If you’re a manufacturing company executive who is satisfied with your 5 year CAGR and/or your annual projected growth rate, you should pass on this article. This article is about some not-so-obvious things that could be holding back your firm’s growth in our present era of global competition, commoditized products and customer empowerment. There are really only 3 ways to manufacturing growth that is more than the anemic GDP annual growth rate of about 3%:
- Purchase manufacturing growth through acquisitions.
- Sell more product overseas in developing economies.
- Take market share from competitors.
Numbers 1 & 2 have their own challenges and are well beyond the scope of this article, and they are also very difficult to execute. We’ll focus on the things that are holding you back from executing number 3. The good news is that if you are a progressive minded manufacturing executive, you can achieve manufacturing growth by taking market share from your competitors because most of your competitors are stuck in the late Industrial Age pitching their commoditized products by attending trade shows and talking about themselves in addition to the worn out product features and benefits. Here’s the dirty little secret; the people in your target audience don’t care about your company, your products, your CEO or you. They care about what your company and your products can do for them. They care about WIIFM (what’s in it for me). With that theme in mind, these are the things holding you back from achieving double digit growth:
You don’t talk about the pain and problems faced by the people in your target audience. This is the number one issue holding back manufacturing company growth. The good news is that if you are the company in your competitive marketplace to get this and execute first. You win. Take a look at your website. Is it filled with first person pronouns such as ‘we’, ‘our’, ‘I’, and ‘us’? Is the website content all about your products or how your products are used in the field? Is the blog all about new product launches or company achievements? Are the webinars about how to use your product or about the features and benefits of the product? Most manufacturing companies will answer yes, yes and yes to these questions. Don’t get me wrong, you need to have information about your products available on your website because when the prospective customer is ready to buy, they look for that information. But what about when they are looking for help to solve their problem, do you have helpful information that is not based on your product? The manufacturing company that offers helpful, useful information made freely available during a prospective customer’s self education phase will gain the hearts and minds of the people in the target audiences and oh so much more. That’s right, I’m telling you to give away your expertise to your prospective customers even if they aren’t ready to buy right away. Help them to be better, solve a problem or relieve pain. Create some webinars that don’t feature your products but feature solutions to their problem. Post helpful, useful and interesting information on your blog that is not about your product or your firm, but is about the people in your target audience. If you change your marketing strategy in just this one way, you will see huge benefits that will launch your manufacturing business into the double digit growth range.
You’re not reaping the knowledge and experience of your marketing team. In most manufacturing cultures, the marketing team consists of the folks in the back cubicles who are at the beck and call of the rest of the company. They make brochures, place ads, set up trade shows and maintain the web site. They are a virtual vending machine for the sales team. You’d be surprised by the untapped energy, enthusiasm and knowledge buried within your marketing team. They know about marketing strategy, modern tactics, marketing technology, content marketing and so much more. Elevate your team! If you marketing team leader is old school and still marketing like it is the late Industrial Age, get rid of her and find someone with progressive ideas and experience with audience engagement beyond promoting similar products from a similar industry.
The brand awareness problem. Most manufacturing companies don’t have the resources to purchase brand awareness. If you’re an Emerson, ABB or Siemens you can spend millions to get attention and awareness (although these behemoths could also benefit from these ideas). The rest of us have to be more clever. There is a lot of noise out there in the webosphere and it is exceedingly difficult to break through and get any attention let alone awareness. The solution to overcoming this obstacle and to gain top-of-mind awareness and credibility is to help the people in the target audience to be better or relieve some pain. If you can achieve this, you get awareness, you get credibility and you get a feeling of reciprocity in the minds of the people in your target audience. The result is that when the day comes around and they are ready to buy, the manufacturing firm that was able to help will get the call and usually get the business. That is how this concept will enable you to take market share from your competitor; at least until your competitor catches on.
The lead generation problem. Leads are expensive. A typical trade show lead can cost as much as $300 when you figure in the cost of the show, logistics and travel. If you are focusing on your product and your field sales team to generate leads, every single new lead is a struggle and a triumph. The problem is that your ads and your trade show booth look and sound exactly like your competitor. By the time your prospective customer reaches out to you, because everyone looks the same, they have determined that price is the only differentiator. As your prospective customer, if you are the firm that has been helping me solve my problem, I’m happy to pay a little more for your product. Prospective customers will flock to your lead generation forms is you can help them relieve pain. As much as you want to believe it, your product and your employees will not be perceived as differentiators to your target audience. The only way to differentiate yourself in our commoditized, global market is to focus on relieving the pain of the people in your target audience. When you do this, the lead generation problem is solved.
Need some help with overcoming these hurdles? Request a free Content Strategy Brainstorming session from KMI.