While some manufacturing businesses are opening additional facilities or focused on the production of different products, other companies are simply trying to expand their customer base. Industrial businesses looking to reach new target markets or promote new product/service offerings will need an effective online marketing and sales strategy to help them achieve their business goals. That's because the B2B buyer behavior has changed — 73% of millennials are involved in B2B purchasing decisions and use the internet to search for new suppliers and partners.
Innovative manufacturers and industrial companies use digital marketing to get more customers versus solely relying on traditional methods like in-person networking and trade shows. Here are a few ways to get started.
Is Your Website Optimized To Convert New Customers?
Today's buying process begins on the internet. That means (at a minimum) you need a website that's up to date and modern. It must communicate more than your company name and contact information. Buyers want to know as much about you as they can. Are you reliable? What markets do you serve? Are your capabilities able to meet their project requirements?
Surveys have shown that the purchasing decisions of industrial buyers are most heavily influenced by detailed technical information about the products/services they are sourcing. Common content and pages that attract new customers are:
- Part-level specifications
- Facility and equipment lists
- Any high-level/significant projects
Some buyers only work with manufacturers or suppliers that have specific certifications. But are your certifications online so they know about them? In the example below, Renown Electric Motors has a certifications page with a downloadable ISO certificate. A buyer who downloads any such free offers on Renown Electric's website signals a new lead.
"We wanted to help educate our customers," said Jeff Collins, Partner at Renown Electric. "We now have an updated website with eBooks and blogs — our customers and prospects really appreciate the insight. We're now generating leads across various industries."
Make sure forms are places throughout your website pages to encourage visitors to contact you. If you publish an email address for buyers to submit RFQs, make sure you're following up with those submissions regularly. Our 2021 Industrial Buyer's Search Habits Survey revealed that 44% expect a response in 24 hours.
Can Your Customers Find You Online?
In addition to having an updated website, make sure the content you're posting has SEO tactics. Use keywords that make your content searchable, like "CNC machining New York" or "custom plastic injection molding food & beverage industry." When you use relevant terms throughout your website that your buyers are searching for, you add more value to your online presence and rank your pages higher on search results.
Add your company information to free local online directories to increase your reach even more. Manufacturers see an SEO benefit of qualified traffic by keeping their company name, address, and phone number on directory pages like:
Your potential customers are searching for you online and on these platforms, so it's important your company information is up to date and consistent across the directories. Publish photos of your products or services and use videos to encourage engagement. Videos are transcribable and searchable, making them one of the most popular channels to connect with customers, prospects, and even new employees.
"Technology has reached the point where mass adoption of video can extend far beyond meetings and events—such that every time we send an email, collaborate on a project, host a training, demo a product or pitch a customer, that interaction is enhanced with engaging, professional-quality video," says Anjuli Sud, CEO of Vimeo.
Triad Magnetics uses video advertising on their Thomas Company Profile supplemented by an SEO-focused website — they experienced a 57% increase in online submissions in just under two months from website launch.
To help you create a customer growth strategy that stays on top of ever-changing digital best practices, Thomas offers free digital health checks for manufacturers and industrial distributors who want to better understand how their digital marketing efforts are performing and in which areas they can improve.
Don't Forget About Your Current Customers
All customers are not created equal, but it's important to stay in touch with all of them — once in a while, it's a good practice to see how your former customers are doing too. Your current customers are key to getting new ones.
Create regular email campaigns to keep in touch. Ask them for feedback on how you can improve and encourage them to share your business with someone in their network or post a testimonial on your Google Reviews. You'll learn what keeps them happy and how you can be better — your email may even serve as a reminder for repeat business.
Learn How To Create Content For Each Audience
Large or small, most organizations have different people involved at different stages of the buying cycle. It seems like a challenge to reach them all, but it’s actually a great opportunity to create several types of focused messaging (from what you've been working on above!) to make an impact on different target audiences. Knowing what each of those interested parties needs can help you speak their language more effectively — and give you more chances to be in the right place at the right time when they’re considering suppliers.
What makes sense to an engineer might sound like gibberish to a CFO, while if a supply chain specialist comes across messaging aimed at a company president, it’s not that they wouldn’t know what it was talking about — they probably just wouldn’t care. Here's a roundup of the potential customers manufacturing companies usually target.
💡 Thomas Tip: Researching your target audience can be daunting. See what they care about most in our 2021 Survey Results: Industrial Buyer's Search Habits
These are your “tech-heads,” and they’re all about specs and capabilities. Since engineers are often the first to recognize the need for a new part or technology, you want to give them as much technical information as possible, including machinery, CAD drawings, and product data, in places like your free Thomasnet.com profile we mentioned earlier and your own site.
"We started our internet marketing with Thomasnet.com at the suggestion of our largest customer, Boeing. They assured me that Thomasnet.com was where their engineers went first to find information on suppliers," said an executive at Tiodize, an advanced coating manufacturer. "Because we manufacture and sell specialty coatings and composites, we are always looking for ways to be in front of decision-makers when they need our products. Thomasnet.com is an efficient and effective way for us to do that. We have added customers every year and increased our sale per customer at the same time. Thomasnet.com is perfect for companies that do not have national sales forces. Thomasnet.com acts as our sales force."
According to our sourcing activity, every second, a buyer or engineer visits Thomasnet.com to source products and look for new suppliers — more than 1.6 million sourcing sessions happen every month. But they can't contact you if you're not listed.
2. Procurement Professionals
The front lines of sourcing. They’re doing lots of legwork, so you want to make their job as easy as possible — it’s the first step to proving that you’re a better partner than another supplier. That means positioning yourself where they’re sourcing, illustrating your understanding of the supply chain, and giving examples of your reliability and problem-solving skills.
💡 Thomas Tip: Which buyers are looking for you? Let us show you with a free customized Prospecting Report, which will reveal the names and locations of buyers who are actively sourcing for the products and services you offer.
3. Finance Managers
There's always someone who holds the purse strings. These people are all about the bottom line, so show them how you’re the best choice – even if you’re not the lowest bid. Value comes in more forms than immediate pricing — communicate the efficiency, quality, and expertise that sets you apart from the cheapest option. Have you saved customers money in the past? Stories like those are a great start toward showing your long-term value. See how much other leaders are spending in 10 Ways Manufacturers Spend Their Marketing Budget.
4. Diversity Or Quality Officer
If you’re dealing with government organizations, contractors, or public institutions, there’s an excellent chance that they’ll have diversity requirements, and many companies have quality requirements as well. Don’t make it difficult to discover which standards you meet – make your certifications as visible as possible.
Decision-makers are usually anyone who has the last word. It could be someone we’ve already talked about, like an engineer or CFO, or it could be the head of the company or partner. Give each of those other target customers the tools they need to make the final push to whomever the ultimate decision-maker may be – it’ll likely be some combination of everything we’ve talked about: technology/capabilities, efficiency, and value. Learn more in How To Pitch Digital Marketing To Your Manager.
The Next Step To Getting More Customers
Building the right marketing strategy to help you achieve your business goals is more complex than can be summed up in one article. While industrial companies can "go at it alone," it's good to have a partner with experience devising and creating unique online marketing strategies.
“Our business grew from $24 million to $40 million in four years and Thomas was an integral part of making that happen," said Karen Norheim, President and COO at American Crane. "We’re creating this whole other avenue of a sales pipeline that we didn’t have before, and we’re reaching people we wouldn’t have reached before.”
Interested in growing your manufacturing company too and reaching more customers? Join more than 500,000 other North American manufacturers on Thomasnet.com who are growing their customer base every day — Get Started For Free.
"Thomasnet.com has been a worthwhile venture for our company by substantially increasing our brand recognition and allowing those that need the products and services we offer to connect with us in a real way," said an executive at Blisterpak, Inc. "We are now well known in the region as well as a national marketplace and have been able to secure business that we would never have been considered for in the past."
Thomas has helped thousands of companies just like yours create online marketing strategies that help them achieve their business goals. We've been connecting manufacturers and B2B buyers for more than 122 years — contact us to get started.
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