This is a guest post. We welcome guest posts about helping manufacturers increase sales and/or advance their marketing function. Send in your idea to email@example.com and you too could be a guest blogger on MMG.
Many manufacturing companies have now set up one or more social media channels. By ‘set up’, I mean they have established a page about their company and products on various platforms deemed as “social media”. According to Content Marketing Institute’s annual research report, "B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing – 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends in North America”, B2B manufacturers favor the big 5 platforms in this order; YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Further, the average number of platforms used is five. But, is social media for manufacturing companies the right marketing tactic? In this post we'll explore the answer.
*2016 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends – North America: Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs
Within the manufacturing buyer process, there are really only two sales funnel stages. The top of the funnel is where you market to engage with (or gain attention from) the people in the target audience. As mentioned in my book, The New Way to Market for Manufacturing, by determining the sweet spot of engagement, you introduce your brand and offering to the target audience using educational content that helps the people in your target audience relieve a pain, fan a passion, or just be better in their day-to-day professional activities.
The best way to generate leads is also the quickest and delivers the highest quality leads.
The tactic to which I am referring is the webinar. I’m not talking about the all too common, boring, product focused webinar where one single person drones on for the first 10 minutes about his company, then drones on for a solid 40 minutes about a product and wraps it up with some fake questions. Those types of webinars do not generate leads at all. I’m talking about a webinar that shares expertise and solves a problem for the audience, uses at least two speakers, includes interactive events throughout the webinar and, above all, is not, I repeat, not a product pitch.
"Content Marketing" seems to be the latest buzzword on the Manufacturing Marketing scene. Sure, you can search on your favorite search engine and get 100s of thousands of page hits.I just searched 'content marketing for manufacturing' on Google and returned 9 million results! In this post, I'll define and qualify the term, content marketing, in the context of a B2B manufacturing business. I'll also offer some ideas and concepts that will grow your business by getting more awareness and more leads.
Leads, every manufacturer wants them. In fact, every manufacturer I've ever talked to wants more. If only the marketing team could generate more leads, business would be better. But it doesn't end there. Marketing says they generate plenty of leads and Sales won't follow up. Sales says all the leads Marketing sends over are craptacular so they just ignore them. Where does it end?
This is a guest post. We welcome guest posts about helping manufacturers increase sales and/or advance their marketing function. Send in your idea and you too could be a guest blogger on MMG.
How well do you know the people who make up your target audience?
Do you know why your existing customers decided to buy from your firm and not your competition? Do you know your customer buying criteria? How about your target audience, do you know their buying criteria?
KSF Number 5, The Manufacturing Marketer Must have a Strong Relationship with R&D.
For the R&D group to develop and deliver products or services that fill a need and differentiate in the marketplace, they need to have access to market information and hear the voice of the customer. This market and customer information must be objective and based on data. It's up to the marketer to deliver this information; not sales, not the C-suite.
KSF Number 4, Sales and Marketing Alignment
- Does the sales team know what the marketing team is doing on a daily basis and on a strategic basis?
- Does each sales person know the value proposition, target market, and associated messaging?
- Does the marketing team have a clue about the daily activities of the sales team or their needs, wants, frustrations, likes or dislikes about marketing activities or content?
As a past marketing director in charge of global marketing strategy and regional execution, I experienced the difficulty in achieving alignment every day. Sales is busy and focused on doing everything they can to sell more. Marketing is working hard to generate demand through events, brochures, emails, etc. and never the twain shall meet, as they say.
KSF Number 3: Excellent and complete knowledge of the firm offering
The consummate manufacturing marketer must be highly knowledgeable about their firm offering whether it’s products, services or a combination of both. The marketing strategy and tactics must position the offering and the brand in the market place aligned with core competencies and the target customer's buying criteria. It's impossible to devise and execute a strategy without a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the offering in order to realize how it will or will not be accepted by the target market.
KSF #2: Understand the Real Capabilities of your Firm
The Marketer needs to understand what his firm is capable and willing to produce for the customer. It probably seems obvious, but I'll say it anyways; it could be a disaster if the marketing message makes a promises operations is not willing to produce or deliver.
A 5 part series about key success factors for a manufacturing marketing team
The manufacturing marketing team is under duress. We are inundated with information about marketing automation, content marketing, SEO, SEM, cloud connectors, digital body language, sales and marketing alignment, revenue performance management, ad nauseum. The only way the manufacturing marketer (at any level) can survive is to understand the fundamentals as the foundation for all else.
Manufacturers, this is your time! Seize the opportunity to gain an edge in your market space. Times have changed for manufacturing. Your customers are buying like it's 2017, but are you still selling like it's 1999?
This is a story about a lesson I learned early in my marketing career. It's hard to buck the status quo. It's hard to introduce new ideas to an old company. But when you push through and just do it, you can be a big winner.
When was the last time you were asked to prove your marketing roi? In other words, prove that the marketing spend was driving results? If you've never been asked, then now is the time to prepare because it's coming!
Trade shows are usually a big waste of money for manufacturers. When you include the cost for booth space, booth collateral, and travel expenses, even a small 10 foot booth at a 3 day show can cost $20,000 or more. Many manufacturers will spend upwards of $500,000 for shows that require shipping large equipment and renting large booth spaces. And don't forget to include the opportunity cost of having your sales team standing at the booth instead of doing their usual selling "thing".
Most webinars just plain suck. There, I said it and I don't regret it. Many manufacturers have put on webinars and nobody came to the party. The conclusion, webinars don't work, are a waste of time and don't generate leads. There is some truth to this conclusion because most webinars are done very poorly and are about a topic nobody cares about; your product or your company.
If you're one of those manufacturing marketers who are a bit skeptical about webinars and may have even reached the conclusion that they don't work, ask yourself this one question. Was the webinar about my product and/or my company or was it about something the target audience actually cares about? I bet your answer is "it was about my product".
Webinars can be fantastic lead generators!
TOMA is top of mind awareness. Before we talk about how it works, here's a list of the benefits of TOMA:
- More qualified leads - when the need for your product arises, they remember you!
- Filters out unqualified prospects
- Increases awareness
- Increases word-of-mouth referrals
Here's how it works.
I started out in marketing as a salesman for ad specialties and eventually started my own ad specialty business. I'm talking about the stuff affectionately known as swag, tchotchkes, promotional products, etc. I learned from an old pro that the really successful distributors didn't sell the mug, pen or shirt, they sold the purpose of the product and what it meant to the buyer. If you wanted to create good will, you chose a higher end item and made a strong presentation. If you wanted to make them say 'wow', you found something different or new. If you wanted them to remember you, you gave them something they would keep with them at the place where they made purchasing decisions like a desktop, car dashboard, kitchen, etc. Naturally, each and every product has a logo, phone number, web site, email or some contact info so that when the day came and they needed to purchase something that the gift giver offered, the gift giver achieved top of mind awareness and they got the call. That is how TOMA works.
In the olden days of marketing (the 1990s), we talked about positioning statements, the 4 Ps, marketing plans, branding, etc. Some pundits and bloggers might claim that these old style concepts and practices are obsolete and have been replaced with content marketing, social media, marketing automation, SEO, SEM and so on. I suggest these so-called old style, obsolete concepts, strategies and tactics are more important than ever. As professional marketers, I suggest we go back to the future and embrace the fundamentals before we begin to use the modern tools like content marketing.
Embarking upon a plan to ‘do content marketing’ or ‘do social media’ without first preparing a proper marketing plan is like building a house with no blueprint. Adding rooms (marketing tactics) on a whim without an understanding of how each room supports the overall structure (business goals), the purpose of each room (objectives) and how you will decide if the room is successful (measurement) is a recipe for disaster at worst and poor performance at best.
We manufacturing marketers (all marketers) get excited about new technology, new ideas, new media. It's the shiny object syndrome. We're itching to get started with the next promising tactic or tools we are convinced will launch our business onto the next great growth trajectory. The momentum and the enthusiasm are great.
You may not know Jacob Rodney Cohen, but you probably do know his stage name, Rodney Dangerfield. There are some days I know that manufacturing marketers feel his pain. Many days, the lament of Marketing in a manufacturing company is the same as Rodney's lament, "I don't get no respect!" This post is meant to inspire marketers. Respect is not given, it is earned. It's time for us marketers working in manufacturing to take a stand, make our voices heard, prove our high value, and claim our places as crucial, strategic contributors to the business.
Based on anecdotal experience and evidence, I feel confident in saying that the vast majority of B2B manufacturing companies do not respect their marketing team or marketing as a discipline.
This post was first published on the CFE Media blog, Marketing to Engineers March 7, 2017.
Maybe ‘hate’ is too strong. In a survey conducted by the Fournaise Group, they discovered that 80% of CEOs freely admit that they do not trust or are not very impressed with marketers and the work they accomplish. To add more salt to the wound, 90% of those same marketing hating CEOs do trust their CFOs and CIOs. Ouch!
It might feel like your CEO hates marketing, but it is more likely he just has no respect for the function of marketing. The painful outcome of your CEOs lack of respect for marketing is that marketing is the first place to cut budget and the last place to add resources.
When I was a global marketing director for an electronic manufacturing company working under a CMO,
These next series of blog posts will be about gaining buy-in for the New Way to Market. I've heard so many stories from bright, enthusiastic marketers who really understand the new way and know what they need to do to grow the business (or save the business). They know that to gain awareness and credibility their company MUST share knowledge and expertise. They know that old ways of pitching product to gain awareness and break through the noise don't work any more.
Then, they either roll their eyes, shrug or shake their head in frustration as they recount how they just can't get their CEO or owner onboard. He wants to keep pitching the product, driving his sales team and creating more product content. It's extremely frustrating.
Over the next few weeks, I'll share with you some strategy, tactics and ideas to help you get buy-in and ease the frustration.
Here's the first idea:
Let's say, for the purpose of this post, that you are an executive at a manufacturing company. You're CAGR (combined annual growth rate) is about 3% over the last 5 years because of global competition and overall low GDP growth rates in the macro economy where you operate. You've been tearing your hair out trying to figure out how to get back to those heady days of double digit growth. You've tried pushing your sales team to do more, but realized they are doing as much as they can. You've pushed your business development managers to innovate and be more creative in their product road maps, but they just can't come up with anything really unique that resonates with your target audience. You've tried acquisitions, but they just never really work out as expected in spite of those glorious hockey stick graphs.
Lesson 1 for gaining awareness and attention is to get over ourselves. Effective manufacturing marketers realize the people in their target audience don't care about their company, their CEO, their sales people or their marketing people. Great manufacturing marketers know the best awareness content is about the people who comprise their target audience and not the people who comprise the executive team, the sales team or the marketing team.
Please note that in this post I'm talking about awareness stage content, not decision stage content. I know it is important to make available information about your product and your company. When your prospective customers are ready to make a purchase, they want to know the details of who they are about to do business with and details about the product.
This is a guest post. We welcome guest posts about helping manufacturers increase sales and/or advance their marketing function. Send in your idea and you too could be a guest blogger on MMG.
Check out the companion podcast on Manufacturing Marketing Matters - John Major, CEO at CDS shares the strategy behind this great, lead generating tactic.
Of all the types of online marketing content that manufacturers and distributors can use, none beat 'CAD Model Downloads' for sales conversion rates!
We understand that content such as white papers, case studies, brochures, videos, demos, recorded webinars, reviews and others typically convert to sales, at best, in single figure percentages. CAD downloads can easily trump that and here is some supplier and user survey evidence to prove it.
B2B manufacturing organizations are having a rough go of it lately. The old go-to-market strategy of trade shows and cold calls just doesn't work any more. Is it even possible for a B2B manufacturing firm to break through the noise without a huge budget? Yes, it is!
Before we start listing the 5 Ways to Cut Through the Noise, let's stipulate that for these ideas to work, your manufacturing company must already have the infrastructure, supply chains, production and most other critical production and delivery functions in good shape as a whole. Because manufacturers have been focusing on their products, i.e. the production and distribution for so many years, most are pretty good at production. This makes it extra hard to cut through the noise by talking about your products and your company.
So, what's left that you can use to cut through the noise? Marketing may be the final frontier where manufacturers can gain an advantage. Manufacturers can win big by being better at marketing their offering. By marketing, I don't mean setting up more trade shows, re-configuring the web site, creating a new brochure or coming up with a clever advertisement. That's not the type of marketing that will make any difference at all.
5 Ways B2B manufacturing can cut through the noise and win big with marketing:
If you want to get more awareness of your brand and your offering, stop shouting about your company and your product and start engaging by offering helpful, useful, and relevant information to the people in your target audience.
If you're interested in a deeper discussion about using engagement and content to gain trust, listen to this podcast, How to Build Trust with Your Target Audience, where I interviewed Brice Bay at EnVeritas Group.
As humans living in the modern age, we are being shouted at during nearly all of our waking hours. I am equating shouting to interruption advertising. TV commercials, Internet ads, billboards, magazine ads, telemarketing calls, unsolicited email, et al. These methods of marketing or advertising interrupt whatever it is you are doing when the ad shows up. We have all become experts at filtering and tuning out these messages. Shouting or interruption marketing can work if you are able to shout the loudest. The loudest shouter must also spend the most money.
If you're a manufacturing company executive who is satisfied with your 5 year CAGR and/or your annual projected growth rate, you should pass on this article. This article is about some not-so-obvious things that could be holding back your firm's growth in our present era of global competition, commoditized products and customer empowerment. There are really only 3 ways to grow a business:
Manufacturers love trade shows. 9 out of 10 manufacturers allocate the majority of their marketing budget to this venerable marketing institution. Therefore, it is more critical than ever to ask, "what is the return on investment for our last trade show?" It's not unusual to spend 10s or even 100s of thousands of dollars on a single show. When I ask manufacturers about the ROI for a trade show, it is a rare VP Marketing that can answer conclusively. One of the easiest benchmark metrics is the cost per lead or cost per qualified visitor. These days, that number is likely to be in the hundreds of dollars. One strong, and valid, argument sales people like to throw in the mix is that they get to see a large group of prospects and customers at one time. When you compare the cost of travel to see a bunch of prospects to the cost of a trade show, that alone could make the business case.
It's not easy to convert content to revenue. According to the B2B (North America) Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends survey published by CMI, 88% of B2B marketers are using content marketing (down from 93% in 2014) and only 6% consider their efforts as “very effective” (down from 9% in 2014). Although we are not sure what the term “very effective” means to those responding, it is safe to assume that revenue generation influences whether or not the effort is effective at some level. In the B2B world of marketing, if our content and associated content marketing efforts are not generating revenue, then we should fix it or stop the effort altogether so budget and resources can be diverted to those tactics that are generating revenue.
When you stop pitching products and start sharing expertise, you too can get an 800% boost in responses.
Manufacturing companies that are able to stop pitching their products and start educating their target audience to gain awareness and engagement will win in their market space. Sharing expertise instead of pitching products is a far more effective means of marketing. This concept has been proven to work over and over in other industries and even in some manufacturing organizations. If used consistently, it is the secret to winning big in your market.
Perhaps the best we can do with measuring marketing performance or ROMI (return on marketing investment)is to employ the age old statement made by John Wanamaker more than 90 years ago, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half". We like to think we can do better with modern tools like marketing automation integrated to CRM, the ubiquitous spreadsheet with pivot tables, etc.
Sure, we can attribute a closed opportunity to a marketing campaign or to a type of marketing activity, but it's only as good as a person's interpretation. At some point, someone has to decide how to attribute a closed opportunity. If the last touch before a closed opportunity was a trade show, does that mean the revenue should be associated with the trade show? In this modern age of buying behavior, we can never really know, nor should we try, to attribute revenue to one particular source. Thus, are we back to a modern version of Wanamaker's interpretation?