Category Archives: Marketing

Introduction to Manufacturing Marketing Matters

manufacturing marketing matters

Manufacturing Marketing Matters – a podcast

Manufacturing marketing is challenging and marketers are challenged with a unique set of circumstances, but these challenges are very common from one organization to the next. This podcast is dedicated to helping marketers in manufacturing to excel in their profession, make a known contribution to the business goals and advance the marketing function within their organization.

Listen to our podcast HERE

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Sneak Peek at “The New Way to Go-to-Market for Manufacturing”

The book, “The New Way to Go-to-Market for Manufacturing” will be out and available by March 1, 2016. Follow the blog for more sneak peeks over the coming weeks.

Chapter 3 The Sweet Spot of Engagement

Let’s summarize what we have so far uncovered as the very big opportunities available to smart manufacturing firms. We have discovered that expertise is usually prevalent within any manufacturing organization. The expertise we want to mine is not the expertise used in building the product, but is a deeper expertise around the underlying needs of the target audience.

We have an understanding that the best way to engage with the people in the target audience is by helping them relieve pain rather than pitching product features. In order to really understand the pain points that can be relieved by sharing your firm’s expertise, it is a good idea to conduct primary research. We will talk about this more in a later chapter. For now, I encourage you to put on your critical thinking hat and question the tribal wisdom that pervades most manufacturing organizations.

When choosing the Sweet Spot of Engagement, it is important to collaborate with your stakeholders if at all possible. Doing this work as an individual or even as a singular marketing group is much less effective than collaborating in order to gain agreement and buy-in from your stakeholders. The most common critical stakeholders are the Sales and Product leadership folks. If you are in a predicament where your stakeholders dismiss marketing altogether, then, you will have to go it alone which I strongly encourage if the alternative is to do nothing.

The Sweet Spot of Engagement is at the intersection of the pain you have identified as common to a majority of your target audience and the expertise you have uncovered among the employees within your manufacturing firm.

sweet spot

The diagram above is meant to be a worksheet for brainstorming. You may come up with more than one pain, expertise and Sweet Spots, but it is important to choose only one of each for each business category. You may have more than one Sweet Spot of Engagement depending on the size of your firm and the structure of the organization. For example, you may determine a sweet spot for each product area or each business area. The sweet spot will define your topic or mission that will drive the marketing strategy, related tactics and messaging.

As an example, let us continue with the measurement instrument company we discussed in Chapter One. One of the product groups in the instrument manufacturing company is humidity measurement instruments. After conducting primary research, they discovered the pain common to a large majority of the people in the target audience is that humidity is a very difficult measurement to make consistently and reliably. Reliable and consistent measurement is critical to the target audience which consists of pharmaceutical companies and semi-conductor manufacturers. The related expertise uncovered among the product engineers working in the Research and Development department is in understanding the science behind the properties of a moist gas (humidity). The Sweet Spot of Audience Engagement was agreed to be in providing an education about humidity and humidity measurement technology to the people in the target audience who are frustrated at their own ability to get a reliable measurement. The hypothesis is that by teaching them about the science, they will be equipped to make a better measurement.

Once you have determined the sweet spot and you have agreement with your stakeholders, it is time to craft the Audience Facing Mission Statement (AFMS). The AFMS will be your guiding light when it comes to making decisions about marketing activities and expenditure. If one of your colleagues suggests creating a piece of content or an activity that is not in line with the AFMS, it should be rejected.
As you proceed with building out your content marketing program with the AFMS as the compass, you will continuously measure results to confirm your hypothesis. As with any hypothesis, if testing does not prove the hypothesis, you should go back to the drawing board and revise the Sweet Spot and the AFMS.

Continuing with our example of the humidity product group, the AFMS might sound something like this: “We help the people in our target audience make a more reliable, repeatable and accurate measurement of humidity so that they produce higher quality goods in a more efficient manner.”

Rather than calling it just a ‘mission statement’, I call it ‘Audience Facing’ for a very important reason. When most of us think about a Mission Statement, we think about the mission of the company. Many times these corporate mission statements sound like this: “To be the preferred widget manufacturing on the face of the planet….” This is internal facing. I want to make a clear distinction between the corporate mission statement and the AFMS. It is important to notice the Sweet Spot of Engagement and the AFMS are not about the product. They are about the people in the target audience. You will likely get push-back from your Sales and Product stakeholders around this idea. As you begin to collaborate, the product culture will kick in and you will hear that the expertise is in ‘building widgets’ or ‘creating new products’. You must remain resolute and push them to see that the expertise is much deeper than just manufacturing products.

Understanding the Sweet Spot of Engagement and the AFMS contributes to the huge opportunity we are discussing. While your competitors build a strategy around pitching products, you will be mopping up the market share with broader and deeper engagement. A manufacturing marketing strategy built around an AFMS works wonders on the growth rate. I have personally developed such a strategy around this type of marketing pivot from product focus to audience pain focus. My experience was in seeing growth increase from an annual rate of 3 – 5% to a rate between 20 – 25% within a two-year period. Naturally there is much more behind driving this type of growth beyond the Sweet Spot of Engagement and the AFMS which we will discuss more in Part 4, the How-to section. In Part 3 we will discuss more about how to overcome the product culture that is embedded deeply in most manufacturing companies.

Takeaway Actions:

  1. Gather some trusted colleagues together for a preliminary discussion about the audience pain point and the company expertise. Explain the ultimate objective of the AFMS. Depending on the tone and outcome of the preliminary meeting, you will get an idea about how strong the product culture is at your company. This preliminary meeting is a rehearsal for the main meeting with your stakeholders.
  2. Prepare a research study to determine the pain points common to the people in your target audience. Use critical thinking skills as you evaluate the tribal knowledge about pain points you will hear from the Sales people and the Product people. The combination of your internal assessment and the primary research will give you a good idea of the pain point. As you prepare your Marketing Research, keep in mind the expertise you have chosen. It may be the case where the primary research examines pain points in relation to more than one areas of expertise.
  3. Fill out the Sweet Spot diagram and craft your AFMS. You are now ready to proceed with your pilot program which we discuss at length in Chapters 17 – 22.

Marketing Automation – Is it right for manufacturing?

 

marketing automation for manufacturing

The decision to purchase a marketing automation platform/service (MAP) for your manufacturing marketing team is a big one.  Not only is it a big decision because of the monetary investment, it’s a big decision because of the typically large cultural change that may be necessary to support such a broadly invasive tool into your marketing team and your entire revenue generating functions.

There are many companies offering MAP services with price points from a couple of hundred dollars a month to several thousand dollars per month.  The price is usually driven by the size of the database, features and support plans.  One of the good things about these tools is that the pricing is usually posted on the websites for easy comparison.

Is it worth the investment?

When a B2B Marketer contemplates purchasing, implementing and integrating a MAP to their modern marketing tool kit, the concept is usually proposed to management with a supporting business case.   It’s fairly easy to show how MA should improve efficiency of the marketing team and increase sales, but it is very difficult to execute a plan that achieves these results.

My premise begs the question, “is MAP worth it?” and, of course the answer is “it depends”.  Your initial investment in MA will likely cost between $5000 and $40,000 per year.   It’s not a one-time purchase price, but an ongoing subscription.  It is not hard to show a robust ROI on paper based on some rosy efficiency numbers.  However, the danger in determining if MAP is worth the investment is there are many hidden costs that don’t show up in the aforementioned business case nor in the brochures and websites of the MAP companies. Hidden costs may include:

  • Staff man-hours spent on implementation and learning how to use the tool
  • Complexity = hidden cost
  • Vendor cost for set-up and training
  • Outsourced cost for maintenance and execution
  • Opportunity cost (could your time and money be better spent on something else?)
  • Internal selling cost of time and energy, not to mention cost to reputation if the project fails to meet expectations

Suppose you submit to the annual expense and agree to absorb the hidden costs, what is the payback and are you capable of utilizing the tool to realize a payback?  I hear from marketing directors and managers more often than not who have purchased a MAP subscription, excited by the possibilities, but are unable to fully utilize the tool because of lack of leadership, expertise or personnel.  They usually end up using it as an email tool.

On the flip side, those marketing organizations able to fully leverage a MAP show more effective revenue and profitability.  Naturally, this begs the question inherent in any correlation, “Does better performance lead to deeper use of MAP or does full use of MAP lead to better performance?” I don’t have the answer to that question.  What do you think?

One may think that everyone in manufacturing is using MAP and if you and your organization don’t get onboard, you’ll be labeled a laggard and end up missing the rapid growth boat to your more adoptive competitors.  This is not the reality of the manufacturing marketing landscape.  According to the 2012 Marketing Sherpa B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, only 24% of B2B marketers are using MA.  The report further states that of those 24%, at best, 53% have implemented core functions.  Only 30% have fully implemented advanced functions such as report dashboards, lead management, nurturing or lead scoring.  Therefore, only 8% of B2B marketers are fully leveraging their MAP.

More recent data from a 2014 study by Sirius Decisions as reported by AdAge states that only 16% of North American B2B companies use marketing automation.  This report shows a wide range of adoption rates as broken down by industry with the highest rate of 65% with Information Technology companies and the lowest rates with Healthcare, Financial Services and Manufacturing all with adoption rates less than 10%.

Could this be opportunity knocking for your firm to get a leg up on the competition with a shiny new MAP?  Perhaps, but there are some strong indicators of success you can benchmark against to help determine if you and your organization have a good chance to be successful with a MAP.  For the sake of this discussion, let’s define success as increased revenue growth rate as a result of a MAP.

Based on my 6 plus years of experience with purchasing, implementing and using various marketing automation platforms, these are some key success factors for marketing automation:

  1. Make sure your key stakeholders are on board and excited about what a MAP can do for them.  Key stakeholders might vary with your organization, but should start the executive team; CEO, CFO, CMO, VP Sales, etc. and their associated teams.
  2. Have at least a preliminary plan written down and shared.  Note the ‘written down’ part of this step.  If the plan is in your head or someone else’s head, be wary because the details of any plan in the head are usually absent.
  3. Own the owner.  You need to have one person who owns the MAP and is responsible for it’s success.  This person should be on your team and not nestled away in the IT department or the Sales department.  This is your champion and, ideally, s/he loves technology, is curious, fearless, innovative, creative and has a thick skin (shouldn’t all marketers have thick skins?).  Reward this person for success!  If you try to add the responsibility for the MAP on to the litany of other tools the webmaster or other marketing person owns, it will be very difficult to get any traction with your new MAP tool.  It will likely languish as a glorified email tool at best and as a forgotten resource costing you $2 – $3000 per month at worst.  Don’t rely solely on outsourcing for strategy and execution.  Outsourcing is, no doubt, a highly valuable resource and I encourage supplementing your MAP with outsourced of freelance help, but they can’t replace an in-house MAP champion expert.
  4. You will need the expertise of an outside vendor, especially if you plan to integrate MAP to other systems in place like your CRM.  The expertise of outside vendors will speed up your implementation, help get your team up to speed much more quickly and set a strong foundation for future efficient use.
  5. Communicate.  Communicate. Communicate.  Let your whole company know how this tool is contributing to the goals of the firm.  Be careful not to report vanity metrics or metrics that seem to be bragging about yourself or the team.  Talk about how a certain campaign increased sales for example.  Even better, highlight the success of one of the stakeholders because of their use of the tool.  You can’t over-communicate the success of the MAP.  As marketers, you could treat it as an internal product launch with a positioning statement, value proposition and associated messaging.
  6. Measure everything and customize the presentation of results to fit the respective audiences.

Your team should be excited and interested to learn as much about this tool as possible.  Every marketer should be assigned to become an expert in the MAP strategy and technology.  Your team should plan to be using this tool on a daily basis.  Without that kind of interest, your success will be limited.  If you plan to assign everything about the tool to one individual or a very small team of so called ‘Digital Marketers’, your success will also be limited.

Is marketing automation worth it?  No, if you’re strapped for resources and won’t be able to invest in the time and absorb the hidden costs that are incurred to optimize the MAP.  No, if your culture is not eager and ready for a marketing automation tool.  Yes, definitely, if you are able to leverage the power and implement all the core functions to your marketing plan around an energized technically savvy group of marketers.

Note: This post was first published at BMA Colorado blog on November 10, 2015.

My Personal Takeaways from Content Marketing World 2015

CMW2015

Fresh of the airplane returning from Content Marketing World 2015, I was able to ponder my 3 days in Cleveland and come up with 5 important takeaways.

  1. Be authentic.  This seemed to be a recurring theme this year.  We heard it from Jay Baer in his keynote as he regaled us with tales of his mother’s brutal honesty.  We heard it from John Cleese in his keynote as he was not afraid to tell us what he thought of Cleveland in no uncertain terms.  We heard it from Nick Offerman as he told us how he rejected the Hollywood entertainment industry when they tried to cast him as the murderer/rapist role which was he felt was not his authentic acting role.  We heard if from Doug Kessler in his B2B presentation titled “Insane Honesty” where he enlightened us marketers to embrace the true offering or meaning of our products.  We heard if from the “man” himself, Joe Pulizzi, who encouraged all of us to be true to ourselves and be authentic in our marketing.
  2. Most of us will never be GE, Marriott, Coca Cola or Red Bull.  If you got the chance to attend Katrina Craigwell’s presentation, you were no doubt amazed at the content GE and Katrina are creating.  It is awesome!  They show us how a jet engine is made and how it works. They film a new, state of the art, locomotive from a helicopter whistling through the sky over the high plains of the Midwest.  They are even creating content with state of the art virtual reality technology.  I think Katrina might have the best marketing job in all of the world.  But, alas, most of us will never be hanging out of that helicopter or even be able to get near the factory floor where turbines or locomotives are being manufactured.  We’ll never have multi-million dollar budgets or work with virtual reality content.  And that’s ok.  Referring to number 1 above, if we’re authentic and true to ourselves we can be happy even if we never get to be GE.  But that doesn’t mean we can dream about hanging out of a helicopter.  If I worked for GE, I would want to drive that train, not just film it.
  3. Marketers are smart.  Every marketing conference I attend reinforces this idea.  Marketers are some smart bastards.  I mean that with all due respect and love to my profession.  Talking to my colleagues at CMW, I am always amazed at their insight, cleverness, creativity and pure dedication to the profession of marketing. It always saddens me a little when the share their all to common stories about how the leadership at their company will never let them implement any new ideas.  Most corporations would be amazed and dazed if they would only listen to their marketing team, especially after a conference like Content Marketing World.  The vast majority of these smart marketers will return to their cubicles on Monday, file their great ideas away, and settle back down into their world of servitude to the sales or product teams.  My message to all the really smart marketers out there is to keep going and make yourselves the absolute best marketer you could possible become.  Bring up your creative and innovative ideas to your colleagues, peers and managers whenever you get a chance.  Sure, you might get that blank stare or even a derogatory laugh from time to time, but persevere and your day will come.  When they tell you ‘no’, find a way to do it anyways and learn from your trials.  Treat your corporate marketing position as a live learning laboratory and experiment away you smart bastard.
  4. Write a book.  This is more of a personal takeaway, but can be applied to anyone striving to establish themselves or their company as the ‘expert’ around a certain subject area.  There is a lot of noise out there in the marketing and advertising space.  One can become perceived as an expert by shouting loud and often.  Shouting loud and often requires inordinate amount of resources (time and money) which most of us do not have.  Writing a book seems to be a reasonable means towards achieving the perception.  Why would one want to be perceived as an expert?  This perception helps a consultant like myself, grow a practice or it can help a company increase their growth rate.  If one were inclined towards professional speaking or being invited to conferences as a speaker, a book is your calling card.  My takeaway is that I need to write a book.  The challenge is time and money.  Anyone out there want to sponsor my effort?
  5. Patience is a marketer’s virtue.  As marketers, or maybe just as human beings, we love the new shiny object.  This year’s CMW vendor floor was chock full of shiny new marketing technology.  Wow, if I had a million dollars.  (someone should write a song about that)  Regardless of the technology, not much is really new or unique in the bigger picture as we might observe.  As much as we want to play with all this new technology, patience is advised.  You must have the time, inclination and budget for new technology.  But even more important, we must have the marketing fundamentals in place first before any technology will pay off.

Finally, as I was walking out of the Cleveland Convention Center yesterday, I happened upon this guy dressed all in orange.  His name is Joe Pulizzi and I asked his advice about growing my fledgling and sometimes struggling marketing consultancy for manufacturing companies.  I said, “Joe, it’s not working.  I can’t get any traction in growing my audience of subscribers.  I’ve been blogging every week, sharing content, posting religiously on LinkedIn and fine tuning my SEO for my website and nobody is paying attention.  I have 35 subscribers to my enewsletter and I’ve been stuck there for 3 months.  Joe, I’m begging you, let me in on the secret.”  Joe looked at me, sort of smiled and stifled a chuckle as he shook his head ever so slightly and said, ”Bruce, you’re doing all the right things.  It took me 4 years to begin to get traction.  Here’s my advice, refine your niche, ‘manufacturing companies’ to be more targeted, be authentic and be patient.  Patience is the hardest one.”  Thanks Joe!   You’re awesome and I’ll see you next year.

Those are my takeaways from Content Marketing World 2015.  I’d love to hear your takeaways, even if it’s just one thing.  Stay patient, be authentic and keep on marketing.

How to Sell Content Marketing to a Skeptic in Manufacturing

skeptic

Let us first define the attributes of a content marketing skeptic in the manufacturing industry where, by the way, there are more skeptics than in most other industries.  You can recognize a skeptic because they say things like:

  • “We tried content marketing and it doesn’t work” which might look something like this: they made a low level marketer (or hired an agency) to create a bunch of marketing stuff about their products and/or company and after 6 or 12 months, realized that more marketing crap about their products wasn’t helping, therefore skepticism towards “content marketing” pervades the organization.
  • “We’re doing content marketing already”.   I met with the CEO of a manufacturing company just the other day and when I mentioned content marketing in the context of knowledge marketing, she told me they are already doing it.  In looking at their web site, it is clear they are not practicing content marketing, but have one or two white papers up on their web site.
  • “Why should I share my company’s expertise, it’s proprietary”, this may be evidence closed mind or fear based marketing strategy.  This would be the same company who fears putting spec sheets on the web because the competition might get their hands on them.

Once you have identified the skepticism, you may feel there is no way to sell the concept of ‘real’ content marketing to this person.  But, do not despair and remember, most of these skeptics all share a common pain point; they desperately want to grow their manufacturing businesses but don’t know how to grow more than 3% to 7% in this modern age defined by global competition and commoditized products.  By focusing on this pain point, and sharing your knowledge of content marketing as a way to take market share from the competition who remain stuck in the dark ages of the industrial age, you are on your way to selling content marketing to the skeptic.  Here’s how you do it:

  1. The typical skeptic is usually in a leadership position and under pressure to produce more revenue and more profits than the firm is currently making.  The typical manufacturing company is struggling to grow or, in many cases, even maintain market share.  They are desperately trying all the old ways to spur growth; new products and more sales people are the most common tactics used to try to increase organic growth.  The skeptic has pain and your task is to convince her that content marketing can relieve that pain.  Simply put, answer their innate question, “what’s in it for me?”  Answer: growth and more market share.
  2. One of the best ways to convince a skeptic about anything is to paint a picture or tell a story that is squarely in their own world.  Ask the skeptic how they go about making a considered purchase.  If you did your homework, you might find out that the skeptic is an avid bicyclist.  If that were the case, ask him how he goes about buying a new bicycle.  Chances are he will tell you about a process where he first educates himself via web searches.  He probably places more credibility and perceives the company that offers helpful knowledge and expertise as the more reliable vendor.  Show him how his own perception is influenced by a manufacturing company that is practicing knowledge based content marketing.
  3. You may have to prove it to the skeptic and/or the skeptic may have to prove it to other skeptics within the manufacturing company.  The final step to selling content marketing to the skeptic is to prove the concept with a test or pilot program.  The type of activity and the media you choose for a pilot is critically important.  You need to pick something that shows numbers.  I like webinars or enewsletters to start because you can show the numbers and you can show the power of knowledge based content marketing.

The three key attributes of content marketing are top of mind awareness (TOMA), credibility and reciprocity.  Show the skeptic how his firm will achieve these 3 attributes in the minds of the people in the target audience by helping them to be better at something they care about leading to increasing market share and improving the growth trend.  Smart manufacturing marketers know that times have changed.  They know that by the time someone contacts their firm for a price or proposal, the research is mostly done and the business is mostly won by the best content marketer.

 

‘How to Succeed with Webinars’ or ‘Succeeding with Webinars is Easier Thank You Think’

Team Success

The first thing you have to do to succeed is to define ‘succeed’.  This may seem simple enough, but it is a step often overlooked in many a marketing campaign.  For the purpose of this post, let’s define ‘succeed’ in traditional marketing metrics.  For traditional success metrics, I suggest ‘leads’ or ‘qualified leads’ as a good metric assuming you have agreed on a definition with the sales team.  A better success metric is ‘influenced opportunities’ or even better, ‘influenced, closed won opportunities’.  The latter requires a synchronized customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation platform (MAP) system with myriad other infrastructure in place.  If you’re a beginner with webinars, you could also start with basic webinar metrics such as ‘registrants’, ‘attendees’ and ‘on-demand views’.  The point is that you must first define success before you can make it easier to succeed.

If you are reading this post, chances are high that you have tried webinars or are in the midst of trying webinars you deem to have poor success or even to have failed.  Don’t beat yourself up, most webinars do fail and the number one reason for failure is choosing the wrong topic.  As long as we’re talking about definitions, you may ask, “what is the wrong topic?”  I could be coy and say the wrong topic is one that fails to meet expectations, but I’ll give you a more explicit answer.  The wrong topic is one that is about your product and/or your company.  I’ll qualify that a bit more by saying there is an exception to this rule and that is if you are working with prospective customers in the latter stage of the buying cycle.  Prospects in this stage could very well benefit from a product oriented webinar, but these audiences will usually be very small.

Are you ready for wildly successful webinars that engage with a goodly portion of your target audience?  A target audience that may not even know you exist and may even be using your competition is ready and waiting for your educational, knowledge based webinars.  Here’s how to succeed with webinars:

  • Choosing a useful, educational topic that is at the intersection of the pain or passion common in your target audience and your particular expertise is guaranteed make it easier to succeed.  Typically, when a firm decides to try webinars as a marketing tactic, they choose a topic about their product.  That is the wrong approach.  I’ve never seen a product based webinar outperform an educational webinar.  In fact, product based webinars usually end up labeled as a failure.  In my experience with creating and executing webinars for manufacturing companies, I always, repeat always, see educational webinars outperform product based webinars in the range of 1000% to 2000%!  Listen to this KMI webinar series if you want to learn more about choosing the right topic.
  • Good webinar promotion also makes it easier to succeed.  Many times a company will send one email to their house database and wait for them to register.  Surprisingly,  this will garner a lot of registrants, but it is only the low hanging fruit.  Success comes easier if you promote your educational webinars in venues outside of your house list where your target audience resides.  For the manufacturing sector, consider inviting members of online trade associations by advertising in their enewsletters or by emailing their list.
  • It always amazes me when the marketing team acts like the live broadcast is the end of the webinar effort.  I can see why the completion of the live broadcast feels like it’s over.  But, it is easier to realize your success metric if you follow up with everyone who registered, but especially with those who registered and did not attend the live broadcast.  Follow up with an email offering a direct link to the slides and the recorded webinar, a sales call, a post card, a message in a bottle – just do something to follow up!

Finally, the only way you know if you succeed is to measure the results against your success metrics.  It may seem too simple, but to make it easier to succeed, measure success.  After you measure your wildly successful educational webinar, report the results to the leadership team.  Granted, the leadership team will respect the metric that shows you created and/or contributed to new opportunities, but high registration numbers also garner attention.  Ultimately, if you can show that your webinars positively affected revenue, you’re webinars are successful.

Do these things make is easier to succeed with webinars than you previously thought?  If not, you can always hire a company like KMI to produce turn-key webinars guaranteed to succeed with high number of qualified registrants and attendees.  How do we guarantee it?  One option is to only pay for registrations.  If is sounds interesting, check it out at the KMI website.

 

7 Quick Tips About Manufacturing Webinars

LinkedIn-Post-Robot-Header

These 7 tips are guaranteed to improve your webinar engagement, effectiveness and live broadcast.

Tip 1 – Know your audience and choose a topic about something they can use to be better in their profession or their lives in general.  Know their pain and help them relieve it.  The topic should not be about you, your company or your products.

Tip 2 – Don’t say too much about your company or your products.  It’s important to let the audience now who is presenting the information that will help them to be better in their professional lives.  I like to make an opening statement about the company as a sponsor and a closing statement asking the audience to consider [ABC Company] for solutions, services or products such as [super duper widgets].  I also like to state, up front, that we will not be talking about the products.  This simple statement tends to put the audience at ease.

Tip 3 – One way to lose your audience right away is to talk about your self at length.  The audience does care about the expertise of the main presenter. This should be established during the registration process and briefly as the Moderator introduces the expert.  By no means should the expert speaker go on for several minutes about herself and her credentials.

Tip 4 – Use at least 2 presenters.  Two voices and personalities are much more interesting than just one.  You can use a Moderator and Subject Matter Expert, or you can use two main co-presenters.  I would not advise using more than 3 people because it can get confusing as the audience tries to put together voices with names.

Tip 5 – Use the interactive tools provided by the webinar platform.  The audience wants to participate and will be much more engaged if you let them interact.  Use polls, surveys, question-answer sessions, drawing tools and any other tool offered by the platform.  I like to ask the audience a question requesting that they answer via the chat window as one way to get some lively engagement.

Tip 6 – A series of 3 or more webinars is much more engaging than just a one-off webinar.  A series acts as its own nurturing program, allowing you to establish your firm as the go-to expert with top of mind awareness and credibility throughout the target audience.

Tip 7 – Follow up after the live broadcast, especially with those who registered but did not attend.  Offer both attendees and non-attendees a link to the recorded webinar, slide deck and any associated information that supports the webinar content.  You can also offer the webinar as an on-demand class via your website or on 3rd party web sites.

Bonus Tip – Make sure you promote your webinars to a wider audience than just your house database.  Webinars are a great way to engage with the people in your target market who may not know about your company.  Give them the gift of education and they will want to get to know your firm and its offering.

 

If educational webinars for your manufacturing company sound interesting but you lack the resources to create, execute and promote a webinar series, let KMI help.  For about the price of a full page print ad in a trade journal, we’ll provide your company with a turn-key webinar guaranteed to engage with a high number of prospective customers.  Check out KMI Turn-key webinar services.

Manufacturing Lags in Marketing Automation Adoption

factory 9One would think that lead management in the B2B business world was ubiquitous.  As a Modern Marketer, I think that everyone certainly must be using a marketing automation system, a CRM system, automatic lead hand-off, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and monitoring the conversion points of a traditional funnel; suspect – MQL – SAL – SQL – Closed or Won – nurture – cultivate.  I’m thinking, how could anyone miss this with all the buzz over the past 5 years.

But, it is not so.  According to a May 2014 article in Ad Age, approximately 16% of B-to-B companies are using marketing automation. Citing the same article, Ad Age shows data accumulated by Sirius decisions breaking down adoption rate further by industry:

  • IT – 65%
  • Business Services – 35%
  • Manufacturing – 8%
  • Financial Services – 3%
  • Healthcare – 2%

According to Marketing Sherpa,  of those 16%, only about 30% are using the high ROI lead management tactics of lead scoring, lead nurturing or basic lead funnel management.  Even more astounding is that the Marketing Sherpa survey shows that companies using lead scoring see a 77% improvement in lead generation ROI and a 79% improvement for those using lead nurturing.  So the obvious question is, “why aren’t more B2B firms capitalizing on this powerful technology?”

I am a proficient user of Marketo, Eloqua and Act-on and have been using high engagement high ROI lead management tactics for 5 years now with demonstrated strong revenue growth results due in large part to these and other automation strategy and tactics.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours learning the platforms and it has not been easy to learn how to fully leverage this marketing automation platform.  Most marketing departments are under resourced, over-worked and under-appreciated with little time to spend learning how to use a new technology.  Unfortunately, having the time to learn how to use a marketing automation technology is a luxury in most manufacturing marketing organizations.  I suspect this is the reason for the low adoption rate of such a powerful tool.

On the flip side, for those organizations with a marketing leader and willing, capable team members able to learn this technology, you can take a huge advantage over your competitors who are not able or willing to use the technology.  I’ll say it again.  Manufacturing companies can have a huge advantage in their space by adopting a modern marketing team, strategy and tactics leveraging marketing automation and knowledge marketing.

For you CEOs and CFOs out there who view your marketing department as an expense, it’s time to break out of this mid 20th century, industrial revolution paradigm.  A properly established marketing department is your revenue engine!  At the risk of sounding pompous, using the lead management tools of a marketing automation system, I could take any manufacturing firm in the 92% who are not using automation or any of the 70% not fully leveraging automation and add an additional 10% to their top line within 12 months (assuming support from the C-suite).  I’ve done it and I know it works.  If you’re one of the laggards not using or not fully leveraging marketing automation tools, time to get busy!  Take the reins and make it happen.  There’s plenty of research available to help you to make the business case to your executive management team.

My recommendation is to invest in your marketing team, build a revenue engine, give them the time and money to gain the education and purchase the tools of marketing automation.  Don’t be one of the laggards not using this powerful tool.  I’m quite passionate about fully leveraging marketing automation and making marketing the revenue engine.

Need help choosing a marketing automation platform, establishing a strategy and training a team?  Contact KMI, we specialize in manufacturing businesses and we can help you get your growth on!

Does Your Content We-We All Over Itself

Me_we_coThe first thing effective content marketers learn is to get over themselves. Effective manufacturing marketers realize the people in their target audience don’t care about their company, their CEO, their sales people or their marketing people. Great manufacturing marketers know the content they create is about the pain or passion in the people who comprise their target audience and not the pain or passion of the people who comprise the executive team, the sales team or the marketing team.

That’s not to say some portion of the content created is not about the offering. It is critically important to include product based content within your content library. What I mean is that even product or service descriptions are not about your firm, content must always be about your audience. All content must answer this one question as if the people who may one day purchase what you offer are screaming it in unison, “What’s in it for me?”

How do you know if your content is ‘we-weing’ all over itself? Just pull up one of your web pages and start reading. Read one of your own brochures (digital or print). Take a look at your last webinar invitation. Are you telling the reader about your company and your webinar or are you inviting them to be better, learn something or improve their own situation. Here are a few all too common phrases you may encounter which are strong indicators you’re writing from your own self-centric perspective as opposed to your audience’s perspective. If you see these types of phrases permeating your content, then you are a ‘we-we’ company:

  1. “Our [insert offering] is better, faster, cheaper, etc.” Instead say ‘[offering] helps you [insert value]’
  2. “Sign up for our newsletter. Instead say “Sign up to receive your weekly newsletter helping you …..”
  3. “We are the global leader in [insert offering].” Remove this type of language completely. Half the readers don’t care and the other half don’t believe you.
  4. “We do this. We are the best. We have this certification. We got this award.” Again, nobody cares. Rephrase the statement so you tell your audience why it matters to them. In the process, you might realize it doesn’t matter to them.
  5. “Sign up for our webinar.” Instead say “Reserve your spot and learn about……”
  6. “[company name ] recognized as blah, blah, blah” See number 4.

The prospective customer doesn’t care about your company, your product, your service, your CEO, etc. They care about themselves. It’s not a bad thing from a survival viewpoint. All humans are self-centered whether they want to admit it or not. It’s an evolutionary trait. Our cave dwelling ancestors who did not focus on themselves did not survive and their non-self-centered genes were not passed along to subsequent generations as a result of their demise. As marketers, it’s natural to bring our egocentric selves along to the job. We want to tell our own story. We want to tell everyone about our products,services and company. Oh, how we love our products. We want to tell everyone about our greatness. We think that by vociferously tooting our own horn, our audience will also start to think we are great. We think (perhaps hope) they will demonstrate their love and admiration by buying the stuff we are selling. We,we, we, we…

Effective marketers of manufactured products know it doesn’t work that way. Effective marketing strategy and tactics help the people in the target audience to be better at something that matters to them. Yes, you want to help them with something related to your firm’s experts and expertise. Why give away all this free help? You give it away because the recipient will want to reciprocate when the day comes around and they need or want to purchase the thing that you offer to the market.

Why is this concept so important? Think about yourself as you ponder a considered purchase. Let’s use the automobile as an example. Do you really care if Toyota is the global leader in factory efficiency? No. You care if it means you get a lower price because of the efficiency. BMW doesn’t talk about its engine, or its braking system, or its ISO 9001 certification. BMW talks about ‘the ultimate driving machine’ because it’s about your driving experience, not about their car. Note, BMW never says “Buy our ultimate driving machine” or “we’re the leader in luxury cars”.

The story you tell must be about how the product or service your firm offers serves the needs, wants, pains or passion of the people in your target audience. If your story is about your product, your company, your CEO, etc. you will not be able to gain meaningful engagement with your audience, again, because they don’t care! (unless you have zillions of dollars to spend on advertising) The marketers and the companies that get this concept and build their marketing strategy around this concept will win in their market space.

Back in the Industrial Age, we-weing all over yourself worked. In those ancient times of the last half of the 20th century, we buyers didn’t have much choice but to listen to companies pontificate, brag and boast about themselves and their products. The messages were few and far between compared to the modern age. Now, we do have a lot of choice about what we listen to and what we filter out. And, guess what, all of the companies still talking about themselves and their products all sound the same. It’s boring. We, the people in the target audience, don’t care. When they all sound the same and we’re bored with their self-centered, egotistical messages, we go to lowest price. Boom. Lowest price means lower profit, fewer employees and a minimal or negative growth trajectory. However, if one of the myriad companies provides me with some information or some content that helps me solve my problem whether I buy from them or not, I consciously or subconsciously place them ahead of the rest because they care about me, the potential customer. I’m even willing to pay a little more because I want to reciprocate.

86% of B2B marketers claim they use content marketing in their marketing mix according to the recently published research at Content Marketing Institute. If you’re one of those 86%, take a moment and look at one of your white papers, infographics, webinars, blog posts, etc. Count the first person pronouns and the company name used in the possessive. Count the second person pronouns. If the first person pronouns outnumber the second person pronouns, chances are good that you are we-weing all over yourself and your content is not engaging with your audience. This is a huge opportunity!

Treat the people in your target audience as the egocentric humans that we all personify. Give them something that matters to their lives. As a marketer, when you create ads, papers, webinars, web pages, etc. check your own self-centered tendencies, thoughts and actions at the door as you enter your work space. Effective content focuses on the pain or passion of the people in your target audience and helps them to relieve the pain or fan the passion. Change your content from we-we to you-you.

Looking for help in developing an audience focused marketing strategy? Let KMI help you get on track to seizing the opportunity for high level audience engagement.

Lead Generating Webinars for Manufacturing (part 1)

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Find Your Webinar Sweet Spot at the intersection of manufacturing expertise and audience pain or passion.

Many manufacturing marketers have tried webinars as a way to increase sales and gain brand awareness.  According to a recent survey by Content Marketing Institute and Adobe, 53% of B2B marketers (which includes manufacturing companies) use webinars as a tactic.  Even more interesting is the fact reported that of those marketers who had tried webinars and then stopped for one reason or another were using them for product oriented topics like training or product launches.

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