Most custom manufacturing businesses and service providers have an extensive list of their capabilities, services, materials, machines, and certifications. These are the basics that help potential customers understand what you can do for them.
When prospects visit your website, they may notice that you do a similar type of machining as another company, work with the same materials, have the same machines, and have secured the same certifications. So how do you get prospects to understand your specialty is — for example, very small medical parts, with extremely tight tolerances in very large volumes? Through smart content marketing.
Content marketing demonstrates your expertise and works to strengthen messaging of what you want your customers to know about you. It accomplishes this through many forms and varied lengths of content, like social media posts, blogs, eBooks and videos.
A Marketing Strategy To Showcase Your Sample Parts
As a custom manufacturer or service provider, your biggest opportunity for lead generation is to show the world that you specialize and excel in certain industries, specific geometries, and levels of quality. The majority of business owners in the custom manufacturing space new to marketing get stuck trying to overcome this problem, especially without creative marketers to help. This post will help guide you through creating a marketing strategy that promotes your business and increases sales.
To begin, take a look at your customer waiting room or conference room. You may notice:
- A glass case in your entryway full of sample parts
- A table in your conference room displaying sample parts
When you meet with clients, do you show them your company's sample parts when they visit? You likely communicate with them how great your team is, the levels of complexity you can achieve, and the quality you can deliver. But when travel might be difficult for a prospect, the power of digital marketing can help provide a similar experience to an in-person visit.
Custom manufacturers are under NDA on some projects. So how do you pick the right projects to promote? Here is a useful strategy that will cover all of your bases:
- Have at least two examples of your “bread and butter” work: This is going to be from the industry for which you are best known. Your content should be a representative part of your capabilities for your most broad market of customers. Speak about the benefits of how you solve your customers' problems.
- Have at least two examples of work from an industry you are less well known but would like to grow as a market: These projects should show your competence and familiarity with that market. Your content should demonstrate how you understand the standard requirements of the industry.
- Have at least two examples of pure customer service: You know you have a great story about when your engineers solved a problem the customer couldn’t on their own. The machinists and logistics teams have a story about their dedication to ensuring a customer got a delivery they needed under an almost impossible timeline. This type of content helps generate confidence that you will get the job done and keep the customer first no matter what.
Build Content Marketing Based On Your Project Plans
Now that you have those sample projects picked, we need to pull some data to publish on your website (you likely have this mostly collected already and don't even know it). Each of your projects has a project plan or job ticket with all kinds of documentation on the work. This contains a veritable treasure trove of information useful for creating pages to engage your buyers and turn them into sales opportunities.
Here is a look at a sample list of information that is beneficial to include (note: this list will vary based on the type of custom manufacturing capabilities and services you are offering):
- Product name: Give the project a name that will help users understand why they should be interested. You'll want them to understand the totality of your capabilities, not focus on a single project.
- Project scope: Provide an estimated annual usage of the part and timeline constraints.
- Product description: Provide a description of the part that you manufactured. This should give the reader a good indication of what it is and what it is used for.
- Product application: By describing the application, you can connect the dots for a potential customer. If they know you are familiar with their use case they are more apt to contact you.
- Capabilities and processes: List all capabilities that you were responsible for delivering. Give your buyers an idea of what it's like to partner with you.
- Equipment used: Equipment information is important for procurement and engineering sourcing groups. They may know simply by the machinery that you have if you can handle their project.
- Tightest tolerance: Let them know what you can do. This is a critical decision making component for most projects. The tighter, the better!
- Product length/width/height specs: The envelope dimensions of a part help your potential customer understand the overall size you can deliver or specialize in manufacturing.
- Product weight: The weight of each part will identify your ability to ship locally or nationally. It will also identify the scope of projects you can handle if the weights are very large.
- Color: While it seems trivial, every bit of information can help a potential prospect decide to contact you.
- Material thickness: The thickness of the material you are working with or producing will allow users to better understand how your team and raw material will fit into their project.
- Material type: Provide your material type by the proper ASTM designation as well as the colloquial terminology.
- Material finish: If you have plated the part or polished it to a certain standard grade, be sure to provide the information.
- Secondary operations: Applied Secondary services can set you apart from the competition. If you can provide the completed part from one location it is more advantageous for your customer’s supply chain. Today's buyers are looking for complete transparency.
- Industry for use: Take this opportunity to show the prospect that you know their industry and are familiar working within the standards and guidelines required. Use high-quality pictures related to the industry to capture the prospect's attention.
- Volume: This is extremely important! You hate getting RFQs for the wrong order size. Be very clear here about the size orders you are willing to accept. This allows you to eliminate those unwanted requests.
- Packaging and shipping: Outline the packaging you provided for the parts and the shipping option that was used.
- Standards met: If you worked to any standards on the project, list them here. This provides confidence in your abilities to adhere to requirements or customizations a potential customer will request.
- Testing performed: This is your chance to promote your quality process. The more complex the part or more critical the use case, the more a potential customer will want to see from this section.
- Drawing file type used: Let the user know what file types you prefer and what you used for the project.
- Part management services: If there were warehousing or JIT services provided with the project, include information on the particulars of the engagement.
- Delivery time: Timelines for delivery help a prospect understand what working with you will be like if they have a similar project.
- Delivery location: If possible provide the city and state where the order was shipped. If this gives away too much information, just provide the state. This is important for geotargeting your business with search engines.
Whew, that is a lot of info! What prospect wouldn’t be happy with all of that great content? Know who else will be happy with it — search engines. Content marketing is one of the best ways to boost your SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization and is the next step to driving website traffic and increasing the visibility of your website online.
Read more about using local search to get customers in your area in: Top 5 SEO Tips For Manufacturers
Custom Manufacturing Website Examples
See how Gary Manufacturing strengthens the brand of their custom products with a Materials tab on their website. When you understand what your buyers need, you can more easily create the content they're looking for, which keeps your brand s strong and fuels lead generation.
Warren Paint & Color Co's website incorporates all the elements — design, copy, navigation, technical architecture — that engage B2B buyers with educational content, encouraging them to do business with Warren. Their online product catalog is powered by Thomas Navigator that gives engineers and buyers instant access to what they need.
Ready to break out those project plans and start planning the best content pages your website has ever seen? There are many components to a lead-generating content marketing strategy. Below are some resources to guide you:
- Lead Generation For Manufacturing Basics
- How To Create Quality Content That Engages B2B Buyers
- 6 B2B Website Examples To Help You Sell More In 2021
- 10 Content Marketing Ideas For Manufacturers
- Why Brand Marketing Is Important For Manufacturers
- Lead-Generating Website Examples (And How To Build One)
If you need some help in your growth, Thomas can help. We’re not typical agency marketers who wouldn’t know ISO certification from an ice pop. We’re engineers. Technical writers. Web strategists. And more. We offer a digital health check to let you know what you can improve online to help you stay ahead of competitors and keep your brand strong in today's digital world. Our singular focus for over 122 years has brought buyers and suppliers together in the industrial and manufacturing space.
We set a record for quotes in Q1, increasing them by 197% over the previous year. The average value of quotes has grown. We have received orders in the same day. The sales team can’t believe how many good opportunities they have now. Participating in the Thomas program has changed the way I market my business.
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