Today’s marketplace is filled with innovative solutions in the form of products, services, and technologies. In order to build a sustainable business, generate new customers, and retain existing customers, companies must invest in a solid marketing strategy. This includes companies operating in the manufacturing industry.
No matter which manufacturing niche you operate in, understanding the Buyer’s Journey is critical. When you’re conscious of the steps your buyer takes leading up to a purchase, you can act as a resource to nurture them along the way. Understanding your buyers and their journey is a learning process, and many manufacturing marketers must start by setting the foundation.
Where do your marketing operations fall on the maturity scale? Here’s a quick chart to help you evaluate where you stand:
When a manufacturing company is just diving into the world of marketing, they’re likely in the novice stage.
- Personas: They know little about their ideal customer and have not defined buyer personas.
- Strategy: They have not taken a strategic approach to marketing. Marketing tactics are more traditional, in the form of cold calling, direct mail, and events.
- Goals and KPIs: They have set goals but they may not be SMART (i.e., specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely). They do not track specific key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Sales: Marketing and sales teams are not aligned.
- Tech: Neither a customer relationship management (CRM) system or a marketing automation tool are being used.
- Website: The website is out of date and does not act as a marketing tool, nor does it provide an integrated customer experience.
- Reporting: Reporting is done on an ad-hoc basis.
As manufacturing marketing becomes slightly more advanced, companies may find themselves at the beginner level.
- Personas: They understand their ideal customer but have not defined buyer personas.
- Strategy: They have outlined a plan and prioritized marketing activities. Marketing tactics combine a traditional and modern approach with a focus on cold calling, events, and blogging.
- Goals and KPIs: They have attempted to set SMART goals with the data they have, however not every marketing activity ties to a goal. A couple of KPIs have been identified, but they are not being tracked consistently.
- Sales: Marketing and sales have started to have conversations around marketing- and sales-qualified leads.
- Tech: A CRM is being used but is underutilized.
- Website: The website is out of date but is starting to act as a marketing tool.
- Reporting: Some reports are pulled manually and others on an ad-hoc basis.
When marketing manufacturing moves to the next level, companies can consider themselves intermediate.
- Personas: They understand their ideal customer and have defined their primary and secondary buyer personas.
- Strategy: They have defined a strategic plan targeted to those buyer personas. Marketing tactics have taken a digital approach with a focus on content and email marketing.
- Goals and KPIs: They have set SMART goals and ensure their strategic plan supports these goals. KPIs have been identified and are tracked consistently.
- Sales: Marketing and sales are aligned in that they have defined who marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads are, and which department is responsible for each.
- Tech: A CRM is being used to a greater extent but is still somewhat underutilized. A marketing automation platform is also being used.
- Website: The website functions as a lead generation tool.
- Reporting: Most reporting is automated, with a few reports pulled manually.
At the advanced level, manufacturers have the tools and resources available and connected so that marketing functions are seamless.
- Personas: They understand their ideal customer and have defined their primary and secondary buyer personas. Personas are documented, revisited, and updated regularly.
- Strategy: They have defined a strategic plan targeted to those buyer personas. They have developed content for each persona at each stage of their Buyer’s Journey. They have launched and monitored multi-channel campaigns that encompass the following tactics: search engine optimization, email marketing, content marketing, social media, paid media, and more.
- Goals and KPIs: They have set SMART goals and ensure their strategic plan supports those goals. Goals are monitored on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Goals are reset as needed. KPIs have been identified and are tracked on a weekly basis.
- Sales: Marketing and sales have developed a service level agreement (SLA) and are working in conjunction with one another.
- Tech: A CRM is being used to its full capacity, capturing all marketing and sales functions. A marketing automation platform is also being used.
- Website: The website functions as a lead-generation tool, and conversion rate optimization is a top priority.
- Reporting: All reporting is automated.
In order to create a roadmap to boost the maturity of your manufacturing marketing operations, it’s important to assess your company’s position right now. By understanding where your marketing efforts fall, you can build on what you do (or don’t) have in place. You may have the in-house resources to take your marketing strategy to the next level, or you may explore hiring a marketing agency.
No matter who manages your marketing efforts, they play a critical role in your manufacturing company’s success. Whether you’re aiming to grow brand awareness, increase lead generation, or boost revenue, strategic marketing can help get you there.