Using an online presence to create a digital strategy that works 24/7 in the manufacturing industry.
For many small business owners, having a sales force is critical, but managing one is an unending hassle. It also represents a dichotomy: The sales force investment can be substantial, but few business owners think that they get the maximum return on that investment - that’s usually why they’ve called me for assistance. While I strongly believe that a physical sales presence is necessary for revenue growth, the industry trend toward automation is playing a larger role in the advertising department as well. I don’t have to tell you that the universal struggles with the COVID-19 contagion are making sales calls far more challenging than ever before.
Aside from quarantining, forward-thinking companies have plenty of other, long-term reasons to make significant investments in digital marketing strategies for a variety of reasons: Managing software is easier than managing people, it’s cheaper, the buyer demographic is changing, and it works.
I recently heard a vice president of a web development firm say, “Your website is the front door to your business.” It would be hard to beat that for accuracy and brevity. Many of your existing and potential customers will never step into your facility. Buyers are managing large supply bases, and they rarely have the time or budget for travel, so they use the internet. On many occasions I have walked into manufacturing facilities outfitted with millions of dollars in state-of-the-art equipment, ISO-certified processes, up-to-date enterprise resource planning systems—and decrepit websites. The website provides a first impression, and often the only impression, so it should reflect where your company stands and where you plan to take it.
Keep It Dynamic. Don’t set and forget. I once worked with a company that invested $25,000 in a new website, a healthy budget for that type of project, and then didn’t touch it for two years. Google is smart. If you want to climb in Google search rankings, your website’s content must be dynamic and relevant. This means someone in your organization must develop and deploy new content on a regular basis. If you don’t have a full-time marketing role, this can fall under the sales department.
The firm managing your website is a critical partner in this process. Its team should meet with your team on a scheduled basis to discuss your content, any changes to Google’s search algorithm, and how to adapt to those changes. This process is neither fast nor streamlined, and it’s likely to experience good progress and occasional setbacks, but a long-term effort is necessary to build and maintain momentum.
Pay to Play. You also can pay for faster results. Many companies use pay-per-click advertising to track buyer behaviors and drive traffic to their website. These are the ads that pop up when you search for a topic. The ads can be expensive, but you get data immediately.
Every company has a desired customer profile, and the results of the pay-per-click feature provide insights on tailoring your website’s content to attract the ideal clientele. How? The firm managing your site should be able to provide a report that shows the types of searches buyers are doing when they find you so you can further define your content to target them.
Don’t forget about social media, and don’t forget that each platform is unique. Tailor the message to the platform: professional for LinkedIn, casual for Facebook, images for Instagram, and video for YouTube. I recommend focusing on LinkedIn and YouTube because blogs and videos are highly effective in driving people to your website.
A recent report I read stated that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it on video compared to 10% when they read it in text, and 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by way of video. Are we just getting lazy? No. The reality is that time comes at a premium. If I can watch something in 30 seconds versus reading a document for 10 minutes and get the same info; I’m going to play the video.
Appeal to Internet Natives
Remember that the buyer demographic is changing; many buyers cannot recall a world without the internet. Compared to many of us with a few decades of experience in manufacturing, they are younger, more tech-savvy, and more accustomed to getting all the information they need immediately.
If you want to impress a buyer like that with your caliber of technology savvy, you get just one chance, and it’s via your digital presence. By the time a buyer has found your company and has looked at your products or services, he is already close to making a decision. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to meet a buyer on his terms in the digital space because you’re waiting to meet him in person on your terms in your physical space.
Written by: Lisa Wertzbaugher, Founder of Wertzbaugher Consulting, for The Tube & Pipe Journal.