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.
At this point, many of you who are in manufacturing might say a cuss word and delete the post. I encourage you to keep an open mind and read on. This stuff has been proven over and over to work and, if used consistently, is the secret to winning big in your market. Here comes the tough love. The people in your target audience don't care about your product, your company, your CEO, or you. They ask themselves, "what's in it for me?" (WIIFM). It doesn't matter how much you try to convince them that the features of your product are good for them and superior to all other products on the market.
You have to prove to them that you can help them to relieve pain, solve a problem, or be better at their professions. Just to be clear, I'm talking about early engagement with the people in your target audience who don't necessarily know about your company. Of course, your sales people will have to talk about the product features and advantages later in the purchase cycle or at the bottom of the funnel. Cut through the noise when you stop pitching and start helping.2. Share your expertise
Many manufactures guard their expertise like it's the gold in Fort Knox. If you feel this way about your B2B manufacturing firm's knowledge and expertise, then I suggest that you're living back in the 80's and 90's when manufacturing firms could control the information and use that control to their advantage. In the present day and age, there is no such thing as proprietary information.
It's all out there somewhere and, yes, your competition has your pricing. So you might as well share it with your audience. By sharing your expertise freely, you cut through the noise which is mostly made up of your competitors blabbing about their products and their companies.3. Focus on the people in the target audience
Most manufacturers will swear they focus on the customer. "Customer is king". "The Customer is always right." "The Customer can fire us all". But do you really focus on the needs and wants of the people in your target audience or are you just trying to figure out ways to convince them that your product is the best. That isn't customer focus. Another common refrain I hear all the time is that manufacturers are out there asking their customers what they want and/or need. Is that really customer focus or is that just trying to figure out what else you can sell to them? You cut through the noise when you really understand the people in your audience. Learn what they struggle with every day. Learn what they worry about. Learn what they wish they had to make their lives a little easier. Then, help them get it. Once again, your competitors are out there making a lot of noise about their product while your message cuts right through because it is about the people in your target audience.
4. Advance your Marketing function
Marketing can and should be a highly valuable, strategic partner within your organization. Your marketers are smart, they know how to cut through the noise. Stop telling them to advertise your product and the leads will start to pour into the sales funnel. They know about how to engage by sharing expertise. Yes, this means investing in the marketing function. It means finding a marketing leader who understands the strategic and the tactical aspects of marketing, how that function can generate revenue and how to discuss it with the executive leadership team.
Build a marketing team that knows how to use modern digital tools for engagement and measurement. When you cut your marketers loose and let them create engaging strategy and tactics, they will cut through the noise. It can be done and, in fact, it must to be done to survive. Imagine your competitors with their marketers chained up in the back setting up trade shows and placing product ads. They're just creating more noise while your marketers are creating helpful useful content that cuts right through the noise of product promotion.5. Walk the walk when it comes to innovation.
Most B2B manufacturing leaders consider innovation to be about new products or new processes within the production and distribution lines. There is no area today riper for exploiting innovation than Marketing. After you advance Marketing to a strategic function, let them innovate and support that innovation. When the Marketing leader comes to the next leadership meeting and requests funds for a strategy that does not pitch the product, give it to him! Listen to him with an open mind and an authentic, innovative heart. Discard all of that old product culture baggage and try something new and innovative with marketing. You'll be cutting through the market noise, increasing leads and gaining brand awareness in no time.
Embrace and execute on these 5 ideas to cut through the noise and win big in B2B manufacturing. Marketing is the last organic revenue growth frontier in manufacturing. I know many manufacturers have a hard time getting their arms around the fact that marketing can contribute to revenue. It's a hard cultural change in most manufacturing organizations. But, it is an essential change. My final piece of advice is to make this strategic shift before your competition does it. First movers will cut through the noise and be the big winners!