Guest blog post by Elena Garuc, Executive Director of FuzeHub (part of the NY MEP).
In today’s highly competitive marketplace, meeting customer demand isn’t enough. Small and mid-sized manufacturers must have a continuous pipeline of new sales in order to thrive and grow. However, it is becoming more challenging to connect with key decision makers to accomplish this.
Technology is constantly evolving and has changed how people communicate, research products and parts, and make purchasing decisions. In comparison to the past, your target audience now has more control over the sales process. The internet enables them to easily research information and pricing at the blink of an eye. Caller IDs, gatekeepers, spam filters, and “no soliciting” signs are making it more difficult for manufacturers to proactively connect with prospects. And the nonstop barrage of advertisements and sales pitches are making it more difficult to become memorable.
Developing a robust marketing program is crucial to increasing sales and sustaining growth. Here are four action items your business can take to improve your marketing outreach efforts.
1. Establish a Marketing Strategy
Before you start sending out e-blasts or tweeting, your marketing initiatives must be driven by a structured strategy. An organized marketing strategy provides companies with the necessary foundation required before moving forward. While the specific defined goals and objectives are unique to every manufacturer, businesses are typically looking to achieve the following:
- Enhance brand awareness
- Generate new leads
- Convert leads into sales
- Increase sales from current and former customers
It’s vital for manufacturers to have a strong marketing strategy in place, so take the time to identify your goals and create a calendar of your efforts. Your strategy should also be written down and communicated with key decision makers. It is also vital to include leveraging multiple marketing channels, as targets communicate in different ways.
2. Update your Website
Your website is essentially a “digital salesperson” for your organization. If your website isn’t consistently generating new leads and sales for your company, it’s time for an upgrade. A successful website does the following for your team:
- Gets found by quality prospects when your products and services are looked for in search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.)
- Establishes your industry credibility
- Engages with and nurtures website visitors at all stages of your sales cycle
- Depicts your brand in a positive light
- Provides your team with data and analytics to help the sales process
In addition to dynamic graphics highlighting your brand, updating your website’s content is critical to digital success, as your content should provide a simple journey for your website visitors. Providing helpful information via checklists, white papers, blog entries, and eBooks will help you engage with your audience. Sharing case studies and testimonials validates your business.
Whether you have an internal marketing specialist or use an outside vendor, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) efforts will help you increase website traffic. In the age of smartphones, it is also imperative to have a mobile responsive design.
3. Embrace Social Media
Social networking is no longer a fad – it’s a regular method of communication and conducting business. Social media platforms can help your team connect with new prospects, showcase your products, share content, and increase your website traffic. Here are some ways manufacturers can use the most popular social media sites:
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn has a plethora of established networking groups where people can share information, ask questions, and network. By joining LinkedIn groups, you have an ability to connect with targeted leads and gain insight into industry news and trends.
- Facebook – This is a great way to constantly engage with customers and prospects to share content, gain feedback, and upload pictures and videos to personalize your company.
- Twitter – While it allows only 140 characters to share a message, Twitter is an easy way to quickly distribute company news and pictures.
- Pinterest – This platform is very visually based, so companies can share pictures of their products, parts, and processes.
- YouTube – From product reviews and product demonstrations for potential consumers, to quick FAQ videos for current customers, YouTube can help you connect with multiple audiences.
4. Rework your E-mail Marketing Communication
Your e-mails or eNewsletters require more substance than just shooting out your sales pitch and hoping for the best. People receive a superfluous amount of emails, so yours have to be targeted, personalized, and unique. Here are five quick tips to improve your e-mail outreach:
- Branding – Your e-mail templates should be consistent with your brand. Incorporate your company’s logo, color scheme, and messaging into your e-mail communication.
- Content – Share information that genuinely helps your target audience. Providing how-to tips, industry news, and solutions to their problems will help you establish your credibility. All e-mails should have a clear “call-to-action” at the end and include links to your website.
- Scheduling – Sending out a single e-mail here and there makes it challenging for your audience to feel an ongoing connection with your company. Whether it’s monthly or quarterly, have a consistent email schedule and stick with it.
- List Maintenance – Individuals leave companies, organizations go out of business, and professionals get promotions. Consistently cleaning up incorrect e-mail records and adding new e-mails to your database will help you keep the list fresh.
- Analyze Results – All e-mail marketing software vendors enable you to evaluate the tracking results of an e-mail campaign including views, un-subscribes, and click activity. This information will help you when you’re developing content for follow-up or future campaigns.
Connect with the MEP Network
The MEP National Network is a public-private partnership providing business services to small and medium sized manufacturers across the country. Services offered by MEP Centers help manufacturers in various capacities, and include business growth efforts such as the development of sales and marketing strategies.
A comprehensive marketing program is essential for developing new business and achieving sustainable growth. Connect with your local MEP center to learn more.