industrial companies buy and sell! And instead of having a niche, I have to do everything! How do I market for a manufacturer!?”

If this sounds like you, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

Our show may focus on explaining marketing to manufacturers, but today we’re going to flip the script and explain a few basics of manufacturing models for a new marketer’s benefit.


As opposed to B2C companies where you’re influencing customers and selling straight to them, industrial companies function in a bit more of a tri-layered system.

Manufacturers make a product; they pass it on to dealers or regional sales teams; and those distributors actually sell to the end user.

In short, industrial companies don’t always sell directly. This means that when you market for a manufacturer, your materials have to focus on two very different audiences…


Manufacturing businesses are easier to scale up if they, the makers of the product, don’t have to focus on generating demand as well. So they leave the job of generating demand to distributors.

Selling to one distributor with 500 clients is far easier than trying to sell to each of those 500 end users individually.

So if you’ve been hired to market for a manufacturer, the first thing you need to know is that your main audience demographic is actually your distributors, and not just your end users.

Distributor pain points almost definitely differ from those of the end users, so you’ll need to know how to appeal to them.

Don’t just market your product – market training and educational materials on how to sell it.

Regional sales teams may batch your product with other tools or services. How can you make that combination smoother? Provide value, value, value.


Just because you need to focus on distributors heavily doesn’t mean you should disregard the usual suspects when you create your marketing materials.

When you provide your distributors with resources, they will be marketing to consumers. Therefore, make sure you still create plenty of materials that will sell to end-users.

And sometimes, once in a blue moon, end-users may reach out to a manufacturer directly, rather than a distributor, with questions about the product. The forklift industry is a great example.

Consumers like to do their research before they buy.

They may not buy directly from you, but they probably will want to research your product if they’re interested in your manufacturer’s specific brand. Make sure you have resources to answer their questions.


Chances are, your first few campaigns aren’t going to skyrocket and fulfill every single goal you set. And that’s okay.

You’re new to this manufacturing thing…and your superiors are most likely new to this digital marketing thing. You just need to make sure that they understand: digital marketing is not an instant big red button of success.

A year ago, Malika Givens of Landis+Gyr gave us a great explanation of how to gain organizational buy-in for your marketing techniques.

The key is to start with baby steps and very basic explanations; like defining what an “impression” is, for example.

Understanding one another is vital. You need to make sure that what you’re doing is in measurable, understandable terms or values for your third audience…your own company.

If you can’t connect what you’re doing to the transactions they’re making, then they may not get anything you’re talking about.

You need to make sure you’re synced up with the sales team. Schedule many, many meetings to re-evaluate common goals, evaluate current techniques, and measure your progress.

Cut out what’s not working. Build on what’s effective. And when in doubt, over-communicate.


Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to subscribe to the IndustrialSage newsletter to get each of the weekly episodes sent directly to your inbox; or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes so you can listen on the go! If there’s a particular topic that you’d like the sages to talk about, or if you have a particular a challenge that you’d like them to take a crack at, send them an email. If your topic gets picked for a future episode, you’ll win a free IndustrialSage t-shirt!