I see this a lot working in ecommerce, the manufacturer is creating these amazing products but the retail stores and resellers are outranking them in search and making more money from customer acquisition than the manufacturer.
Don’t Fall for the Age-Old Misconception That Online Marketing professionals Are the Expensive Option.
Many manufacturers are stuck at a crossroad. Do you hire an in-house marketing person? Or contract an agency to develop and implement a strategy?
This addresses that question—Rand Fishkin’s recent article, “Why You Should Hire Agencies & Consultants (for everything you can)” is probably one of the most important articles manufacturing marketers can read. Rand makes the powerful case: do more with less and you’ll get even greater results.
Is your manufacturing leadership struggling with the question: do we have an internal marketing resource or contract outside resources? The answer will be different for each company. The answer will not be black and white, but various shades of grey.
This means you might have:
- A dedicated agency handling a comprehensive role delivering leads to your sales team
- A VP of Sales and Marketing that is supported by a B2B agency
- A capable marketing team supported by freelance specialists and consultants
Which shade of grey is right for your manufacturing marketing need? That will be up to you, but the evidence outlined in Rand’s article is clear. You need the mix.
To make it even clearer heres an overview of where web traffic comes from. This reinforces to me how important being online really is.
Image source – SparkToro
There can be resistance from in-house marketers. “Trying new things is risky,” writes Fishkin. “And for internal managers, the benefits of consultants and agencies are overshadowed by threats, risks, and lost opportunities for your own career growth.”
Manufacturing owners and managers should also keep the bigger picture in mind. “Unfortunately,” writes Fishkin, “what’s better for the business isn’t always better for everyone in it.”
As the creator you the manufacturer can create the unique selling points. The retailers cant take that away from you when it is positioned from the manufacturer. Most retailers will just copy the descriptions, titles, images and even reviews from a manufacturer and have no real unique content to leverage.
As the source you can create unlimited content around the product. This is not limited to content, think more like images, video and user experiences.
Why is content successful? Three distinct reasons:
- Resonating topic
- Perfect timing
- Targeting the right people
As a content marketing agency Webmecs has worked on various places on the “greyscale.” I’ve been solely responsible for marketing and lead generation for big name brands and working in the background either way I help bring my knowledge to your operations.
Topic: Finding an Important Subject That is Relevant to Your Customer
Great content is not about your company. It is about your customers. The topic of great content should be about the challenges your customers face.
Don’t get caught in the trap of writing content about your services. Capabilities, features, or even your process doesn’t matter to your customer.
Identifying and solving your customer’s challenges does matter. In most cases, it just comes down to the perspective you’re writing from.
For example, you’ve just finished the installation of a new multi-axis CNC station. Instead of focusing on features, share how it will shorten delivery timelines by reducing the number of setups. Showcase the increased accuracy of the finished part.
In short, make the topic relevant to your customer.
What are some topics that are relevant?
- eBooks that introduce critical process knowledge to your customer (e.g. 10 Tips for Engineers to Select a Precision Machining Partner)
- Case studies that dive into a specific challenge and how it was resolved
- Common manufacturing process misconceptions or ways you’ve saved customers time or money
Timing: Delivering the Right Message at the Right Time
“The timing is bad,” is a common response in sales. Is your timing wrong or is it the wrong time for that message? So let’s pair the right message with the right time.
A dangerous assumption is that the sales process is linear. Prospective customers may not start at the top of your funnel. Creating content for different stages of the buyer’s journey is crucial.
Early Explorer (Awareness)
- List-style tips articles (Top 3 Ways to Save and 1 That Will Cost Extra)
- Social media engagement
- Videos and podcasts
Metrics to Watch
- Are prospects finding the content? (Organic search traffic)
- How long are visitors engaged? (Time on page)
- Are prospects taking action? (Email newsletter signup, content downloads, bounce rate)
- Useful resources (how to or recommendations)
- Case studies or work examples
- Technical white papers
- Webinars or events
Metrics to Watch
- Are site visitors returning to the site? (New vs. returning visitors)
- Does your content resonate? (Downloading long form content)
- Have leads been generated? (Online form completions or meeting requests)
Final Decisions (Purchase)
- Comparisons articles or infographics (You vs. competition)
- Team profiles (Who will they be working with)
Metrics to Watch
- Generated sales
- Site traffic to case studies or team profiles
- LinkedIn connection requests or page follows
There will be many paths prospect take to find you. Some will connect midway through their own process. Make sure you recognize what stage they’re in and which content is right for them.
Targeting: Aim Small. Miss Small.
The scene from The Patriot when Mel Gibson asks his sons, “remember what I taught you boys about shooting?”
“Aim small. Miss small,” they answer in unison. This makes sense in any business, don’t go too big too soon.
You should be focusing your content to a specific profile. Speak directly to your ideal buyer. Address their specific challenge.
Targeting your marketing tactics is likely part of your strategy, but what will really add fuel to the fire is when your content is equally focused on that buyer persona or Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
Because you have different aspects to your business, you’ll likely have multiple ICPs. This is good. Having your profiles will allow you to generate content that speaks specifically to real people.
An extra bonus to documenting your ICPs is that when it comes time to promote, boost, or advertise on search or social channels, you will have all the needed details available.
Should manufacturers have an in-house team? Yes to a degree, it depends on what they want to accomplish with the marketing team. I would say yes to social media and have some form of organic visibility and paid advertising. This is as a minimum.
Should they have a marketing professional instead of an in-house team? Yes, In most cases yes I think they should have a specialist assist with online marketing. In todays world yes be everywhere and have as many entry points to your sales funnel as possible.
Really it depends on your objectives. It depends on the manufacturer, the team, and the objectives. I think manufacturers should be competing for visibility of their products in the market, unless they just want to make the product and have no interest in selling B2C. Then as long as the pipeline for B2B sales is full then marketing isnt as important.
There are some misconceptions. Collaborating with an agency does NOT mean you:
- Surrender control of your marketing
- Doubt your internal team’s effectiveness
- Can reduce your sales efforts
- Forge ahead without tools to measure performance
What are the benefits of working with an agency partner? Collaborating with an agency DOES mean you:
- Instead of a single person, you get a TEAM of experts in a variety of subject areas
- Project manager to keep tasks on schedule, answer your questions, and bring insights
- Professional B2B content writers who know how to research and optimize
- Tools to report critical marketing data and what it means for you
Manufacturers Can Create The USP
Is working with an agency that researches and writes content, crafts email newsletters, manages social media, and provides reporting financially viable for a small manufacturer?
Absolutely. Webmecs is a ecommerce specialist and has the background in the entire process from sourcing, logistics, shipping and sales to help craft the perfect plan.
I will work with you to find a plan that works with your budget.We will work together on your marketing plan. Very often, you’ll spend less contracting a team of experts than an entry-level salary.
Topic, Timing, and Targeting: Bringing It Together
The principle behind account based marketing (ABM) is to better understand your customer. Using the Three T’s allows you to create content that:
- Has a topic that’s important to your future customer
- Presents the right ideas at the right time
- Delivers your expertise to exactly the right people
“The cost-benefit is clear,”
If your manufacturing company looked at the budget of bringing in an in-house person or team compared to the value and flexibility of working with a online marketing professional—the decision makes sense.”
If you think you’d like to talk to Webmecs to see if I can help you get more visibility for your work – just drop me a line. I will be happy to share how I can help you accomplish more while you spend less.