Elevating the State of Manufacturing Marketing: Insights From the Industrial Marketing Summit

Author: Whitney Koch

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Industrial Marketing Summit organized by CADENAS PARTsolutions, TREW Marketing, and Gorilla 76. A spinoff of Content Marketing World, the Summit was turned into a standalone event because industrial marketers desired a live, in-person event dedicated to their needs and industry-specific challenges.

In this blog, I’ll share my aha moments and important lessons from the sessions and workshops I attended.


Key Takeaways for Manufacturing Marketing

Maximizing Marketing Impact With AI Tools

Many industrial marketers operate lean. If they’re not solo marketers, they typically have a small team and oftentimes a tight budget as well. Instead of being scared of AI and worried that AI will one day replace them, industrial marketers should embrace it. Utilizing AI tools as a “marketing intern” takes some of the burden off of small marketing teams, allowing them to work smarter and focus their time and energy on more meaningful tasks AI can’t do like talking to customers.

Here are some tasks AI can assist you with as your “marketing intern.”

  • Write content outlines
  • Summarize long texts
  • Assist with competitor research
  • Brainstorm content topics
  • Proofread text
  • Rewrite text
  • Visualize data
  • Analyze data
  • Generate metadata    

Here are some AI tools used and recommended by industrial marketers.

Tool About Free Paid Free Trial
ChatGPT Ideation, brainstorming, proofreading, and more  ✔️ ✔️
Jasper Writing assistance, centralized knowledge base for brand voice, tone, and content ✔️ ✔️
Bard Content generator ✔️
Grammarly Writing assistance ✔️ ✔️
ChatPDF Upload PDF files to summarize & ask them questions ✔️ ✔️
GlossAi Repurpose video & audio content ✔️ ✔️
WordTune Rewrite, improve, and summarize text; create your own knowledge base ✔️ ✔️
Writer Content generator ✔️ ✔️
Perplexity Research ✔️ ✔️
Cody AI assistant for internal teams or customers ✔️ ✔️
ChatHub Browser extension that allows you to use multiple chatbots simultaneously ✔️ ✔️
GPT Store Discover and create custom versions of ChatGPT ✔️
Requires ChatGPT Plus
GPT for Work Add the functionality of ChatGPT to your documents and spreadsheets ✔️


A study from researchers at MIT found that college-educated professionals who used ChatGPT to complete occupation-specific writing tasks decreased the amount of time required to do those tasks and improved the quality of their writing. 

Using AI to speed up content creation can not only help you produce higher-quality deliverables but also allow you to spend more time on high-value marketing tasks, thus making manufacturing marketers all the more valuable to their organizations.


Reaching the Technical Buyer in 2024 

“No one wants to be sold to. We want our decisions to be validated.” 

CJ Haight, Content Marketing Manager at GlobalSpec

According to the results of the 2024 State of Marketing to Engineers Report from GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing, on average, technical buyers spend 66% of the buying process online. Because the majority of buyers clearly prefer to do their own research before speaking with a sales rep, manufacturers must have digital content for each phase of the customer journey to reach them. (If the customer journey is new to you, here’s an explainer.) 

If you only push your products or services in your content marketing, you are putting the cart before the horse. Your digital content should be varied – in purpose, medium, and channel – to ensure you are meeting your potential customers where they’re at and answering the questions they have at their stage of the customer journey. (For suggestions on content for each stage, check out this blog.)

It’s perhaps even more important than in other industries for industrial marketing and sales teams to be in alignment. Why? Forty-one percent of industrial buyers who participated in the study mentioned above go to supplier or vendor websites for information, and 29% refer to sales or application engineers. Strong sales-marketing alignment in the industrial space helps ensure that you as the industrial marketer are developing the content prospective customers need to make a buying decision and that sales representatives and engineers can use on their sales calls.

Aside from your website, industrial buyers turn to social media, newsletters, webinars, podcasts, and videos for information. If your company isn’t already creating content for these channels, maybe these statistics will convince you to start now.

Social Media

  • The majority of study respondents cited YouTube as a valuable channel when seeking information for work, with 23% stating it is extremely valuable. And in their personal time, industrial buyers use YouTube more than other social media channels.
  • LinkedIn was the second most valuable channel. Eighteen percent of industrial buyers surveyed said it is an extremely valuable source of information. Additionally, 38% of respondents use this social media channel in their personal lives.
  • GitHub, which has community discussions similar to Reddit but is not technically a social media channel, is also cited as a valuable resource.


  • Nearly every industrial buyer subscribes to at least one work-related email newsletter, marking a shift from the past three years.
  • Sixty-six percent subscribe to at least three newsletters.
  • Tying into their social media usage, 81% subscribe to LinkedIn newsletters as well.

Podcasts and Videos

  • A third of respondents identified as visual learners. Nearly all technical buyers say they watch work-related videos. 
  • What has changed compared to past years is the amount of time they spend watching videos. The majority – 67% – have a weekly watch time of 1-5 hours.
  • Though only 12% said they identify with the auditory learning style the most, 90% listen to work-related podcasts.
  • As with video watchers, most podcast listeners spend 1-5 hours listening to work-related podcasts each week.
  • Podcast listeners prefer shorter but more frequent podcast episodes.


Building & Measuring Brand Authority

“The riches are in the niches?” Are you familiar with that saying? Too often, industrial companies try to be everything to everyone…and end up reaching no one. 

In her presentation on brand authority, Morgan Norris from TREW Marketing emphasized the importance of focusing on the audiences most significant for your business. Knowing who your ideal customers are helps focus your messaging and inform your marketing strategy, including which platforms you should invest in.

Having a strong brand goes beyond mere name recognition. When you know what sets your brand apart from your competitors, you can use that differentiation to your advantage. Your brand should play a key role in every stage of the customer journey, educating and leading prospects and turning them into buyers and advocates. 

Norris outlined the elements of a brand strategy: personas, goals and measurement, messaging, thought leadership, execution, and visual identity. As you start building your brand, it’s important to get baseline measurements to refer back to. Norris recommended these tools:

  • Moz to measure domain and brand authority and compare it to your top competitors
  • Net promoter score to track brand loyalty among your customers
  • Platform analytics to track organic traffic and the quality and quantity of backlinks
  • Perplexity.ai to search research for relevant data about your niche to develop content that resonates 

When it comes to consistent brand messaging, industrial companies often miss the mark. Norris cited research from Demand Metric that found fewer than 10% of B2B companies say their branding is very consistent. And yet, prospects expect to have similar experiences with a brand across touchpoints. 

To build a strong brand, industrial marketers must be clear on what sets the company apart from their competitors. Service, quality, and expertise are often cited in this industry, which means they aren’t true differentiators at all. Interview current customers to better understand their specific pain points and language or terminology, and then use this insider information to inform your brand messaging. A clear value proposition and brand messaging, when used consistently, will meet your prospects’ expectations and create a stronger connection to your brand.

Another strategy for building a strong brand is thought leadership. Norris cited this compelling statistic from Forrester’s research: Companies who lead their industries in thought leadership grow revenue over 5 years at over 5 times the average growth rate of their peers. If you’re wondering how you can help your company become a thought leader, it’s necessary to consider what you as the industrial marketer do for the corporate brand and how other people throughout your organization can build personal brands and share company messages targeted to their individual audiences in their own voice.

This was the perfect segue to the closing panel, “Find Your Voice, Humanize Your Brand, Stand out in a Sea of User-Generated Content.” This discussion, moderated by Christ Luecke, host and founder of the Manufacturing Happy Hour podcast, featured Nikki Gonzales, host of the Automation Ladies podcast and Head of Partnerships at Quotebeam, Jordan Yates, Marketing Engineer with Knowles Precision Devices, and Eddie Saunders, Founder & Friend at Speak Friend Consulting, all of whom are known in industrial marketing for their strong personal brands.

“What if my thought leader leaves?” That’s an oft-expressed concern industrial companies have when it comes to employees who build personal brands. In the panel conversation, Saunders challenged this by asking, “What is you empower them and they stay?” Panelists recommended establishing guidelines for thought leaders, stating both the company and the employees must be on the same page and committed to personal branding activities. They emphasized that, when personal branding is supported, it’s a win-win situation. Remember, people buy from people. Having employees with strong personal brands humanizes the corporate brand and is an effective way to build awareness, recognition, and trust.

It’s also a way for industrial marketers to experiment with messaging, technology, and tools with less risk. Lessons learned from building your own personal brand can be applied to your work on the corporate side. Additionally, having a personal brand keeps you in better touch with the industry and your customers; you can apply the insights into their pain points and needs gathered from your personal engagement to company messaging. 


Manufacturing Marketing Resources

Because industrial marketers face challenges marketers in other industries don’t face, community building and resources are essential to know you’re not alone and to troubleshoot.

Here are some online communities I recommend:



The Industrial Marketing Summit was more than just an event – it was a validation of industrial marketers. By gathering marketers from a variety of industrial companies around the United States, the organizers created a singular place where they could learn, be supported, and feel optimistic about the future of manufacturing marketing. 

From harnessing the power of AI tools to reaching the technical buyer, the summit provided a comprehensive roadmap for elevating the state of manufacturing marketing. Speakers and panelists shared their expertise on building brand authority, measuring marketing impact, and crafting compelling content plans tailored to the unique needs of the industry.

One key takeaway from the summit is the importance of community in navigating the challenges of industrial marketing. Connecting with fellow marketers, exchanging ideas, and leveraging shared resources are essential steps in driving innovation and staying ahead.