Jul 05, 2022

Seven Best Practices for Manufacturing Marketing Success

Apply Our Manufacturer-Proven Strategies to Engage Customers and Grow Sales

No matter your manufacturing industry or type, if you’re a manufacturer, change-inducing factors like Industry 4.0 and long-term market and supply disruptions create unprecedented challenges, as well as unprecedented opportunities. From AI and intelligent automation to big data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT), the same Industry 4.0 technologies that are changing manufacturing companies are also changing the buying experience and behaviors of your customers.

The challenge for manufacturing companies? If they can’t gain traction with today’s customers and how they make purchase decisions, they will lose out to those competitors who can.  The opportunity? By applying proven, best-practice manufacturing marketing strategies, you can find and engage this new-generation of customers and stay with them throughout each customer’s unique purchasing journey.

Manufacturing Customers Want a Real Connection with You and Your Products

With different teams and different levels of decision-makers of an organization weighing in and validating purchase decisions, the B2B nature of manufacturing marketing is traditionally different from its more B2C counterparts. But that is fast changing as Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing manufacturing orders with high levels of individualized customization, requiring a more consumer-like experience for buyers, including how to reach and engage them.

The different informed stakeholders and teams involved in the purchase decision are also looking for more personalized, consumer-like experiences. They want a long term, personal relationship with any potential manufacturing partner, one that’s built on information and trust. Manufacturer marketing strategies must prioritize the delivery of that kind of experience across online and traditional sales channels, to overcome specific challenges and meet specific innovation requirements for every stakeholder involved in purchase decisions.

In fact, those companies that remain primarily locked into traditional manufacturing marketing strategies have to adapt quickly to the new reality.

Ensure a consistent, personalized experience for every stakeholder in the purchase process.

Traditional Manufacturing Marketing Plays a Role But Is No Longer Enough

For decades, marketing for manufacturing companies generally revolved around three practices – trade show lead generation, cold calls, and networking or relationship-building events. While these traditional practices are still an important part of an effective manufacturer marketing strategy, none of these approaches tend to influence today’s highly informed, and often younger buyers. Their purchasing journey starts with detailed online research, where they gain a much broader understanding of the market landscape and what you and your competitors have to offer.

OEM manufactures understand these trends all too well. When it comes to making buying decisions, the customers of OEM manufacturers rely heavily on self-education. That’s why OEMs tend to make all of their information – the latest product documentation, pricing, design drawings, flow charts, testing and compliance reports, and more – available in a single, easy-to-navigate online catalog.

But having the most complete, detailed, timely, and easily-accessibly information repository is no longer enough – your digital catalog is only effective if the same detailed information is synchronized across every sales channel used by your prospective customers.

Our Seven Best Manufacturing Marketing Practices for Finding and Engaging Customers

At Elevation Marketing, we help all types and sizes of manufacturing companies develop and implement marketing strategies that adapt to this new reality. Each manufacturing marketing plan is uniquely tailored to the needs of each industrial company, so they can quickly establish manufacturing marketing best practices that make them more discoverable and engaging to customers both old and new:

Best Practice 1: Assume Customers Will Discover You Before You Discover Them

Chances are that by the time you connect with your customers, they have already done extensive online research about you, which is why a robust, detailed inbound marketing operation is crucial in manufacturing. In contrast to phone, direct mail, and email campaigns in outbound marketing, inbound marketing delivers information and education that organically supports the purchasing journey of your customers.

Your inbound marketing strategies should stay fully aligned with every potential customer’s journey, from first identifying needs and researching solutions to making the final decision. At every stage of the purchase process, as customers look online for the specific information they need, your information and URL needs to top every search return so customers will choose you as their manufacturer of choice.

Getting there requires a manufacturer marketing strategy that goes beyond targeting the same online destinations where your prospects and your competitors tend to congregate. It also requires closely synchronizing your pay-per-click (PPC) spend with your search engine optimization (SEO) keyword and URL targets. For example, ensuring that your PPC copy includes the latest SEO keywords so you can test and validate their effectiveness, or using incoming SEO query data to inform and enrich your PPC copy.

Top every search return so customers will choose you as their manufacturer of choice. Source: Gartner®, “3 Tactics to Boost Your B2B SEO Strategy”, Rupal Bhandari, 17 February 2021. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Best Practice 2: Engage Your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in Telling Your Story

A key feature of any company’s branding and marketing strategy is the story they want to tell their customers about themselves and their products. While that kind of storytelling can be fairly clear and simple among consumer companies – in the complex, technical, and B2B world of manufacturing – getting that story across to your target customers can be much more difficult.

The good news? Because manufacturing customers already understand their respective industries and stay on top of developments across internal and external channels, they are receptive to your story. That’s why it’s critical to support and encourage your SMEs to share their thought leadership and engineering expertise in posts, blogs, podcasts, webinars, etc.

We encourage manufacturing marketing strategies that use the thought leadership of their SMEs as the tip of the pyramid for all content marketing including social media outreach. That includes a content marketing strategy that amplifies the online presence of your SMEs and ensures that product information and value statements are in sync with the latest thought leadership.

Use the thought leadership of SMEs as the tip of the pyramid for all content marketing. Source: Forrester

Best Practice 3: Market Across Business Roles Not Just to Top-Level Business Scenarios

Too often, manufacturer marketing strategies focus heavily on the ultimate decision-makers in a potential customer’s organization, usually C-level executives and procurement teams. While they ultimately must sign off on the purchase deal, a lot of upstream decision-making has already happened beforehand. These upstream decision-makers often have more intimate knowledge of you and your competition and are empowered to vet different manufacturers and recommend the right choice.

From your customer’s plant floor personnel to the executive team and everyone in between, your marketing strategy should connect with every business role that contributes to the decision-making process. Make sure your brand story connects in the particular language of each customer’s business role, drawing them in by acknowledging and addressing their unique challenges, and by having the timely, in-context technical and functional information they need to choose you.

Make sure your brand story connects in the particular language of each business role. Source: Gartner®, “Gartner Keynote: The New Imperative for B2B Sales and Marketing Leaders”, Jordan Bryan, 9 October 2018. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Best Practice 4: Identify and Respond to Any Stories Adversely Impacting Business Reputation

What’s your reputation in the industry, good and bad? What’s the consensus among practitioners, thought leaders, and bloggers alike who are aware of your products, especially when it comes to your reputation for excellence in manufacturing execution and product quality? While effective and responsive reputation management solutions and tools can help you detect and respond quickly to negative postings, comments, etc. across social media platforms, you can only respond after the fact.

In today’s more volatile business environment, it’s never been more important for manufacturers to get proactive and predictive in addressing any negative impacts to business reputation. That may require leveraging advanced, AI-enabled analytics to identify any impacts much earlier, and before negative comments and posts begin to mushroom across the internet. In addition (and in reference to the previous best practice), your SMEs can also engage across digital channels to correct any negative stories and overcome any customer hesitancy that may arise as a result.

Get proactive and predictive in addressing any negative impacts to your business reputation. Source: Gartner®, “How to Conduct a Brand Reputation Audit for Your Business”, Rupal Bhandari, 11 March 2021. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Best Practice 5: Demonstrate How You Can Benefit Your Customer’s Customer

Whether you are an OEM or an ODM manufacturer, many of your customers are consumer-focused industrial companies that are constantly trying to deliver better products and experiences to their own customers. Too often however, manufacturers do not sufficiently convey how their products and solutions can benefit the customers of their customers. That’s why it’s vital that as manufacturers, you are able to understand and show how your products and services improve the overall experience of your customer’s customer.

What are you offering to your customer’s end customer that no other manufacturer can offer? Where possible, make a correlation between your products and your buyer’s success with their own customers in terms of improved experiences, value, or even sustainability gains. Your marketing plans should include processes and data collection activities that assess the impact of your products (both good and bad) with regard to the customers of your customer. This can include KPI data, interviews, and survey results completed by your direct customers.

U.S. B2B ecommerce will reach $3 trillion by 2027. Source: Forrester

Best Practice 6: Do Market Due Diligence Up Front and Avoid Wasting Marketing Spend

Manufacturers are inherent planners; they understand the need for detailed and integrated planning and provisioning as necessary precursors to execution excellence. However, that same due diligence is often lacking when manufacturers develop and execute a marketing strategy. Too often in fact, manufacturers gain a deeper understanding of their respective markets only after spending heavily on advertising campaigns that ultimately prove ineffective.

By conducting a well-researched and multidisciplinary study of your specific markets, customer segments, and competitors before a single advertising and marketing initiative is even planned, you avoid costly mistakes in your marketing spend.  Robust, up front marketing due diligence can provide manufacturers with more creative marketing ideas. Ideas that are based on a more intimate understanding of your specific customers, and that will make you stand out among competitors to bring in the most promising leads.

Conduct a well-researched and multidisciplinary self-assessment before engaging in any campaign spend. Source: Hubstaff

Best Practice 7: Integrate Traditional and Digital Manufacturing Marketing Channels

In manufacturing, traditional marketing such as printed material, tradeshow booths, other physical collateral, etc. is still vital to connect with and transform potential customers into repeat customers. That’s because the manufacturing customer purchase journey doesn’t necessarily begin or end online. In-person interactions are often still crucial to connect, learn, and exchange detailed technical information, so trade show events, user groups, and one-on-one meetings all play a vital role.

For many manufacturers, the rapid expansion of digital marketing efforts has led to a growing disconnect with traditional marketing efforts, adding extra cost and complexity burdens. To bridge this divide, manufacturers need a marketing strategy that successfully integrates every possible sales channel online or in person. Keeping your traditional marketing channels in synch with your digital marketing channels is vital to ensure that content, messaging, and customer history is accurately shared across every channel.

That means adopting tools and services that ensure customers get a personalized, in-context experience as they engage with you across these different channels, so customers can gain confidence in your brand and your products over time. Integrating traditional and digital channels also improves overall business agility. For example, you can more easily optimize digital content creation to ensure that it can be quickly and cheaply converted into ready-to-use physical collateral for in-person events.

Very few companies have fully integrated their traditional and digital marketing channels. Source: SmartInsights

Team with Elevation Marketing: Put Our Seven Manufacturing Marketing Best Practices to Work for You

We understand the role of marketing in the manufacturing industry and created some incredible business wins for our manufacturing clients. We go beyond marketing product benefits to win sales, applying our manufacturing best practices to:

  • Build a marketing plan based on deep insight into what makes you stand out
  • Integrate all digital and traditional marketing activities (social media, search marketing, account-based marketing, etc.) to create an omnichannel, rapid response manufacturing market operation
  • Drive early success in your B2B marketing and advertising campaigns by leveraging our in-depth understanding of your operations and product lines, specific markets, and most promising buyers

Check out some of our manufacturing marketing success stories below:

H.D. Hudson Manufacturing Company

Elevation Marketing innovates product pipeline for industrial sprayer manufacturer

$75 million in incremental revenue

#1 position in the market

Get the case study.

Chicago Pneumatic

Elevation Marketing expands reach and brand recognition for industrial compressor manufacturer

22% immediate increase in sales

79% expansion worldwide (57 countries added)

Get the case study

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