Almost weekly and almost always on Friday mornings, we sit down as a team for “book club.” It’s a chance for one of our team members to lead discussion on reading that they think is important and relevant that they assigned the agency.

We’ve covered a variety of topics thus far (all marketing related of course), but until this week, I really hadn’t been compelled to write about any of them. Not because they weren’t interesting or inspiring or anything like that – but I don’t know, I guess I was just “busy” (read: Fantasy Football league trade deadline had not yet hit).

This week, however, I’m compelled. Compelled by the statistics within the IHS Engineering360 Research Report “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector.” Following are the findings that I thought were extremely important to know if you work in the industrial sector and have anything at all to do with marketing. Kudos to the folks at Marketing Maven for compiling. Great stuff. And lots of confirmation for what many of us marketing folks have been saying. Make sure to download the full guide here.

Time on the web

More than 50% of technical professionals spend six or more hours a week on the web for work-related purposes, and one out of three spend nine-plus hours online. Young adults account for the largest percentage of people spending more than 12 hours on the Internet for work-related purposes.

To me, these numbers speak for themselves. “My buyer isn’t online” simply is no longer a valid argument and we now have the data for rebuttal.

Moving on…

Why the web is used

The main reasons technical professionals use the web are…

  • To find components, equipment, services and suppliers (77%)
  • To obtain product specifications (73%)
  • To find product availability information (70%)
  • To perform research (67%)
  • To compare products across suppliers (66%)

So in layman’s terms, people are using the web to do their own research. Me personally, I avoid the salesperson until the last possible moment. I want to do my own research on my own schedule with my own agenda. I want to be as informed as possible before entering the buy/sell arena.

That said, the survey did report that while 58% of engineers wait until the comparison/evaluation or purchase stages of the buying process to contact a vendor; 42% make contact in the earlier research stage. So there are still a good amount of folks that are reaching out sooner than later.

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First stops on the web

When looking at work-related digital resources, things haven’t changed much from year to year. General search engines (89%), supplier websites (75%) and online catalogs (74%) are the first three tools that technical professionals are reaching for. Additionally, online communities have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39% now using them.

What’s that tell me? You need to get your www optimized for search, your site better be user-friendly and professional, and getting placed in online catalogs and directories probably isn’t a bad idea either. And if there is a group dedicated to your service offering, it’d be smart to make sure you’re well represented and actively participating.

Tradeshows are dying

More than 50% of all industrial professionals attended ZERO in-person tradeshows in 2014.

To me, that’s a powerful learning. Tradeshows are expensive. Really expensive. There’s the price of admission (whether attending or simply walking the floor), the travel, the meals and entertainment, and the time out of the office. Not to mention, they’re not always the best time. Don’t get me wrong – a Hawaiian-shirt-themed networking hour at the hotel bar has a chance of being as much fun as advertised, but typically, it won’t be.

On a related note (to tradeshows, not Hawaiin-shirt-themed networking hours), my business partner Joe Sullivan actually wrote a blog post comparing the cost per lead at a tradeshow versus on your website. You can read it here.

Think twice before advertising

Digital publications are now favored over traditional printed trade magazines as an information resource. The IHS Engineering360 Research Report found that technical professionals are subscribing to an average of 4.4 digital publications (including e-newsletter and digital trade magazines) compared to an average of 1.4 for printed trade magazines.

Don’t just buy that ad because you have in the past. First, make sure someone is reading the publication. And if the answer is “no” or “I don’t know”, maybe think about some more progressive forms of working with the publications. Guest content and link building are a great place to start. Imagine getting placed in a publication at no cost. Yep – it really happens. As long as your content is good and educational (and not promotional at all), you’ve got a chance.

Read the survey yourself

Take a look through the survey. Download it. Print out this blog post. Share it with your marketing team. What are your thoughts? What did you find interesting? Share in the comments section below.

And again, kudos to the Marketing Maven team on a nice piece of valuable content. This time next year, it’ll be interesting to see where we’re trending.