Generally, someone who's not in the marketing field views marketing as the pretty visuals, videos and advertisments that make you want to buy things. They're not technically wrong but those who are in marketing know there's more to it than making things look nice. In my opinion, one of the more difficult sub-categories of marketing is manufacturing marketing. I only say this because as a marketer in manufacturing, you're making machines, civil structures, or technical products sound exciting. Not so easy.
When I joined Acadia, I was new to the industry, so I thought I'd take this time to reflect on the most important things I've come to learn over the last few years in the riveting and glamorous field of manufacturing marketing.
Don't skip the marketing basics. Whether you're a marketing veteran or fresh out of college, re-visiting the marketing basics will always help. If you're big in Inbound Marketing, knowing the Inbound Methodology will definitely help. When you hit a challenge and get caught in the weeds, take a moment to step back and look at the big picture. Re-visit the basics and break it down. For example, your client tells you that they need more leads. Ok. You find out their top-selling product and that they have a lot of good emails in their database. What can you do to bring in more leads while leveraging their top-selling product? Ask yourself basic questions like "who's your audience?," "what's the product you want to promote to them?," and "what medium will be most effective to deliver this message?" These are all questions that are basic, but they help you to break down challenges that may have you stumped.
Speak your client's language. The toughest part about manufacturing marketing is learning how to sound like a manufacturer. It's not easy but it's certainly do-able. You'll do a lot of discovery with your client in the preliminary stages of your marketing program, especially during your kick-off meetings. Once you have a good understanding of what your client does, start producing content. It's the same idea as learning a foreign language. If you put yourself in the country of the language you're learning, you're more likely to learn the language quicker than through a text book. Fully immerse yourself in the language and you'll pick it up quicker. It's important to understand buying behavior and the motivations of your client's target customer. Your content must speak to the audience.
Get rid of the cookie-cutter mentality. One size does NOT fit all. All marketers, especially those in the B2B world, should know that each client is unique and requires a certain amount of strategic thinking to plan their marketing campaign. Manufacturing is no different...it's just more technical. Being a marketer in the manufacturing space means that you're able to understand the technical products/services that your client provides, and you're able to create a voice that has a nice balance between being engaging and technical. One client may have a good email presence where as another has several white papers available. Find this out and ask yourself, "How can I make someone intrigued with these resources?"
Trade shows are (still) a big deal.
At first glance, tradeshows may appear as a big room filled with machines, booths and people in polos with their company name on them. Not exactly a marketer's dream event. And to a marketer who's completely invested in digital marketing, trade shows might seem a bit old fashioned. Just FYI, trade shows have been around for quite a while and they're not leaving any time soon. So if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Tradeshows can help create great hype for your client on social media, not to mention they will help expand their prospect pool greatly. Pre-show promotion and follow-up emails after the trade show will be your best friend.
Don't just throw it and hope it sticks – use data. You're working with engineers, aka very left-brained people. They don't want theories or run-around explanations, they want the numbers. They want the graphs, percentages, and trend lines to show them that their investment in you is not going to waste. Tap into the sales and marketing (EG Hubspot) software that's tracking your efforts to gather data that exhibits your success (or areas for improvement). When compiling this data for your manufacturing client, be sure to organize it so it's easily interpreted. Messy data is not only going to confuse your client, but it will make your job more difficult when answering questions and creating stronger marketing strategies.
Manufacturing marketing is a challenging field. It requires a balance between being analytical and creative. For a young marketer looking for opportunities in marketing that will challenge them, improve their skills and allow them to continue to learn, manufacturing marketing is the definitely place to be.