They say ‘Adversity breeds innovation’ and in today’s ever-changing business landscape, manufacturing companies are faced with a myriad of challenges that if overlooked, could threaten their sustainability and growth. Focused marketing for manufacturers can inject new ways of thinking and fresh ideas to become the driving force for keeping up with the pace of change, maintaining a competitive edge and overcoming these common challenges.
Continue reading as we explore how marketing for manufacturing businesses helps navigate the common challenges they are likely to face in 2023 and beyond. We’ll delve into various marketing strategies and tactics that can be tailored to the unique needs and goals of manufacturers and discuss how they can help succeed in a rapidly evolving marketplace.
7 manufacturing business challenges and the marketing solution
1. Gaining access to finance
Access to finance can be a significant challenge, particularly for those manufacturers that are looking to expand or invest in new equipment, industry 4.0 technology or talent. In some cases, manufacturers may have difficulty securing finance options because they have limited brand awareness in the industry, their brand does not reflect the true business value or have a limited track record.
Effective marketing for manufacturing businesses can be instrumental in addressing the challenge of establishing credibility and attracting investors and customers. By leveraging marketing strategies such as social media advertising, content marketing, brand enhancements, and public relations, manufacturers can enhance their reputation and growth potential. In addition, marketing efforts can help to create a strong brand image, including a compelling brand story, visually appealing website and marketing materials that highlight a unique value proposition.
Marketing for manufacturers can also be used to showcase their competitive advantage and innovation, highlighting the cutting-edge technology, processes, or products they offer that set them apart from competitors. This can be particularly important in attracting investors interested in growth potential.
Projects Motion has been involved in to enhance business value and maximise finance opportunity include the creation of new corporate and investor presentations, infographic development to explain complex solutions to potential investors of all technical capabilities, website enhancements (including new investor webpages) and brand enhancements/redesigns to enhance perceived business value.
2. Gaining recognition for environmental and sustainability initiatives without ‘greenwashing’
Environmental and sustainability pressures are becoming increasingly important for businesses across all industries, including manufacturing. Customers, investors, employees and regulators are placing greater emphasis on environmentally-responsible practices and are increasingly making decisions based on a company’s sustainability practices. This can present many opportunities for those that have sustainable initiatives in place. The question is, how do you use marketing for manufacturing businesses to promote their sustainability efforts whilst avoiding greenwashing:
- Be transparent: Be clear and honest about the sustainability efforts and the impact they have. Provide data and evidence to support any claims made about environmental performance or sustainability initiatives.
- Set clear goals: Set clear, measurable sustainability goals and regularly report on progress. This demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and provides tangible evidence of progress towards environmental targets.
- Use credible certifications: Use credible third-party certifications or labels to back up any sustainability claims. Examples of such certifications include the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for sustainably sourced wood and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for organic textiles.
- Avoid exaggeration: Avoid making exaggerated or misleading claims about environmental impact or sustainability efforts. Be honest about the challenges faced in achieving sustainability goals and provide a realistic picture of progress.
Education to stakeholders is key when promoting sustainability practices, which could include information on sustainable materials, waste reduction, energy efficiency, or carbon footprint reduction. Content marketing in the form of blogs, infographics or short videos can all help explain the sustainability initiatives and their impact. These can be promoted through LinkedIn sponsorship campaigns, email newsletters or press releases to build more brand trust through your environmental efforts and increase customer loyalty.
3. Skill shortages and recruitment challenges
The manufacturing industry is facing significant challenges related to skill shortages, recruitment challenges and gender imbalances. This can lead to higher labour costs, reduced productivity, and a lack of innovation, which can ultimately impact the bottom line. The manufacturing industry needs to attract and retain a skilled workforce to stay competitive and thrive.
Marketing for manufacturers can help build a reputation to become the ‘employer of choice’ by harnessing social media, in particular LinkedIn. 52 million people use LinkedIn to search for jobs each week, so it’s a favourable place for showcasing company culture, values and opportunities for career development. Social media marketing can attract potential candidates who are aligned with the company’s vision and mission.
Alongside promotion on LinkedIn, attractive career pages on a website can help showcase company benefits and ethos, such as a commitment to diversity and inclusion. By highlighting the actions completed to create an inclusive workplace, such as flexible work arrangements, equal pay and training and development programmes, businesses can attract a wider pool of talented candidates, including women and minorities.
By leveraging these marketing solutions, manufacturers can address the skills shortage, recruitment difficulties, and gender imbalance in the industry. This can help to attract and retain a skilled workforce, reduce labour costs, increase productivity, and foster innovation, ultimately leading to sustainable growth and success for the company.
4. Difficulty connecting with buyers throughout the entire journey
Manufacturers often have difficulty connecting with buyers throughout the entire journey because the sales cycle for products can be quite lengthy and complex. In many cases, buyers may have a limited understanding of the manufacturing process, the product’s features and benefits, and the overall value proposition. Furthermore, many manufacturing products are considered a significant investment, which requires extensive research, due diligence, and analysis before making a purchase decision.
To connect with buyers throughout the journey, it’s important to understand the different stages of the buyer’s journey and tailor marketing efforts accordingly. Marketing for manufacturing businesses delves into the different target audience stages to discover the best touchpoints and content to connect:
Awareness Stage: The awareness stage is where the target audience is just becoming aware of their problem or need. To connect with buyers in this stage, a focus on creating educational content that addresses the buyer’s problem or requirement is needed. This content could be in the form of blog posts, infographics, or social media posts. The goal is to establish the manufacturer’s brand as a trusted source of information and to create a positive impression in the buyer’s mind.
Consideration Stage: At this stage, the target audience has identified their problem or need and is considering their options. To connect with buyers in this stage, a focus on creating content that helps them understand the different options available to them is needed. This content could include comparison guides, product demos, or case studies that highlight how the product can solve the problem or need.
Decision Stage: The decision stage is where the target audience is ready to make a purchase decision, whether that be with your company or continuing their research elsewhere. It’s important at this stage to provide the information they need to make an informed decision. This could include detailed product specifications, pricing information, or customer reviews. Additionally, providing exceptional customer service throughout the decision-making process can help build trust and create a positive experience for the buyer.
Post-Purchase Stage: After a buyer has made a purchase, it’s important to continue to connect with them to build a long-term relationship. This could include providing follow-up support, offering loyalty programmes or incentives, or asking for feedback to improve the customer experience.
5. Demonstrating the value of a product/service
Communicating the value of products or services to diverse stakeholders can be a daunting task, especially when they possess varying levels of technical proficiency. For manufacturers, these challenges often arise due to various factors such as the complexity of the product or service or the lack of clarity about the real-world benefits and tangible value.
Marketing for manufacturers helps to overcome these challenges that could delay the sales cycle by developing clear and concise messaging that emphasises the benefits of the product or service not just the technical features. For example, a manufacturer of a new type of medical device might focus on the benefits of improved patient outcomes, rather than the technical details of the device itself.
This messaging will also need to be targeted to speak to the needs and interests of different stakeholders. For example, separate messaging may be needed for engineers, procurement teams, and executives. Another key requirement for the messaging to have an effect is patience. It can take time for stakeholders to understand the benefits of a new product or service, so utilising marketing tactics to continue to educate and enable the user will help move them through the purchasing cycle.
To help understand the value of the product or service, including its tangible benefits, Motion has created visual aids on previous projects such as infographics and animations. Infographics and animated product demonstrations help simplify complex information into more digestible pieces and enhance engagement and retention through visually appealing materials.
Sharing case studies and customer testimonials can be a powerful way to showcase the real-world benefits of a product or service, particularly when the reference comes from an industry similar to the target audience. The influence of good references and recommendations has stood the test of time, and leveraging them not only to build trust and value, but also to help prospects envision how the solution can work within their business environment, can help potential customers better understand the potential value of the solution, and be more confident in their decision to move forward with a purchase. If a named case study is not an option, showing example applications can go a long way to connect your manufacturing solution to your target audience.
6. Lack of in-depth insight into the ideal customer
Since the launch of AI search tools including the new Bing and Google Bard, we have discussed the increasing importance of manufacturers owning well-researched, insightful customer personas. They ensure that a deep understanding can be made about the ideal customer from their mindset at different buyer stages to foreseeing questions or problems that can be answered through intelligent marketing.
As a manufacturing marketing agency, we often find new customers have not yet created these important personas, thus increasing the chance of missed opportunities to help accelerate the sales cycle or upsell/cross-sell at the right stages of their journey. Without a clear understanding of the ideal customer, manufacturers may struggle to effectively target their marketing efforts to the right audience. Both in the marketing channels chosen and in messaging. This can result in wasted resources that fail to generate meaningful leads or sales and messaging that does not resonate with the audience, for example being too technical or failing to address the key pain points of the customer.
To overcome these challenges, manufacturers can take several steps. One of the most important is to conduct research to develop a deep understanding of their ideal customer personas, including their pain points, business initiatives, needs, and preferences. This research can involve surveys, interviews, and focus groups with existing customers or potential customers. This information can then be used to create user journeys that map out the customer experience and identify opportunities to improve engagement and conversion.
Leveraging data and analytics can also help to gain insights into customer behaviour and preferences. By tracking metrics such as website traffic, click-through rates, and conversion rates, manufacturers can gain a better understanding of what is working and what needs to be improved.
Motion has extensive expertise in delivering competitive marketing strategies and campaigns for manufacturing, engineering and IT businesses. This includes developing detailed customer personas, user journeys, value conversations and core messaging themes. Learn more about customer personas, including how AI-powered search has changed its importance in our recent blog.
7. Growth marketing for manufacturers to obtain market share in an ever more competitive world
Manufacturers are facing increasing competition in today’s global marketplace. With advancements in technology and increased access to information, customers are more knowledgeable and demanding than ever before. In addition, the rise of globalisation, e-commerce and online marketplaces has made it easier for new competitors to enter the market and reach customers directly. This has put considerable pressure on manufacturers to innovate and differentiate themselves from the competition, whether through product quality, customer service, pricing strategies or product bundles.
Growth marketing is an essential strategy for companies looking to gain a competitive advantage. In order to obtain/maintain market share, it is crucial to focus on a variety of marketing techniques, including inbound marketing, outbound marketing, account-based marketing, and more. By leveraging data to target effectively, enabling your target audience, and creating a seamless user journey on your website, you can drive leads and sales, and ultimately gain market share.
Inbound marketing is a popular approach that involves creating valuable content that attracts potential customers to your website. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, involves actively reaching out to potential customers through tactics such as cold calling, direct mail and advertising. Account-based marketing focuses on targeting specific accounts or companies with personalised messaging and offers.
As already mentioned in point 6, to effectively use the techniques, it is important to leverage data to identify your ideal customer profile and target them with relevant content and messaging. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as analysing website analytics, conducting customer surveys, and leveraging third-party data sources.
Another key aspect of growth marketing is enabling your target audience to drive them to you through the sales cycle. This means creating content that helps educate potential customers and build trust in your brand, rather than simply pushing sales messages. By focusing on the customer’s needs and providing value through informative content, you can build a relationship with them over time and increase the likelihood of a sale.
Website user journeys are also critical in engaging potential customers and moving them through the sales cycle. By mapping out the ideal user journey and optimising your website for easy navigation, you can create a seamless experience that keeps visitors engaged and interested in your brand. This can include providing relevant downloads and call-to-actions at the right user journey stages to entice connection and nurture leads over time.
Finally, effective SEO tactics are essential to ensure that your website ranks highly in search engine results pages. By optimising your website’s content and structure for search engines, you can increase visibility and attract more potential customers to your site. Read more about optimising for search in our recent blog 7 expert SEO tips for manufacturing >
We understand the challenges that manufacturing businesses face. At Motion Marketing, we see these challenges as an exciting opportunity to develop and implement an innovative strategy that will help your business meet its goals. . As a manufacturing marketing agency, Motion has extensive experience and knowledge of the industry, grasping and marketing complex products and creating strategies that resonate with the target customer. Learn more about our manufacturing marketing experience here.