What’s Holding Back Your Manufacturing Growth?

holding-back

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%:

  1. Purchase manufacturing growth through acquisitions.
  2. Sell more product overseas in developing economies.
  3. 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.

 

They Laughed When I Suggested Webinars, but when the Registrations Started Pouring In…

laughing woman

This is a story about a lesson I learned early in my marketing career.  It’s hard to buck the status quo.  It’s hard to introduce new ideas to an old company.  But when you push through and just do it, you can be a big winner.

I was a brand new marketing manager at a global measurement instrument company just after the dot-com bust.  They were struggling with growth.  It was a traditional manufacturing company where the product was king and the product managers had the P/L responsibility.  Further, guess what, the product managers were at the corporate headquarters in Finland of all places.  I didn’t even know where Finland was on the globe.  They treated Americans like they didn’t exist.

Naturally, I was eager to put my newly minted MBA in Marketing to good use.  I was and still am a big advocate of lifelong learning and professional development.  I had read about webinars and how some thought leaders in the marketing space were using webinars as an education tool to engage with the people in their target audience.  Keeping in mind this was more than 10 years ago when the term “content marketing” was just emerging and the technology to produce your own webinar was available but just in the early adoption stage.

I remember the time quite well.  It was a gray and rainy Monday morning when we got “the speech” from the country manager.  “The Speech” is usually meant to be a combination of inspiration, fear and trepidation.  This one was no different.  The bottom line message was that the company was losing market share and everyone needed to pitch in and work harder because the ‘bosses’ in Finland were on her case for more cash flow.

I was young and I was inspired.  I went into the Country Manager’s office and pitched my idea about using a webinar to educate the folks in our database about something that mattered to them as a way to get more leads and fill the sales funnel.  She said “you mean teach them about our product?”  I said, no, we’ll teach them how to be more effective whether they buy our product or not.  That way we’ll get TOMA.  She said, “What the hell is TOMA?”  I explained that TOMA stood for ‘top of mind awareness’ and it is the key to long term and robust growth.  She laughed and she laughed and then kicked me out of her office claiming she had more important things to do and that I should focus on my next post card design.

Needless to say, I was less inspired, but I believed in my idea and I believed in the concept of education as a way to engage with the audience and grow a business.  So, undaunted, I went to visit the US Product Manager to pitch my idea.  His response was, “We tried webinars and they don’t work”.  He went on to explain that they tried webinars on two separate occasions to launch new products and only a couple of people signed up.  I tried to explain to him that people don’t really care about the products.  Naturally, as the Product Manager, he was appalled and personally offended.  I said,”They don’t care about the product or the company, they care about WIIFM.”  He said, “What the hell is WIFFM?”  I explained that it means “what’s in it for me” from the audience perspective, not from the company perspective.  He laughed, but it was more of a good nature laugh than a mean and dismissive laugh.  He told me to go ahead and put this educational webinar together and he agreed to fund it as a trial marketing tactic.

I was very excited and re-energized.  In spite of the derisive looks I got from the leadership, sales people and even my own marketing peers, I put it together myself.  When I had everything ready, I sent out an email invitation to our database of about 10,000 customers and prospective customers.  One day after the email invitation we had about 200 registrants!  Ultimately, we got about 500 registrants for that first webinar!  The laughing had stopped.  The boss wanted to know more about this idea of educational webinars.   We even had some notice from the executive team in Finland.  It seems that getting the company in front of 500 people from the target audience to spend an hour with your experts at a cost of about $2 per registrant is an impressive feat.

I expanded that webinar program from one to a series of 8 educational webinars.  The business grew at a rate of 20+% per year over the next few years.  Was the growth all due to webinars?  At that time we did not have the tools to prove it, but I suspect most of the growth was because of TOMA, credibility and reciprocity created by the webinars.

Interested in trying educational webinars, contact me at KMI and I’ll show you how to generate leads and improve engagement using webinars or visit the KMI Webinar Page.

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.

 

The Biggest Problem with Webinars and How You Can Fix It

sweet spotWhen I talk to marketers who have tried webinars, most of them tell me webinars don’t work very well as a marketing tactic.  They further explain the biggest problem is that not enough people sign up and even fewer people show up at the live broadcast.  In other words, they devote time and money to creating, producing and broadcasting the webinar, but only a handful of people register.  I have also experienced this disappointment with webinars before I learned the secret to getting hundreds, and in a few cases, thousands of people to sign up and show up for my webinars.

Just to be clear, the biggest problem with webinars is that not enough people sign up and/or show up to your webinars.

There are only 3 things you need to focus on in order to fix the biggest problem with webinars.  As you peruse the list, you may be inclined to think that you did focus on these 3 things when you created your own disappointing webinars, but I guarantee that if you aren’t getting significant registrations (at least 300+) you didn’t really focus on the audience.  Here’s how you can fix the biggest problem with webinars and get hundreds or thousands of registrants for your webinars:

  1. Choose a topic that helps the people in your target audience to relieve a pain or improve on a passion.  The single biggest problem with webinars is that you choose a topic about your company or your product.1   Typically, the goal of most webinars is to improve awareness and fill the top of the sales funnel.  With that goal in mind, you MUST choose a topic that matters to your audience.  Until they are in a position to purchase the thing which you want to sell,  they don’t care about your company or your product.  This is a huge opportunity for a savvy marketer who is able to find a topic that lies at the intersection of a pain or passion common to the target audience and a unique expertise that is embedded within your company mission.  Check out this post for more insight into how to choose such a topic that excites and compels the people in your target audience to sign up for your webinars in droves.
  2. Most webinars fail because they we-we all over themselves.  No, it isn’t what you think.  By we-weing all over themselves, I mean the topic, the presenter and nearly every slide is about the company, product or presenter.  You see and hear a lot first person pronouns like ‘we’, ‘our’, ‘us’, ‘I’.  Let me reiterate what I said in point #1,  your audience doesn’t care about you, your company or your product.  They care about themselves, their pain or their passion.  A good webinar is audience focused.  You should be talking about the audience and the pain or passion that you have identified.  The bottom line is that if your webinar helps the people in your target audience to be better at something they care about, then it’s a winner!
  3. Promotion.  Even if you do choose a topic that is relevant to the target audience and create a webinar that is laser focused on the audience, it won’t draw a large number of registrants without a solid promotion plan.  In spite of what your sales people think,  unless you are a large market consumer brand or in an oligarchical market like commercial airliners, your brand, company and products are not really well-known within your target market.  You have to tell them about your webinar.  You have to tell them about how your webinar will help them relieve some pain or enhance a passion.  Promote your webinar in venues where the people in your target audience go or congregate for information.  And, don’t forget to promote and/or invite your house database and/or customer database.  For maximum benefit, you need to promote to your house list and to your larger target audience who may not already know about your company.

If you focus on these 3 areas, you will solve the biggest problem with webinars.

Need help getting started?  Call KMI and we’ll be happy to take a look at past webinars, make suggestions and even produce a turn-key webinar series customer tailored for your target audience.

Note 1.  The only instance that a product or company focused webinar is appropriate is to target very small groups of prospective customers who happen to be in the final stages of making their decision.

10 FAQs About Webinars for Manufacturing

goldmine

Let’s say, for the purpose of this post, that you are an executive at a manufacturing company.  You’re CAGR (combined annual growth rate) is about 3% over the last 5 years because of global competition and overall low GDP growth rates in the macro economy where you operate.  You’ve been tearing your hair out trying to figure out how to get back to those heady days of double digit growth.  You’ve tried pushing your sales team to do more, but realized they are doing as much as they can.  You’ve pushed your business development managers to innovate and be more creative in their product road maps, but they just can’t come up with anything really unique that resonates with your target audience.  You’ve tried acquisitions, but they just never really work out as expected in spite of those glorious hockey stick graphs.

There’s one place you probably haven’t looked.  It’s a hidden gold mine and it’s buried within your own company walls.  This hidden mine of growth inducing gold is easy to find and easy to access as long as you have an open mind and are willing to think outside your proverbial manufacturing company box.  The gold mine is your marketing department!

It’s not an easy thing to get your mind around, the fact that your marketing function could be a huge source of revenue producing activity.  Typically, in a manufacturing environment, the marketing team is merely an expense item or, even worse, a black hole where you dump money and never know what you get back.  Manufacturing is just the folks down the hall who come up with those clever ads, set up the trade shows for the sales team and maintain the web site.  Right?

I can tell you, with certainty, that the manufacturing companies that can embrace and support marketing as a revenue generating function will kill it in their competitive space!  And webinars are a great place to start mining the gold and making the conversion.

How does this tie in to a post titled 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Webinars for Manufacturing?  You’re going to get push back on the idea of marketing as a revenue generator.  You will likely need to prove your talk with some type of a pilot test program.  Educational webinars are a great way to uncover the gold mine and prove your hypothesis that marketing will be the next big growth engine for your company.

Here are the 10 FAQs about webinars as a gold mining marketing tactic:

Q.  Why should I care about webinars?
A.  As mentioned above, webinars are one of the best marketing tactics that can get you broader and deeper engagement with your target audience.  Engagement = more customers.  There is no other marketing or sales tactic that can get you in front of hundreds or even thousands of prospective customers with as little cost.  The ROI can be enormous.

Q.  How many leads will I get from a webinar?
A.  I’ve created a single webinar that generated as many as 2500 leads.  The actual number depends somewhat on your current activity and the viability of your current database as well as the makeup of your target audience.  As an example, if yours is a medium size manufacturing company with annual revenue of around $100 million USD, an educational webinar could easily draw 500 registrants.

Q.  How do I use video in my webinars?
A.  You don’t use a live video stream with a webinar.  The assumption that a webinar includes live video feed is a common misconception about webinars.  When we talk about webinars, we’re not talking about a TV broadcast.  In a webinar, you don’t use a live video feed of someone talking.  You use a couple of people who talk over the presentation.  Video adds a great deal of complexity to the webinar if you are broadcasting to hundreds of people.  Complexity increases risk of presenting a poor quality webinar.

Q.  How do I create a webinar?
A.  There are a number of ways to create an effective webinar.  Check out this Webinar Toolkit I put together for the do-it-yourselfers.  The key thing to remember is to make the webinar about something that matters to your target audience.  Don’t create a webinar about your product or your company.  There are a number of good platforms available for webinar creation, production and broadcasting on the market which are easy to find.  Like any event, there are myriad details to cover.  You’ll need someone with a little experience to help you with your first few webinars.

Q.  What is the best topic for my webinar?
A.  As I alluded to above, the best topic is one that helps the people in your audience to be better at something they care about.  Product webinars usually fail as broad engagement activities.  You need to switch your marketing thinking from, “look at us, look at our product, we are great” mentality to a “we can help you, we share our expertise, you are great” mentality.  Find a topic that is at the intersection of a pain point or pleasure point common in your target audience with your unique expertise.

Q.  Who is the best person to speak?
A.  As a manufacturing company, you have a lot of expertise lurking about the halls of your company.  Some are good speakers, some are terrified of speaking and some think they are good speakers.  Find an expert who is passionate and has some experience with speaking.  Members of a Toastmasters group are excellent choices.  Avoid choosing sales people or upper level executives because they will always fall back on pitching the product or the company which defeats the purpose and intent of your educational webinar.  Make sure you coach your speakers and practice, practice, practice!

Q.  How much resources will it take to produce a webinar?
A.  It does take considerable resources in time and personnel to earn growth with webinars.  As far as money, a webinar will give you the lowest cost per person engagement of most any marketing activity.  In other words, webinars are cheaper and provide more return than print ads, trade shows and digital ads.  Plan on 25 hours for the initial setup and about 10 hours per webinar for production.  You can purchase a webinar platform for around $400 per month as a subscription service.  The other resource you should be sensitive to is the time of your subject matter experts.  Make it easy and rewarding for them to participate.

Q.  What is the ROI for a webinar?
A.  As with all questions about ROI, it’s tricky to come up with a black & white answer.  I can say that for about the price of a full page color ad in a trade journal or about 1/3 the cost of a trade show, you can produce the webinar.  The ROI could easily be in the 10’s of thousands of percent.  For example if you invest $8500 in a webinar, a well produced and well done webinar could easily get a 100x return.  Naturally, it depends on the nature of the thing you are selling, but the point is, webinars can give you a lot of bang for your buck.

Q.  What are the specific benefits of webinars?
A.  In addition to the ROI benefit mentioned above, a well done, educational webinar produced with an audience focused topic will provide top of mind awareness, strong feelings of reciprocity, position your firm as highly credible (more credible than the competition), and all of that results in growth, growth and more growth for your business.

Q.  What are the first steps to get started?
A.  Just do it.  You, as the senior manufacturing executive, will have to devote personnel time, budget and probably help recruit the subject matter expert.  Choose a person from the marketing department to own the process.  If you tack it on as an ancillary responsibility to someone’s regular duties, you will get a half-assed result and you will discard webinars altogether missing the gold mine.

Another option to get started is to hire a webinar expert to produce a turn-key program.  At KMI, we offer that service.  Heck, we’re so confident that this will work for your company, you can pay for performance.  Pay for performance means the payment for the webinars is based on the number of registrants or attendees.  Request a price quote today!

‘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.

 

5 Things About Webinars Your Boss Wants to Know

BusinessDiscussion

That’s right, there are a few things your boss wants to know about webinars.  As an innovative, modern manufacturing marketer, you’re the best person to fill him in on the potential power of webinars as a lead generation and revenue machine.  Here’s what he wants to know:

  1. WIIFM? As humans, we naturally want to know the answer to the fundamental question ‘what’s in it for me’.  We all hate to admit it, but we all know it’s true deep down in our caveman brains and hearts.  Your boss is no different.  As in any information you present, he wants to know how it will affect him, his career, his compensation, his free time, his reputation, etc.  As far as webinars go,  he wants to know how webinars further the company mission and associated goals.  If the goal is growth, he wants to know how webinars affect growth.  If the goal is more tactical, more leads for example, he wants to know how webinars will drive more leads.  Tell him that webinars do drive growth and they do drive more leads into the sales funnel as long as they are well executed.  Read this post for more insight into what makes a webinar effective as opposed to lame.
  2. How will webinars affect business performance?  Part of your boss’ job is to allocate his limited resources to various marketing personnel and activities.  Naturally, he wants to do his best to get maximum benefit out of his limited resources. Tell him that webinars will feed the sales pipeline and accelerate the buying process for prospective customers stuck in the sales funnel.  By educating the target audience he will also get top-of-mind awareness (TOMA) and credibility in the minds of the people who will one day purchase what the firm is selling.  TOMA + credibility grows the top line organically by taking market share from the competition.  Tell him you can show very specific numbers from the webinar activity that prove or disprove your hypothesis that webinars drive revenue.
  3. How do we make it happen with limited resources?  Webinars do take a significant chunk of resources up front.  However, once the upfront work is done and marketers are past the learning curve, much of the webinar process can be automated.  (shameless self promotion alert) It may require using a freelance webinar consultant or reassigning 1 or 2 people from less effective marketing activities to the webinar project.  The bigger challenge will be lining up and getting time from subject matter experts.  The good news is that you can build a process around webinars and become very efficient at creating, executing and leveraging webinars for more business.
  4. Why don’t we talk about the product?  This one can be a tough sell for a manufacturing marketer trained to live and die by the product.  It’s important to tell him that engagement with the target audience is 10x to 20x more effective with educational webinars as compared to product based webinars.  Take a look at these case studies before your chat with your boss.  He may be skeptical and here is where you plead for a pilot case.  Most senior marketers are open to a pilot test because they can say they are innovative marketers and the risk is pretty low.
  5. Why did you wait so long to tell me about webinars?  This is the question you might get after proving your point.  If you follow webinar best practices, you will get hundreds or even thousands of people directly from your target audience to register and attend the webinar.  If you have the tools in place (CRM and MAP), you can prove the webinar contribution to new opportunities and closed/won opportunities.  If your boss can attend the next leadership meeting and present the results of his new webinar initiative as contribution to 20% of new sales opportunities, you’re the winner!

How many times has your boss asked you to “think out of the box”?  How many times has he asked for innovation and creativity?  This is your chance.  Answer these 5 questions before your boss asks and you’re the next marketing hero at your manufacturing firm!

7 Quick Tips About Manufacturing Webinars

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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.

5 Reasons Every Manufacturing Company Should Do Educational Webinars

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I know what a lot of you are already thinking even as you read the title of this post, “we tried webinars and they don’t work for us”. I implore you to read on with an open mind.  I’d be willing to bet that those of you who have tried webinars unsuccessfully tried webinars about one of your products or a new product launch.  I agree, those product webinars don’t get much interest.

If you were to produce educational webinars offering your unique expertise via education, I guarantee you would get hundreds of attendees knocking down the door to hear your experts tell them how to solve a perplexing problem.  How does that sound?  Imagine being in front of (virtually) several hundred people who are in your target audience and solving their problems or making their lives better.  You can and should include webinars as a primary activity in your manufacturing marketing mix.  Here are 5 compelling reasons:

  1. Educational webinars generate demand and create tons of high quality leads for the top of  your sales funnel.
    • Nothing generates interest and engagement like a webinar that educates the people in your target audience.  If you pick a relevant topic and give away useful information, you will attract hundreds or even thousands of the very people in your target audience who will one day purchase your product.  It’s important to remember that only a small percentage of the people who do attend your webinar are ready to buy at the moment when they sign up or attend a webinar.  But, the overwhelming majority will eventually buy the thing you are selling.  It is extremely important to continue to offer relevant and useful information on a regular basis.  A series of webinars is the best way to position your brand and your offering top of mind with your target audience.  If you really want to be a superstar and take market share from your competitors, in addition to the webinars, repurpose the content into an enewsletter or other regular nurturing program.
  2. Educational webinars establish your brand and your offering as more credible than the competition.
    • Which firm is more credible; the one who pounds you with their corporate spin and product features or the firm who helps you to be better at your profession or relieve some pain in your daily tasks by sharing their expertise via educational events and activities?  I can tell you from experience the latter destroys the former every time.  The best way to demonstrate credibility is to prove it by sharing expertise.  Don’t confuse expertise about your product with expertise that helps the people in your audience.  Check out this KMI webinar for more on that topic.
  3. Educational webinars are a gift to the very people who will one day purchase what you manufacture. 
    • Giving a gift of education to the people in your target audience evokes a desire within them to reciprocate.  When the day comes around and the people who attended your webinar (which made their lives better) are ready to purchase the thing you are selling, they want to reciprocate and buy from you not your competitor.  Top of mind awareness (TOMA), credibility and reciprocity are a killer combination.
  4. Webinars offer great engagement metrics that will impress your executive leadership team, the sales team and validate your marketing team’s strategy and tactics.
    • Unlike other content marketing tactics, webinars offer simple and easy metrics that will quickly validate your success.  Imagine telling your CEO that your most recent webinar put your manufacturing experts in front of 2500 prospective customers.  ( I actually achieved this result with a manufacturing company – read about it here.)  If you have the proper tools in place, you can also show how much revenue was influenced by your webinar series.  You just might even be able to impress the CFO!
  5. Educational webinars will grow your business and enable you to take market share from your competitors.
    • You’ll get the attention and engagement of a much larger portion of your potential market by helping them to be better through educational webinar events which share your expertise.  While your competitors are stuck in the old ways of sales and marketing like trade shows and brochures talking about their products and their so called global leadership position, you’re actually helping the people in the market.  You get TOMA, credibility, reciprocity and you take the business from your competition.

Ready to give it a try?  Do it yourself or contact KMI about Turn-key Webinar Services.  The price of a turn-key webinar is about the same as one full color ad in a trade journal.  Which one do you think will get you a better ROI?

B2B Manufacturing Companies Should Forget Social Media; Do These 3 Things Instead

In the most recent Content Marketing Institute (CMI) manufacturing research about how Manufacturing Marketers are using social media, 89% of respondents claim to be using LinkedIn, 83% use YouTube and 80% use Facebook.  Overall, 85% use social media as a marketing tactic; number 3 behind eNewsletters and Videos.  In other recent research presented by Trew Marketing about the target market of many B2B Manufacturing companies, engineers, 42% report social media as not valuable, 34% as unsure or somewhat valuable and only 24% as moderately or very valuable.  This research, as well as my own experience with manufacturing companies, indicates a pretty big disconnect between manufacturing marketers and their technical audiences.

CMI social graph

Let’s give the marketers a break, it may not be their fault.  How  many of us have experienced the Monday morning meeting with the CEO or GM where he comes in all excited about social media.  Maybe he tells a story about how his high school daughters had a couple of friends over and they loved this cool social media app called [Pinterest, SnapChat, fill in your own blank]?  He proceeds to tell you, the marketing professional, that we need to get on the social media bandwagon?  Check out the “Woo Woo” video from Adobe Marketing Cloud for a more humorous (or sad) portrayal.

B2B manufacturing companies should forget about social media and spend time and budget on something else.  Typically, manufacturing companies have very lean marketing staff and budgets.  Every single choice you make is not only a budget choice, it is an opportunity cost.  Spending time on a marketing tactic that your target audience does not value is a lost opportunity for spending time and other resources on a marketing tactic that reaches them with a tactic that they do appreciate, value and use on a regular basis.  Most research data supports the conclusion that the majority of engineers and/or technical audiences are not found on the social media channels. 

 

Trew Social Graph

If you, as a manufacturing marketer, are sure your target audience is using social media and you can prove interaction or, even more important, revenue attribution, then by all means continue.  If you are not sure or unable to prove interaction with the people in your target audience, STOP, PULL THE PLUG, CEASE and DESIST using social media immediately.

Instead, divert those resources (people, time, money, opportunity) to these marketing tactics where engineers and a technical audience go for information.

  1. Start an opt-in enewsletter.  Your technical audience values enewsletters that  are short, easy to read and contain technical content or application stories that are relevant to their professional lives.  Use your company’s expertise to create useful white papers, best practice guides, FAQs, etc.  DO NOT start an enewsletter about your company people, events, products, etc.  DO NOT dump your whole database in as subscribers.  Instead, invite them to subscribe to learn about a subject where your firm’s expertise intersects with their pain or passion.  Opt-in subscribers will engage 5x to 10x more than the email blast receivers.
  2. Create an educational webinar series.  This may sound daunting if you haven’t done webinars.  You are also likely to get push back from your executives or your sales people.  But, I encourage you to persevere.  Educational webinars done well can attract hundreds or even thousands of people in your target audience.  The temptation and pressure to create webinars about your products will be strong.  RESIST!  DO NOT create webinars about your products if your goal is deeper and wider engagement with your target audience.  [shameless self promotion – KMI offers turn-key webinar production for manufacturing companies]
  3. Create educational, useful and relevant content.  This one supports your overall marketing strategy.  As a manufacturing marketer, you likely have outbound and inbound tactics.  The more useful and relevant content you can create to use in your enewsletters, website and outbound paid advertising, the more meaningful and broader will be your audience engagement.  As a manufacturer, you probably have tons of content about your products.  That’s a good thing because every manufacturing company needs to have that content for the later stages of the buying process.  You probably do not have a lot of educational content that is not directly about your product.  This is your gold mine for audience engagement.  Engineers love to download PDF documents.  In fact, according to the TREW Marketing research, 90% of engineers prefer the PDF document format followed by 66% preferring pictures, diagrams and illustrations.  STRONG CAVEAT – the content must be useful and helpful to the people in your target audience.

If social media is a component of your current marketing plan, it might sound scary to abandon the tactic altogether overnight.  Perhaps your particular B2B manufacturing target audience does prefer and value social media as a channel.  If that is the case and you can truly prove it to yourself, your team and your executive leadership, then, by all means, you must continue.  If you have robust marketing resources or marketing people looking for things to do, then, sure, dabble in social media where you could connect with that 15% of the technical audience who do value social media.  For the rest of us, research indicates that if your audience is engineers or technical professionals, the majority does not use nor value social media in their professional lives.  Most manufacturing marketing teams have limited time and resources, so use them wisely and put your message in a place the majority audience values.  Make the message about something they value.  Provide that information in a format the majority prefers.

Good luck!  Feel free to call on KMI for help with content strategy, turn-key educational webinars or leveraging your content with marketing automation.

Resource: (download this report from GlobalSpec).  This report confirms the fact that the greater industrial audience does not value social media in their professional lives.