What is Manufacturing Marketing?
Manufacturing marketing is the process of promoting your company’s products to your customers. This sounds like a simple concept, but for many manufacturing companies, marketing is confusing and challenging. As a result, manufacturers often treat marketing as an afterthought, if they bother to focus on it at all. Studies show that marketing manufacturing lags behind almost all other industries. This reluctance on the part of your competitors to embrace marketing provides a great opportunity for your business. By embracing manufacturing marketing, your business can gain a strong competitive advantage in the marketplace, which in time will lead to acquiring new leads and customers, and more revenue for your business.
Manufacturers used to be able to rely on trade shows, industry publications, direct sales efforts and customer referrals to generate new business leads and sales. Times have changed, however, and with the growth of the internet and digital marketing channels, reliance on these types of lead generation efforts is outdated. The reality is, your customers are now going online to research your company and your competitors in an effort to find products that can meet their business needs and provide solutions to their problems. So it is crucial that your business has high-quality digital assets including your company website, email, blog, and social media platforms. But in order for your manufacturing marketing efforts to be successful and move your business forward, they must be strategic in nature and well planned out.
Your customers are busier than ever, and are often asked to do more with less. As such, they are increasingly going online to find solutions to their problems. Gone are the days of manufacturers simply selling their products to their customers; today, your customers have much more control over the buying process. Typically a decision-maker will have visited multiple websites and consumed multiple pieces of digital manufacturing marketing content before they directly engage with any manufacturer to discuss a possible purchase. Because of this, it is imperative that your manufacturing marketing plan focuses on your customers’ needs, and creates marketing content that explains and educates how and why your company’s product offerings are the ideal solution. Each piece of content that is developed should serve a specific target audience at a specific stage of the buying cycle. An important first step in this process is to develop user personas for each of your target audiences. Think about what your customers look like, what motivates them, what problems they need to solve, what frustrates them, what questions they are likely to have, etc. Then, armed with these audience profiles, create unique pieces of manufacturing marketing content that address each of these items. Remember that what resonates with one customer may not resonate with another, and vice versa. The key is to create lots of captivating content so that you are speaking appropriately to every audience. Also keep in mind that sometimes the person doing the initial research is not the final decision-maker; however they are still an important user type to keep in mind. If they struggle to understand your brand’s product offerings and value proposition, they may eliminate your firm from consideration before the decision makers are ever made aware of you.
While the majority of your digital manufacturing marketing content should be made available for free, you should consider gating some of your best content offerings. Gating is a great way to generate new business leads, especially those that are higher in the sales decision cycle. By requiring users to provide their email address in order to access this quality content, you gain the ability to send these users follow-up marketing messages that are more specifically tailored to their needs. As you further the level of engagement with these users, you build brand equity and trust so that when they are ready to make a buying decision, your firm is who they think of first.
Content marketing is also a great way to demonstrate industry thought leadership. Your customers want to be sure that they are making a wise investment with their money and resources; showcasing your company’s knowledge and expertise is an ideal way to break down any potential barriers that would prevent a user from converting into a paying customer. This type of thought leadership content should focus more on industry trends, common questions and objections, and troubleshooting rather than on the features and benefits of your company’s specific products. The content should be educational and informative more so than sales-oriented.
Why is Manufacturing Marketing Important?
A commitment to manufacturing marketing is important because, as the younger generation of your customers’ employees become buyers and other decision makers, it will become even more necessary to provide them with the information they are seeking in the formats they wish to receive it. This largely means digital marketing. Make sure that your website, your search engine optimization program, email marketing, blog posts, and social media platforms are all optimized to help educate and ultimately persuade.
Manufacturing marketing can also help differentiate your business and your brand from the competition. Even if your company manufactures commodity products, an effective manufacturing marketing campaign can enhance your customers’ opinion of your product offerings, making them more apt to buy from you. This can also, in some instances, allow you to charge higher prices. At minimum, consistent manufacturing marketing efforts will keep your brand top-of-mind with your customers so that they think of you first when it’s time to enter into a buying decision. Another great opportunity that comes from a focused manufacturing marketing effort is to offer social proof that your company is the right solution. Content such as customer reviews and testimonials, case studies, and examples of how your products solved a customer’s problem are all great ways to show how your business provides effective solutions in a way that your prospects will value and trust.
Because the manufacturing buying cycle can be long, and because each potential sale can be valued anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars, manufacturing marketing, particularly digital marketing, is important because its performance and impact on your business can be tracked, monitored and analyzed to ensure that it is performing well and providing a positive return on investment for your company. This helps you make well-informed decisions about where to invest your future marketing dollars and time. Armed with this robust collection of data and the overarching insights that can be gleaned from it, you can rest assured that your manufacturing marketing efforts are working cohesively to move your business forward.