As a manufacturer, you may be focused on the “technological renaissance that is transforming the look, systems and processes of the modern factory.”1 Embracing technological advances to improve productivity and maintain a competitive advantage is both exciting and necessary. However, there seems to be a problematic disconnect: While many manufacturing facilities are starting to resemble scenes from futuristic thrillers, some of their marketing tactics are more like B movies from the 1990s!
Manufacturers have traditionally put less emphasis on marketing than B2C companies, but just as there’s been a transformation in technology, there’s also been a revolution in marketing – one that no company can afford to ignore. So, if we could tear your attention away from the latest high-tech gadget for just a moment, we’d like to point out five common marketing mistakes made by manufacturers and offer some remedies.
1. You haven’t reallocated your marketing budget in years.
If you’re still spending the bulk of your budget on print advertising and trade shows, it’s time to ask yourself when was the last time either of these expenditures resulted in qualified leads or an increase in sales. Depending on your industry, both tactics may still offer some value, but shifting dollars into content marketing, marketing automation and e-commerce is akin to investing in new equipment – the ROI will be much higher.
2. Your website hasn’t been updated since … well, you can’t remember if it’s ever been updated.
Today’s consumers, including B2B buyers, are doing most of their research online before contacting a sales rep. On average, B2B customers are already 57% of the way through the decision process before they take any action. Your website is your new storefront. Does it look inviting? More importantly, does it reflect the investments you’ve made in technology, or does it say “we’re old school?” Buyers are younger and tech savvy. They expect a website to tell your story, clearly demonstrate your products and provide the information they need to make a decision. Website styles, content and UX (user experience) have changed dramatically over the past five years. If you haven’t kept up with those changes, now is the time for an update.
3. You are not maintaining a presence on LinkedIn.
Many manufacturers eschew social media because they believe it’s the domain of B2C marketers. While posting on Twitter or Facebook may not be the right tactic for your business, there is a place where you should be – LinkedIn. The 2017 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks study found that 92% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn and 80% of B2B marketing leads sourced from social media come from LinkedIn. For more compelling statistics, check out The Case for B2B Marketing on LinkedIn.
Of course, it’s not enough to just “show up” occasionally on LinkedIn. It’s important to maintain a great Company Page which leads visitors to click through to your website. To keep audiences engaged, you must also post regular updates aimed at your target audience.
4. You haven’t embraced content marketing.
It’s time to face the facts: the days of customers responding to cold calls are gone. In fact, studies show that 90% of B2B decision makers don’t respond to cold calling. As mentioned, customers in every industry are doing their own research prior to engaging with a sales rep, reviewing 10-12 sources before contacting a company. These educated customers are looking for vendors who understand their pain points and provide relevant, useful content. Indeed, 89% of B2B buyers use the internet to search for products and services, so if you’re not producing and distributing online content, these potential customers may never find you. To learn more, read Why Manufacturers Must Embrace Content Marketing.
5. Your marketing department consists of a summer intern and one of your sales guys (when he has extra time).
First and foremost, you should have a clear marketing strategy, which includes a budget, goals and KPIs to track performance. Second, marketing efforts deserve a dedicated, experienced staff, even if it’s just one or two people. Ideally, your “staff” should have a background in sales and be familiar with your industry, as well as be knowledgeable about current marketing trends, such as content marketing. Finally, marketing folks should work closely with your sales team to understand customer needs and pain points, and coordinate efforts. If you don’t have the internal resources or could use some assistance, consider hiring a marketing agency for all or part of your efforts. Again, this investment in marketing is just as important as purchasing the latest equipment.
The bottom line: it’s time to reassess your marketing tactics to determine what is no longer working and what can be done to produce better results for less. After all, investing in the latest technology to become more efficient and service-oriented is something to brag about, and marketing is the way to do it.
Need assistance developing a marketing strategy, developing quality content or updating your website? Call Kevin Anger, Director of Business Development, at 734-531-7600 or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 2016 Industrial Manufacturing Trends, Strategy & Pwc, by Robert Bono and Stephen Pillsbury.
“Manufacturing Marketing – Tactics That Don’t Add Up,” by Kyle Milan, Pulse, 2017.
“7 Advanced LinkedIn Strategies for B2b Marketing,” by Neil Patel, Kissmetrics Blog, 2014.