Many manufacturing companies use traditional marketing, word of mouth, and trade shows to reach new prospects. These tactics may still work, but there's a problem: B2B buyers spend more than 70% of their time doing research online before ever contacting a company.
B2B buyers are more educated about options and solutions than ever before due to the vast amount of information at their fingertips via the internet. Plus, they can do all this research on their own schedule. What we're saying is they are in control of the sales process before you even know they exist.
Key Takeaway for B2B Manufacturing Companies: If you have a limited online presence, then you're missing out on a huge opportunity. You likely have no idea how much opportunity is passing you by. We see it time and again with manufacturing clients that we partner with.
So, let’s look at four best practices that allow companies to leverage the power of inbound marketing.
Enhance Your Credibility
By now, you probably realize you need a professional website that conveys your brand and credibility. However, there is more to it than that. You also need relevant content.
But not all content is good content. You should be producing content that answers questions your buyers are researching online.
In the early stages of the buyers journey, people are looking for answers to questions. You want to provide great content that answers their questions. They are likely not ready to buy yet, but you're able to start to build credibility by helping them with their problem. This credibility you're building will pay dividends later when they're ready to start looking for companies that can solve their problem.
Discover New Markets Using Paid Advertising
Paid advertising can be a very effective means of testing new markets both in terms of geographic markets and specific industries. Your reach with traditional marketing is limited. Trade Shows are a staple of many manufacturing companies, however, you're only reaching the people that choose to physically attend the event. Also, the trade show you're participating in may not be attracting buyers from markets you don't even know exist.
With paid advertising, you can cost-effectively target a very specific demographic. For B2B companies, Facebook Leads Ads and Google AdWords are two platforms that work differently, but allow you to reach new prospects in a cost-effective manner.
For example, let's say you have strong brand and market penetration in a tri-state region and you would like to expand your reach into two neighboring states. However, you're not entirely sure what the demand for your product is. In this case, you could run a very targeted campaign on Google AdWords that targets prospects in a specific geographic area that are searching for your specific product. These are people that have a problem and are actively searching for solutions. You set your budget and you're able to get some immediate traffic to your site, so you can start evaluating the long-term prospects.
Facebook Lead Ads are proving to be a cost-effective means of B2B lead generation. You're targeting people in their leisure time and the conversion is really easy for the prospect. The cool thing about Facebook Lead Ads is you can target a specific buyer persona within a geographic area. You can do similar targeting on LinkedIn, but we're finding more success on Facebook for B2B lead generation for manufacturing companies. Here's an Introduction to Facebook Leads Ads if you're interested in learning more.
Showcase Your Capabilities With Case Studies
So, you've done some things to attract prospects to your website. What's next?
As the B2B buyer moves through the buyers journey, the type of content they are looking for changes. Originally, they were just looking for options, but when they're ready to start considering companies you want to be sure you still have plenty of great content to meet their needs. Remember, they're doing 70-80% of their research online before they ever contact a company. It's also likely they will visit your website multiple times before ever initiating contact with you.
A valuable piece of consideration-stage content for manufacturing companies is case studies. You should develop a number of case studies that show how you solved the pain for a customer. The case study can talk about things like:
- How you solved a problem for a customer
- How your product or process resulted in significant cost savings
- How your product / process allowed them to improve their processes
Case studies allow the prospective B2B buyer to see how your company has helped other buyers. Most manufacturing companies can rattle off dozens of examples for case studies, but very few take the time to develop solid ones as part of their digital marketing strategy and for use on their website.
Delight Existing Customers
You worked hard to close deals and build your customer base and I'm sure you know it's much tougher and more costly to gain a new customer versus retaining an existing one. It can cost businesses as much as 6-7 times more to attract a new customer that keep an existing one. So, shouldn't purposefully work to delight your customers?
Two key ways to delight customers with digital marketing are through Communication and Education. You can continue to build credibility by educating and communicating with them in a way that gets them answers to questions and solutions to problems. One easy way to do this is through a monthly email update.
Give your customers content they want to read and updates about your service and/or company in a monthly newsletter. These customer-focused newsletters may include things like:
- Popular blog articles (not everyone subscribes to your blog)
- Company announcements
- New products or product enhancements (do your customers know everything you do?)
- Industry updates
- How-to videos
The key is to keep providing useful information that educates them or helps them solve problems on a regular basis. A monthly email update is an effective way to do this and it doesn't require a huge amount of effort.
Now that you know these important points, it’s time to take action. If you're not actively engaged in digital marketing, it's not too late to start. It's likely some of your competitors are well ahead of you, but you can make up ground with a cohesive plan.