manufacturing-marketing-bad-advice

Due to manufacturing being a daily news item, marketing consultants and agencies have now become “experts” with regard to advising small manufacturers about websites and marketing.

A simple Google search (“manufacturing marketing tips”) reveals that hundreds of consultants and agencies — including the USPS! — are pitching their ideas in an effort to gain new customers.

A careful reading of these articles / blog posts / etc. however, show that many of these “experts” have simply put a manufacturing spin on overused consumer and B2B tactics. A few examples follow.

Lead Generation

“One way to generate leads for your manufacturing business is to leverage on existing clients and customers you have. Try asking them if they want to upgrade their way of doing business with you by offering innovations every so often.”

Manufacturers typically innovate on a continual basis based on employee and customer feedback. Innovation is important because it lowers costs and production time, and improves quality, all of which benefits companies and their customers.

Telling a manufacturer to ask customers “if they want to upgrade their way of doing business by offering innovations” is a real head-scratcher. Huh?

What this writer may be referring to is a tactic that works well for service-based businesses. A day spa, for example, offers a “Christmas in July” promotion where clients can purchase services in bulk and receive a discount — but only in the month of July.

The “innovation” is in the way the service is being delivered: purchase in bulk during the off-season.

Could this idea work for a small manufacturer? Maybe — but it would take some time to plan out the offer and then create the marketing strategy for it.

Review Sites

“Reviews on sites such as Yelp can help establish the reputation of your brand.”

Yelp is best known for reviews of consumer-based businesses (Figure 1). A knowledgeable manufacturing marketing consultant would know this, and thus wouldn’t recommend the tactic as way to establish the reputation of a manufacturer’s “brand.”

yelp

Figure 1: “Metal stamping companies, Worcester, Massachusetts” – Yelp

The only benefit of having a Yelp listing is that DuckDuckGo, an alternative search engine to Google, uses these in place of Google My Business listings.

To determine if a Yelp listing might benefit your company, you would need to analyze how much traffic is coming from DuckDuckGo.(Based on in-house data, this would mostly like be nil).

Instead of spending limited time and energy hounding customers to leave reviews, a small manufacturer could ask for testimonials to add to the website and other marketing materials.

This tactic ties in with a well-developed website and content marketing strategy because prospects visiting a manufacturing website expect to see testimonials.

Testimonials also help build crucial trust and credibility in conjunction with other content: Company history, bios, industry certifications, capabilities, etc.

Blogging

“Secure conversions with a blog. You can increase lead volume by up to 4x and traffic by 3x. Make sure your content is relevant and entertaining.”

When blogging first came onto the scene, it was a terrific way to stand apart and get your message out there. Today, however, with the content marketing explosion, thanks in part to the proliferation of blogs, it’s very difficult to “be heard.”

Consistently creating blog content is also labor intensive and requires time and people resources — two things small manufacturers, with limited or no marketing staff, have in very short supply.

Besides which, do buyers come to a supplier website expecting to be entertained? No. They want to take care of business and move on.

But what about the assertion lead volume can be increased?

There is truth to this statement, but it’s due to consistently creating technical content that answers prospects’ questions: FAQs, application notes, case studies, and tech tips.

Over time, this type of informative and niche content appears in the search results — because Google wants to provide searchers with great content that also matches their search intent.

As more people find it and click through to read it, the content generates leads — which are easily tracked in Google Analytics.

Email Marketing

“Email marketing needs to be a part of your marketing mix because it’s still widely used and because of its low cost.”

Yes, email marketing is widely used and it does have a relatively low cost, but what exactly is meant by “email marketing”?

More to the point, how does a small manufacturer make it part of the “marketing mix”?

This writer may be referring to the type of email sent out via marketing automation tools, but the advice is so generic, it’s hard to tell.

What can work for a small manufacturer is a professionally designed, well-written monthly newsletter sent to the in-house list.

As with website content, it can help with generating leads over time.

email-marketing-manufacturers

Figure 2: Graphic from Urethane Innovators monthly newsletter

Small manufacturers aren’t consumers or even B2B

The tactics that work for consumers don’t translate to the small manufacturer, who is usually an OEM or job shop. Their own specialized niche, job shops are part of the national and/or global supply chain and have their own unique challenges.

When searching for a vendor, small business owners, engineers, buyers, etc. are all looking for specific information that lets them know the prospective company might be able to solve their challenge.

Using consumer-based marketing strategies to create this content leads to failure.

Although small manufacturers are technically B2B, this label can be applied to any company that sells to another company. Thus, tactics that work for a B2B software company won’t necessarily work for a job shop.

And last, while marketing has changed significantly, one thing hasn’t changed: Trust.

Manufacturers, especially the small ones, take great pride in the relationships they’ve built with their customers — relationships that span decades and sometimes generations.

Communicating the importance of this trust, and putting it to work on behalf of their clients, is what true manufacturing marketers understand and value.


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Dianna Huff is the founder and president of Huff Industrial Marketing, a full service agency that tackles a host of marketing and communications challenges for manufacturing companies.

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