Bruce McDuffee, Manufacturing Marketing Institute, was nice enough to participate in a special Q&A for our blog this week to give us a preview of his session at FABTECH 2016, F76: Marketing and Sales for Fabricators on Friday, Nov. 18. Bruce’s presentation is titled The New Way to Market for Manufacturing. Learn more about the session here and check out the Q&A below.
How can manufacturers use the internet to gain a competitive advantage?
It is a fact that most of us start our buying process with an internet search. Even existing customers, or those who are referred, will typically find your contact information by searching for the company name. Those prospective customers who do not know your company will begin their buying process by searching for a solution to a problem. The important thing to note is that the internet is the main channel where you can gain awareness, credibility, trust and a perception as a reliable, high value source.
Most manufacturers are not utilizing the internet to its full advantage because they are only posting information about their company and their products. This is where the opportunity lies! Those companies who share useful and helpful information that is audience focused will not only be found, but they will develop a virtual relationship built on credibility, trust and awareness. This relationship is developed well before the prospective customer enters the final stage of the buying process. Most things being equal, who are you more likely to buy from, a company that has established credibility with you by helping you solve your problem or a company that tells you about themselves and their products?
Why does the Sales Engages/Marketing Creates model no longer work for manufacturers?
The sales must connect with one person at a time. This is an extremely limiting model when you think about the ability marketing has to scale the reach into a target audience with a digital, internet based approach. The sales team is not scalable and each relationship they develop is very time consuming and very expensive.
Success will come to those manufacturers who can engage with the people in their target audience through the internet. Hundreds or thousands of people each day are searching the internet for solutions to their problems. These people can be answered virtually through marketing activities. For example, one white paper can be delivered to an unlimited number of prospects, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. What would it take for a sales person to deliver that knowledge in person?
A common statistic shared about the buying process is that a prospective customer will not connect with a vendor until they have completed between 60% and 80% of their buying process. Marketing is the only way a company can engage during that phase. Sales simply cannot engage with this buying model.
The exciting thing for manufacturers is that most companies have not converted their go-to-market strategy from leading with Sales to leading with Marketing. Your firm can be the one to win market share when you make the conversion ahead of your competitors.
How can manufacturers create awareness and credibility for their products?
The best way to create broad awareness and credibility for products is not to talk about the products, but to help the people in the target audience to solve a problem or to excel in their professions. As soon as you pitch a product, you sound like everyone else and you lose the ability to differentiate. You’ll never achieve credibility if you blend in with white noise from everyone else.
When you solve a problem for your target audience, they pay attention to your brand and, ultimately, to your product offering. When you help a person in your target audience to be better at their profession, you gain credibility because you prove you know what you are talking about. Both require you to share expertise without talking about your product. When you share that expertise, you position your brand as the go-to-expert in the industry. Being the expert makes you credible above and beyond everyone else in the market.
Expertise shared in the form of papers, webinars, seminars, eBooks, etc. are shared within prospective customer companies and throughout communities leading to top-of-mind-awareness of your brand. It is important to connect your brand and your offering to the shared information, but don’t pitch the product. In other words, don’t lead with the product pitch, lead with the knowledge, but make sure they know who is giving them the information and what you have to offer when they are ready to buy a product.
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