What’s the point of marketing in manufacturing? Many companies do not have a product that they can sell through the click of some advertisement because there are too many specifications involved—so why even spend the money to create the ad? These sentiments are shared by the manufacturing industry as whole and especially by those that might own or work for a smaller manufacturer with limited resources. The concept of spending money to make money doesn’t hold up with the generations of salesmen who drove coast to coast—in their own vehicles—to close deals on their latest product. The idea of using SEO, website analytics, conversion rates, and click-throughs to find the right customer seems unnecessarily difficult when you can go back to cold calling and talking to a “real person”.
I am here to share; however, the odds are not in your favor by keeping in line with the old “door to door” sales tactic and I will share why. Firstly, we are a global marketplace. The internet and the size of the supply chain have made selling your goods a bit challenging. You have a much larger competition pool than you did in the past and it is impossible to be everywhere by driving. Secondly, your customer has changed. You no longer know the buyer through a handshake but rather through an order in an automated system where they can see product reviews immediately and up-to-the-minute pricing for their project. They are now an entry in your database (if you have one of those). Sales initiatives don’t get those customers in the door the way they used too but the combination of good sales and a solid marketing campaign can.
There are many ways that your company can market. From traditional print advertisements to software-driven tools across many online platforms, you can pretty much put your company’s name anywhere you want. However, that is not enough to be successful. You really need to have a plan that works within your company’s long-range plan and the customers you want to attract. For manufacturers, this might mean that you need to sit down and develop a real marketing strategy and put some real resources towards it. This can mean personnel and money. Have you talked about this with your team yet?
Time is said to be the biggest hurdle for manufacturers regarding marketing. Many companies won’t market simply because they don’t know where to start or what to do and they don’t have the time to figure it out. Maybe they have the money, but they don’t have a subject matter expert. That is okay! In fact, outsourcing business marketing is a very popular alternative to hiring someone in-house. The first step is just recognizing what you need and then finding the company that will best represent you in the public’s eye to build your brand awareness.
If you are on the fence about whether you should allocate resources towards a marketing budget, just do your research. Start with looking at what your competitor does and then see where you want to go from there. If you have uttered the words “We have our customer base already and we are perfectly happy where are at,” then this article is exactly for you. You might feel fine where you are at, but while you sleep at night dreaming that things will stay the same, your competitor is putting effort towards getting their name out in front of your customer. Over time, when prices change, or the product needs to adjust, your customer will always be looking, what company name or logo do you want them to consistently see?
Rebecca Brinkley is director of marketing & communications at American Gear Manufacturers Association.