Marketing seems simple: product, price, place, people.... however, under the bonnet, it’s a complex machine of constantly moving parts.
Marketing Director at The Marketing Centre, Selina Noton, has worked for over 20 years with national and international B2B clients in manufacturing and engineering sectors.
Having seen manufacturing companies make the same mistakes over and over again, Selina is revealing the 7 deadly marketing sins which she regularly finds manufacturing firms guilty of, and her advice resolving these issues.
#1: Lack of senior-level marketing staff
Often, manufacturing companies will have a combined sales and marketing department - run by a director from a sales background. Not having the right staff and skill sets can lead to confusion about the role of marketing in the business.
Writing a marketing strategy, to explain the why as well as the how, ties the marketing activity to financial results. Using this approach, even a small marketing team can demonstrate its worth. The internal reputation of the team is improved, and also improves the sales lead generation process, thus providing the sales team with qualified leads.
#2: Lack of customer insight
Manufacturers and engineers often create fantastic products that they think are amazing - but they often lose sight of what the customer wants. Selina recommends holding more focus groups or forums and asking clients what they need. Being aware of customers’ pain points, and creating products to solve these pain points, ensures a much easier sale.
#3: Failing to revisit marketing budgets
Marketing budgets should be flexible. A marketing budget is often set as part of the new product development plan, alongside an ongoing annual budget for things like trade shows, exhibitions, print advertising and digital. Many businesses don’t revisit the percentage of the budgets that are spent on each tactic.
As a result, manufacturers are still spending the same amount of money on declining types of communication as they were ten to fifteen years ago. Using ROI measurement tools means budgets can be dropped in certain areas and invested in new activity.
#4: Failing to measure marketing tactics
Implementing communication tactics is one thing, measuring them is another.
“Many firms have no idea whether anything has worked,” says Selina. “They rarely have tracking methods or KPIs set up, which is surprising: typically, any factory environment will have gone through a Six Sigma and Lean management programme. This means they’ll be very hot on KPIs, measuring improvement and cutting out waste in operations, but this doesn’t translate to their marketing teams.”
Introducing tracking mechanisms, such as dedicated URLs, landing pages and call tracking for particular audiences means businesses can accurately analyse where their advertising spend is producing results and target their budget towards the outlets which generate the most sales enquiries.
#5: Failure to adapt marketing strategy
Often, manufacturing firms adopt a ‘one size fits all’ marketing approach and fail to realise that a significant shift in strategy is needed as a product reaches maturity.
In the early days a new product appeals to early adopters: the product launch marketing will, and should, focus on ‘great new innovation, great new product’. However, when moving from early adopters, to appealing to the masses, the messaging often stays the same.
Most people like to buy something that’s tried and trusted. If a marketing team doesn’t update their messaging to reflect these different expectations, new products can fail to gain enough sales traction to succeed.
#6: Lack of inbound strategy
An effective inbound marketing strategy will attract a steady stream of marketing qualified leads to a business. Connecting with, and creating value for, target audiences generates leads and brings the customer to the business, saving valuable time for sales teams.
Manufacturing businesses often don’t focus on creating content that’s relevant to target audiences, or addresses their customers’ pain points. The technique can still be: ‘We’re great, you need to buy from us.’”
As a result, these businesses are led by sales, rather than marketing. Sales people are still out knocking on doors, instead of taking orders. Switching strategies from engineering or sales-led, to marketing-led can impact on a manufacturer’s bottom line very quickly.
#7: Not monitoring online comments
More and more manufacturers understand that they need to use social platforms. However, they still tend to broadcast, rather than engage - and set up accounts on platforms irrelevant to their audience.
They should focus on reading, responding, and learning from online comments about the brand, thereby improving customer satisfaction and experience, and even increasing sales.