The manufacturing industry is changing, but that’s not news. Technology has been advancing for many years making manufacturing processes more streamlined and efficient. What is new is the overall UK business landscape – new entrants to markets are causing disruption left, right and centre. Manufacturing marketing strategies have never been more important, leaving us asking the question, “how do you market a manufacturing company?”
Traditionally manufacturing businesses have relied on long contracts, word of mouth and trade shows to win and keep customers. There’s nothing wrong with traditional and this isn’t going to be a blog post telling you how traditional outbound marketing is dead, because it isn’t. It’s not a case of doing one or the other in 2017, successful manufacturing businesses are doing both.
What is inbound?
HubSpot defines Inbound Marketing as “an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.”
For the purposes of this post we will give a quick overview of the inbound marketing process. For a more in depth look at inbound marketing for your manufacturing business, download our free eBook “An Introductory Online Lead Generation Guide for Manufacturers.”
In short, the goal of inbound marketing is to attract strangers to your website, convert these visitors to leads, and then close them as customers.
How can you use inbound to market a manufacturing company?
1. Start blogging (regularly)
This one is ultra easy to get started with. I’m guessing you have a website and it’s probably built on the WordPress platform which means you will have a blog functionality built in. If not, get it activated.
A content plan is a good place to start. There are fancy online tools that can sometimes be over complicated, so it’s easier to setup a spreadsheet that looks a little like this one:
- Column A – Month/Week: Add in the months with 4 weeks for each.
- Column B – Topic/Title: Write down your blog title here
- Column C – Type: Is your post going to be a list, tip guide or regular blog?
- Column D – Keyword: What keyword do you want to optimise this page for? What will people be searching for when they come across this post?
- Column E – Product: Does your post relate to a specific product or service you offer?
- Column F – Target Audience: Who will be reading your blog? Managing Directors? Purchasing Managers?
- Column G – Author: Who is going to write your posts? Will you be doing it or someone else within the business?
- Column H – Distribution: Where will you be sharing the blog? In emails or on social media platforms for example.
Don’t get carried away with writing lots of blogs. Start by writing 1 or 2 a month, you will soon get bored if you have to write 5-10. Consistency in the quality of your posts is more important than the number of them.
Column F – Target Audience is perhaps the most important thing to think about in industrial marketing and when writing posts to attract website visitors for manufacturing companies. They are after all the ones who will be reading your blog posts. Tailoring content to their interests and thinking from their point of view will set you up for success.
Top Tool: Headline Analyzer is a great free tool to measure how well your headline will perform, paste your headline here and it will score it out of 100, giving you tips on how to improve it.
2. Use your social media channels
Social media has been around for decades now with Facebook being launched in 2004. In B2B businesses Linkedin & Twitter tend to provide a better return on the time invested to set up and manage your social media presence.
Manufacturing businesses are starting to get the hang of social media but still most aren’t using it as it was intended, instead pushing out random promotional tweets and posts when they feel like it. The key to success with social media in a manufacturing company is consistency and balance.
Think 80:20. 80% helpful, informative posts. 20% promotional posts. Followers will soon get bored of your sales messages. Find informative articles about your industry on websites like The Manufacturer and other leading manufacturing publications to share on your social media profiles.
Top Tool: Hootsuite allows you to easily schedule your tweets and posts in advance, so allocate a few hours once a week to fill your social media profiles.
3. Look at paid online advertising
Paid advertising has been around for donkey’s years, mainly in the form of print media but traditional print advertising spend is in decline (digital marketeers, you can have that one) whilst online advertising is growing rapidly.
Unlike print advertising, online paid for advertising is measurable. You can see exactly how many people have clicked through to your site. It’s also instant, so as soon as you put your ads up (and they’re approved by Google) you will see people clicking through to your site. The downside? When you stop paying, Google stops sending you traffic. Nasty bunch.
But if you have never used online advertising to drive traffic to your manufacturing website, don’t just throw money at it. Start with a small budget of £50-£100 and test how different keywords and pages of your site perform.
Top Tool: Google Adwords is the go to platform for PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising. Appearing at the top of Google search results, these paid for ads allow you to target people searching for specific keywords. The more specific and relevant you can be with your keywords the more cost effective your PPC campaign will be.
What is outbound?
Hopefully you’re already implementing the 3 inbound tacts we have suggested, but you shouldn’t neglect outbound.
Perhaps the most traditional way to market a manufacturing company in years gone by, Wordstream defines outbound marketing as “the traditional form of marketing where a company initiates the conversation and sends its message out to an audience.”
How can you use outbound to market a manufacturing company?
You’ve been using outbound tactics for many years and have become a seasoned pro at winning new customers with direct mail campaigns, seminars and trade shows. If not, the last 2 tactics in our 5 Effective Ways To Market A Manufacturing Company post will give you some fresh ideas to implement in your business.
4. Launch a targeted printed direct mail campaign
Print and direct mail has seen somewhat of a resurgence in the recent years. In place of flimsy takeaway menus and cleaning service business cards are highly targeted, quality direct mail campaigns. Direct mail in industrial marketing is no exception. Well timed printed direct mail pieces are perfect for gaining the attention of hard to reach decision makers leading to new business. But with “70% of customers restarting a business relationship because of direct mail,” according to the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail presents an opportunity to win over lapsed manufacturing customers.
One direct mail campaign we worked on recently with packaging manufacturer Ribble Packaging saw a 40-50% hit rate when targeting board level decision makers at large national retailers. This campaign alongside a rebrand generated an additional £1m in annual revenue for the company.
5. Hold an event
Events have been proven to win new customers in the manufacturing sector, with trade shows being more popular than ever for raising brand awareness. However, they have some drawbacks. Namely, being one of many trying to grab the attention of passers by. Holding your own events is often a more cost effective way of winning the attention of new prospects.
Why not try running an open day at your factory to show potential new customers the inner workings of your business for example, giving you a chance to show off why you’re better than your competition. Holding a niche industry focused event such as a summit or forum is also a great way to build a network of contacts, and helps establish you as a leader within your specific manufacturing sector.
Use inbound and outbound together to win at manufacturing marketing
Marketers often talk about inbound vs outbound when they discuss marketing, but for manufacturing and many other sectors this shouldn’t be up for discussion. Inbound and outbound work perfectly together and should be used as part of a wider marketing mix to win profitable new customers.
Hopefully some of the tactics have shown you how best to market a manufacturing company, if you give us a shout and we can provide some more specific tips and tricks for your manufacturing business.