know edgeA Guide to Modern Marketing Strategy for B2B Manufacturers

author
Kerri East

The idea of marketing is not new to manufacturing companies. A quick review of the automobile industry shows that the manufacturing industry knows how to create and manage powerful brands through traditional marketing techniques.

But like any other industry, manufacturing companies need to embrace and refine modern digital marketing strategies to help them stay on the front foot, as their customers - both consumers and commercial - change the way they make their buying decisions and how they buy their products. 

Let's explore in more detail what is driving this change and how manufacturing companies can get ahead of the curve to take advantage of the opportunities these new developments are offering them. 

Why Manufacturing Companies Need to Improve Their Marketing Strategy

While many manufacturing companies have a track record of innovation and flair when it comes to their marketing, it is also fair to say that some manufacturing sectors can have a reputation for being conservative in how they approach marketing. 

Regular fixtures like the trade show, the annual company golf day, and maybe that annual press day are still valuable and have their place. But buyers are fast switching their buying engagement towards digital channels, where companies are using techniques including content marketing, digital marketing, social media marketing, google ads, and video marketing, for example, as part of their b2b marketing strategy.

Quite simply, if marketers in any business are not embracing these channels and capabilities, then their marketing strategies will likely struggle to achieve the engagement they need with their prospects to develop their business. 

That doesn't mean that the traditional marketing methods and tactics get ditched. Instead, they should be updated to fully take advantage of the new opportunities that digital marketing can offer. Let's be clear the advantages of modern digital marketing platforms for marketers are significant. The benefits include:

  • Highly targeted campaigns that support account-based marketing tactics to target specific individuals and personas with specific content and messaging.

  • Comprehensive data analytics that mean you can invest more in the campaigns and tactics that work and quickly ditch those that don't. 

  • Genuine two-way engagement with your target audience, which can help you build your brand and profile if handled the right way. 

Strategies to Market a Manufacturing Company

The opportunities offered by digital marketing are immense. Let's explore strategies you can adopt to drive inbound marketing so that you can exploit them to the max. 

Understand Your Buyer Persona

While the marketers at b2b manufacturers have always understood the need to understand their customers really well, it's essential now that they understand their buyer persona in more detail than ever. They now need to know how to exploit that insight really well too.

Ensure you understand your customers' personal and professional needs, buying behavior, and decision-making criteria. Do they need to cut costs, increase revenues, reduce risks, or launch new products? Without this insight, you will find it challenging to deliver the highly targeted account-based marketing campaigns that marketers have been dreaming of for years. 

Master Your Content Marketing 

With a very solid grasp of your audience, you can now create the content they want to see based on their unique needs, interests, and drivers. Your target audience analysis should tell you how people like to digest information at the various stages of the sales cycle. 

Early in the cycle, people like to be educated about a specific problem they are trying to fix. So, give them content that explores how that problem has emerged, its impact, and some approaches they can use to solve it. 

For some industries, video marketing will work well; in others, whitepapers will be more effective. Later in the sales cycle, provide them with content that shows how your unique capabilities can help them when they are ready to buy from you.

Social Media Marketing 

With your content schedule in place, you are ready to exploit it fully, again based on your understanding of the needs of your prospects. Social media is an obvious place to start, with a range of channels that work well for b2b and b2c marketers. 

Social media allows you to target personas and roles very precisely, in the right way, depending on where they are in the sales cycle. Typically, this might be using infographics and blog posts early in the sales cycle and whitepapers or longer form content towards the middle and end.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

B2B SEO can be the engine room of the digital marketing strategy at many companies. Its foundation is the analysis you need to have completed on your potential customers because that insight is used to define the search terms that you can use to design your content. 

In principle, it is 'free' advertising, but investing in the right tools and skills and maybe hiring a dedicated manufacturing marketing agency can be a good way of ensuring you are always playing your A-Game in SEO.

Leverage Marketing Automation

As we mentioned earlier, digital marketing initiatives will likely complement more traditional marketing tactics as part of a wider marketing strategy. This will likely involve re-balancing existing budgets or increasing them. 

Marketing automation platforms are key to helping hard-working marketing teams remain highly productive and effective. These platforms can help plan and manage marketing campaigns and identify SEO and content themes to drive more leads. 

They can help manage and execute your social media strategy and help you understand how your prospects engage with you. They can help you manage your email marketing and help you manage your CRM too.

Use the Right KPIs

The real value of marketing automation platforms is that they can produce an almost unimaginable range of data points and KPIs that help industrial marketing teams measure their progress. 

While generating a large volume of leads is great, you will want to monitor conversion rates, so you can see which are your best lead sources and which lead sources have the shortest sales cycles. They can also help you understand which content types work best with certain audiences, whether it be your video marketing, your infographics, or your whitepapers.

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author

Kerri East

As a Digital Strategist, Kerri collaborates with our clients to develop and implement campaign strategies that drive desired business outcomes.

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