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How to start marketing as a manufacturer, engineering or technology company

Why do manufacturing companies think marketing is so difficult?

Getting your brand/business in front of a customer is possible in so many different ways than ever before. ‘Print’ is dying in favour of digital.

What is digital? Simple really: Owned (your website), paid (advertising) or earned (social media ‘likes’ if that’s your thing, and referrals). Digital is no different to printed product brochures (owned), print/TV/radio advertising (paid) and customer referrals and exhibitions (earned).

Why do so many businesses fail at marketing?

I can’t answer that without specifics, other than to state if shared values worked, they will always work. Shared values in that the customer shares the value in what you provide.

More often than not, Marketers get a bad rap. There are too many of them offering a quick fix with no formal qualifications or no experience. This puts many companies off even considering to employ a marketer, never mind a marketing department or company.

Because the media (digital) is different doesn’t mean the values of your customers & clients are. They will always remain the same.

We all want more customers, but the landscape appears more complicated with ‘digital’ marketing.

‘Marketing’ hasn’t changed, only the media or message provider.

There are three methods of getting your digital message to your customer: Owned (Website), Paid (Advertising) & earned (Social media).

If you are interested in driving more customers to your door, you need a 3 level strategy based on:

1. Your Business: What does your business do?

2. Your customers: Who are they?

3. Marketing: How to approach them?

Assuming you know what your business does, the latter two are where it becomes more confusing, but only because these questions offer answers with more ‘granularity’.

Granularity

Granularity? What a god-awful word. I groan when I hear these ‘fancy’ terms. Another marketing term designed to confuse us. However, it only means the level of detail; the greater the granularity, the more specifics we have.

You may have heard of the ‘Paradox of choice’, given too many choices the consumer becomes paralysed?

Too many buyer persona details are the problem: We provide so many options (more granularity) modern marketers (aka business owners) don’t know who to address and what buying signals they need to respond to.

The internet has given us exacting and tightly defined customer profiles leading to the ability to create highly targeted ‘buyer persona’s’ never before available.

The AI revolution

The information is based on the websites they visit, their Facebook, Linkedin profile and Twitter feed. The big data and machine learning capabilities enable companies to direct advertising on a scale unparalleled before.

This data is not available only to major companies, although it’s Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft who are leading the way and selling this data (in the form of selective advertising) to smaller businesses.

A  historical example might be 40-60 years old, an engineer by profession and follows mechanical engineer sites, enjoys classic-cars, sailing and lives or works in a particular postcode area. The modern equivalent can highlight much more granularity, such as languages spoken, experience, certification & qualification levels, number of children, particular interests and purchasing history, what groups they are interested in and so on. A profile can zoom in on a target buyer and provide a buyer persona which many customers fit.

Even though the targeting is more exact, the same media is available, albeit in a different format.

More detailed targeting

This approach is the same as the old method of using brochures, salespeople and print advertising. Some of these ‘old’ methods are still the best routes to market.

Either alone or combined with traditional marketing media, digital marketing allows us to fine-tune and focus our attention on potential buyers much earlier than before. Digital marketing will enable us to qualify a potential buyer in ways we could never do before.

There are three methods of helping your customers find what you offer in the digital age.

In marketing speak, a website (owned), advertising (paid) and social media (earned). I presume you are familiar with traditional forms of media, such as brochures and print ads.

Digital marketing adds an element with advantages not available from other channels.

Paid media: Digital advertising

Paid media in digital means buying impressions, also known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or visibility through selected websites. Traditionally, this was magazine ads and trade show stands.

The target market can be a significant attraction. It is easy to pinpoint the exact type of buyer you want to attract. Paid advertising, relying only on a magazine’s readership is now a weak target.

The level of granularity available on the internet is much better and improving exponentially. The search engines (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Bing etc.) have access to masses of data.

Using the AI field of Machine Learning techniques to assist marketers to find levels of detail unknown in the past, the measurability and targeting can be tested with small sample audiences before embarking on larger campaigns.

The downside to paid media, such as PPC, is it’s a young market and comes with risks. A lot of up-front research is needed to understand your buyer.

Where do they come from (company size, position, and type)? What motivates them (Why are they searching or buying)? What message do you send them (the copy and call-to-action (CTA))?

Ads like this from The Manufacturer PR service gets your news in front of their readership in an increasingly crowded market. They recognise the need for PR without having to break the bank.

Earned: Social media

Earned media in the digital world is social media. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all have a place in a company’s arsenal of tools to attract customers.

Traditionally, this might have been editorial inclusion in a magazine, a significant new product or service release and letters to the editor.

Future managers and buyers already entering their 30’s were brought up on a staple diet of Facebook and LinkedIn. These are tools which are easy to use, targeted for a mass market and ideal for Q&A’s, live articles and different posts.

Posts can be humorous, entertaining, shocking and ‘super useful’ such as How-Tos and infographics. You can’t buy this exposure, but you can gain by being ‘valuable’.

Regular posting certainly helps as potential customers come to know, like and trust you… and purchasing from you. The risk factor for social media is very low for the engineering, manufacturing and technology industries. Don’t think your product is too boring for social media. You will be surprised how much a group of users need your product or service.

Employees, processes and location can be utilised with great effectiveness in Social media – In this age of rising imports from potentially lower quality countries, highlighting your production processes or a semi-technical, information piece can be a powerful draw to an engineer.

I have a vested interest in seeing the engineering, manufacturing and technology industries shout out good news. These industry news sites from Zenoot and Jefferson group highlight the latest news from manufacturing, engineering and tech companies investing in the UK economy.  

Owned: Your website

Owned media is quite simply your website, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media pages. There is a difference between your social media pages (owned sites) and the posts you publish (striving to ‘earn’ followers).

Traditionally this would have been your product literature, which doesn’t quite have the vibrancy your website should have. 

No website, no problem

You don’t need a website if all your information is held on a LinkedIn or Facebook page – after all, it’s about being found, informing and attracting clients.

Some great sites which are passionate about the engineering, manufacturing and technology industry include those pushing new startups: EU Startups to more global established businesses such as Global Manufacturing and The Engineer   

Digital – the future of marketing

A lot of traditional media is crossing over into the digital world. If you place an advertisement in a magazine, it is likely to be seen on the magazine’s website and social media sites. There is no way of getting away from digital.

Where do you start?

Easy.

The simplest place, and what I always advise is to get an informative website built. As a minimum, it should showcase:

  • Who you are
  • What are your products and services (AKA features)
  • What value you offer your customers (AKA Benefits)

Back this up with at least one social media page.

Your website: A foundation

Your website is the foundation for the value you share with your customers.

Everything digital flows from here.

  • Your salesman can refer customers to your site
  • Search engines can direct selected keyword searches to your site
  • You can discuss elements live on the phone (or by chatbot) directing customers to your site
  • Secondary to this, your social media can drive followers to your site.
  • Paid Ads need a landing page for information and a clear call to action

Your website needs to be educational and include many clear calls to action (CTA’s).

Sounds simple, what do you look out for?

Strategy vs Tactics

Managing the difference between strategy and tactics applies to so many industries across the digital arena.

I focus on the engineering, manufacturing and technology industries. It is my background. I understand it. From supply chain issues, HR, leadership, manufacturing, production, R & D, new product development, to sales and marketing.

There are two things which managers, leaders and business owners struggle with more than any other: HR issues and sales & marketing.

I can’t help with the former, although if you contact me, I’ll freely give you my advice. The latter, Sales and marketing is not difficult. That’s the problem. Everyone over complicates it. Even the sales and marketing staff.

Strategy

I come across so many suppliers who want only to sell me one product, or one portion of a service. I also see so many businesses ask for advice on why their potential customers don’t respond. It would be great if they really wanted to understand;

  • my business

  • the pain points

  • what is my business strategy they can align with

  • what would benefit me and my customers?

They can incorporate their tactics necessary to reach that strategy. It’s rare when a company does.

When I visit a customer, I don’t ask them if they want me to assist with their sales and marketing. I tell them I will help them increase their revenue, or at least generate more leads.

Don’t we all want that? It is a simple lesson.

So many businesses fail even with this most simple of tasks. 

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