Effective Marketing for Manufacturers: The New Sales Model

Posted by Michele Nichols on Thu, Oct 27, 2016

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You asked—we answered.

Last week, we presented at an event for High Tech Rochester (HTR) and their manufacturing community, and at Optifest, Optipro’s annual manufacturing open house. Many companies like these, faced with overseas competitive price pressures and increasingly complex customer demands, struggle with what an effective sales model looks like now.

Times are changing fast:

  • 58% of your customer’s decision is made before the customer ever engages with a salesperson
  • 40% of your customers will retire in the next 2 years

With the exodus of retiring baby boomers comes a significant shift in buyer behavior and expectations. It’s not about selling; it’s about helping them buy. Inbound marketing, with a strategic approach to producing and promoting educational content, is an effective way to attract, engage, and serve customers.

 

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These changes raise a lot of questions. The audiences at the two events asked:

 

What’s SEO?

Search engine optimization. Every company is looking for the magic trick. The truth is, Google changes its algorithm 500-600 times per year. If you think it’s a black box, it is. SEO is critical, and worthy of your attention, but there’s no simple answer—and no shortcut around an ongoing commitment to keyword research, quality content development, and continuous website improvements.

 

We’re using Facebook for social media. What about Instagram?

Facebook can be useful for telling your story from a team and culture perspective, but there are far more important platforms for engineering-driven companies. LinkedIn and secondly, Twitter, are important. YouTube how-to videos are tremendously effective, but not as direct in lead generation. Instagram, especially video, is increasingly important as your target customer base changes.

 

Are trade shows still effective?

Absolutely. But the reason why has changed. As the buying process is increasingly self-serve, your opportunities to engage and provide valuable insight and problem solving fall later in the pipeline. Trade shows are increasingly important in engaging with prospects and customers—and less so for sheer lead generation. We’re still looking for an ROI of 10x or greater, but the pay-off is in nurturing and growing accounts.

 

We’re flooded with leads after a trade show, so we’re not following up as we should. What do we do?

Marketing automation, through platforms like HubSpot. Sort your leads into A, B, and C. Deliver on what you promised immediately, and nurture the Bs and Cs through automated lead nurture. It takes longer than you think for prospects to resurface after a trade show—9 days in the industries we serve—so after you’ve connected on social media and sent the information you promised, time out your next few touchpoints.

 

How far in advance should we plan for a trade show?

New technology? New product launch? New brand? Start mapping out your plan 6 months ahead—you’ll need new trade show assets and a well-timed rollout. If it’s not a major launch, start 2 months ahead by planning for key appointments, booth staff training, product announcements, demo slots, and speaker promotions.

 


Miss us at HTR and Optifest? Download the slides.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Social Media, SEO, Sales