Educational sell best way to reach vertical

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As founder and president of Telesian Technology, Shari Worthington has been providing marketing, Web development and e-business services to the technology and manufacturing verticals for more than 20 years. Below, Worthington discusses the best ways to reach manufacturing professionals online.

BtoB: What are the must-have elements of a Web site selling to the manufacturing vertical?

Worthington: In manufacturing, there are two key components for your Web site. The first one is the product catalog. Vendors selling to manufacturers have forever had product catalogs. The problem is they always drove everything through the product catalog, and these days the sell is more of an educational sell. You can't just come in and shake hands and say, "Buy my valve—it's the greatest on the market." Now you have to demonstrate that you know what you're talking about, that you really understand the whole product life cycle for them, and how the valve is going to be replaced and all that.

The second piece, which is now the most important, is the technical library—the repository for all your white papers, your tech notes, your tips, your case histories. All this stuff needs to be in one area because this is how you differentiate yourself. Unless you're selling a commodity component and you're just trying to be the lowest-cost provider, you have to differentiate. With manufacturers, you have to educate them on your expertise in this area. ... The Web has been a phenomenal tool for being able to bring all that material together in one place and really deliver a thud factor that we've never seen before.

BtoB: What other online marketing channels are working for your clients?

Worthington: We love search engine marketing for any market that we deal with because it's one-to-one marketing perfected. You're dealing with a person who types in a particular phrase, and you can get really specific with your advertisement and with the message that goes to them. There's probably only a couple of hundred people in the world who really care about [for example] 18- or 24-bit data acquisition systems. But that's OK. If I sell 24-bit data-acquisition systems, I want to talk directly to those few hundred people. So search engines allow me to do that in ways that no other medium has allowed. It's very exciting to be able to do target marketing right down to an extremely granular level, in terms of a few hundred or a few dozen people even. —M. E. M.

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