Best marketing ideas for manufacturing industries
For many decades the manufacturing industry has relied on conventional marketing strategies like reference and word-of-mouth, campaigns, and trade shows, etc. However, moving out of their marketing niche was always a second option and an unexplored dimension for most manufacturers. Sure, they created many business strategies that incorporated marketing at a large scale, to drive sales and develop brand value. With strong training programs for staff both inside and outside, direct connections, advertising, and more, they ensured successful business with partners and sales-only relationships.
With the great industrial revolution, innovation, technology, and the world coming together with better and successful connectivity, the age-old approach of marketing for manufacturing industries needs to merge into bigger circles of commerce.
With the digital age making waves and changing how people do business around the world, riding this wave is the need of the hour. More people want information at the click of a button. Hence, online marketing is the next big shift with higher success and multidirectional growth. Content marketing, various inbound marketing methods, SEO, social media, change the success game to move beyond the conventional reach.
About inbound marketing
With time, business and marketing have evolved greatly. A major reason is the development and digitization of workplaces and everyday lives. Gone are the days for trial and error, and shotgun methods of marketing. Businesses have embraced new ways of marketing that focus on the customers, are powered with strategy, and add value. This methodology of consumer-centric marketing efforts is inbound marketing.
To elaborate; it refers to the marketing process of helping people to know your business, even before making a purchase. This early connection and contact give a boost to brand visibility, creating valuable, educational content that focuses on leads generation, developing relationships, awareness and preference. It has the potential to put the customer and their needs first, when and where they need it. The visibility and exposure to details, specs, reviews, services, contacts and more, has a strong influence on the buyer. It empowers them with all the necessary information that helps their buying decision. Inbound marketing is aligned to the marketing ways of industrial and B2B buyers.
What is the difference? Inbound and conventional marketing.
Conventional marketing creates a lot of buzzes, whereas inbound marketing works primarily to build trust. It creates value for the brand along with presenting you as a knowledgeable and trusted partner for the business.
Marketing for manufacturers is B2B marketing. It comes with its own challenges as compared to B2C marketing; the most important challenge being longer sales cycles. Let us consider the key aspects of each marketing – Consumer and manufacturing, and discuss the differences in both.
- Audience - An important factor to consider in any business is the target audience. For manufacturing, you will need to target other businesses like wholesale, supply chain manufacturers, retailers, firms, business end-users, etc. Have a clear target of the type and size of businesses that need or may benefit from your products. Find contacts that make purchase decisions for these companies.
- Consumer requirements – Customers need high-quality products and services that fit well in their budget and process. With providing high products, they also need to provide customer satisfaction, value for money, all while making a decent profit.
- Value drivers- A lot of factors influence the buying decision and instincts of businesses that may choose your products. Things like credit, cost, terms and conditions, the support your brand provides through resources and technology, and if you win a successful buy-in from the right people.
- People involved – Major decision makers, marketing heads, managers, purchase supervisors, experts, financial or accounting managers, etc.
- Process- Managing a good inflow of business can be time-consuming and complicated. Research, discovery, competitive prices, demos, and final buying decisions are the many levels that need to be considered. Impressing the buyer at one or more levels is a challenge, especially for bigger purchases.
Consumer marketing –
A lot like its name consumer marketing is B2C marketing, where the products are directly marketed for and to the consumer.
- Target audience – It is related directly to the product that you are selling. Considering factors like audience age, location, financial, social, education, family status, etc., of the target audience, is a deal-breaker for B2C marketing.
- Consumer requirements – Customers are more attracted to what is in it for them, like a direct benefit, or solution that eases their effort or makes life enjoyable. For some consumers, it is about how the product makes them feel, or the message it conveys. For eg. Products that define class and style, like luxury items.
- Value drivers- For consumers, factors that influence their buying decisions are the quality of the product, the price, brand value, recommendations, and reviews and how likely are they going to use the product.
- People involved – In most cases only the direct consumer, or an agent or vendor in certain cases.
- Process - The process for purchase in consumer marketing is simple and set in brand awareness, consideration and influencing the purchase decision.
Note that, you will need to research and find out which of these two strategies suits your product and brand. You can decide if your aim is to market to consumers or other businesses. Or if you need to market to both.
The challenges in B2B marketing for manufacturers
As discussed above, the process of B2B marketing is complex than that of B2C. Managing and smooth processing of internal processes and relationships, like sales teams, and external relationships for marketing, like supply chains, vendors, clients, and sales can get difficult. Know what challenges you need to face in marketing for manufacturing industries.
- A tailored approach for need specific marketing
Most manufacturing marketing has very specific needs. Unlike consumer marketing, which can easily make sales, by driving people to their website, B2B marketing cannot simply rely on leveraging website traffic. For manufacturers, a well-built site may not drive large amounts of traffic to generate business. Moreover, public platforms like websites may have limited information, for the best interest of the brand, depending on the niche or vertical. A platform open to all-public may need balanced information depending on how you want to handle your clients and how much information needs to be displayed to the general public.
- Long sale periods
Conversion results with B2B marketing campaigns are not immediate as compared to B2C. Marketing strategies with B2B marketing are more focused on generating leads and brand awareness and value. With a long cycle of nurturing these leads in the sales department, the final deal may take days, months, or even years to close.
- Products and people
Most manufacturers may not have a good success rate when it comes to direct online marketing to B2B customers. They may have to find what consumers need and how they interact with your products in the early stages of their purchase.
- Large trail of buyers to convince
For B2B marketing there are many people to convince along the final purchase process. The number of stakeholders to convince all along is high. The buying decision is a long process, here are a few pointers:
- In most large and medium businesses, an awareness of the need surfaces in the middle management team.
- Following which they prepare to convince others about the requirement.
- With research, they find products that meet their specific requirement. In addition, this investigation is continued on a deeper level, once top management decision-makers are convinced of the same.
- The many options and market prospects are then discussed with top decision-makers or leaders in the company.
- After this, the prospects are narrowed down and further research is done, by gathering quotes, details, etc. Following this, a buying decision is made.
- Throughout this entire process, the marketing has to continue with its ‘A’ game, to convert into a successful sale.
We have well discussed the challenges and process, but despite it all, marketing for B2B has many benefits. It builds awareness for your brand, aligns your business as a thought leader, and enhances customer loyalty.
Best strategies for manufacturing marketing
Manufacturing marketing works with a strong focus and strategy. Content marketing with online platforms has stellar results and businesses who have leveraged content and through leadership to promote their services and products, have gained success at new prospects, loyal customers, and rolling and growing sales. Here are some tricks about how your manufacturing business too can benefit from marketing.
1. Develop a strategy with clear goals.
Once you decide on the consumer target, design a plan for marketing and set, clear goals. Here is when you can use ‘SMART’ goals – the fundamentals to align with your marketing strategy.
- Specific - Set desired outcomes clearly. Once you have steady answers to– who, what, when, why and where, you are ready for the next big step – strategy.
- Measurable – Define goals that are measurable and track progress.
- Attainable – Keep realistic goals, which are well within your reach, especially after pushing limits. Your goal can be high, but make sure your time, budget and other resources are well supportive of it.
- Relevant- Define your needs and set goals that are relevant to those. They should also align with your goals for the near future.
- Time-bound – Goals without a time limit never work. Define your needs, strategize with realistic periods and make sure you work well within deadlines.
For marketing strategies for your manufacturing business, you can assign a specific approach that suits your needs well and helps you reach clearly set goals. A combination of the above, quick trial, and intuition, along with first-hand results, can give you a fair idea of what is working for you, and which strategy needs amendments. A lot of strategies and ideas change with the evolving markets, buyer-specific needs, and habits.
2. Technology - best tool for marketing
The benefits of technology have given many industries their true share of success. Use automation and marketing technology in your strategy. This will help you focus on core business while high-end, efficient, and convenient tools will support you with content, scheduling, emails, publishing, campaigns, etc. Many products like G-suite, Trello, CRM, are the best options to explore for automating your marketing efforts.
3. Publish quality content
Content is king, and it stands true for manufacturing marketing too. Publish great written content, which forms the frame for value and trust for your consumer. Without apt content, efforts for digital marketing are vain.
Check, which factors depend on the quality and strategic content for efficiency and success.
- SEO – which enables your brand to show up, when potential buyers are looking up for a product or service online.
- Most consumers have a thorough check of your brand before connecting you for a purchase. Here again content places you as a trusted manufacturer.
- Good content may attract and convert a potential buyer into a successful sale and even a loyal customer.
Giving people a variety of content for people to engage in, works the best. Use multiple formats of content like photos, videos, blogs, case studies, whitepapers, infographics, etc. Using many formats is especially beneficial in the case of complex products, which may need more than just words to impress and educate the consumer.
4. Hire an SEO
Almost 90% of people search for their requirements online. Even though the purchase timeline may be a long journey, online search is one factor that drives maximum traffic, and SEO is the best when it comes to showing up in the top results online.
5. Email marketing
While this may sound outdated and old school, it works great to be in sight of potential buyers. Most buyers may see and forget about a message, however, with email marketing newsletters, you can successfully capture interested leads. With timely emails for a certain period, you can educate them about your product, and your brand will be fresh in their mind.
Emails are also an effective marketing automation tool. You can set and create campaigns that send messages to potential consumers when they make an action. When someone downloads a specific whitepaper for a certain requirement, they will do so with their email address. You can then send them emails about their required service or products, covering valuable information, benefits, etc. Emails also deliver another CTA point, of assuring the consumer, you are ready to provide for their requirement and assist them with any further quotes and information.
6. Pay per click ads (PPC)
Getting on the top organic pages on Google is tough with SEO efforts only. It needs more contribution, lots of patience, and dedication to content. Google ads and PPC ads are hence a wise investment. With effective ads, your brand and products will be on the main page and facing potential customers in one click.
7. Update or redesign your website.
- Website is the prime focus for inbound marketing. Hence, it must be a treasure of information, and stellar content that impresses your prospects. Check if your website is at par with industrial standards, current trends and is consumer-focused.
- The website is the first point of contact between you and the consumer, and this first impression can be a game-changer. If required, you can upgrade it to a better, informative, and engaging version of your brand that builds reputation, trust, and value.
- Keep it simple, unique, interactive and smooth to navigate. Opt for a web design that can be updated frequently, fine-tuned, and calibrated for optimum performance from time to time.
- Make sure it is the best version in terms of technology, content, engagement, and is compatible in all browsers, and optimized for tablets, and mobile phones.
- Test your website for links, buttons, and other functions. Ensure the pages are loaded in time, else there is a chance that your prospect will turn away just because it is taking time to load.
8. Offline engagements
Trade shows, exhibitions, and seminars are a great option for manufacturers to market their business offline. Participating in events increases brand visibility and awareness. It helps build new connections, networks, staying up to date with the industry trends, standards, and potential clients.
9. Social media integration
There are many powerful channels with great potential, that can be leveraged for successful manufacturing marketing. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram are amazing options to start building your brand and creating visibility for prospects. LinkedIn is a strong B2B marketing channel, along with Twitter.
Many factors influence marketing, and all of the above may or may not work for every manufacturing business. You need to study on what are the best-suited strategies for your business. You can tweak some, and mix some, to best serve your marketing goals. Below are some things to consider, when planning a strategy for marketing.
- Identify your product or service type. If it is a simple product, sales are easy with eCommerce websites, PPC ads, blogs, etc. For more complex products and customized services, the process may be longer and require more effort. Aim for generating leads, through tools like ebooks, videos, white papers, etc. With contact information for prospects, sales can pitch in and offer assistance for the same.
- The greater the competition, the harder you will have to work. Paid ads are one way to earn visibility and reach your audience. Therefore, if your product or service is one of a kind, with few competitors, chances are you will lead online search with great content.
- The type of buyer also determines the strategy and hard work required. For a single consumer or a small group, ads, good social media content, and valuable product content works well. For larger groups and committees, you will have to research and design a fine strategy to manage the nurturing process for leads.
10. How should you go about it?
Now that we are clear on basic strategies, let us know where and how to begin. With complex products and services, marketing and the right start to it can be confusing. A step-by-step approach will work and make sure you grow and work in the right direction towards your goals, with unique and strong marketing techniques.
- Set goals, know what you are chasing and how far you will need to go. Marketing is loaded with click-throughs, page traffic, and time spent on the website. Find and set realistic goals, to ensure you are not confused with the foundation path.
- Assemble a strong marketing team. You may have an in-house team, that manages all your digital marketing, or gets it done through freelancers, or you may outsource it to an efficient marketing agency in manufacturing marketing, to help you reach your goals.
- It is very important to define a target audience before planning a marketing strategy. Define your buyer persona. Know whether they are people in power of making big decisions or if they need approval from groups or others. With a detailed structure of the target audience, a strong marketing plan can generate great results.
- Be on the role with continuous testing and improving your ROI. Never assume strategy and execution are all that needs to be done. Check multiple elements in your marketing, by engaging in A/B testing.
Manufacturing marketing is a boost that can change the face of your business, and yes, it works great, if done with the right research, planning execution, and dedication.