Marketing for Manufacturers: The Marathon Strategy
As a manufacturer, business models are often structured so that a network of dealers or retailers is responsible for marketing efforts to generate leads and sales. The responsibility of the manufacturer is simply to ensure that a quality product consistently rolls off the production floor. Or is marketing for manufacturers more important than you realize?
Our leadership team has a combined 40+ years of experience working with manufacturers. Through our extensive experience, we are here to tell you there is a lot being left on the table when a manufacturer leaves marketing solely in the hands of their dealers.
The need for manufacturing marketing is often deprioritized because it doesn’t quickly result in trackable transactions or sales. However, this doesn’t make manufacturing marketing unnecessary or unprofitable. It just requires a long-game approach with success being determined by achieving long-term goals.
You have likely heard the saying, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint,” by the famous and respected mental health professional, Dr. Phil McGraw. Well, the not-so-famous, but respected (we hope) team at Vessel is here to tell you that as a manufacturer, your marketing strategies are a marathon, not a sprint.
How to Gauge the Success of Marketing for Manufacturers
You may be wondering how you will gauge the success of your marketing efforts. If manufacturing marketing strategies may not result in immediately trackable sales, what results can you expect to see from your marathon of marketing efforts? The strategies we have listed below all support two long-term marketing goals that should be a priority for all manufacturers. Both will generate new and repeat sales in the long run.
Goal #1: Increase brand awareness among potential customers
Creating a strong and recognizable brand can help potential customers remember your company when they are ready to make a purchase. This means imploring marketing strategies that showcase your brand to potential customers during their research phase of exploration and education before making a purchase. Wouldn’t it be great if a consumer walked into one of your dealers asking for your product by name and ready to make a purchase?
Goal #2: Build relationships with potential and current customers
Building relationships with potential customers and even your current customers takes time. Your marketing strategies should offer consistent communication and resources that position your brand as knowledgeable experts in your industry which establish trust and credibility.
Marketing for Manufacturers: Training for the Marathon
Here are a few helpful strategies you can use to kickstart your marketing plans as a manufacturer.
1. Support Retailers with Marketing Collateral
First, let’s simplify the marketing speak. Marketing collateral is any digital or printed material used to communicate or promote a company's brand message, products or services. While there should certainly be marketing responsibilities still expected at the dealer/retailer level, we believe that supporting their marketing efforts is a win-win. By generating marketing collateral for your brand and then distributing those assets to your dealers/retailers, it provides a tremendous opportunity to not only support their sales efforts, but it ensures that well-branded and consistent materials that properly explain your products and tell the story of your brand reach consumers. These assets can highlight new products or features and help to educate on complex topics of your product. Marketing collateral can take the form of sales kits, printed or digitally downloaded brochures, product videos, 360 tours, info graphics for social media, correct logo guidelines and so much more.
Share your marketing plans and strategies with your dealers/retailers. Ask them to share what strategies have worked well for them and what audiences they have targeted. Your dealers/retailers are valuable teammates on your marketing journey.
2. Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click Advertising
The first step to ensuring that a potential customer knows about your brand is showing up consistently during the research phase of their buying process. You must make sure your brand appears the first time they start searching and remind them of your brand throughout their purchasing journey. During their initial research, they may not be searching for your brand specifically, but they are looking for the solution to a problem that your brand provides. By serving your brand to potential customers early and often, it makes them 100% more likely to think of your brand first when they are ready to make a purchase. How do you do this? Start where nearly all consumers begin their research--online.
Before we get into strategies to ensure your brand shows up first in online searches, make sure your online presence (i.e. your website) is up to date, features accurate product details, and looks as professional as the products you make. There is no point in driving potential customers to your website if it is cluttered, outdated, and doesn’t represent your brand accurately. For quick tips on how to update your website's design, content, and functionality, check out our BLOG post.
Once your website is standing tall and you are proud to send potential customers there for more information, we suggest designating a marketing budget for both a professional Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy and pay-per-click advertising. These are both effective marketing strategies for manufacturers. An SEO strategy optimizes your website and content for search engines, improving your visibility and attracting more visitors to your site. This includes things like choosing the right keywords, creating quality content, building links and so much more. With a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising strategy, you create ads and only pay when someone clicks on them. This makes it a cost-effective way to generate leads and boost brand awareness. Choosing the right keywords, creating effective ads, and tracking your results are important so you can adjust your campaign as needed. Both SEO and PPC strategies can be a little complex, but with the help of a marketing agency like Vessel, you can get both up and running in no time.
3. Branded Content Marketing
Another effective marketing strategy for manufacturing companies is content marketing. Focus your content creation strategy on creating and distributing consistent content that positions your company as an expert in your industry for your target consumers. This type of quality content will help build trust and credibility with potential and existing customers. Remember, your content should not be sales-heavy, but rather position your brand as a resource for expert advice, helpful information or training and education. Knowledge is power; so give your potential customers the power to make educated purchasing decisions while keeping your brand top of mind. Plus, giving away “free” knowledge creates unmeasurably powerful goodwill toward your brand. Creating this type of content is a great way to “enter the chat” as they say and be part of industry conversations while also driving traffic to your website and generating leads.
Content marketing can take many forms such as blogs, podcasts, webinars, email, how-to videos, infographics, checklists, case studies and so much more. However, try to choose 2-3 content strategies to keep it manageable and focus on consistency. Consistent and regular content creation leaves consumers coming back for more.
4. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is an effective marketing strategy for manufacturers because these platforms provide a great medium for connecting and building relationships with potential and existing customers. Social media platforms are oftentimes viewed as less transactional than company websites and provide a way for consumers to interact and learn about your brand’s story and product offering at their own pace and over time through frequent posts and updates.
Remember to use our tips from Strategy #3 to guide the content you generate for social media. Be a resource by answering frequently asked questions, providing insight with a how-to video, and sharing product care tips and tricks. With social media marketing, interaction is key. Social media is a valuable resource for allowing your customers to weigh in and feel heard. Be sure to share customer testimonials, ask questions and poll your followers for valuable consumer data when making product decisions or changing a product offering.
5. Trade Shows/Events
Industry-specific trade shows and events are a successful marketing strategy for the manufacturing industry. Why? Because attendees are already interested in what you have to offer. Take the time to research and attend trade shows relevant to your industry and use them as an opportunity to network with both potential and existing customers.
Once you add a few of these shows or events to your calendar, get to work on making sure your booth display will stand out and professionally reflect your brand. All that helpful marketing collateral we discussed in Strategy #1 will come in handy! Be sure to also have strategies and technology to collect customer information for follow-up and to stay connected with them after the show.
Remember, the overall goals are brand awareness and fostering customer loyalty.
When marketing as a manufacturer, you can’t be blinded by short-termism. You must look past the joy that comes with instant gratification to see the real value in a long-term marketing strategy. Just like running a marathon, this requires a great deal of energy, patience, passion, and most of all, consistency.
The strategies we have discussed support two main goals: creating brand awareness and fostering customer loyalty. Both are long-game goals that require consistent, long-term marketing strategies. At Vessel, we have helped numerous manufacturing clients with brand development and marketing strategies. All of these clients have seen significant business growth and ROI over the years. In fact, one client reports a 400% increase in sales within the first year of working with Vessel.
How much time and energy have you dedicated to marketing? Are you ready to start training for the marathon of marketing for manufacturers? Let us help! Contact us today.