Manufacturing businesses face their own special set of marketing challenges. In this post, we cover four key challenges and suggest some potential solutions.
Not Products But Commodities
It is becoming harder to differentiate products and, as a result, charge a premium. Products are increasingly treated as commodities and therefore price alone is king.
Solution: Most new products are simply developments of what already exists.
It is important to understand in intimate detail what it is the business actually delivers, who needs that product or service, why they need it and who else satisfies that need. This is the key to product differentiation.
Many smaller manufacturing businesses have a relatively small potential customer base. It is therefore essential to keep current customers and to maximise the value of those customers.
Research shows the prime reason customers leave is a service issue (including delivery) but the second most common reason is perhaps a surprise. It is not the price but is a perception that the customer is not valued by the supplier.
Solution: With sales under pressure to secure the next order, it is perhaps not a surprise retention is often neglected. Keep touching and interacting with the customer.
The most efficient method is to regularly deliver engaging and useful information (content). A robust customer feedback system that is designed to deliver a high response rate is key to identifying potential issues with existing customers and dealing with them before they become serious.
New Customers Acquisition
The old maxim that it costs 5x more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one tends to hold true. Manufacturing businesses tend to allocate a significant amount of effort to new customer acquisition. Unfortunately, much of that effort is often wasted by sales in unproductive meetings or chasing poor quality leads. Marketing must always show an ROI.
Solution: A well thought out strategy and appropriate targeting is important. However, the main issue is prospects are much more likely to search for the information they need to make a buying decision (pull) than they ever were in the past. This has negated sales control of the process.
It is important to identify decision makers, reach out to them with appropriate content or use content to draw them in.
Ad Hoc Approach To Marketing
Without a strategy and a clear understanding of the customer and how to reach them it is all too easy to jump from one marketing activity to the next. To make a success of marketing requires both time and a consistent approach. Falling for the hype about the latest and greatest marketing technique generally leads to disappointment.
Solution: It takes courage to see it through but what is needed is a marketing process built around the most appropriate marketing techniques. A process that can be measured and optimised to deliver the best results.
There is no magic bullet. B2B manufacturing marketing is hard. To succeed requires a solid strategy and marketing process. It is also important to embrace inbound (content) marketing and combine this with the best outbound marketing has to offer.