Today’s manufacturing and industrial companies face a marketing challenge. Many seem to be stuck in the past, when relationships were the key to closing deals and winning new customers.
Now, with the advent of digital marketing, some manufacturers are caught unprepared. Their websites aren’t mobile-friendly. They’ve done little or no content marketing, social media or PR. They may be wondering what to do to catch up with their internet-savvy competitors.
“As vendor loyalty erodes in the B2B market, manufacturers find ‘they’re almost having to resell their clients,’” according to an article in Crain’s Chicago Business.
Buyers Are Changing
Today’s procurement officers are younger and more digitally savvy. Instead of asking someone they know for a recommendation, they first go online to do their research. By the time they contact a vendor, they’ve already done their homework and are likely ready to buy.
Industrial buyers are typically 70% of the way through their purchase decision process before they reach out to a supplier. Further, 80% of industrial buyers use Google to research their purchases.
Overcoming the traditional marketing-and-sales mindset is the top challenge faced by content marketers in manufacturing, says new research by the Content Marketing Institute.
If this is true, manufacturing companies who are behind on building their digital presence, have little or no content on their sites and aren’t coming up in searches may be at a deficit.
What should they be doing to catch up?
5 Ways Manufacturing Companies Can Leverage Digital Marketing
1) Update your web site: A mobile-friendly web site is a must. Many buyers search using their phones. 73% of industrial buyers say that a vendor’s web site is their preferred source of information when they go online to search to source new suppliers, per Thomasnet.
If your site isn’t optimized for this, it can be an immediate turnoff for potential customers.
2) Create content for your site: This could include case studies, success stories, how-to pieces, tips and so on. Consider how video content could play a role.
If you have a blog, create content regularly. Hire a blog writer or ghostwriter to help, if needed. The top outsourced service for manufacturing marketers is content creation. 87% of those who outsource hire someone to help create content.
3) Engage in public relations: PR is one of the most cost-effective ways to help get the word out about your business. For manufacturing and industrial companies, look to the trade publications that may be interested in your new product news and contributed articles. Write press releases to announce your new products and other company news.
If you’re heading to trade shows, be sure to get a copy of the pre-registered press list to see if any reporters are attending. If they are, email them before the show to schedule brief meetings at your booth. This will help you begin to build a relationship that may lead to coverage.
If you don’t have a PR pro on staff, consider hiring an experienced freelancer or consultant who can help on either a project or an ongoing basis.
4) Get busy on social media: If you’re not on social media – why not? Start small by choosing a platform or two that you can easily manage. For B2B companies, that’s often LinkedIn and Twitter or Facebook. Post consistently, at least a few times per week.
Share the content created in #2 and #3 above – any content you create for your site or articles you’re able to land through earned media (= PR) should be shared. Consider curating others’ content to share in addition to your own.
5) Try some email marketing: One way to leverage email marketing is with a newsletter. 40 percent of B2B marketers say email newsletters are the most critical to their content marketing success.
Launching a simple newsletter doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may sound. Repurpose content created, as well as articles gained through earned media (see #3 above). Highlight some of your new products. Talk about which trade shows or events you may be participating in in the coming weeks or months. Announce company news such as awards you may have won.
Leverage Digital Marketing and PR to Help Your Manufacturing Company Compete in the New Decade
By implementing some of these approaches, you can get the word out about your manufacturing or industrial business to stand out from the competition and attract new prospects and customers. When working with manufacturing clients, one of the most encouraging pieces of feedback I hear is how their efforts with PR, social media and content differentiate them from their competitors.
Usher your manufacturing company into the new decade by incorporating digital marketing into your plans for 2020.
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About the author: You’ll find Michelle Messenger Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. As a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and freelance writer, Michelle’s articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Meltwater, ThomasNet, FairyGodBoss, Freelancers Union and more.