Marketing for manufacturing companies has typically never been about being in the public space. Lead generation was the responsibility of the sales department, which directly connected with buyers or contacted them at trade shows and exhibitions. Apart from that, there was the occasional and yet budgeted spend on advertising in industry magazines. The rest was left to word-of-mouth references and who-might-refer-you-to-whom sales.
In today’s competitive space, however, these approaches are simply not enough. Online marketing has made it possible to actually grow your business without the above dependencies. Considering that over 70% of B2B buyers spend more than half of their research time online, it has become a necessity for B2B manufacturing businesses to invest in B2B manufacturing marketing.
In this blog, we look at what is B2B manufacturing marketing and how can manufacturers can develop a marketing strategy for business growth.
B2B marketing is extremely different from B2C marketing. Unlike B2C, purchase decisions are not driven by emotions or impulses. In B2B, each decision is made after thorough research, discussion, and contemplation. Here are the main reasons why building a B2B manufacturing marketing strategy is more challenging.
When companies are searching for a manufacturer, they typically have very precise requirements in mind. For instance, they are looking for a specific kind of manufacturer, developing a specific kind of product or using specific raw materials, etc. And this can make marketing for a manufacturing company quite tricky.
The investments in B2B products or services are typically very capital intensive. Most of the time, it is because B2B manufacturers are either selling at high price points or in bulk quantity. And this is a big challenge from the marketing perspective as buyers need to recognize the value of their investment.
In B2C marketing, your customer is the only decision-maker. Therefore, you only need to persuade one person to make a sale. But in the case of B2B marketing, the process is a little drawn-out and much more complicated as there are several decision-makers involved. Right from the employee who first contacted your manufacturing company to the final decision-making authority, you need to market to several people. And thus, you need a B2B manufacturing marketing strategy that is tailored for all decision-making bodies.
Another challenge in B2B marketing for manufacturers is the long sales cycle. As discussed above, B2B purchases are not driven by impulse. They involve extensive research and are driven by logic and reasoning. Also, there are multiple decision-makers involved in the process. And all these aspects make the B2B purchase cycle very long, which is another challenge for B2B marketers.
Now let us look at how manufacturing marketers can create an effective B2B manufacturing marketing strategy.
Every B2B manufacturing marketing strategy begins with outlining your business goals. For example, what segment of the market do you wish to target? What are your top-performing products? Who are your competitors and what strategies are they using? Finding the answer to these questions will lay the foundation for an effective strategy.
Your goals need to be either quantitative or qualitative. For example, if you are getting good sales out of a particular product line, your goal could be increasing 20% more sales from the same by increasing more traffic and leads through online marketing. Or it could be 50% increase in traffic flow to your website from new customers etc. You could have one or two main goals and then a subset of smaller goals. Ensure that you define your key performance indicators for each goal, so that you know what the outcome is, from month to month, or year to year.
One of the guiding principles of good marketing is “know your audience”. If you don’t know who you are targeting, your marketing strategy is bound to fail. So make sure to create comprehensive buyer personas, i.e. fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and market research. Here are some questions to ask.
A successful marketing campaign is not going to work out without proper knowledge of your target market or buyer persona. You cannot sell to the whole market, so focus on who you can serve the best and convert.
According to a survey by Gartner, over 79% of B2B buyers use their supplier’s websites to extract information at every stage of their buying journey, from awareness about the problem to making the final purchase decision. Therefore, it is crucial for manufacturers to have an updated website that offers all relevant information that a buyer is looking for.
For this, you must provide content through your website that is unique, relevant, and informative. Also, ensure your website is mobile-friendly and includes clear calls to action (CTAs) that stand out in design.
A robust SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy is a crucial part of your B2B manufacturing marketing plan. Statistics reveal that organic search drives 51% of total visitors to B2B websites whereas paid search only drives 10%. This makes SEO very important. Investing in SEO can help boost the rankings of your manufacturing business’s website, thereby making your business more visible to the prospective audience. You can hire an SEO company or a specialist who has adequate knowledge of on-page and off-page SEO elements to drive favorable outcomes. They can also organize your website’s technical architecture including the design, page load times, sitemap, etc. to ensure an all-around SEO strategy.
Because SEO is a long-term process, it is best to combine it with Google Ads and PPC to guarantee results. In fact, statistics show that 80% of businesses, both B2B and B2C are using Google Ads. Essentially, these paid advertisements help B2B companies capture leads faster and more efficiently. They appear at the top of the search engine results pages that offer much-needed visibility to your business.
In the case of PPC, you get paid when a user clicks on your ad to visit your website. These ads are quite effective as you can target them to a specific group of people. Also, they are easily trackable and measurable.
An effective marketing strategy for manufacturing businesses must include strong email marketing campaigns. Email marketing focuses on sending out highly personalized and tailored emails or newsletters to your leads, promoting the products and services of your manufacturing business. It is an excellent way to build rapport with your leads as well as inform them about your latest releases, developments, promotional offers, etc.
You can also build credibility by offering valuable and informative content about your industry to add value to the readers. Make sure to segment your mailing lists by criteria such as demographics, geographic, psychographic (what are his interests, personal traits), profession, actions taken, etc. This will make sure that your email marketing campaign is aligned with the customer’s buying journey.
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for B2B marketers. According to IDG, 84% of VP-level and C-level buyers are influenced by social media while purchasing. Thus, these channels offer an excellent platform for manufacturing companies to connect with their target audience and show them how their product/service can address their pain points.
Talking about social media platforms, LinkedIn is one of the best professional platforms to establish credibility in the industry for B2B manufacturing businesses. Even statistics reveal that a plethora of B2B marketers claim that over 80% of their leads come from LinkedIn.
Here is a hard fact. B2B buyers hate being sold to. However, most concede that they are most likely to purchase from a brand that they trust. So how do you build trust? Create and share high-value content for every stage of their buying journey. In the Awareness Stage (Top of the Funnel), you create informative content that enables your buyer to discover you, in the Discovery Stage (Middle of the Funnel), you offer thought-leadership content to enable your brand to stand out from others, in the Interest Stage (Bottom of the Funnel), you offer value-proposition content that helps the buyer understand why your brand is better than your competitors.
Content marketing is an integral aspect of B2B manufacturing marketing. Offering unique, high-quality, and informative content is the most uncontested way to establish your company’s authority and grab your prospective customer’s attention and trust.
From blog posts and articles to case studies, white papers, videos, and how-to guides, there are many different formats you can opt for (depending in which stage your buyer is). A successful manufacturing marketing strategy always uses effective content to reach out to their industrial buyers at every stage of the sales funnel. For eg, if your buyer’s priority is to green, then create blog on how you are invested in going green and your brand upholds the same value.
You need to regularly assess the effectiveness of your B2B manufacturing marketing strategy and see how well it is performing against your outlined KPIs. If the strategy is offering good returns, keep up your efforts. However, in case it is falling short of expectations, evaluate the areas that can be improved.
For instance, your KPIs could be 20% higher traffic than last month, or more email open rates, or more lead conversions. If you are getting less conversions, run A/B split testing on your website elements such as landing page, CTAs, images. If you are getting lower traffic, refresh the content on your blogs, update and increase the keywords that you are targeting as part of SEO, etc. Constantly experiment with changes to drive better outcomes and improve conversions.
Also, do not forget to set up Google Analytics for your business. It is a free tool that can help you assess your KPIs through genuine data. With GA set up, you can get free and customized reports on your website’s performance and track your goals well.
Well, now you are ready to start or upgrade your marketing campaign. Remember that a nimble and innovative online marketing plan is necessary for every b2b manufacturing business today. It enables you to beat competition and grow sustainably. In order to build a proper b2b manufacturing marketing strategy, make sure to build an internal team or a hire a marketing partner who has experience and knowledge of how B2B manufacturing marketing works. If you are feeling overwhelmed, we are here to help. StratMg has been working since the last 10 years with B2B manufacturers, helping them successfully generate more than $100M+ in sales. We ensure this by helping our customers build deep and meaningful relationships with their prospects and customers, which in turn is a catalyst to organic sales growth.
Just give us a shout out!
With over two decades of experience, Parin leads an expert demand-generation agency, StratMg, that helps industrial manufacturing clients achieve unambiguous and quantified organic sales growth across the US, EMEA & APAC.
Parin has built & positioned StratMg to be a value-added marketing services provider that strives to create a culture of quantified sales-driven marketing initiatives leading to sustained business growth through channel management, diversification, new customer acquisition and retention strategies and tactical execution.