Manufacturing and marketing. For some, ideologies stemming from these two camps are frequently at odds. The popularity of content marketing in recent years has swept into the manufacturing world, revolutionizing the way marketing in this industry is approached. Despite great strides to modernize marketing tactics, some may find that there is still a divide in the goals of marketers and manufacturers. In Content Marketing Institute’s study, B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, 52% of manufacturing marketers suffer from a lack of vision and buy-in from higher-ups.
The disconnect between manufacturing and marketing goals has been well established, and to some extent has endured for many years. In 1977, Benson P. Shapiro documented in the Harvard Business Review several issues facing manufacturers and marketers:
One prime reason for the marketing/manufacturing conflict is that the two functions are evaluated on the basis of different criteria and receive rewards for different activities. On the one hand, the marketing people are judged on the basis of profitable growth of the company in terms of sales, market share, and new markets entered. Unfortunately, the marketers are sometimes more sales-oriented than profit-oriented. On the other hand, the manufacturing people are often evaluated on running a smooth operation at minimum cost. Similarly unfortunately, they are sometimes more cost-oriented than profit-oriented.
So what is the solution? How can manufacturing execs bridge the gap between marketing and their core business functions? Additionally, how can modern-minded marketers sell their stakeholders on the importance of digital or content marketing?
I’ve put together four critical tips that will not only help you maximize your current marketing strategy and budget, but also sell executives on the idea of emerging inbound marketing campaign tactics.
1. And in the Beginning, There Was… Audience Analysis
No matter your task, whether it be creating a marketing plan from nothing or simply trying to convince a manufacturer on the importance of marketing, audience analysis is where “it” should all begin. The “it” I’m referring to is any tactic you’re proposing be included in your marketing plan, as well as any goal you’re looking to accomplish in the year to come.
Audience analysis can be undertaken in a variety of different ways. But at Precision Marketing Group, we favor client interviews above all other quantitative metrics. Want to know what sites your target audience is utilizing? Curious what messaging best resonates with your demographics? Ask them! Create and distribute an interview style survey for your clients that will enable you to make educated decisions with your marketing budget. Once the work of interviewing is complete, use those surveys to create your target buyer personas.
If you’re looking to prove the importance and value of marketing, audience analysis will be the glue that holds your argument together. Be sure you’re asking questions like these during this process:
- How did you first hear about our business?
- What was your first impression of our online presence?
- What made you choose our business over other competitors?
- What online channels did you use to research when deciding on our company?
- How big of an impact did our website play in your decision?
- How big of an impact did our social media and content marketing play in your decision?
Be sure to interview enough clients to feel like you’ve gotten a true picture of your current marketing efforts. Once your audience analysis and buyer personas are complete, you’ll have a great bank of data to pull from to support the value of a new marketing strategy or objective.
2. Selling the Sellers on Marketing and Sales Alignment
All marketers should be salespeople, and all salespeople should be marketers. To be clear, I’m not recommending that your salespeople also wear the hat of marketers or vice versa. Content Marketing Institute found that 55% of manufactures struggled with a lack of marketing integration. Marketing “integration” can be interpreted in a number of different ways, but in my mind, this directly correlates to the relationship between your sales and marketing departments.
Sales and marketing should be viewed as two parts of the same whole. They both function to generate revenue for the company and exist in one functional task “loop”. In the marketing biz, we refer to this alignment as closed-loop marketing. In this ideology, marketing and sales work together to reach a common goal or set of goals, so the lines of communication are always open to promote effective lead generation.
There are a number of different tactics involved in sales and marketing alignment, but the biggest takeaway is train your departments to see themselves as a part of the same team. To do this, you’ll need to implement cross-functional goals and adopt an integrated CRM and marketing software.
3. Out with the Old, In with the New: Ditching Traditional Marketing
Gone are the days of mailboxes filled with junk and and brochures stuffed under businesses door’s. Traditional marketing is still prevalent among manufactures despite increasingly low effectiveness. In the same CMI study, 85% of manufacturing marketers still utilize print and offline promotion to distribute content and yet only 34% find it effective. This statistic should be your “ace in the whole” when presenting your new marketing plan. All industries, manufacturing or otherwise, are making the switch from traditional marketing tactics to inbound marketing (i.e. blogging, social media, video etc.).
Want to stand out among the crowd? Be among the first in your niche to fully embrace content and digital marketing. By implementing a new inbound marketing strategy, sales and marketing will find it easier to work together towards their common goals. No longer will your salespeople waste time cold calling and chasing down leads that have not yet been vetted. A huge component of inbound marketing is producing content that moves prospects through the buyer’s journey, resulting in sales qualified leads and saving your company both time and money.
4. Be Socially Savvy by Focusing on LinkedIn and Video
There are a seemingly endless array of marketing channels and networks to choose from, especially when it comes to social media. So where do you start? Facebook or Twitter? Pinterest or Instagram? With no prior data, deciding between platforms can feel no better than a game of chance.
Luckily, there’s industry data to help back your initial choices. LinkedIn and YouTube are the mostly widely used channels in the manufacturing industry and they also rate highly in terms of effectiveness. Here are few great examples of video and LinkedIn marketing to get your creative juices flowing and help define your business’s social presence:
- GE’s YouTube Channel: GE is a powerhouse when it comes to advertising. With over 400 videos and thousands of views per video, they provide a great example of video marketing done well. Their budget for video marketing may be larger than some company’s total revenue, but nevertheless, their work could be scaled down to fit any company’s needs.
- Squatty Potty’s Product Video: It wouldn’t be a post written by me without a somewhat “out there” example. Hopefully you didn’t X out of this screen the second you read that title. Squatty Potty will probably be unknown to most manufactures, and I can’t really speak to how well-rounded their marketing is (at least compared to companies like GE). I first came across this video on my personal Facebook page, not as an ad, but an organically shared post. I am not advocating this video style is for everyone, but with 16,542,107 views in just four months, it’s undoubtedly a big hit. If I had to guess, this video was created with shareability in mind… now imagine if every video project you undertook utilized the same creativity and thoughtfulness.
- John Deere’s LinkedIn: It’s difficult to mention an example of manufacturing marketing without discussing John Deere. There are numerous articles on the web that mention their use of content marketing and the undeniably zealous brand following they’ve cultivated over the years. I love the way their LinkedIn mixes video, content, and personal photos from their followers.
- Mattel, Inc.’s LinkedIn: Mattel’s LinkedIn is bright, colorful, and entertaining, exactly what you might expect from a toy manufacturer. Everything they create is on-brand and cohesive. They are a great example of a company you may not traditionally expect to engage with on LinkedIn, but with over 80,000 followers, I’d say they are doing a pretty good job appealing to their target audience.
5. The Grand Finale: Assistance When You Need It Most
So, you’ve read through my tips and now you’re ready to take on all the marketing challenges 2016 has to offer. You don’t have to go it alone. Throughout this article, I’ve pointed out a number of resources to take your manufacturing marketing to the next level. Here’s a handy list to reference them all at once:
- B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America
- Here's the Last Article You'll Ever Need on Buyer Personas
- Close That Loop! Sales and Marketing Alignment Must Do's
- MQL to SQL: Nurturing Your Marketing Qualified Lead for the Sale
- 7 Video Marketing Tips for Your YouTube Business Channel
And here's one more content marketing resource you'll find helpful: How to Build Buyer Personas for Your Industrial Marketing Plan
If you’re ready to learn more about an outsourced marketing partner with loads of experience in the manufacturing industry, contact us today! Absolutely feel free to reach out with any questions – we’re always happy to help.