Having a dedicated marketing team to devise, plan, and execute strategic inbound marketing plans can work wonders for companies of all sizes - including manufacturers. But, how many manufacturing businesses do you know have the budget to have a fully-staffed in-house marketing team? Unfortunately, not all that many.
Small and medium scale manufacturing businesses typically can’t afford the extravagant marketing budgets that bigger companies take for granted. This is why any business owner who wants to get their brand name to a larger audience must be creative with their promotional efforts. But, where do you even begin?
Inbound Marketing – The Power is in Your Hands!
Forget about television ads and broadcasts on the radio, in this day and age; nothing works better to promote a business than the internet and using inbound marketing strategies. The bottom line is: today's manufacturers are online searching for their products and services, but if you aren't there, they have no way to find you. The good news is, it’s entirely possible to promote your brand and get your name out there without a large marketing team.
To begin, let's define inbound marketing:
"Inbound marketing is about using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention. Sharing is caring, and inbound marketing is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more." -HubSpot
Manufacturing and Marketing - Numbers Don't Lie
Today, only 30% of manufacturers feel they do content marketing successfully. And only 20% of manufacturers carry a documented marketing plan. Those figures show us that manufacturers are investing money in their marketing efforts, but not investing their time and energy into making a plan that can account for their success or failure.
How to Get Started With a Plan
Whether you have been doing business for many years or are just starting out, here are some tried and tested inbound marketing tips that will help you get started and expand without spending a fortune:
1. Define Your Buyer
Plan your attack by defining who your customers are. (These are your buyer personas) Then, identify what they want and what information they are seeking from you at each stage of their buying journey. In short, know your target audience and be as specific as possible with what you present to them. Is your target the CTO of the company or a 37-year-old dad working full-time? Do they use Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or other social media? What are their purchasing habits? What kind of information do they want when they first find your company and how is that different from what they want to know right before they sign a contract?
2. Catalog and Create Online Content
Content is the key element of any successful inbound marketing campaign. The content you create is ultimately what leads people to find you on search engines and transitions them into customers. To better understand how to use your current resources, you must identify what content you have, then categorize it so you can access it for publishing on your site. If you lack content that would resonate well with your personas and their various buying stages, then it's time to pound that keyboard and create some. You'll need these content elements when you implement your automation software. (Don't worry, we'll talk more about that in the next section).
Keep in mind that content can come in many formats like a social media post, an infographic, a video tutorial, a blog write-up, an eBook, a whitepaper or whatever you have identified is the best way to deliver information to your buyers. But regardless of how you deliver the information, it should be intriguing and informative instead of overly salesly and aggressive.
2. Turn on Automation
Now that you have content, it's time to start leveraging it. You can do that with marketing automation software like HubSpot. This handy tool can completely change how people view your organization as a whole. Automation software provides the tools to manage, monitor and track the results of blog content, eBooks and resources, emails, social media, the sales process, and much more.3. Don't Forget About Social
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have become an integral part of how leading companies market and promote themselves, because most people today are active on social media sites. Besides, social media lets you engage and relate with your customer unlike anything else.
To begin, select the right social network for your business type. (Business services? Start with Facebook and LinkedIn. Local craft store? Go on over to Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.) Be sure to include a clear description of your business with the keywords your customers use to search you on Google, and add a link to your website.
To take things a step further - look for groups or conversations on social media channels about products and services that are similar to yours. Once you've found these spots, (LinkedIn is a great place to start) join in the conversation and be genuinely helpful by solving problems or answering questions. Keep in mind that no matter what you do, never spam people in these spaces with regular promotions about what you sell. Nothing drives away people more than a nagging salesperson that just won't stop pitching their business in a group they want to use as an informational resource.
4. Nurture Your Contacts With Email
If you want people to remember your business, you must keep in touch with them. And the best way to do this is to send them information and offerings through lead nurturing emails to both your customers and prospects. But remember, people only appreciate an email in their inbox when it meets their stage in the buyer's journey and when they have given permission to receive it.
One of the best ways to get email addresses for your mailing list is to give something away in exchange for their information. Let’s say you are in the nutrition business; you can share a link to social media or other online areas that point to one of your website resources (like an eBook on how to lose weight without a crash diet). But to get that resource, the person clicking on the link also opts-in to your marketing list by filling out a form on a landing page to get that resource. (And yes, all this can be managed through HubSpot, too.)
You may also tempt people to sign up for your newsletter with the promise of providing weekly advice on subjects that relate to your business. HubSpot makes it very easy to send professional emails and manage your contact lists. People love freebies and are more likely to refer your business to others if you stay fresh in their minds.
5. Utilize the Power of Video
2016 was the year of video in the world of marketing, and 2017 will only show more growth in this area. Research by Wyzowl revealed that 67% of companies who have included videos in their marketing campaign achieved a higher ROI.
From explainer videos describing your product or service to training videos and testimonials, the options are endless. Additionally, videos have greater social reach as people are more likely to watch and share them with their friends on networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
6. Engage Beyond Your Computer Screen
In the age of increasing automation and digitalization, business owners often severely undermine the power of live networking. If you do not have the budget to employ a full-time marketing team or agency, then you best be ready to go out there yourself and engage with other people. Even with inbound marketing and automation at our fingertips, the power of face-to-face discussions cannot be denied.
7. Invest in Online Advertising
If you’re still undecided on whether or not you should advertise your business on search engines or Facebook, then take our advice- invest in it. Carefully read the directions for the services you plan on using and monitor the expenses daily or on a more frequent basis until you feel totally comfortable using PPC (Pay Per Click) and Facebook ads and are seeing a return on investment. (HubSpot is also a great tool for social management and monitoring.)
8. Consider Agency Support
It's clear that implementing inbound marketing techniques without a team can be a lot of work. That's why there are agencies like us that can help manage the workload. A full-service inbound marketing agency like ours leverages HubSpot to develop, execute, and track all marketing efforts for businesses. Agency partnership saves the headaches of independent management or the expense of hiring additional marketing staff members. Obviously, we are a bit biased, but we think hiring an agency is the best way to manage inbound marketing.
While these tips may just be just the starting point of implementing an inbound marketing strategy, they are a great place to start. There's no better time to start than now, so give it a try and see how fast your company grows.