Blog Post By: Ian J. Jennings, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Baer Performance Marketing
Many manufacturers believe spending valuable time and money on the digital aspects of marketing (websites and social media, to name a few) is a waste of time. Most are wrong, but it’s complicated.
All businesses, regardless of industry, must identify where their customers and prospective customers reside and reach out to them there. Manufacturers and other industrial companies are no different, but because they sometimes have strong platforms for acquiring customers outside the digital realm (trade shows/events), they tend to ignore or neglect their digital footprint. This is a bad idea for several reasons:
- Potential customers want to do research. The quickest and easiest research of your company and its products is done on the internet and specifically your website. If you don’t have one, it’s possible you’ll lose the interest of potential customers or contracts during request-for-proposal (RFP) processes.
- Websites are a great way to feature your products, research, designs, case studies, and successful projects. This information acts as a passive salesperson, drawing people in from search engines and well-timed social media posts. Neglecting your website’s ability to feature the best parts of your company is just that, negligence, and is directly taking money out of your pocket.
- Social media profiles can drive traffic to your website and are low cost. Most companies can use most social media platforms for free or very little cost relative to the benefits of using the platform. While you’re probably not going to do a lot of direct selling on social media platforms, your company will suffer if it neglects to harvest the cheap and easy website traffic that can be derived from social media pages.
So, where do you start? It depends on where you’re at in the process. Do you have a website? Is it good? Chances are it’s not. Do you have a marketing team in place? It’s been my experience that many manufacturers create barebones websites and social media profiles for their companies more to ‘check-the-box’ so to speak and not as vital tools of a pro-growth strategy. Some considerations for manufacturers as they consider expanding their digital foot print include:
- Website: Its purpose must be to both explain the value of your business and if necessary, sell products. Let’s assume you don’t want to sell products directly on your website. You must ensure the layout and design of your website are optimized to explain to guests exactly what it is your company does, why it matters to them, and what the next steps are if they want to learn more or do business with you.
- Social Media: Make sure you have and maintain any platform (LinkedIn/YouTube most often) that can provide access to your customers or provide your customers access to you. If you’re uncomfortable doing this, pay someone to do it. If you can’t keep up with it, don’t do it at all, but understand the benefits you’re missing out on and mitigate them elsewhere. It’s often better to have no profile than a neglected profile. An abandoned digital space looks just as bad as an abandoned building to people paying attention.
- Blogging: A blog is a surefire way to use your website to publish new and exciting news, product, and event information about your company. Does your website have one, and are you using it? Keeping an updated blog also keeps your website relevant within search engine ratings (popularly referred to as search engine optimization or SEO), ensuring the dust is continuously kicked off your site in the event people are searching content relevant to you. Social media is a great way to announce new blog posts and products, funneling even more traffic to the website.
These are just a few main digital avenues that can be consistently used by manufacturers and other industrial companies to augment and increase sales goals and growth in conjunction with extended sales cycles typical to the industry. Within these platforms are hundreds of strategies and additional digital avenues to explore and exploit to grow your business.
If you have any questions about how to develop a manufacturing-focused digital marketing strategy, please leave them in the comment section below or privately reach out to the Baer Performance Marketing team here.