There is a huge opportunity for manufacturers to connect with their target customers online. The problem? Many manufacturing companies are completely missing this chance.
This poses a major threat, as digital marketing continues to grow and evolve. Its importance should not be shrugged off.
Here are 10 marketing mistakes manufacturers are making and how to overcome them.
How can a manufacturer stay relevant and top of mind in today's marketplace?
The simple answer is: It can be really tough without a proper inbound marketing strategy.
We all have to start somewhere, and whether it's trying a pilot program to gauge effectiveness, or acquiring a publication that already talks to your audience, fostering trust and engagement online must become a priority.
Take a look at Coca-Cola's Content 2020 strategy. The company has committed to creating a connection with its audience, making the world a better place and creating value for its audience.
Coca-Cola's content initiative to strengthen its brand image and serve customers.
Not having an effective inbound marketing strategy can be just as problematic as not having one at all.
Is your content all about you? Are you only talking about your products and services? Are you treating your content like news releases?
Manufacturers must focus on creating content that's relevant for their target audience and addressing their pain points. This might mean creating a separate publication customers would find valuable.
John Deere, for example, has been publishing The Furrow magazine since 1895. It is the largest circulated magazine to farmers in the world, and focuses on providing farmers with information to become more successful, as opposed to selling John Deere products.
John Deere's long-running magazine is a valuable source of information for farmers.
It would be naive to assume that your competition isn't aware of the latest trends in marketing, right?
Sure, some might be falling behind, but leaving it to chance is risky. Your competitors are growing wise to strategies like inbound marketing and social media, which means you could easily lose market share to them if you hold onto the status quo.
You have a tremendous opportunity to connect with the consumer online, and the time to get started is now.
Just look at Gibson's News-Lifestyle (accessible from its home page). Gibson is doing an excellent job of regular publishing, sharing the latest news as well as covering a variety of artists and their use of Gibson guitars. You can also see how they engage fans with contests and events.
The latest headlines from Gibson's News-Lifestyle.
The days of the "push" are fast coming to an end, and savvy marketers know this. At best, you'll convert fewer sales and lose market share if you continue to push. At worst, you'll lose your customers’ trust and become irrelevant to them.
A key marketing question used to be: How do we build awareness for our products and services? Better questions today would be: How do we engage with and create a connection with our customers? How do we build trust?
This means that even with an inbound strategy, you might not be getting the most out of your work if you're only creating content around your product.
It may be that you're having a hard time getting buy-in from the right people. It may be that no one in your company sees the value of content.
But more often than not, what we've found is:
If you don't have an inbound and online reputation management strategy, you have no control over the conversation.
Customers can leave online reviews about your products with or without your permission. If you aren't responding to negative feedback, your presence will be notably absent, furthering the idea that you're a company that "just doesn't care."
This is a good recipe for losing trust, credibility and even sales over the long term.
It's hard to find examples of manufacturers that are humanizing their marketing. Many are focused on themselves and on their own products. That makes it hard to build a connection with your target audience.
And though data, studies and charts are helpful, this type of information does not help humanize your company.
Incorporating elements of storytelling and emotion are key to staying relevant in today's market. People want more than just content—they want an experience.
Consumers aren't just looking for personalized experiences—they are coming to expect them.
Let's say, for example, a visitor comes to your website. They're interested in working with you, but they don't have enough information to make a decision. If they return to your website again only to find that nothing has changed, they will either go to a competitor, or be drawn in by a competitor’s marketing.
Manufacturers have the opportunity to inform their prospects with a variety of top-funnel content: eBooks, infographics, how-to posts or industry news updates. This content must solve your buyers’ pain points without pushing your products.
Take things to the next level with case studies, buying guides, product overview videos or webinars. At the decision stage, testimonials, advanced reports, whitepapers or free consultation offers can be set into motion.
You must know who you're talking to, how they're interacting with your content (for example, desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone), and know what content to send them at what stage to move them through your sales funnel.
It can be hard to build a financial case for content, social, email and everything digital, especially in a slow-moving industry like manufacturing. This is why tracking and measuring your results is absolutely essential. You must find out what the management's expectations are, know how to track leads and sales and learn how long it takes for the average customer to go through your sales funnel.
All forms of marketing must be measured, but digital marketing has its own challenges, and these must be addressed for your online strategy to have any kind of longevity.
We've seen it before: Many companies try their hand at inbound marketing for shorter periods of time and give up. Defeated, they declare it must not work without even giving it a fair chance.
As with any other type of marketing, some experimentation and iteration are par for the course. If you are in touch with your buyer persona and you know what kind of information they're looking for, you'll greatly increase your chances of succeeding.
Beware of throwing in the towel too early. If you want to stand out in today's crowded online space, you must execute against a well-crafted strategy.
It has never been more critical for manufacturers to embrace the new methods of marketing and not cling to the status quo. If you don't do anything, rest assured your competition will, and they might even claim a larger piece of the market share as a result. How will your organization cope with the threats presented here?