Manufacturing Marketing: Where to Start
Recently overtaking France, Britain is now the eight largest manufacturer in the world. To say that’s welcome news would be an understatement! Brexit, a pandemic, the cost-of-living-crisis that’s felt as though it’s going on forever – pressure on manufacturers has been gigantic. So, hearing that we’ve managed to come out the other side a spot higher than the year before is definitely worth celebrating!
And given the focus the Department for Business and Trade announced in its Advanced Manufacturing Plan (AMP) just two months ago, it’s finally starting to feel as though the sector can let out the breath it’s been holding. Whilst manufacturing’s had its foot in the door to harnessing the digital revolution, it now feels as though that door can be pushed wide open. But just as important as all the AI bells and industrial IoT whistles this brings to the UK’s manufacturing sector is another element that’s core to not just building, but keeping, that success: marketing.
The reach of manufacturing marketing
The AMP puts a lot of focus on renewables (as expected), and also on digital transformation activities. The next stage of the UK’s digital manufacturing blueprint is developing and rolling out these cleaner, digitised manufacturing technologies. But the tech’s only going to be as effective as its reach. I.E. the businesses and consumers who can put it into play to make a positive difference. And that reach is only going to be as good as our manufacturers’ marketing gets it.
Manufacturing marketing, then and now
There’s a lot to say for just how far our manufacturing sector has relied on word-of-mouth, networking, and influential connections to keep the cogs on the sales wheels turning. But business is changing – the days of making an enquiry by telephone still exist, but we’re less likely to be dialling a number on our iPhone than we are pinging off a quick email. (Or even opening Instagram and sending a direct message to the manufacturer, inspired by the behind-the-scenes Reel you’ve just watched about their new CAD machine!)
Whether you’re a start-up looking to disrupt the aerospace manufacturing scene or an established name in the world of MedTech device production, your marketing needs to move with the times. And a multi-channel approach is key to getting in front of your prospects, investors, and key stakeholders at the same time. Not to mention the influence it has on retaining customers and employees – but more on that, later.
3 starting points for manufacturing marketing
Like with anything in life, getting started is often the hardest part. Lucky for you, we’ve been working with manufacturers on their marketing strategies and activities for years, so it’s fair to say we know the most impactful ways to kick things off! We’ve broken it down into three core areas below to make it as easy as possible for you.
1. For manufacturing start-ups…
New brand, product, or service, but no marketing? It’s not rocket science – you need to be out there to be seen! And no, we don’t mean posting anything and everything to LinkedIn, X, Instagram, and Facebook feeds (the list goes on). Effective marketing makes your brand recognisable and memorable. So, it’s time to get the creative juices flowing and develop a brand aesthetic that represents your manufacturing business!
Then you can really begin to start building awareness of your brand. From the look and feel of your website to the tone of voice within your B2B email marketing campaigns, and looping back around to those social media posts, a consistent brand image and message puts you in better stead to resonate and be remembered by your audience.
2. Expanding into a new market?
For manufacturers looking to get a slice of the pie in a new market, research should be your top priority! Successful manufacturing marketing strategies should always come back to your ‘why?’. You know which problems your product/service exists to solve, but do you know how best to communicate this to a floor of new and different prospects?
Persona research is a tried-and-tested place to start to help you understand your target audience, including where they are and the types of content they’re going to respond to:
- Do they spend most of their working day at a desk? Make your website their new best friend, updating it with current and informative content about your niche that works to overcome some of their biggest challenges!
- Are they active on social media? From the live video tours of your manufacturing facility to an animation of your latest product/service brochure, bring new life to their daily scroll!
- Maybe they’re out and about at industry events – make sure your name’s on the attendee list, too. Branded sales literature is your ally here – go prepared with product brochures, business cards, and don’t forget memorable merch. Everyone loves a freebie! And if you’re exhibiting, make sure you get the most from your package. From a prime stand location to a headline speaker slot to your place in the delegate guide, it’s time to negotiate!
3. Changing in size or heading for acquisition?
It’s always a busy time for manufacturing acquisitions, and we’ve been at the fore of a few major ones in the last couple of years. Internal marketing is just as important as external marketing, especially in a sector that’s getting more competitive for certain digital skills by the day. Did you know that the manufacturing sector has an average salary that’s nearly 10% higher than the economy average?
Marketing’s most effective when it’s holistic. And that means giving as much time to building a relationship with your people as much as you do your target audience! That could look like:
- Separate social media profiles to share staff achievements (professionally or personally)
- Posting business updates on internal intranets (from company news to upcoming social events)
- Internal email communications to encourage participation in social competitions (think your business’s take on Bake Off!) or raise awareness of training and development opportunities
We might be in the digital era, but your people are still your driving force.
Why do manufacturers need a marketing strategy?
The manufacturing demographic is changing, both in terms of your employees and the people that make up the businesses you’re selling too. Modern manufacturing is digital. Intelligent. Operationally efficient. Time-savvy. Sleek. Just as the operations on the factory floor are changing, so too are the comms that go with it. To build bonds, drive successful sales, and sustain growth, you need a marketing strategy that’s responsive, adaptable, and relevant. And we’re here to help!
And if you’re reading this before February 2024 is out, you might be interested in our upcoming event – Forging Future’s: A Digital Manufacturer’s Guide to 2024.