There are many manufacturing organizations which rely on cold-calling reps, trade shows, and glossy catalogues to sell their product. For generations, because many of these companies have been family owned for over 100 years or more, this practice has worked. Conventional outbound marketing methods, however, are being ignored in favor of consumers preferring to discover companies and products by their own means. Independent research leads to greater confidence by the consumer. The company which understands this, and embraces a digital marketing strategy, is more likely to succeed in today's business climate. We believe that this is certainly true in the manufacturing industry, and we want to help.
How digital marketing can impact manufacturers
Consider globalization. The impact that global markets have on U.S. businesses today is stunning. Twenty years ago, there was no serious competition to American manufacturing. Now, plants in this country are struggling to stay afloat. We see it ourselves, with offshore developers competitively selling their services at pennies on the dollar. Manufacturers are facing the same sort of challenges that we have faced. Commonplaces learned how to market ourselves in order to put us in a better position for success. We feel it's a natural progression for us to take what we've learned and bring it to an institution which is underserved by the digital community.
Inbound marketing, or digital marketing, is an incredibly efficient model for success. You may have a unique intellectual property that can't be duplicated, but either way you still need to raise your visibility above the competition. The goal is to be the number one company in your field that comes up in online searches. You certainly want to be on page one for any search engine. It then becomes much easier to have influence over a distribution network, for instance; or to renegotiate terms with a bank when you can easily prove your status over your competitor.
Having a website isn't enough
There is a recognized need by everyone, no matter how entrenched they may be in tradition, that their business needs a website. Good. It's not enough. To say that, 'I have a site, and my phone number is on it, so anybody who wants to find me can do so,' achieves very little.
For one thing, you need a responsive website, which caters to the mobile market. People are on the go. They aren't just sitting behind a desk filling out their purchasing orders. Inventory reports, order status, and emails are being accessed through phones and tablets. Search engine ranking is predicated on mobile usage. If you don't cater to the mobile market, you'll just fall further behind your competitors.
The best, the absolute best, thing about inbound marketing is the ability to determine your ROI on your marketing strategy. How much does it cost you to acquire a new customer? If you attended a trade show, printed new catalogues, bought an ad in a trade journal, you know the cost for all that. The number of business cards that you handed out will give you a gut feeling for how successful the trade show may have been. But, how do you know that a customer who saw that ad in March is the one buying from you in August?
Digital marketing provides multiple tracking methods. You'll know where they came from, what campaigns worked, what the conversion rates were for each venture; and how to tailor your strategy based on the relative merits of those various endeavors. You'll see which blogs garnered the most attention, which images got a hit, which pages on your website visitors are spending the most time on. You can always tweak your approach based on the analytical data which you'll be able to see anytime '- even from your phone!
Even if you are doing some of the right things, digital marketing evolves so quickly that it is extremely difficult to keep up. Experts will tell you that digital marketing is the most volatile, fastest growing market in history. Social media trends shift daily. Google changes its rules and criteria for SEO constantly, precisely because of the massive amount of data that it collects. Companies which aren't focused on it will never catch up.
We recognize that it is difficult to alter an approach which worked for decades. The problem applies to more than marketing. Some manufacturers are undoubtedly also using the same procedures to track sales and inventory that they were using when Regan was in office. Maybe it seems fine. From an IT perspective, however, failure to consider new solutions can only lead to failure. The same thought process must apply to marketing as well.