“Yes, please come visit our shop.”

The world, and specifically the sales side of manufacturing is opening up. Factories are welcoming their suppliers and vendors back for in-person meetings. This is a far cry from last year, and especially what we wrote about in our August 2020 blog How to Adapt B2B Manufacturing Sales Strategy for the COVID-19 World.

During the pandemic, we learned to market our manufacturing companies differently. Where we previously relied on visiting customers, trade conferences, and phone calls during Covid we turned to Inbound Marketing, digital content, automated email, and targeted social media. This was not only needed to maintain relationships but to make sure we can still nurture our prospects through the sales process. 

It worked, and now those same prospects are saying,

 “yes, please come visit our shop.”

As we transition back, we need to stay organized and balance both worlds. Prospects that still prefer a remote process and those that want us to schedule meetings. Having a world-class CRM such as HubSpot can make the difference. 

Here are three key attributes that will keep you organized and not let any opportunities slip through the cracks. 

HubSpot tasks offer a tremendous organizational tool

 

  1. Use the task feature so you do not lose track of opportunities. Schedule a call, email, or to-do for your prospect. Set priorities and reminders and you will quickly find a clean and efficient way to organize your prospecting. You can even build a custom queue to further organize lists, e.g. by industry, territory, or product mix.

 

  1. Use HubSpot’s meeting scheduler to eliminate the back and forth scheduling scavenger hunt we all go through when trying to find a mutual time to meet. Your contact can see when you are available and pick the most convenient time for them. 

 

  1. Your prospect’s behavior often is an indicator of future success. Know when they are visiting your website, what they are reading, and even if they viewed your proposal (And…how many times!). This is great intelligence that you will use as you prepare for that first in-person sales call. 

 

HubSpot offers many levels of features, starting with free CRM, MarketingStarter, and Marketing/Sales Professional. You can start small and grow. Interested in a demonstration? Contact us today.

The Trade Show is over – Now what?

 

You did it! You effectively pre-planned your show (You committed to a trade show, now what?)  and you worked the show successfully (Trade Shows – Owning the Floor), what should be your next step after the show?

I know you might be thinking of soaking your feet and adding up the frequent flyer miles, and you are not too far off. As the dust settles and you wash off the grime of travel, how will you measure success? Do you have a system (think CRM) in place to measure the results and report on the return on investment?

Let’s start with the activity first. If you are not following up within 3-7 days you will be forgotten! We all return to the office, exhausted and with best intentions, but if you do not reengage with those you met, your name recognition drops like that soggy breakfast sandwich they put out at your hotel.

Next steps:

  • Have pre-planned emails targeting the attendees written and automated
  • Make sure the messages and graphics are the same as those used in your pre-show and booth graphics for consistency
  • Upload the leads you obtained and let the email automation do its job
  • If available, obtain the list of attendees and consider sending a separate “sorry we missed you” message to those you did not talk to at the booth
  • Set tasks and reminders to review each lead, assign to team members if needed and continue the conversation

Finally, evaluate your entire campaign. Did you achieve the goals you outlined in the pre-planning? Did the booth activity go as planned and generate excitement? Did you pull reports on the leads generated and determine their overall value? All these steps will help you determine your return on the entire investment, improve your plan for the next show and impact the growth of your company.

Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for a job well done!

PS. Need more? Download our Trade Shows for Manufacturers Guide here.

 

Trade Shows – Owning the Floor

Rolling out the carpet, pulling up the retractable display, and filling a large punch bowl with hard candy just does not cut it at a modern trade show. You need to drive traffic to the booth, capture leads, and make the very best impression in an incredibly compressed time. Our last blog introduced the concept of pre-show planning. Now, let’s discuss the show itself.

Let’s first start with the old real estate mantra, location, Location, LOCATION! Many shows let you bid on or pick your booth location. Pay attention to entrances, lounges, bars, and the main stage. You may also want to see who else has chosen their space. Are they a big draw exhibitor or your largest competitor? Can you get a corner booth that will provide two directions of travel versus being stuck in the middle of an aisle? Or, better yet, can your budget support an island booth?

Once your location is set, the single most valuable resource you have is who will be representing your company in the booth. At the show, for all practical purposes, this is your office. First impressions should not be that of a booth worker, sitting down, talking on the cell phone, eating a hoagie while they drip sauce on their laptop. Admit it, you have seen this at every single show you have ever attended.

Booth personnel should first and foremost, want to be there. Believe it or not, salespeople might see the show as a waste of their time. They have clients to meet with and calls to make. Standing in a booth often seems like a waste of their time. Who would be great in the booth? Consider your customer service team. They rarely get to travel but might have decades-long relationships with customers. Customers they have never met face to face.

Booth traffic builders, product demonstrations, press conferences, entertainment on and off the show floor are all considerations when building your plan. Check out the full section on During the Show planning in our eBook. Trade Shows for Manufacturers Guide. In our next post, we’ll wrap it all up with Post-Show promotion.

You committed to a trade show, now what?

Pre-show preparation is key to success and achieving a return on your investment

 

Step one in your trade show plan is goal setting. What do you really want to happen at this show? Knowing the outcome is key to effective goal setting.

  • Can you expect actual sales and signed purchase agreements?
  • Are you introducing a new product, feature, or service?
  • Is your goal to improve and strengthen the relationships with the customers you know will be in attendance?
  • Or, perhaps you are attending to create stronger relationships with other vendors and exhibitors
  • Lastly, media relations and creating opportunities for editors to write about your company is a worthwhile goal with long-term benefits.

Check out the full section of pre-show planning in our eBook Trade Shows for Manufacturers Guide.

One of the best tools for pre-show planning is the exhibitor handbook. This should be made available as soon as you commit to the show. Rules, order forms, sponsor information will be detailed. Make sure to order on time and secure valuable sponsorship opportunities before they are gone.

Once you have defined your goal, consider the theme of the event. Is your theme a one-time use or do you anticipate a motif across multiple shows for the year? While a baseball theme could work in the spring or an Olympics theme is tied to a particular season/year, a sports theme across an entire year offers more opportunity to engage your audience with varying promotions.

As you develop your booth, theme, and tactics, turn your attention to activities that will drive prospects to your booth. What advertising opportunities, online and in print are being offered? What about announcements to the show media? Many publications publish pre-show guides months in advance. Do you have news or announcements that should be in these trade publications? What about demonstrations at the booth or press conferences? Yes, there is a lot to consider ahead of the show. With proper, thoughtful planning you will arrive ready to tackle the challenge of the show.

Next week, we will discuss Owning the Floor with During the Show planning.

 

Will Trade Shows Be the Shot in the Arm for Manufacturers?

 

Did you see what I did there? Vaccine shots….

Manufacturers, like many businesses, have had to completely rethink their marketing approach. For years, it was feet on the street and months of trade shows, conferences, and hosted lunch & learns. Then, the doors were locked, events were canceled worldwide, and well, you know the rest of the story. Over a year ago we started writing about the huge interest in digital marketing and all things virtual. Here’s where our head was a year ago: How to Adapt B2B Manufacturing Sales Strategy for the COVID-19 World. Digital is here to stay, but another log is back on the fire.

It is April 2021 and we are once again hearing about trade shows. Will the attendees and exhibitors return at past levels? Who knows? People may be just so sick of quarantine they will attend just to get out of their basement office and see prospects in person. This very well may be an early adopter situation.

We’re sponsoring a meetup in Columbus Ohio for manufacturers. If you are in town on April 28th, contact me for tickets.

What we do know is the planning has not changed. If you are considering a show in the 4th quarter of 2021, that may sound like a long time away. It is not. Over the next few weeks, we will revisit all that is the trade show. We will cover planning, sponsorship, media interviews, and more. Our consulting on trade conferences covers three critical phases: Pre-show, During the Show, and Post-Show.

Here’s a primer, written in 2015 to get you started. Trade Show Preparation 101 for Manufacturers

If you are ready to get serious about your exhibition and creating a return on investment, download our free Trade Shows for Manufacturers eBook

Our “Best of LinkedIn” blogs

LinkedIn continues to be the go-to platform for manufacturers to connect, promote, and engage prospects. Our manufacturing clients have integrated LinkedIn with their HubSpot CRM, connected paid social campaigns, and routinely generate leads from the platform. Here’s a collection of our most popular blogs on all that is LinkedIn.

5 Templates to Connect with Someone on LinkedIn That You’ve Never Met

3 Manufacturing LinkedIn Posts That Drive Engagement

5 Unique Ways to Prospect on LinkedIn

Hungry for more? Here’s the entire collection.

 

Guest Blog: Company Values and the Relationship to Leadership

By Glenn Levar, President/CEO
Shared Time Human Resources Management, Inc.

During a crisis such as COVID-19, it is time for manufacturing executives, directors, managers, and supervisors to become leaders. Leadership is the art of influence and the skill of creating the conditions to achieve operational and organizational success. Managers manage things: budgets, strategic plans, and operational plans. On the other hand, leaders respect others, coach, build teams, provide feedback, encourage feedback from others, and improve employee skills to accomplish goals. Great companies are built on values and mutual trust.

The leader, entrepreneur, or business owner establishes the company’s values and is responsible for communicating them to employees, customers, vendors, stakeholders, and the community. The organization’s leader is its prominent cheerleader for company values.

Values are the foundation of the organization. Leaders must live and thoroughly understand the company’s values day in and day out.

The values steer the organization’s acceptable business behavior. Company leadership must align itself with its value statement. For an organization to be effective, leaders are responsible for agreeing with their company’s values.

As a leader, your values are essential to your overall organizational success. Today, employees want to work with a company with a purpose (mission) and values that meet their needs.

Leaders’ expectations are based on the company values that may be formally written or even unwritten. Many start-up companies, for example, may not have formally written values statements, while established companies have written value statements. Their values are long-lasting. They guide decision-making and might never change.

Recently, Shared Time Human Resources Management had an appointment with a multi-generational, family-owned business. During the meeting with two senior managers, we discussed numerous issues. When asked what the company’s values were, neither senior manager could identify a single value. They guessed and subsequently admitted they did not know. As our conversation continued, we discussed retention rates. Shared Time discovered senior and recently hired employees with ten (10) or more years of service. In the last twelve months, more than 50 percent of the company’s employees voluntarily left for other opportunities.

The following are examples from two major corporations: one followed its values; the other did not.

In 1982, Johnson and Johnson (J&J) were alerted that someone had tainted Tylenol Extra Strength capsules in at least half a dozen pharmacies and grocery store shelves in the greater Chicago area. J&J chairman directed all consumers not to resume using the product until the extent of the tampering could be determined. J&J stopped advertising Tylenol and ordered all Tylenol be removed from store shelves. J&J acted following their corporate values and did not want to risk public safety. J&J corporate leaders admitted upfront there was a problem and responded to the Tylenol crisis. J&J’s response remains the benchmark on why values matter. J&J’s corporate values.

British Petroleum (BP) purchased Standard Oil of Ohio (SOHIO) in 1987. BP wanted Standard Oil of Ohio for several reasons including its Alaskan pipeline, distribution system, and employees. Twenty-three (23) years after the acquisition, on April 20, 2010, BP had a disaster in the Gulf of Mexico with its drilling rig platform, Deepwater Horizon. At the outset of the crisis, BP officials stated oil volume leaking from the rig was low. Several days later, the rig sunk, and eleven workers were dead. The investigation found BP took shortcuts, cut corners in drilling, and ignored early warning signs before the explosion. BP’s corporate leaders were not truthful from the outset of the crisis. BP’s corporate values (code of conduct) were updated in July 2014.

Values are what the organization lives by. Value is about the discipline it is getting people aligned and engaged in taught action to solve problems. Values are the underpinning on which the organization’s culture rests. Culture is the company’s business operating system to make decisions and communicate with employees, customers, vendors, shareholders, and communities.

In his book Good to Great Jim Collins stated, “enduring companies preserve their core values and purpose while their business strategies and operating practices endlessly adapt to a changing world. This is the magical combination of preserving the core and stimulate progress.”

If you are interested in learning more about this blog or case study, its results, or the human resources services Shared Time offers, please contact Glenn Levar (telephone: 440.979.1046, e-mail: grlevar@sthrm.com).  To learn more about Shared Time Human Resources Management Inc., please visit www.sthrm.com

Shared Time welcomes referrals from clients and friends. Please pass this human resource case study along to anyone who may have a need or be interested in Shared Time’s HR services.

Who moved my (CHEESE) Trade Show Booth?

The National Tooling & Machining Association featured our article in their printed newsletter The Record. With trade shows canceled due to the pandemic, manufacturers are struggling with a huge gap in their lead generation.  See the entire article here.

 

What Did You Expect to Happen? Get the result you expect in your marketing campaigns

 

Simple question, with a not-so-simple answer. We ask this question to our customers and prospects alike, and the answer will surprise you. As manufacturing companies build their marketing plans, they use email marketing drip campaigns, industrial public relations, inbound content marketing, and advertising tactics. Now, you might be thinking the answer is sales, and you would be right if you connect the dots. The problem is the dots or “steps” in your plan are disconnected.

Do you know what to expect when, and how it will be measured? Knowing what success looks like and what you expect will be critical 9 months from now when you are asked in a meeting, “is your program working?”

Major tactics and the most common gaps in each

Email campaigns are still one of the most used and effective in modern marketing. You control the content, who by persona you are targeting, and the result you want to happen. With most contract manufacturers, your sales cycle is long, 12,24 even 48 months in some industries. Email marketing lets you maintain a relationship with your prospect, impart expertise to make your case, and at the end of the day, measure engagement. Engagement is your window into who is interested and who is not inside your CRM. With reporting, you can measure who is active, who is reading your emails, visiting your website, downloading your technical papers, and even reading the quotes you sent. Engagement is the measurement on the path to sales and answers what we want to happen by this activity.

Industrial public relations are often one of the most misunderstood tactics. We hear “We just want to make a splash. We want prospects to know our name,” OR “we want to send a press release. OK, why? I ask again, what do you expect to happen when you send a press release? Most manufacturers think a press release is an article, it is not. Or, the simple tactic of sending a release drives the sale, again, no.

Getting coverage in a coveted trade magazine, with a high circulation that matches your target audience is the first step.

That said, the purpose of a press release is to get the attention of the editor so that they consider writing about your company news. A more direct approach is pitching proprietary case studies to a publication. A case study, prominently featured, drives interest and website traffic. This is the dot you are looking to connect. The measurement hence is a lead capture structure inside your website that gathers the lead information. Then (see email marketing above), you can begin the process of engagement leading to the ultimate measurement, that elusive sale. One note of caution, public relations is a long-game tactic. With editorial cycles and magazine issues planned months in advance, you need to be ready for the success that is measured in years, not weeks.

Inbound content marketing is the process of drawing prospects to your company through content they want to read. Content that solves their problem. Here, drafting content about your products and services, highlighting the problems you solve is key. One of my favorite responses to “our prospects are not on the internet or our business is just so niche” is Engineers worth their salt and under 40 Google everything. And, these engineers are not at their desk; they are on the manufacturing floor, solving problems and searching the internet from a device. Wouldn’t you want to be the solution they see first? Like public relations, this content strategy needs to have a system to capture these leads and begin the measurement process. One of your dots can be more leads and measurement here is easy. Read: Why Manufacturers Need a Content Map for Inbound Marketing Success Now, you can answer the question of why you are researching, writing, and publishing content on your blog. Justification of your spending on content generation is easy when you can show the leads and sales generated.

Advertising (print, pay-per-click, paid social) comes in as many facets as there are ways to spend your budget. With leads and engagement in mind, now that you have seen the rationale above, advertising can yield immediate results. All ads can impact name recognition, elicit a response and uncover hidden needs with your prospects. LinkedIn paid social ads for example generate leads in real-time (very measurable). Imagine calling an interested prospect within minutes of their response. This is what is supposed to happen in advertising campaigns – lead generation.

See this article on why digital advertising is very relevant in the no-trade-show-pandemic world we’re living in currently. Why Manufacturers Should Invest in Digital Advertising Right Now

The dots in this process include voice of customer assessments, copywriting, graphic design, photography, and video – all the tools an advertising campaign needs. This should help you support your budget request, as you can show the results.

Let’s discuss today what expectations you have for your marketing plans for the remainder of 2021. Call Rob Felber (330) 963-3664 or email RobFelber@FelberPR.com to arrange a time to speak.

How to Write a Great Manufacturing Case Study

Case studies provide your manufacturing company an incredible opportunity to showcase your expertise, product value, and customer service. While testimonials are great, case studies go a step above by highlighting a customer story from start to finish. Continue reading to learn some key tips to make your case studies stand out and resonate with your prospects.

  1. Write About Your Most Relatable Customer Story

Do you have a clear understanding of who your ideal prospects are? Check out our blog Why Developing Buyer Personas is Invaluable for Manufacturers to get a crystal clear vision of the ideal prospects you’d like to close as customers. When your prospects read your case studies, the goal is to have them resonate with the story.

To do this, we suggest highlighting an industry-specific need the customer had and explain how your product or service was the solution. Ultimately, you want your ideal prospects to read the case study and say ‘I have that same problem’ or ‘If they helped XYZ Company, they must be a trusted industry supplier.’

Media Appointments That Are Out of This World – Case Study, Fabrisonic LLC.

  1. Don’t Cut Out the Details

Unlike a testimonial, a case study is meant to be in a long format. An excellent case study really allows your audience to get to know your customer, understand your company’s relationship with them, and fully explains in detail your work together.

Make sure in your case study that you explain the challenge your customer had and how you helped them with their unique goals and challenges. If you and the customer went back and forth with a few design iterations before landing on the final part design, don’t cut that out. Allow your readers to see the full picture and understand all that went into the project. Need help writing content? Our experienced writers are available to help.

  1. Legitimize the Story with Metrics and Visuals

To have an effective case study that your prospects will read and engage with your company, it is essential to include metrics to legitimize your story. Did you create a product in record time? Include in the story how much quicker you got your solution to your customer. Did switching their product manufacturing from another process to your process save them money? Include a quote from your customer talking about cost-savings.

Felber PR rebrands PMI

Include tangible results so your readers have a clear understanding of what you could do for them. When you are done writing your story (and it’s been approved by your customer to go live), don’t forget to add customer-approved high-resolution visuals or videos. Photos, infographics, and videos are a phenomenal way to enhance your story and get your message across to prospects.

Are you saying to yourself, this is great but I’ll never be able to get my customers to participate in case studies, don’t fret.  Check out our blog, How to Convince Your Stubborn Manufacturing Customers to Participate in Case Studies for our tried and true tips to get them to say yes!

Concerned your staff of engineers can’t write? Not to worry. Our experienced writers will help you unlock the content vault. Since 1993, we’ve developed blogs, case studies, white papers, press releases, literature, and eBooks for business-to-business manufacturers. Give me a call: Rob Felber (330) 963-3664 or RobFelber@FelberPR.com