More than 90% of buyers begin their search for a product start on the web, according to Forrester Research. This is no doubt due to the massive number of mobile devices consumers use and the proliferation of social media platforms.
Marketers in manufacturing have historically relied heavily on the re-seller channel and traditional marketing strategies to reach the right audience. With the massive growth of buyers doing their research online, however, it’s critical manufacturers have a two-pronged approach to their marketing plan to accommodate this buyer decision-making process and attract potential customers.
Strategy #1- Web Presence
57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier.
Manufacturing has been an industry slow to adopt new marketing tactics, technologies, and distribution channels favoring tried and true methods (print, advertising, industry events). However, the change in buyer personas and behavior now demands that a significant amount of company and product information be available for online consumption.
- Optimize your company’s website with clear navigation paths, in-depth product information, and a solid search engine optimization framework and you’ll deliver the visitor a rich online customer experience with your brand. Prospects can do research at will and the website will provide contact information and calls-to-action to move them through the sales cycle when they’re ready. Manufacturing companies should provide both end-user and reseller partner pages with sections dedicated to the benefits for each of those audiences.
- Use your social channels to expand brand awareness and grow your database of followers. It’s optimal to focus on the channels that reach your target audience and prospective customers whether you’re more consumer oriented (Facebook, Pinterest) or business (LinkedIn, YouTube).
- As an expert in your field, you’re in a unique position to publish content that engages your target audience and establishes your company as a knowledge source. A strong content marketing strategy is one that incorporates how-to articles, thought-leadership articles, un-boxing videos, and industry education pieces on your website. This approach to content creation gives your visitors valuable information to read across all areas of the sales funnel and means they’re spending more time on your owned channels.
Strategy #2- Reseller Channel Support
Manufacturers have a symbiotic relationship with their distributors and resellers. The latter two rely on the awareness and demand generated by the manufacturer—as well as the marketing support—and manufacturers need their distributors and resellers to sell through product.
- Resellers and distributors often operate at a regional level and therefore understand their markets well. Providing customizable marketing and sales materials allows them to target their audience with personalized assets of their choice. Hundreds of distributor and reseller partners all executing their own manufacturing marketing strategy can also present a branding challenge. Marketing asset management tools provide access to properly branded materials that can be edited locally as needed, which enables your partners to deliver customized marketing materials to their customers and gives them the power to grow their business and yours. See “How to Boost the Performance of Channel Marketing”
- Develop sales incentives and contests to build loyalty and boost retention amongst your channel partners. In a Maritz Channel Market Study “More than two-thirds (of participants) say rewards and incentives are extremely important to their job satisfaction.” Incentive programs should focus on individual rewards and be refreshed at a regular cadence—for instance, quarterly. The best programs engage, support, and build an individual’s business and, in turn, promote the advocacy of your products.
Buyers’ tactics will continue to shift as technology advances, and manufacturers who are willing to adapt their marketing efforts to that shift will benefit greatly. Focusing your marketing campaign where your customer is searching and supporting their journey whether online or in the channel not only increases sales, but also develops the brand overall.