November 09 2023
Industrial Marketing for the Electric Vehicle Industry:
A Volatile and Evolving Market
The automotive industry is at the heart of the manufacturing sector in the United States, with many manufacturers producing components for today’s complex vehicles for consumer and commercial needs. Depending on a shop’s capabilities, the automotive market can offer businesses new market opportunities, including electric vehicles (EVs).
However, automotive is a big business that is historically volatile as it aligns closely with the US economy and is impacted by unions, supply chain issues, and developing technologies. With that in mind, how do you market your company’s capabilities within this evolving industry?
That’s where Matt Eul comes in. He is the Director of Marketing at JB Poindexter & Co (JBPCO), EAVX, and has worked in industrial marketing for a decade. He has experienced firsthand the electric vehicle and sustainability market evolve not just as a growth opportunity but as a chance for transformative innovation in manufacturing. Through his experience, he aligns this innovation with marketing innovation and presents ideas for marketers looking to enter the EV market.
Eul’s interest in marketing started in high school, where he participated in a national marketing and sales organization called DECA. There he found that marketing played to his strengths by blending creative thinking with data-driven strategy—the perfect mix of art and science.
He graduated from the University of Duluth with a BS in Psychology and a BBA in Marketing. This education provided insights into human behavior, decision-making, and motivation—all crucial to creating effective marketing strategies.
The industrial element to his career came early with an internship and later job at Amsoil, which formulates and packages synthetic lubricants, fuel additives, and filters. When his wife’s career required a move, he wanted to stick with the “gear heads” and found an opportunity at Vermeer. There he managed product marketing and marketing communications from mining and earth-moving equipment to whole tree chippers and grinders.
Eul’s first real-world encounter with psychology and marketing was within his first six months at Vermeer. While pitching a campaign for a new product launch, he garnered the response, “That’s cute, but…” The pitch was an A+ college project, however, he did not consider how it would resonate with an industrial audience. He walked away with this goal—prioritize a pat on the back from your sales team (who hold relationships with your audience) over your marketing peers.
At JBPCO and EAVX
He started at EAVX in 2021 and now oversees JBPCO’s marketing efforts as well. His team ensures marketing strategy aligns with and supports business objectives by focusing on digital marketing, branding, trade shows, and more.
They are an integrator of technology and collaborate with electric and alternative fuel technology companies to enable total vehicle integration with VX control, an internal digital infrastructure to configure, monitor, and control commercial vehicles.
Marketing in the Automotive Industry
Industrial marketing requires a deep understanding of products given their complexity and customization. There’s an emphasis on long-term relationships, detailed technical knowledge, and long lead cycles. Then there’s market volatility like supply chain issues or events like autoworker union strikes. It’s up to Eul’s team to support these needs and communicate market effects to EAVX’s collaborators.
In the not-too-distant past, the company experienced backlogs due to the supply chain problems stemming from the pandemic. The group shifted the weight of their sales and client retention marketing ratio, focusing more on retention. There’s never a reason to cease marketing efforts due to sales hiccups. It’s about adaptability and preparing teams, and to do this, being attuned to the industry allows for transparent responses. Most customers already know what’s going on, so transparency in messaging helps maintain those relationships.
Collaboration is at the heart of EAVX, but a common challenge here is that they cannot always use partner names in marketing materials. The solution is to emphasize shared goals and collective successes, a narrative of joint achievement and innovation.
For small to mid-sized businesses, Eul suggests an understanding of your value proposition and leveraging that in relationships with larger companies. Building a strong network and investing in visibility within industry circles is crucial, and be prepared to demonstrate your agility, reliability, and capacity for innovation.
Marketing EVs and Sustainability
While the electric vehicle market offers major opportunities for business growth to manufacturers supplying to automakers—the key is to understand the government mandates and what’s to come in this changing market. Utilizing industry associations, their events and publications, plus trade shows and reviewing government regulations, provides authority and assurance in messaging. These are tools any size company can access.
Sustainability, or the promotion of environmentally and socially responsible products and processes, has moved from a buzzword to a business imperative. EAVX’s marketing strategies highlight their commitment to sustainability by highlighting efforts in developing next-generation commercial vehicles for the largest fleets in the world that need to hit their sustainability targets. This message is integrated across all platforms and is a well-known aspect of the EAVX brand identity.
The Marketing Space Evolves Too
Like the automotive industry, marketing has advanced in the last 10 years. When Eul began his career, digital marketing was still a buzzword and ancillary channel versus a strategic marketing approach—just as seeing an electric vehicle on the highway at the time was a rarity. Today, even though digital marketing dominates, there is a persisting problem of integrating these strategies with traditional tactics, like print and trade shows. Both industries have had to adapt, utilizing familiar tactics, and integrating them with the new.
No matter the industry, today’s digital platforms allow more effective audience targeting and real-time analytics. This data availability allows for strategic decisions and to connect the dots between online and offline efforts, and their resulting leads. Eul notes that the game-changer has been the ability to directly attribute digital efforts to actual conversations and sales, making initiatives more accountable.
Eul reminds us that industrial marketing is a field that evolves with technological advancements and market trends, so continuously hone your digital skills, deepen your industry knowledge, and build relationships with sales and product teams.Tags: automotive, electric vehicles, manufacturing