I’m going into my 30th year involved in the industrial marketing sector, one way or another, and along the way there have been many new ways of doing things, but I believe only one has truly transformed what we do (it’s not “the internet”, by the way). My first experience was in the publicity department at a Marconi company, where my engineering background was used to write and check data sheets. I also got little rewards like being able to write and produce the occasional corporate magazine advertisement. In retrospect, it’s incredible that there was such an absence of planning behind this; the publicity manager was “sold” an advertisement page in a magazine (over a nice lunch), and needed something to fill the slot he’d just bought. My job was to think up some harmless, commitment-free slogan, add it to a nice library photo, and ensure the logo at the bottom met all the guidelines in the corporate image handbook. I’m sure my ads looked nice, but what an utter waste of money. No planning, no continuity, and no way of monitoring the results. The only reason to place them was to impress our own managing director and board.
That was the mid-eighties. We couldn’t have imagined back then that one day, almost every prospect who might need one of our products would be looking in the same place, and that we could advertise there on a no win, no fee basis.
But search engine “pay per click” marketing, such as Google AdWords, has changed everything. Does any prospect start looking for suppliers anywhere other than Google? It’s hard to justify publicising your company anywhere else now, unless you’re completely exhausting the potential of this advertising outlet and have money to spare. Or unless the main reason you advertise is to impress your own managing director and board.