American manufacturing is on the upswing. Hiring activity is at historic highs; reshoring is bringing production back to the U.S., and buyers are spending more on new suppliers than they have in recent years.
Business owners continue to be cautious with investments and costs, with good reason. Even as manufacturing and the economy as a whole make gains, the memory of tougher times looms. Fortunately, the digital marketing landscape today allows you to take substantial steps to grow your business and expand into new markets.
Through market expansion, you instantly open up brand new revenue streams — and inbound marketing helps make it possible. Read on to learn how.
1. New Verticals
Expansion into new industries and vertical market segments can help your existing product line do double duty (or more). No new equipment, no design lead times — just getting more out of what you’re already doing. How can you get started?
Choose your target
Your best bet is likely (but not always necessarily) a related industry. Do a lot of aerospace work? Use your safety record and transportation expertise to explore the automotive sector. (Get the insight on challenges and opportunities in the aerospace industry here). Medical suppliers might make the jump to laboratory customers. Think of the larger “buckets” that your existing industries fall into, and see which other ones are alongside it. Develop personas for these targets too. It will help ensure you're reaching the right people with the right messaging.
Focus on the similarities
What is your rationale for trying to break into this new industry? What will make your breakthrough customer say “yes” to someone who hasn’t worked in their market segment before? Your track record does the work for you. Be sure to develop and promote quality content describing past projects, successes, and challenges — and how they relate to your new target markets.
Don’t ignore the differences
Of course, since you’re moving to a new market, there are bound to be disparities. Talk about them, too and how you plan to address them.
2. New Geographies
The power of an online content marketing strategy can expand your geographic boundaries essentially without limits. Whether you’re looking to go from a local to a regional supplier or from a national company to a worldwide player, a strong digital strategy will break down those walls.
Build content around your target geographies
Say you’re an automotive supplier in the Midwest, and you’d like to expand to the Southwest and Mexico. You can blog about the boom in production in that area, and create content on your website detailing your capabilities to ship there. Associating your company with your target area (in a sensible way) will tell search engines that you’re relevant there.
Get the word out
Direct marketing might seem like a good solution here, but purchasing a list of prospects for a new area is costly and inefficient. Consider a press release instead, announcing your new service to your target areas. In addition to contributing to your SEO, your stories will get in front of the right buyers on the Thomas Network.
3. Existing Markets
The ultimate in low-investment/high-reward is harnessing your existing products and your existing customers to drive more business. This works especially well if you have a customer who only contracts you for one or two part numbers, and you’d like to sell them more. Here’s how you can open up the possibility of bigger orders without hitting them over the head with a sales pitch.
Since you already have these contacts, email marketing is a great option here. Again, avoid the hard pitch. Segment your list into those customers who are the best prospects, and target your messaging. You can tell them about the cost savings in consolidating suppliers or send an announcement about additions or enhancements to your product line and how it can benefit them. The key is providing relevant information at the right time. Email nurturing lets you do that.
Read more: Email Marketing Do's and Don'ts
Cement the relationship
Besides staying front-of-mind through useful email updates, make sure you’re connected with your customers’ social media platforms and blogs. Interact and comment when appropriate, and support them through your own posts. Adding an extra layer to the relationship keeps customers delighted and makes them more likely to turn to you for more of their needs.
Why Should You Consider Market Expansion?
The manufacturing industry can be unpredictable. One minute you might be entering into a lucrative contract with a great new customer; the next, that customer could be going out of business — putting your own company at risk in the process.
The best way to guard against this risk is to diversify your business and expand into new markets — here are more reasons why.
To Build A Safety Net For The Unexpected Industry Downturns
Putting all of your eggs in one basket — whether that basket be a single customer or a single sector — can put your company in a perilous position. If the company crumbles or the sector weakens, you don’t want to be left scrambling for new revenue streams.
Spreading your customer base across different industries can help you survive these unexpected shifts. And though the fallout of losing a big customer — or multiple customers — can still hurt, diversifying will ensure that your business is more resilient.
To Gain A Competitive Advantage
Diversifying isn’t just a great defensive move for your business; it can also help you grow. Developing new products and new connections across industries (and even geographies) will unlock new revenue streams for your business.
Also, being the first to enter a new market or a new location will enable you to build valuable relationships.
Identify sectors and locations that are currently under-served by you and your competitors, and try to connect with prospects in those areas. Being the first to enter a new market allows you to showcase your expertise and gain valuable experience with little to no competition.
To Avoid Falling Into A Dependency Trap
Focusing too heavily on one customer or one industry can put your business in a restrictive box that you may not be able to escape.
For example, needs might shift the foundation of your business. You might tailor your processes and products for one company or industry, but those processes won’t transfer to other potential customers. Before you know it, your services are so niche that it’s nearly impossible to grow. This puts your business in the unenviable position of trying to attract customers and industries you aren’t equipped to handle. By diversifying your business, you will have more control over your company’s success.
Thinking About Market Expansion?
The beginning stages of market expansion and diversification may be difficult to navigate. However, it will be worth it if you keep these factors in mind throughout the process. Get started with a free listing on Thomasnet.com where you can connect with buyers from a variety of industries and geographies to help expand your new markets. In addition, our manufacturing marketing experts can help you penetrate new markets through strategic SEO programs and content marketing geared towards your target prospects.
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