In my work helping companies build their businesses in the manufacturing, engineering, and technical markets, I often receive pushback about the importance of inbound, digital, and outbound sales and marketing. So many of the prospects I deal with on a day-to-day basis insist they don't need help. They tell me they know who their customers are, they are too busy to take on new business, or they get their business from referrals. Why are they so resistant to new growth strategies? As an engineer myself, I understand how my fellow engineers and industry professionals think and seek out information, but my experience on the sales and marketing side has given me some insights that I'd like share.
At a time when understanding how the industrial and technical buyer behaves is so important, I am still amazed at the level of resistance in the industrial space. Is it driven by fear, complacency, or concerns about appearing uninformed? Or is it realizing there is so much to learn and not enough time?
Usually, I deal with other technical people who have started their own business, so I think the conversation should be easy. These are people who understand the value of technology and will buy a 5- or 6-figure piece of new manufacturing equipment based on what they view as a market need. Then they figure out how they will fill the machines' capacity. They are fearless entrepreneurs so they make the investment. But when it comes to sales and marketing processes, strategies, and technologies, I often find these same entrepreneurs very resistant to change.
Here's a real-life conversation I had with a prospect in CNC machining, who's website dated to the late 90's:
Prospect: I don't have any money to update my website because I just spent $20,000 re-topping my parking lot and re-striping the parking spaces.
Mike: That's a big expense and I see your point, but how many new customers will that newly re-striped parking lot get you? I admit it's nice looking, but when was the last time you had someone come in off the street and say you had a nice parking lot and that's why they want to do business with you?
Prospect: [after a pause] ... I guess you're right ... but the lot still needed to be repaired.
Mike: I agree that was a necessary investment, but when you consider what actually grows your business, are you willing to revisit investing in your website?
At this point, the conversation was reset and, ultimately, we did build a new website.
Sometimes it's a matter of explaining marketing and sales in the 'lingo' of the prospect by providing analogies and explanations that put it into a relatable context. With this in mind, I'm going to run a series of blogs to answer questions about marketing and sales in the language many of my prospects use.
Let's start with the most recent question I received:
Why Does SEO take so long to show results?
First of all, I am NOT an SEO expert, but I do know enough to speak to the importance of SEO.
Recently, a prospective client asked how long it takes to see results from SEO. I explained that there are many variables that go into SEO and it could take six or more months. As I described the factors that need to be considered, I watched as the prospect's eyes rolled back into his head. "Not sure I want to invest in something that will take that long," he said.
How could I frame SEO in a way that would be akin to their business? The analogy I came up with turned the meeting around:
Most technical companies understand software and programming. Whether for process control, CNC, or machine control, there is usually a piece of hardware that needs to be programmed (i.e. PLC, SCADA, CNC, Servo, etc). Think of SEO like writing a new software program for a process or a machine. It rarely works perfectly the very first time you write it, load it, and test it. (Never did for me anyway-I wasn’t much of a coder in my day!). It's a feedback loop: see what works and doesn’t, tweak it, reload it, and try it again. Repeat the process until the code works.
"Think of SEO like writing a new software program for a process or a machine. It rarely works perfectly the very first time you write it, load it, and test it." Click to Tweet.
With SEO, once feedback is gathered, you make tweaks and adjustments until it is optimized over time. Your competition in the market, the other sites that link to you, and the quality of your content play a big role in your rankings and the time it takes to move up, according to an article in Search Engine Journal. Often you'll start to see results in four to six months, but you could see even more changes at the one-year mark and into the future.
Admittedly, one way SEO is unlike software is that once you perfect the software, barring an equipment change or failure, the rules of the machine generally don’t change. Google, on the other hand, constantly revises its algorithms, which alter your SEO feedback. From the launch of the Google toolbar plug-in back in 2000 to recent updates that prioritize pages optimized for mobile devices or page load speed, Google updates its search algorithm 500 or more times per year. Some of these updates are confirmed, but others are just what search engine experts suspect based on changes in rankings. The takeaway is that what helped your website rankings six months ago might have less impact a month from now.
It's a lot to keep track of, so ongoing maintenance, the tweaks and revisions to your site, are critical. Hopefully I've convinced you that SEO is a worthwhile investment. If you're not sure where to start, contact us to learn more about what SEO can do for your business.