Manufacturers need a digital presence to grow — here are three things to do to reach your audience.
Over the last few years, more business is being done online. Both B2C and B2B customers are going online to find what they need. This is also true for the manufacturing industry, where many still rely on face-to-face interactions to drive business. While I don't believe face-to-face interactions are going away, that doesn't take away from the fact that digital marketing is more important than ever — even for manufacturers.
We often hear how hard it is to attract manufacturers' niche audiences. You are not selling to the masses. You are selling to a specific group of individuals in which your product solves a particular problem. We get that. So, when manufacturers think about digital marketing, it's essential to consider how your targeting and selling propositions are different from B2C.
As a manufacturer who needs a digital presence to grow business, here are three things to consider and what you need to do to reach your B2B audience.
#1 - Who is your audience?
I know this seems like a simple answer. But take a second to think about who you are talking to specifically. Chances are, your product is very specific and solves a particular problem. What is that problem? Take a few minutes to write it down.
Now, who has this problem explicitly? Don't start this sentence with "anyone who." Say who they are (e.g., business owners, operations managers, OEMs, engineers, etc.) It can be more than one group but think about exactly who has this problem.
Now that you identified what problem you solve and what groups of people you help, take it one step further by getting to know those people. What do they value? How do they think? Where do they spend time? For guidance with this, download our persona workbook.
You may be thinking, why should I spend time doing this? Because if you don't know who you are talking to, you won't find them very easily. If you're walking through a crowd of people and you were instructed to find a person, but you don't know who it is, what they look like, or what they're wearing, it would be impossible to find them.
#2 - What is your message?
Knowing who you're talking to, take a second to think about what needs this audience has. You only have a small window to make an impression — mere seconds.
The biggest mistake we see in messaging is that companies talk only about themselves. Think about it. If you went on a first date with someone and only talked about themselves, that would be a turnoff. While it seems natural to talk about the details of your products, what's going to make a more significant impact is helping potential customers understand HOW your product solves their problem.
If you can hone in on how your product is a solution, you'll snag their attention faster. This type of messaging is beneficial, whether a short headline in an ad or copy on your website.
#3 - How do you get the word out?
Now to the part you have probably been waiting for: what do I do? How do I actually connect with my audience?
To be frank, this is a loaded question. The truth is there are going to be many ways to do this. I generally break these down into a couple of categories: inbound, paid, and outreach.
Most manufacturing companies need some combination of digital marketing approaches to reach their audience effectively.
Inbound is an approach that utilizes many forms of marketing such as content offers, blog posts, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and more to create brand awareness, attract, and convert. This type of marketing is much more about organic traffic rather than paid traffic. Inbound attracts an online audience that is looking for answers to problems.
Inbound efforts build your company up as an expert and provide value to prospects. Sometimes I hear, "Our audience doesn't search online for what they need." Chances are they do. It just might not be in huge numbers — but they do. That's where keyword strategies come into play, but that's a topic for another day.
Some terms are difficult to rank for in search engines, but your company must show up in the results for that search term. To help do that, we recommend including paid strategies in your digital marketing efforts.
This can take multiple forms. One of the most popular is Pay per Click campaigns (you only pay when someone clicks on your ad). These can be tricky to optimize because you need time and a dedicated budget to determine what works best. We recommend starting with your best-selling product. This will provide you with additional reach for that product, attracting more right-fit customers.
Don't overlook getting listed on industry-specific websites that include company listing, events, and native ads. Chances are your audience will look at these websites for industry news and insights, and seeing your business listed will add credibility to your company.
In every instance, whether a search engine ad or a listing on an industry website, be sure to have a compelling message so you don't get overlooked.
Here's where we get a little more old school.
Outreaching to potential customers in a targeted and intentional way is not dead. In combination with the other two types of marketing, this can be very effective. When you reach out to someone who's heard of you, you will have better luck getting a response. You can even take this approach a step further and do account-based marketing, where you are specifically targeting accounts you want with personal content and outreach efforts.
While face-to-face interactions aren't going away, it's becoming increasingly critical for manufacturers to market digitally to keep a competitive pace and have a chance to win new business from online shoppers.
As you consider what problems your products solve and who your target audience is, remember how and where you get the word out is just as important. It often takes multiple touches to get a prospect to engage with you. Don't be afraid to deploy multiple efforts and be seen in numerous places. This will increase your chance of converting leads and closing more deals.
When working through potential digital marketing approaches for your manufacturing company, try using this simple planning template. It provides a place to record what efforts you have deployed and makes it easier to track what's running.
With the right digital marketing strategy and approaches, you can rest assured you are effectively spending your time and budget reaching your audience.
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