Tag Archives: manufacturing

What’s Holding Back Your Manufacturing Growth?

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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.

 

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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.

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.

10 Common Misconceptions About Webinars

myth-realityA customer focused, educational, well executed webinar can get your company thousands of registrants and attendees.  The problem is that most companies who try webinars just get it wrong and then give up, proving to themselves and their stakeholders that webinars indeed do not work.  Webinars do work and they are fantastic quality lead generators.  If you can get past the misconceptions about webinars, you might be surprised about the power of a well done webinar to increase market share, enhance engagement and increase awareness in your marketplace.

Misconception #1 – Webinars are boring.  Yes indeed, most webinars are boring because they are so poorly put together and even worse in their execution.  The reason this is a misconception is that relevant and well executed webinars are only boring if you miss the concerns or interests of your target audience.  Even a somewhat poorly executed webinar is NOT boring if the topic is useful to the members of the target audience.   If you can find a topic that resonates with your target audience and is not just about you and your company, it will not be perceived as boring to your target audience.  Webinars are boring if they are not relevant and not useful.  Webinars are interesting and even entertaining if the topic is germane and the execution is strong.

Misconception #2 – Webinars don’t work.  As mentioned above, poorly executed webinars that are about the company and its products don’t work.  It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  More often than not, it plays out something like this:  someone at a company decides to give webinars a try.  They ask around and decide to put on a webinar about their latest new product launch and the latest press release where their CEO was quoted.  They put together the material straight out of the web page, data sheet and the press release.  Maybe they even get the CEO to introduce the webinar where he or she talks about how great the company is and why everyone should revere their products.  The invitation goes out and it immediately flops.  Ten people sign up.  They go ahead with the webinar test plan, excited about the live broadcast in spite of the low interest.  The day of the live broadcast arrives and only 2 people sign on.  Boom!  The consensus is that webinars don’t work.

I’ve seen this scenario play out over and over again.  On the flip side, when a company chooses a topic that helps the people in their target audience to be better, relieve a common pain or enhance a passion, the registrations flood in and the attendees jam the virtual doors.  Webinars with a strong, audience focused topic do work and they work spectacularly!

Misconception #3 – Nobody attends live webinars.  Typically, attendance rates for webinars with high engagement topics will see a 50% attendance rate.  Yes, it is easy to blow off a webinar in favor of a tap on the shoulder from your boss or an impromptu meeting, but if the topic is relevant, most of those who do not attend the live event will listen to the recording or, at least, peruse the slide deck.  I can’t stress this enough;  if the topic is useful and relevant to your target audience, people will attend.  The most successful webinar I ever created had about 2500 registrants.  About 800 attended the live event.  The recording was viewed another 1300 times.  Yes, people do attend webinars if they find the material useful.  If the audience sees value in the webinar, they will find a way to attend.

Misconception #4 – People in my market aren’t at their computers all day so it’s impossible for them to attend a webinar.  Once again, if the topic is useful for them, they will find a way to attend the live broadcast or, at least, to watch the recording at home or on their mobile device.  I’ve presented webinars to factory workers, warehouse workers and others who rarely sit in front of a computer during the day, but find the time to fill up a conference room or watch the recording after hours because they found the topic useful.

Misconception #5 – Webinars are easy to do.  Poor webinars are easy.  Engaging and useful webinars are difficult, requiring an investment of time and money to be successful.  Is it worth the investment?  You bet!  Well done webinars have some of the highest ROI of any marketing tactic I’ve used.  The reason they are difficult is due to the myriad of details that must be attended.  It helps to have someone own the webinar with responsibility and authority to make it happen.  It also helps to have a proven template to help guide the selection of a topic and the timeline from creation to broadcast to follow up activities.

Misconception #6 – Webinars are expensive and time consuming.  Cost per lead for a webinar is among the lowest possible of most marketing tactics.  Perhaps the first webinar will take some extra time, but after you have a cadence and a process in place, scaling is easy.  Consider the cost of a typical trade show booth lead at about $250 per lead.  By most B2B benchmarks, a typical top-of-funnel lead costs about $45.   Webinar leads are usually less than $10 per lead and of higher quality than leads generated by most other marketing tactics.

Misconception #7 – A webinar is just a voice over a slide deck.  Poorly done (boring) webinars will consist of one person talking about one slide after another.  Perhaps the reason most people have such a poor perception and a lot of misconceptions about webinars is because they have attended so many really bad webinars.  Engaging webinars include more than one voice/personality.  Really good webinars use polls, surveys, quizzes and question/answer sessions to engage the audience.  Webinars can include videos or other media options as well.  Some webinars also include a live video feed of the presenter.

Misconception #8 – Webinars are just new product launch promotions.  This is the single driving force behind all of these misconceptions.  Let me be completely clear. Product based webinars will fail.  Webinars with a topic about something the audience cares about will be very successful.  Don’t waste your time putting together a webinar about your product or service because nobody will sign up.  Not sure how educating your audience translates to more business.  Read about it here.

Misconception #9 – I can use my virtual meeting service for webinars.  Virtual meeting tools do not provide enough features nor enough seats for a properly executed webinar.  You could probably pull it off, but it would end up proving the point that webinars don’t work.  It will require more time and cause a lot more frustration.  Pay for a platform that is designed for webinars.  You’ll be more effective and the attendee experience will be much, much better.  Some vendors to consider include ReadyTalk, Gotowebinar, ON24, WebEx and Adobe Connect.

Misconception #10 – Webinars are a one way conversation and, therefore, not engaging.  If you follow best practices in selecting your topic, platform, speakers, promotion, broadcasting and follow up,  your webinar will be a 2 way conversation with highly qualified and interested people who make up your target audience.  Again, poorly executed webinars where there is one person droning on slide after slide with no questions, no polls, no surveys, etc. are a one way conversation and will be perceived as a failure in most cases.  Nearly all webinar platforms do allow for real-time interaction with the audience.  Making it a 2 way conversation is possible and is a best practice for lead generating webinars.

Webinars are perhaps the single marketing tactic with the highest potential for success and the highest potential for failure.  The internet is littered with poorly done webinars.  Webinars offer the lowest cost per lead and the highest ROI of nearly all marketing tactics.  Do webinars right or don’t do them at all.

If you like the idea of knowledge based webinars but feel you don’t have the resources, check out KMI’s Turn-key Webinar Services.  Already doing webinars, but not happy with the results, KMI can help you do better.  We even support the do-it-yourself marketing team with this free webinar toolkit.

Contant KMI today and learn how you too can become a webinar superstar.

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Learn how to grow your manufacturing business with Modern Marketing 2.0

You’re under pressure from owners, the board of directors, shareholders, Wall Street and others to grow your manufacturing business. You’ve tried increasing spend on R&D, commissioning market research studies, customer satisfaction surveys, changed out business unit leadership, and any number … Continue reading