According to a recent survey of over 150 manufacturers by IndustrialSage, the majority of manufacturer marketing dollars are spent on trade shows, in spite of a recent drop in trade show leads by over 50 percent. But while trade shows and word-of-mouth are still highly regarded by manufacturers for marketing their capabilities and services, it appears the majority of manufacturers are eager to enter the digital landscape.
IndustrialSage also reports that 65 percent of the surveyed manufacturers feel they are behind their competitors in the digital arena, and are willing to put more dollars into online marketing.
This combination of eagerness and insecurity has led to some misconceptions about what digital marketing can offer manufacturers — and how they should approach it. Let’s debunk some of the most prevalent of these manufacturer marketing myths.
Manufacturer Marketing Myth No. 1
Industrial audiences don’t pay attention to social media.
According to a recent IEEE GlobalSpec survey of over 1,400 industrial engineers and technical professionals, almost half of those surveyed regularly visited social media sites to search for product reviews, industry news, and expert advice. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents reported using YouTube or other video-sharing sites for work-related information.
Not surprisingly, the same survey found industrial millennials (the 18–43 age group) were more likely to use social media than their older colleagues, especially Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn and Facebook are the most commonly used platforms for industrials across all age demographics.
Statistics like these show that you can’t dismiss all industrial audiences as social-media phobic. A YouTube video is an excellent medium for demonstrating a new machining capability or sharing a manufacturing innovation. Vetted, well-researched posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter can build industrial credibility and demonstrate manufacturing expertise.
While social media may not be the number one choice for manufacturer marketing, it can serve as a valuable channel to funnel traffic to your business website and online catalogs, and to generate word-of-mouth buzz among your industry peers.
Manufacturer Marketing Myth No. 2
Only an engineer or manufacturing executive can author industrial content.
It’s not unusual for a manufacturing subject matter expert (SME), such as an engineer or industrial executive, to supply manufacturer marketing content. SMEs possess the expertise to dive into “meaty” topics that many industrial audiences crave, from new technologies and trends, to addressing specific OEM shop floor challenges.
However, many industrial SMEs are not familiar with best practices necessary to make their content perform as a marketing asset. From blogs and case studies to newsletters and white papers, writing content is a waste of time if there’s no audience to read it. Partnering SMEs with experienced marketing professionals can help optimize content to drive more traffic and increase conversions (i.e., convince the reader to engage with the authoring company).
Here are some other compelling reasons SMEs should partner with marketing professionals to publish manufacturer marketing content:
- Content Scheduling – Professional marketers understand how to use editorial calendars to schedule blog articles, white papers, and social media to ensure relevant content reaches the right audience at the right time.
- SEO – Marketers can ensure the appropriate keywords appear in content titles, subheads, and body content for improved SEO.
- Persuasive Content – Rather than “hiding” the content objective in technical $50 words, marketers can drive engagement with short, to-the-point sentences that encourage readers to take action.
- Bandwidth – Many engineers or other SMEs simply lack the time to write or report on timely industrial news and trends. A professional marketer is dedicated to understanding the competitive landscape and funneling differentiating company information into conversations to create business development opportunities.
- Accountability – Whether the marketing go-to expert is part of the manufacturing staff or works for an industrial marketing agency, he or she is accountable for delivering results.
This doesn’t mean manufacturer SMEs should be barred from providing marketing content. Engineers and skilled technicians have the expertise needed to create content that resonates with an industrial audience; the best results occur, though, when then partner with a professional marketer to co-create manufacturer marketing materials.
Manufacturer Marketing Myth No. 3
Purchasing expensive marketing automation technology will increase sales.
From HubSpot and Act-On to Eloqua and Marketo, there are numerous automation tools that can serve as a digital “mission control” for blogging, email management, social media posting, and overall digital marketing performance optimization. These robust marketing technology platforms can help manufacturers consolidate marketing resources, manage campaigns, and report results.
However, marketing automation tools do not automatically add contacts to your marketing and sales leads database, nor will they automatically generate quality sales leads. How you use a marketing tool, including automation, dictates the return on investment.
Some common mistakes marketers make when applying automation to manufacturer marketing include:
- Not asking why a marketing automation tool is needed – If there’s no plan or strategy in place to use the tool, there’s little chance for generating quality sales leads.
- Failing to audit the current marketing process – A pig is still a pig, no matter how much lipstick you put on it. If you haven’t laid the groundwork to look at your current marketing strategy, automation won’t help.
- Forgetting content is king – If your content doesn’t engage your audience, your marketing automation tool won’t produce the desired results.
Misinformation Feeds Manufacturer Marketing Myths
Marketing to the complex, diverse audience of manufacturers can be a daunting undertaking. From automotive part suppliers to airplane engine manufacturers to metalforming engineers, industrial audiences can vary widely, demographically, and otherwise.
Before beginning a manufacturer marketing campaign, don’t forget the mantra, “Know thy audience.” If you haven’t researched your audience’s specific challenges and their unique purchasing behaviors, your campaign may be over before it starts.