GlobalSpec: An exclusive conversation with Pete Hoelscher


GlobalSpec is a provider of data-driven industrial marketing solutions that helps companies in the industrial space promote their products and grow their businesses. Their success is driven by their audience of engineers and technical professionals that rely on the family of GlobalSpec brands, including, and

GlobalSpec recently released its annual Industrial Marketing Planning Kit which helps marketers evaluate the effectiveness of their current marketing choices, calculate the value of existing marketing programs, understand changes in the marketing climate and plan more effective prospect and client engagement strategies for the year ahead.

Q: Thanks for joining me, Pete, in the middle of this busy, yet uncertain planning season. As we’re evaluating 2020 and looking ahead to 2021, I know we want to go deep on some of the trends and topics you see being important for the coming year, but before we do, perhaps we could start with a general overview of GlobalSpec, and the audiences you serve?

Pete Hoelscher: We connect engineers to answers. GlobalSpec is a trusted resource for our engineers and technical professionals, our audience relies on us for content, community, and engagement at every stage of their research, design, and purchasing processes. We work with agencies to help them deliver what their clients are looking for when it comes to reaching this audience, especially around deep industry intelligence, customized marketing programs, and campaigns that can be measured for performance.

We are also pioneers in the digital space. GlobalSpec was founded on the concept of digitizing product information for engineers and has evolved significantly over the last 20 years with a focus on understanding how we can help engineers and technical professionals so that we can connect engineers to answers.

Our audience is global. Geographically, 62% come from the Americas, almost a fifth come from Asia, and 13% from Europe. Our audience is also broad in terms of demographics such as age. Nearly half of our audience is comprised of individuals aged 18-34, with another third coming from visitors in the 35-54 age range. It’s a nice distribution from a demographic perspective of the engineering profession.

Our total audience is more than 1.2 million unique visitors per month across all platforms, and we have 9 million registered users overall.

Q: The year 2020 has been challenging for marketers, to say the least. You are in a unique position to understand and report on trends and modifications industrial marketers have had to make this year. Can you tell us about what you’ve been seeing?

PH: Like many, we first began to hear concerning information about the effect of the coronavirus on marketing in February. At that time, we began to reach out to our clients to survey them on what they were doing. At that point, people were optimistic that the plans they have made would still come to fruition. Just two weeks later, when we conducted the survey again, everything had changed. Since March, industrial marketers have had to make modifications to their plans, with many postponing or even canceling marketing. Of course, that includes tradeshows and conferences. In response, many shifted funds to digital advertising, content creation, and webinars.

Q: Most industrial marketers cite trade shows as a top marketing channel. But with in-person events put on hold for the foreseeable future, how are you advising industrial marketers to connect with potential customers when in-person conversations aren’t possible?

PH: We recommend making sure you have a healthy media mix. Engineers and technical professionals are even more hungry for information, especially younger engineers that are embarking on their career in a remote environment or an environment where collaboration is limited. Invest more in content marketing such as datasheets, case studies, product demo videos, and whitepapers. Webinars are a great way to gain a captive audience, and we recommend focusing on the content of your message more than the optics of a virtual event. As always, keep your website fresh and detailed for engineers to find in-depth technical information and specification. Remember that engineers wanted to be educated and are especially interesting in ensuring consistent product quality, solving design issues, and being up to date on regulatory compliance.

Q: In a year of incredible change, what strategies and activities continue to remain critical?

PH: The need to measure the return on your marketing investments is more critical than ever. When budgets are tight, constantly measuring and adjusting your programs is necessary. In an ever-changing environment, it’s also important to continually evaluate the pain points of your audience. Their greatest challenges may have changed. Creating high-quality informative content that answers their questions continues to be your greatest asset.

Q: As we look toward the future, how do you anticipate coronavirus will impact plans and what advice do you have for industrial marketers?

PH: While I wish I could predict the course of the pandemic going forward, I do know that industrial marketers are wary about what 2021 will bring. When industrial marketers were asked about their confidence in their supply chain for the upcoming year on a scale from 1-10, they answered a 6. Additionally, 35% said they would not attend a tradeshow until a vaccine is available.

I do know that every marketer is better prepared than they were in March. They’ve had many months to pivot plans and change tactics. There has been a lot of hard-won knowledge that can be put to use as we wait for the effects of the pandemic to subside. While we can’t predict what will happen in 2021, we know that we can do a better job to be prepared for a variety of outcomes. We recommend laying out more than one path for 2021. For example, if you’re planning to launch a product – what will happen if the supply chain is compromised? We want to avoid periods where there is no marketing presence, which unfortunately happened to many organizations in 2020.

Q: Thank you for sharing these insights with the SRDS media planning community. Is there a single takeaway or key thought that you would like the media buying and planning community to have about what's happening in your market or at GlobalSpec?

PH: One key takeaway is that we can be a phenomenal partner for you as you drive success for your clients. I say that because of our experience and insights from years of research and interacting with this audience. We have insights about their behaviors and what they're looking for in terms of content and how they navigate their buying process. We can share that insight with agencies who can then incorporate that insight into what they present in their overall media plans for their clients. We love to partner with agencies.