Marketing for manufacturers isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all strategy. Some manufacturers sell products B2B, some are B2C, some utilize distributors, dealers, online retail or brick and mortar. Often times, industrial companies may nix marketing altogether because they aren’t selling a consumer product that can have a billboard or commercial. They are dealing with highly specific, expensive, customized niche products and services. For a manufacturer looking for a way to market themselves in their niche, needs to answer the following questions:
What differentiates a marketing strategy that markets to a consumer versus our potential customers or dealers? How can we utilize marketing platforms? How to compete with other competitors in your industry when it’s a specific niche?
There are, however, some marketing strategies that can help with manufacturer outreach and make them feel they are marketing to more than just other manufacturer marketing managers.
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Educating Your Buyer
Using your expertise and becoming a resource for your customers is as valuable to your business as your actual product or service is. Strategizing your content marketing to be more of an educational tool rather than a sales pitch is going to help boost sales, engagement, and customer satisfaction. In the industrial industry, customers are looking for very specific, often custom products and services, and education about what is offered is more important than ever.
Leave it all out on the table. If you manufacture sump pumps and sump pump parts, then posting installation videos, sharing information about how pumps work, how they go together, what to do when they fail – these resources are what customers are looking for. If it’s not customers of you specifically, it’s customers of your dealers that are finding these videos and information for themselves and that turns into your dealers needing more services and products from you.
When people have a problem, they are looking for a solution and by being an educator in your industry, you are becoming not only a potential service but a resource and teaching tool for them. The intent of putting learning tools and content marketing sharing your tips and tricks are not meant to replace sales tactics, but to build trust with potential customers and draw them in.
Understand Your Ideal Customer
To understand your ideal customer, first, look at who your buyer tends to be. When a purchase decision is being made, who are you in correspondence with? Depending on the complexity and price of the product, the sales process could be anywhere from a quick decision, to something that has a large committee in the decision making the process. Find out if you are dealing with the procurement manager, sales manager, CEO, or one of the engineers. It matters who you are targeting, so you aren’t blindly marketing to no one specific.
This is a bit of a reiteration from our first strategy, but being the educational leader in your niche can ultimately help our ideal customer make their decisions much easier. If you are the ones who answered their question, there’s a good chance you’re going to be the one they decide to go with. Putting out relevant videos, white papers, case studies relevant to your customer is specific and you should feel you are more strategically targeting the right people.
Differentiate Yourself From the Competition
Know your place in the market. In such a niche market, running a competitive analysis can be the difference between being first in line and last. If you are a manufacturer of O-rings, your customer base is everyone from plumbers to engineers to HVAC specialists. That’s a wide customer base and it’s gonna be challenging to put out more specific information and be the knowledge leader for O-rings. But, if you can divide that content into different segments and reach more of your categorized sections and customers, that’s a strong content strategy.
Focus on Inbound Marketing
Manufacturers should focus on inbound marketing rather than pushing products and services in hopes of luring a potential customer. Being the thought leader in your industry, as we talked about before, is a supportive measure you take for your inbound marketing. This is what is drawing customers in, and giving them confidence during their decision-making process.
One thing we push here at Hook is to nurture the people coming to your site with relevant content. The content you put out on your site including blogs, landing pages, articles, case studies – whatever it may be that proves your expertise in your industry. Once those leads have found their way to you, you can nurture them further with more relevant content in the form of blogs or email campaigns. Basically, giving them all of the tools and information possible that will help them chose you above the rest because you talk the talk and walk the walk.
Guide Your Customers Through The Buying Cycle
Industrial buying cycles can be long and tedious. Knowing the ins and outs of the buying cycle of your potential clients and customers will strategically place you right there with them, in the nitty-gritty process as their support. The buying cycle they are going through starts with focusing on their needs, and building awareness. This is where your push on curated, content marketing comes in. Building content around the ideal client will target them specifically as they are just starting to focus on their needs.
Then, they begin to research, and you being their thought leader, and educational guide will land them on your articles, content, and landing pages that you have crafted to be learning tools and to engage with your potential buyers. When they are researching online, your presence will be known and found if you keep pushing out the content that meets your buyers’ needs, and not advertising your company itself. This is meant to guide them to you.
The next step is evaluating and considering who they will choose. The more information you can give your customers, the more information they have to aid in their comparisons with other companies in the industry. If you followed the first four stages here, you should be in a good position. They lastly will make their decision based on all of the above. By tracking analytics, and putting data behind your content strategy, you should be able to pinpoint where your potential buyers are at in their buying cycle, and be able to reach out and hit the ground running, so they don’t have to bring you up to speed.
There you have it. Five helpful marketing strategies for the industrial manufacturer. If you feel like you are just playing marketing ping pong with other manufacturing marketers out there, follow these guidelines and get into the real game of marketing.