Sales and marketing are two of the most important functions in any manufacturing business. Whether you have 4 employees or 400, having a good system in place to let new customers find your product, and an intelligent sales mechanism to help those customers make the best purchase of your product, is key to longevity.
With all the new technology in this space in the last 5 years, it’s tempting to get carried away thinking about how the latest tool or software can automate marketing for your business. Unfortunately, the more tools you have in place, the easier it is to fall into a few of these myths and misconceptions. Tools won’t save you. Keep the basics of sales and marketing in mind and you’ll be on track, no matter what tools you’re using.
Referrals Are Enough to Keep Customers Coming
It’s a common mistake in any industry to place all your faith for your business’s future into referrals. Word of mouth alone is not a sustainable marketing strategy. It’s true, the power of social proof (online or offline reviews, word of mouth, referrals) in helping new customers find your products is tremendous. You can’t count on referrals alone to bring you new or repeated business. Harness the power of these referrals to build a sustainable process and program to make those referrals work for you. Build in automatic trigger points that alert your team to request a referral, and then create a referral incentive program for your best customers to reward their good deeds. As your business grows over time, continuously evaluate your referral sources and adjust your program as those flex to be sure you’re creating a win/win scenario.
Social Media Doesn’t Work For B2B Manufacturers
As we’ve discussed in several recent webinars, social media can be a boon for B2B AND B2C manufacturers. Take a look at companies like Toyota Equipment. They have a bustling presence on LinkedIn and get a stream of traffic to their site via these channels. Utilizing social media channels to reach target customers or suppliers is a way to stand out from the competition and differentiate your business. Don’t just think of social media as a selling tool, consider it as a mechanism to add value to your existing customer base and keep them coming back for more. Consider publishing content that helps existing customers get the most out of your product. Or, create a campaign to add prospects to your newsletter so that you can provide valuable blog post content that makes their workday easier.
If you’re interested in learning more about Social Media Marketing, take a look at our latest course offering with our partners at MTO Agency. Only a couple spots remain for this online course! LEARN MORE >
Every Lead Is Equally Important
When business is new it’s exciting to see interested parties knocking on your door to buy your products. However, as any sales or marketing employee will soon find out, leads who aren’t truly interested can suck your valuable time away. Instead of spending time nurturing every lead through the pipeline only to have half fall out due to bad fit, focus on your ideal customer, so you’re only bringing the right customers in from the beginning. Do you know who that target audience is? Create one or more defined personas based on your best customers to identify the traits, characteristics, and thoughts of clients who repeatedly buy from you. Then, put those characteristics to work in your marketing material to talk directly to those who you know are a good client fit. Don’t be afraid to shift those over time too, as your company grows and matures.
Your Product Speaks for Itself
This idea is tempting. We all want to have the best product- the product that is so good, everyone wants one. Yet, even if we have made the best product in the world, your business needs a thought-out value proposition to sell that product. If you don’t guide the potential customers to see the benefits to them in your product, you’re just making a long list of boring features.
Your team should be able to articulate your value proposition in plain, jargon-free, easy to understand language. If you haven’t invested the time to do so, consider creating tools that enable your team to do this. Many manufacturers want their defining characteristic to be ‘highest quality’. When everyone has that tagline, it’s not unique. Instead, tap into the wants needs and desires of your buyers (remember those personas we discussed earlier?) to build a value proposition that connects to them in a meaningful way.
This post barely skims the surface of some big ideas that can make or break company’s marketing and sales efforts. If you have questions about anything we discussed here, OMEP would be happy to discuss with you on a deeper level.