How to Demonstrate Product Value in Industrial Marketing
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Proving the value of complex, expensive products is a perpetual challenge for most manufacturers targeting industrial buyers. With so much competition vying for customers’ budgets, how can you make prospective clients see your products’ product value and choose them over rivals? The answer lies in demonstrating tangible product value tailored to your customer’s needs through effective industrial marketing strategies.
However, this is easier said than done, especially when selling complex products. Your engineering team may obsess over the technical capabilities and features, but does that translate into tangible product value for customers? Can you quantify the impact on their operations and bottom line? Will the product value stand up against competitors’ claims in a skeptical purchaser’s mind?
To stand out, manufacturers need to go beyond product specs and let potential customers know what’s in it for them in terms of product value. This means showcasing genuine ROI, not just vague benefits. To reiterate, the marketing teams must tailor their industrial marketing strategies and value messaging to resonate with each client’s needs and pain points. The question is: how do they achieve this? This article ventures into the depths of industrial marketing to demystify how to demonstrate and deliver product value at each stage, from researching your audience to closing deals and beyond. It explores practical techniques to help manufacturers demonstrate meaningful product value across the buyer’s journey.
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Defining Product Value in Industrial Marketing
Product value in a business-to-business (B2B) context differs from consumer marketing in important ways. For instance, with business customers, value propositions must resonate specifically with organizational buyers, not mass retail consumers.
To be precise, product value refers to the overall benefits, both tangible and intangible, that industrial buyers receive from purchasing and using a manufacturer’s offering. The key is proving this value is meaningful for the customer’s specific needs and objectives.
For manufacturers, having a clear product value proposition is crucial when selling to other businesses. This involves conveying why your capabilities justify the investment required versus alternatives. Buyers must see your solution as providing superior outcomes that help their operations.
Examples of tangible value include quantifiable results like:
- Reduced operating costs
- Increased output/yield
- Increased efficiency & productivity
- Reduced downtime
- Higher profitability
- Faster ROI
Intangible value elements involve benefits like:
- Better safety and compliance
- Enhanced brand reputation
- Increased agility and innovation
- Closer alignment with sustainability goals
Compared to simpler consumer products, demonstrating product value can be highly challenging with complex B2B offerings. This is due to factors like:
- Industrial buyers require more evidence and are wary of overpromising claims
- Procurement does rigorous diligence for expensive, higher-risk purchases
- More approval layers with longer sales cycles
- Combination of tangible and intangible value across departments
- Metrics differ significantly across industries and customers
- Long lifetimes make ROI modeling less straightforward
- Buyers may lack the complete technical expertise to evaluate claims
- Proof often requires demonstrating value directly in context
Facing these and many other obstacles, it is common for marketing strategies to produce underwhelming results, often failing to justify huge budgets and long hours spent strategizing. If this scenario describes your current situation, then read on to discover helpful techniques to turn it around.
Researching Your Customer's Needs
The first step in demonstrating product value is understanding your customer’s pain points, problems, and goals. But, you may ask, why bother doing this anyway while customers buy what they want and when they want it? Most customers have a lot to say about their purchase decisions, and they associate businesses that reach out with excellent customer service. Your business will suffer if the buyers get a hint of subpar customer service. In fact, a Khoros survey established that most customers (65%) are ready to drop a brand for another because of poor customer experience. And, as anyone would imagine, the returns for good customer service are plentiful.
Good customer service begins with knowing their pain points. According to Harvard Business School (HBS), excellent knowledge of pain points is also the perfect approach for customer discovery. Part of discovery, says HBS, is trying to define not just how painful the problem is but also whether it is a big enough problem across enough constituents to make it worth it to build a product to resolve it. In other words, businesses must research their customer’s needs to provide better service to existing ones and discover more newcomers. The following are some practical methods for researching needs:
- Market research – surveys and interviews to identify challenges customers face. For example, commissioned research may show manufacturing plant managers struggling with frequent power drill breakdowns that delay production.
- Competitive analysis – evaluate competitors’ value propositions and customer reviews to find where needs are unmet. If all competitors focus on drill power, not durability, an opportunity may exist around reliability.
- Customer conversations – directly engage customers to learn about frustrations and desired outcomes. Discussing needs with plant engineers may reveal concerns about drill maintenance costs and productivity losses.
After completing the needs research, the next step is to quantify the associated costs and inefficiencies experienced without your product. For industrial buyers, hard numbers resonate more than generalities; for instance, you can calculate that unreliable power drills generate $100k in annual maintenance expenses and cause 24 days of downtime per drill on average.
Then, outline how your offerings solve these pain points and enable customer goals. You could demonstrate how your heavy-duty drills reduce breakdowns and repairs by 50%, saving $50k in maintenance and 12 days of downtime annually.
Lastly, tailor your value proposition for different customer segments. On the one hand, you can emphasize cost savings from lower drill repairs for budget-focused buyers. On the other hand, stress increased uptime and output by reducing drill failures for operations-focused buyers.
Conveying Tangible Benefits
Once you understand customer needs, the next step is conveying specific metrics and tangible results improved by your product. And for industrial buyers, quantitative examples and data points resonate much more than qualitative claims. Recall that tangible results are those that customers can evaluate and put a definitive figure on, including cost reductions and increased output. The question then is: how do you convey your products’ tangible value?
Use Data and Statistics
This is an excellent approach to let customers (current and prospects) understand the benefits they will enjoy if they use your products for several reasons:
- Data and statistics provide objective evidence of a product’s performance and effectiveness. They offer concrete proof that goes beyond subjective claims, making the product’s value more credible and convincing.
- They allow for easy comparison between different products or solutions. Customers can clearly see how one product stacks up against another regarding specific metrics, helping them make informed decisions.
- Manufacturers can use data and statistics to highlight the strengths of their products. For example, if a product is designed to be energy-efficient, showing statistics about energy savings can effectively convey this benefit.
- Data gathered from customer feedback and surveys can help manufacturers understand what customers value most in their products, guiding product development and improvements.
- Sharing data and statistics about a product’s performance can build customer trust by demonstrating transparency.
- Finally, data and statistics provide measurable results. This is particularly important for B2B customers who must justify the investment in a particular product to other stakeholders in their organization.
Using as much specific data and statistics as possible to substantiate claims about tangible value is good practice. For example, consider a manufacturer specializing in making drills. The company can:
- Cite a 2-year field study across 500 construction sites showing drill failures reduced by 57% after switching to their model.
- Quote specific stats like “83% of surveyed customers saw a drilling rework decrease of over 10%.”
- Leverage charts that show their drill’s 50% lower failure rate compared to average competitors.
Use ROI Calculators and TCO Analysis
Every new item a customer purchases is an investment, and the only way to justify its acquisition is to return the principal and an extra (comfortable) margin. Return on investment (ROI) is a powerful metric that lets businesses know if their expenditure is beneficial. For example, if a plant purchases 100 drills and a calculator shows a $150,000 net savings from fewer failures, this substantiates your $100,000 price premium.
But while ROI provides a narrower view of purchase decisions, total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis takes a broader long-term view, ideal for complex industrial assets with multi-year use cycles. It factors both direct and indirect costs across the lifetime. Consider the scenario below:
- A 5-year TCO analysis may compare your $1,000 premium drill to a competitor’s $500 drill.
- It would incorporate all maintenance, failure rates, downtime losses, service costs, and depreciation.
- If it shows your drill saves $3,000 in total costs over five years, this justifies the higher price.
These tools (TCO analysis and ROI) allow industrial buyers to model the financial return your product provides. They turn abstract claims into concrete metrics demonstrating tangible value.
Customer Testimonials and Case Studies
Skepticism is usual among B2B buyers. Rob Roy Consulting and the market research firm Cambia Information Group did a survey that established that most buyers of B2B technology don’t believe vendors are completely honest. Of the 625 B2B technology decision-makers surveyed, 73% said “most vendors fall short” of the honesty mark. Although the survey focused on a specific niche, the results can be extrapolated across the whole B2B business environment, indicating that B2B buyers are skeptical purchasers.
Given this background, customer testimonials and case studies are an ideal solution to expose your products’ value to potential customers in a way that makes them feel you are not stretching the actual state of things. However, what is the best approach to ensure this strategy generates leads and convinces customers to purchase? Obtaining testimonials directly from existing customers provides powerful social proof of tangible value. For example:
- Gather video testimonials of manufacturing plant managers describing specific costs and time savings from your drill’s reliability.
- Get written quotes from facility engineers highlighting exact metric improvements like a “50% reduction in power drill failures after switching brands.”
- Curate testimonials from a variety of industries/customers to showcase broad value.
For case studies, it is best to create an in-depth analysis that serves as compelling evidence of tangible results:
- Feature a case study showing how Factory X saved $500k in maintenance costs over two years after adopting your drills. Outline their exact breakdown and downtime rates before and after.
- Publish a case study detailing how Contractor Y finished complex projects 15% faster thanks to faster drilling speeds. Include quantified time savings.
- Gather data-rich case studies from customers where your product tangibly impacted KPIs like profitability, quality, and customer satisfaction.
In summary, the more real customer examples you can provide, including quantified metrics, the better. Testimonials and case studies make the benefits tangible rather than hypothetical claims. They offer solid social proof of value delivery.
Proving Value In Context
If the tangible benefits can’t win a purchase decision, you can prove the products’ value directly within the customer’s actual environment and workflow. This approach is powerful because it turns hypotheticals into tangible experiences and metrics. Most importantly, it provides the opportunity for onsite validation and allows the marketing team to tailor messaging to each prospect’s unique context. But precisely how should you approach this strategy? Some helpful tactics include:
- Set up onsite demos and trials to showcase value in the customer’s specific context. Rather than hypotheticals, let them see your power drill accelerate construction projects in their facilities firsthand. Hands-on experience is vital for complex equipment purchases, and allowing customers to test products in their workflows is far more persuasive than brochures.
- Work closely with early adopters willing to pilot your drills. Gathering their tangible feedback and results provides extremely compelling proof of value with minimal risk. Based on pilot results, offer custom ROI forecasts and pricing proposals tailored to each customer’s unique parameters. With concrete in-context data, you can calculate achievable cost and time savings.
These tactics will produce valuable feedback, which, if well leveraged, can help improve the product value and how marketers demonstrate it to customers. Most importantly, adjust your sales messaging for prospects based on this feedback.
Delivering Ongoing Value
One of the critical areas in which the B2B business environment differs from consumer-facing activities is that the relationship does not end with exchanging products for money. Instead, manufacturers must always be on hand to help customers during the product’s lifetime. As such, the marketing team must be able to demonstrate product value beyond the point of initial sale. This is critical because an excellent post-purchase relationship ensures customers receive maximum ROI over the product’s lifetime. Some helpful tactics you can deploy include:
- Provide white-glove implementation, training, and support to realize expected outcomes quickly. Proper use and maintenance are critical for complex equipment like industrial table saws. Therefore, assign customer success teams to ensure ideal adoption.
- Regularly check in to confirm the saws are delivering projected cost savings, efficiency gains, and other tangible benefits as promised. Track key performance metrics and help customers address any shortfalls.
- Work closely with buyers to optimize value as operational needs evolve. You could adjust saw capacities or maintenance plans to exceed KPIs. Also, offer upgrades to improve functionality over years of shifting demand. Taking this lifecycle view strengthens relationships beyond the transactional vendor role. It helps to recall that industrial customers value partners who proactively maximize value year after year as business conditions change.
Industrial organizations have many stakeholders involved in purchasing decisions. And before the organization finalizes the decision, all stakeholders must buy into the supposed value of the products. If nothing else, this should tell industrial marketers that messaging must be customized for each segment of the prospective customer’s decision-making chain. For example, suppose you want customers to buy your table saws. In that case, you could formulate the message to resonate with each role’s interests as follows:
For CFOs and procurement professionals, provide clear and measurable data on the cost savings, return on investment (ROI), and total cost of ownership (TCO) advantages associated with your table saws.
When speaking to production managers, focus on the increased output, uptime, and efficiency improvements that come from the reliability of your saws.
For end-users, draw attention to the ergonomic enhancements and safety benefits that enhance their overall experience and well-being.
When engaging with IT teams and those concerned with compliance, provide comprehensive information about the cybersecurity features integrated into your saws and the regulatory standards they adhere to.
However, you may soon realize that managing the several facets of the message is taxing. You need a centralized information management approach to ensure that as the message goes out to the intended audience, it carries the exact but bespoke details to ensure consistency. And no tool does this better than a product information management (PIM) platform. A PIM solution like Catsy allows central product data storage to manage tailored messaging efficiently. For example, the messages about your table saws to the different roles within target organizations can link to a single record in the PIM repository. This ensures that while each stakeholder gets a unique message, they receive information that focuses the decision-makers on the table saw.
Meanwhile, ensure that all stakeholders understand the differentiating product capabilities of the product. For example:
- Explain unique safety features like skin detection that minimize operator injuries on the saws.
- Highlight advanced diagnostics that enable 50% faster repairs and troubleshooting.
- Discuss dual power options tailored to client flexibility needs.
Again, PIM allows managing benefits and supporting collateral just like role-based content. It allows you to associate each benefit with your product record for centralized updating when claims evolve. However, always lean on evidence like customer testimonials, expert analyses, and field data to substantiate claims of superiority over rival offerings in meeting needs. For example, provide benchmarking studies proving your table saws deliver 30% higher accuracy and power efficiency.
Highlighting After-Purchase Support
One of the most solid techniques to demonstrate product value – discussed earlier – is delivering ongoing value, which, when narrowed down, refers to methods like extending relationships beyond the purchasing point. Most industrial products are complex and often require manufacturer support to deliver optimal value – this provides an excellent opportunity for marketers to design a campaign that promises after-purchase support as part of the reasons to purchase a particular product. This specific aspect of marketing is crucial because, as the Rob Roy Consulting survey cited earlier disclosed, most vendors do not keep their promises. Therefore, you must assure the prospects that you will help address any issues arising in the product’s lifecycle. Some key strategies to deploy include:
Describe your Customer Service, Technical Support, and Training Offerings in Detail
For complex products like metal lathes, you must assure the customers of ongoing assistance to ensure maximum ROI. Specifically, you could emphasize benefits like 24/7 technical support, onsite troubleshooting, operator training seminars, and preventative maintenance programs. Also, tout the experience and expertise of support teams to instill trust. For example, highlight certified technicians with over five years of industry experience.
Set Proper Expectations about Lifetime Support
Again, it must be reiterated that industrial buyers are highly skeptical purchasers, and vendor reassurances can go a long way in influencing purchase decisions. As such, marketers must ensure they set appropriate expectations about things like lifetime support to alleviate concerns over investing in your products. For instance:
- Provide software upgrade and migration policies, so buyers know what to expect long-term for connected tools.
- Be transparent about parts availability, repair processes, and timeline commitments for tools like circular saw
Highlight Supplementary Post-Purchase Content like User Manuals, Maintenance Guides, and Warranty Information
One powerful gesture to customers that you intend to keep after-purchase support involves providing documentation. For example:
- Include comprehensive user manuals with instructions and safety guidelines tailored for each product.
- Provide maintenance PDFs detailing recommended upkeep schedules, with tips on optimizing product lifetime and performance.
- Attach warranty documentation outlining precisely what is covered for how long.
This already feels like a challenging task. Truly, manually generating product documentation, whether to be included in the packaging or on product detail pages (PDPs), is a complicated task if you want to get it right. Thankfully, tools like Catsy empowers quick, automated PDF generation from the product content stored in the repository. Even better, Catsy provides the means (through a plug-in) to connect your InDesign data panel to the Catsy database. Using the plug-in, you can pull data from the repository (a single source of truth) into InDesign to efficiently generate regulatory-compliant manuals and high-quality technical PDFs tailored for each product.
Demonstrating product value should be the primary obsession for industrial marketing teams, more so in the current business environment where simply touting product features is not enough to win overly skeptical B2B buyers. Manufacturers must prove their offerings deliver meaningful ROI and impact customers’ bottom lines.
To achieve this, marketing and product teams should become laser-focused on quantifying value and conveying it persuasively. As discussed, tactics like ROI calculators, customer testimonials, and in-context demos are invaluable. However, orchestrating cohesive value messaging across channels and stakeholders remains a monumental challenge, made easier with PIM tools like Catsy.
Catsy’s single source of truth for product data and digital assets enables teams to efficiently manage tailored messaging for every role while maintaining consistency. Furthermore, the platform’s automated PDF generation and InDesign integration streamline collateral creation to supplement value claims. Catsy also provides a readiness reporting feature that enables teams to identify and fill crucial gaps, ensuring you have the assets to demonstrate value persuasively. With PIM as a foundational platform, industrial marketers can gain control over complex multi-channel campaigns.
To learn more about how Catsy helps Industrial Brands win, book a demo with us here.
Use market research, competitive analysis, and direct customer conversations to understand your customers’ frustrations, challenges, and desired outcomes. Quantify associated costs and inefficiencies.
Leverage relevant statistics, ROI calculators, TCO analysis, customer testimonials, and in-depth case studies. The more concrete proof, the better.
Set up onsite demos and trials or pilot programs with early adopters. Gather feedback to tailor messaging and forecast achievable metrics.
Proper implementation, training, upgrades, and lifetime optimization ensure customers gain maximum ROI from complex industrial products.
Use a PIM (product information management) tool like Catsy to efficiently manage tailored messaging that resonates with decision-makers across functions like operations, procurement, IT, and compliance.