by MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network)
MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org.
Maybe you already have and execute a marketing plan for your brand and products. Maybe you want to improve it. Maybe you have no marketing at all.
However mature your company’s marketing plan is, successful efforts will always stem from a strong foundation. Refresh your knowledge or kickstart your marketing with these helpful tips.
- Realize the importance of marketing and create a dedicated budget for it.
The same way you invest in people, capital equipment, new technology and building improvements, you need to invest in your brand. A good rule of thumb is to dedicate six percent of annual revenue to your marketing plan. Not only will your campaigns maintain a connection with current contacts, it will build new ones–generate leads.
If you aren’t sure how people can or are finding you, how your site ranks in a Google search or if you’re staying top of your customers’ minds with relevant, useful information (or doing any of these things intentionally), you’re likely falling behind to businesses that are. To the inverse, coordinated campaigns that focus on these goals are also ones you can measure and grow.
Marketing is oftentimes the first budget cut during an economic downturn, albeit counterintuitive because this is when you need to do MORE marketing. When recovery happens, everything will be ready and working for you. Did you know that it takes about six to nine months for Google to rank and index you for a search? Then, you need to maintain that, and if you don’t, your ranking dips quickly. Your marketer will be back to square one when the economy ticks back upward. The same way you don’t waste time on rework on your plant floor, don’t unnecessarily rework marketing.
- Hire a marketing professional.
Whether you hire a direct employee, consultant or agency, hire someone who has thorough marketing knowledge–from planning to execution. Manufacturers often have the CEO or sales manager maintaining whatever minimal efforts are in place, like adding products to the website, creating a sell sheet or sending an email. Nothing tops an expert who knows that they are doing and why
, focused on achieving specific results.
Also, hire a web development company to host and maintain your website, which typically can be done for less than $100/month. This ensures that your site stays up and secured so it can’t be hacked or have malware installed, plug-ins are updated, and themes update appropriately. Cybercrime is at an all-time high, forcing entire sites down, unrecoverable. The time and expense to rebuild is costly. And while every company needs an IT person, s/he is not a web developer who manages the site and prevents these issues.
- Create and execute a marketing plan.
Consider all possible efforts and then plan which of these you can coordinate for the most impact: website, email marketing, social media, tradeshows, marketing materials, product launches, case studies, whitepapers, testimonials, video, photos, customer satisfaction surveys, press releases, webinars, blogs and more. Choose what will be the most impactful and coordinated, and then build a plan and editorial calendar around it. Measure what works and what doesn’t; then build on it each year.
- Coordinate sales and marketing efforts, while acknowledging they are not the same.
Usually, this starts with a CRM and marketing plan organized by sales priorities. However, solid communication between the two teams will truly create a supportive, effective system. Include marketing in sales meetings, as marketers can offer explanation and creative ideas to how available tools–i.e. social media, blogs and websites–can improve the efforts of the sales team who has eyes and ears on the street. Likewise, the insight and relationships the sales team has will guide messaging and outreach tactics.
And then together, the produced work will generate and nurture leads.
- Create goals and KPIs to measure results.
Google Analytics is a valuable tool. Free and easy to create an account for, you’ll just install the Google Analytics tracking code on your website. But, a full-service tool like HubSpot is even better, as it can be used as a CRM, to build your website, send email, make social posts and track lead activity back to the CRM for the sales team’s use and for marketing lead nurturing.
These analytics will help to inform your strategy and adjust it to meet the needs of customers and the market. They also help your marketing professional see what is working and what isn’t. Sometimes, it takes trial and error to tweak and get a program just right. An annual survey to customers will also measure your success then. Net promoter score is often used, so you can find out from the most important people in your network what you are doing well or where you might need to improve.
With this foundation in place, you will have a well-oiled marketing machine that works for you, your industry and customers. Don’t expect miracles, and know that the rewards will start rolling in after a year or so.
Have questions or need help with your marketing efforts? Contact Sonnhalter and let us know how we can help.