I’ve been on a mission the last couple of years to help small, family-owned industrial manufacturers and job shops create more engaging, and yes, beautiful, websites that help them get more inquiries.
A movement has quietly taken place inside these companies, one of tremendous innovation and change. The people running and working at these companies have faced challenges and obstacles yet they continue to remain competitive through ingenuity, creativity, and determination.
In doing so, they make new jobs — skilled jobs that pay well and pump dollars back into local communities. Together these small companies produce the collective hum that’s the sound of our country at work.
It’s these stories I want to tell.
If you were to look at industrial websites the way I do, however, which is pretty much all the time, you’d see that many of these sites are pretty bleak. They look the same, they sound the same.
And, they definitely don’t tell a story, which is a shame, because like I said, so many of these companies have such wonderful stories to tell.
“Industrial” and “small,” I firmly believe, don’t have to be synonymous with ugly, plain or poorly designed.
Thankfully I’ve a partner who shares my vision: Rachel Cunliffe of Cre8d Design.
Since changing my business focus this time last year, Rachel and I have developed five manufacturing / industrial websites, with three more in progress. We also work with companies, such as Rethink Robotics, that cater to these manufacturers, and create marketing collateral and other things for them.
Taking a page from our clients, we’ve become practitioners of lean marketing and design. As each project is completed, we discuss where we hit bottlenecks and why. We talk about how to improve our process as a unit so that we’re more efficient — while giving room for each other’s creative process to work its own magic.
With each project, we become better and more in-tune with each other. It’s been an amazing partnership.
Winning two MarCom Gold Awards, plus an honorable mention, for the sites we’ve done, is a testament (at least to me anyway) that good design, elegant craftsmanship, and thoughtful storytelling aren’t the sole purview of consumer or professional services companies — or companies with big budgets. Small manufacturers and industrial job shops can benefit from them, too.
Gold MarCom Award #1: New England Electropolishing
Category: Digital Media / Website / Small Business
A job shop in Fall River, Massachusetts, New England Electropolishing (NEE) specializes in electropolishing of stainless steel parts for the medical device and semi-conductor industries.
What I liked about this project is that brother – sister team Luke Almeida and Amy Almeida Prigmore wanted to add some levity and sparkle (pun intended) to their new website. They were also very open to original photography and showing the people inside the building (versus showing a picture of the building – yay!).
The result is a friendly, down-to-earth website that lets Amy and Luke’s personality shine through — while also letting prospective customers know they won’t find a better EP job shop anywhere on the east coast.
So far, feedback from NEE’s customers has been positive. Our next steps will now focus on marketing tactics that tie back to the website and that increase inquiries.
Gold MarCom Award #2: European Home
Category: Digital Media / Website / Small Business
This project is one of my favorites because Rachel, Holly Markham, the President of European Home, and I spent so much time ensuring the back and front end functioned flawlessly.
European Home is a distributor of Element4 modern gas fireplaces produced in the Netherlands. The company also manufactures its own line of indoor and outdoor fireplaces here in the USA (in New Hampshire, to be exact).
When Holly first called, she wanted to improve the functionality of the website. Due to poor navigation and usability, Holly and her team spent a lot of time telling prospective customers and dealers to “click the back button.”
Because everything Rachel and I build for clients is custom, we talked through how best to present the information the European Home team needed based on the feedback they were getting from their customers.
Rachel, and her brother Stephen Merriman, who does all the coding, created an efficient and easy-to-use back end in WordPress that allows Holly and her team to upload and categorize products with a few clicks. This elegant ease-of-use is carried through to the front end, too.
Instead of scrolling through image after image of fireplaces, people can click category boxes, which then narrows the selection.
The result has been nothing short of astounding. Yes, sales are up, but the company also realized an unexpected bonus: they’ve improved their own internal customer service and sales processes and have reduced time and effort. (You can read my case study — see the links below).
This project reset my entire thinking about how a website can and should help small businesses increase inquiries and improve sales and customer service processes, too.
MarCom Award Honorable Mention: Kays Engineering
Category: Digital Media / Website / Manufacturer
Kays Engineering, based in Marshall, Missouri, manufactures the DeHoff and Eldorado lines of deep hole drilling machines.
Matt Kays, VP of Business Development, wanted to replace the 14-year old GoDaddy website with a new, modern website that would showcase the company’s two product lines as well as tell its unique story and generate inquiries.
Matt and I spent weeks working on the copy that describes the products — with much of it written from scratch. We also spent considerable time talking about the industry, what makes Kays Engineering unique, and the company’s sales process.
For her part, Rachel created a website that captures the essence of the company and its dedication to precision and finest craftsmanship. I love how the black and white photography lends sophistication and evokes brands such as Harley Davidson and Jack Daniels.
As with all the websites she and Stephen create, the WordPress back end is simple and easy-to-use — so easy in fact, that once Matt received his login and User Guide in preparation for the site to go live, he began making his own tweaks and changes.
Having customers take control of their website like this is what makes Rachel and me happy. We “woohoo!” when this happens. 🙂
If you’re the owner of a job shop or manufacturing firm, and are considering updating your website, take a look at some of the projects Rachel and I have done together. Then give me a call at 603-382-8093. I love working with people like you and using effective (and efficient) marketing to help grow your business.
About the MarCom Awards
The MarCom Awards is an annual competition that sees approximately 6,000 entries per year from over 34 countries. Companies from Fortune 500 brands to small one-person consulting firms (like mine) enter their work for the chance of being honored with the prestigious Platinum and Gold Awards.
The mission of the MarCom Awards is to honor excellence and recognize the creativity, hard work and generosity of marketing and communication professionals.
Cre8d Design — Creating stunningly beautiful, custom WordPress websites and blogs since 2002
Rethink Robotics — Creators and manufacturers of a new breed of collaborative robot, made in the USA
New England Electropolishing — Specializing in the electropolishing of stainless steel parts for the medical device and semi-conductor industries
European Home — Manufacturer of made-in-the-USA and distributor of modern gas indoor and outdoor fireplaces
Post: How a Strategically Designed Website Can Make People’s Jobs Easier — A case study about the European Home website
Kays Engineering — Manufacturers of DeHoff and Eldorado deep-hole drilling machines, made in the USA
MarCom Awards — A listing of the 2015 Gold winners