Why Manufacturing Day Should Be Part of Your Recruitment Strategy

Manufacturing-Day-2018

Manufacturing is booming in the United States, yet there is one major concern holding companies back from growing to their full potential—filling the manufacturing workforce with new talent. A great way for manufacturing companies to gain community recognition and recruit strong candidates is by participating in Manufacturing Day.

Manufacturing Day falls on October 5th this year. While October may seem light years away, now is the time to start planning your company’s event. Below learn why hosting a Manufacturing Day event is important for your shop to recruit the next generation of manufacturers and the three best-attended styles of Manufacturing Day events.

What is Manufacturing Day?

Manufacturing Day, established in 2012, is a national celebration of modern manufacturing. The national initiative brings manufacturers across the continental U.S. together in a collective effort to invite students, educators, media, and business people into their facilities to educate them on manufacturing careers and change the public’s perception of the manufacturing sector.

Why All Manufacturers Should Consider Hosting a Manufacturing Day Event

Manufacturing Day has thousands of participants each year. The national celebration gives manufacturers the opportunity to promote their company on a larger scale. When manufacturing companies register their event on mfgday.com, the event gets added to the Manufacturing Day event map, where visitors to the website will see the event. Also, by registering the event, a landing page is created on the site to drive registration.

Participants on Manufacturing Day use the hashtag #MfgDay or #MfgDay18 to share their events and experiences. Joining the social media conversation allows manufacturers to connect with fellow manufacturers and also, build their social media following. We’ve seen Manufacturing Day post get retweeted by dignitaries, local community leaders, and industry media!

How to Keep Customer Confidentiality While Participating in Manufacturing Day

A common misconception among manufacturers is that they feel they cannot open their facilities to the public because sections of their facility that are “off-limits” due to confidentiality agreements with customers. This couldn’t be further from true. You don’t need to take visitors through every part of your facility. Seeing one facet of the shop, and learning about the product you make on one particular machine can be just as interesting to an attendee as a walk-through of the entire facility.

Stumped Deciding What Kind of Manufacturing Day Event to Plan? We’ve Got You’ve Covered.

1. Plant Tours

The most straightforward way to participate in Manufacturing Day is by hosting a plant tour. Plant tours can be anything from an elaborate event with hands-on exhibits and structured activities, to a modest tour for students and select community members. It’s really up to your company to determine what style of plant tour is most suitable for your space and also, showcases your company culture best.

If you are considering including educational institutions in your plant tour, now is the time to connect with school administrators to coordinate your Manufacturing Day event. Schools will be out of session in less than a month and school administrators will be in and out of the office throughout the summer. It is important to connect with schools as soon as possible since teachers are in the process of finalizing their 2018-2019 school year plans.

2. Job Fairs

Job fairs are a great platform to recruit the next generation of manufacturers. Often job fairs are held at a manufacturer’s facility, however, if you are looking to get a larger pool of candidates, partnering with other manufacturing companies, or a staffing firm is a great way to drive more traffic to your event. We suggest reaching out to the strong connections your company has made through manufacturing associations or networking groups like Wire-Net to see if you can collaborate.

3. Manufacturing Day Expos

Manufacturing expos are a fantastic way to create a Manufacturing Day hot spot in your community. Is your company in an industrial parkway with other manufacturers? Why not pull together and share resources to offer back-to-back plant tours at each of your facilities. This is a great way for manufacturing companies to expose visitors to a range of different industries and work environments.

Allison Miller

For more information on Manufacturing Day Events, visit the resources below:

http://www.mfgday.com/playbook/Host-Toolkit.pdf

http://www.mfgday.com/playbook/MFGDay-2015-Community-Planning-Guide.pdf

http://www.mfgday.com/user/register

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The Top 4 Changes in ISO 9001:2015 from 2008

This guest blog was kindly provided by Smithers Quality Assessments

ISO-90

The clock keeps ticking, and we keep getting closer to that now infamous due date (September 15, 2018, to be exact) for the transition of ISO 9001:2008 certifications to the updated standard of ISO 9001:2015. If you’re already certified to the former, you’re probably going through the process of determining audit dates for transition, or if you’re new to the quality management system, you may be looking at which certification body to select to help you get up to date with the latest standard. In either case, or if you’re unsure of what the best course of action will be for your organization moving forward, highlighting what’s really changed in the latest revision may help to settle uncertainty, solidify expectations, and create a clear direction.

At first glance, the new standard appears different, and may even feel a little different after reviewing it for the first time. However, ISO 9001:2015 is actually very similar to its predecessor ISO 9001:2008.  In fact, if you exclude the more subtle or simple changes, there are four important changes to be found in the latest revision:

1. Processes Emphasis – The goal of this addition is to prompt organizations to really think about their processes, to define them clearly and who’s responsible for what. For example, start by asking yourself these questions: What are your processes specifically? Who will run them? How will you monitor and measure them?

2. Risk Management Concept – Every business owner, operator, or manager must consider the risk involved with many of the decision they make, or the actions they take on a regular basis. For instance: Do you bring on a new supplier? Yes or no? Should you pick up a new customer or job? Do you have the resources or organization bandwidth to provide the necessary services? Can you hire a new employee? These are all examples of risk related issues. As it pertains to the revised ISO 9001:2015 standard, it is now a requirement of the updated quality management system to start thinking about risk and as mentioned in process emphasis, start mapping it out by clearly defining it.

3. No Required Procedures – Unlike in ISO 9001:2008, the revised standard does not contain a structured set of required procedures that you must incorporate into your processes. However, that doesn’t mean that you can have none in place. Instead, the goal of this flexibility is to allow companies the authority to decide which procedures are most applicable to them, which ones to keep or get rid of, and what additional ones should be added to produce the best results.

4. Top Management Must Own its QMS – Another focus for ISO 9001:2015 is the encouragement of top management within organizations to own their quality management system. So, whether it’s the President, VP, or General Manager, the emphasis is on these roles taking a more active role in the development, implementation, measurement, and responsibility of their company’s processes, and not simply delegating it all to quality manager.

As it was mentioned earlier, the above is not an all-encompassing list of the changes or variations between ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 9001:2008, but the rest of the changes are subtler and should not overly influence your transition or audit. To learn more about the benefits of ISO 9001:2015, download Smithers Quality Assessment’s gap analysis sheet.

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

Want to get the media’s attention? Want them to tweet just how curious they are about your company (to the thousands that follow them)? Fabrisonic LLC, a client of Felber PR & Marketing since 2014, produces metal parts via additive manufacturing. Read on to see this out of the world story of how a pre-show media promotion got Fabrisonic social media recognition and press to follow.

Why manufacturers should engage industry media prior to trade shows

Journalists and the stories they write in trade publications can often be a great source of lead generation for manufacturers. The two-part series we previously published How to Attain Media Interviews at Industrial Trade Show explains the importance of media engagement and also, provides a step-by-step guide to create strong media relationships that lead to press.

How 6-Year-Old Startup Fabrisonic Generated Out-of-this-World Press at a Recent Trade Show

Additive manufacturing is a competitive industry and new companies are popping up left and right. Fabrisonic recently attended and exhibited RAPID 2018, a 3D manufacturing trade show which attracts thousands of attendees every year. Fabrisonic’s 10’ x 10’ booth may have appeared small in comparison to its mega-million-dollar competitors but they made a mighty impression on industry media prior to the show that generated significant traffic to their booth. Fabrisonic’s CEO and President, Mark Norfolk, had 13 media interviews throughout RAPID 2018 that lead to stories, and credible, published stories lead to qualified inquiries. Oh, and Fabrisonic’s booth neighbors complained all the media and other attendee traffic they were receiving. We’re SO sorry about that, not!

Now you may be asking yourself, “This sounds great but doesn’t it take work?” The answer is absolutely, but the exposure and recognition that comes with press is a worthy investment.

Problem: Engage media so they book appointments with CEO during a tradeshow

Editors and writers are busy, just like all of us. You need to quickly and succinctly get their attention. They need to see value in reporting on your company and MUST see the connection to their reader. They get tons of email and phone pitches. How can you possibly get confirmed on their calendar during a jam-packed three-day tradeshow?

Solution:  Send an engaging package with a themed message with an invite to meet

Focusing on Fabrisonic’s Out of this World news about their NASA achievement, we designed a package and sent each journalist their very own treat of astronaut ice cream. Yes, you still need to reach out via phone and follow-up emails, but now you have their attention.

Did it work? Check out these posts from journalists in US and England (complete with photos of the package sent!).

 “Okay, @Fabrisonic3D – you have my attention! Looking forward to catching up at @RAPID_Event

 

 

“Just in time for the heatwave! …next-gen heat exchangers for @NASA coming soon…”

Results: 13 booked appointments and 2 other booth visits from journalists

In addition to the story-yielding interviews, social media before and during the show drove heavy booth traffic starting on day one of the three-day show. Journalists not only reposted our social media to their audiences, they also responded to outreach via this channel.

Those extra efforts – monitoring show hashtags

The team at Felber PR also monitors all the social streaming from our client’s tradeshow. Recently, two journalists posted to the twitter-verse that they were at the show and “let’s meet up.” We emailed the journalist the CEO’s mobile number and a text message resulted in another interview meeting. All this by simply paying attention to the feed.

Click to read some articles that came from the show:

3DPrint.com: https://3dprint.com/211907/fabrisonic-makergear-rapid-2018/

3D Printing Industry: https://3dprintingindustry.com/news/new-metal-3d-printing-rapid-tct-stratasys-digital-metal-meld-manufacturing-132719/

Working with reporters and editors is the same as sales. It all starts with the relationship. Click to download our Trade Shows for Manufactures eBook below to discover how you can engage media at your next trade show.

 

To Download our Trade Shows for Manufacturers Guide, click the photo below. 

Download Your Free Trade Shows For Manufacturers eBook

6 Reasons Why B2B Manufacturing Companies Need Automation

Inbound-Marketing-Manufacturing

Manufacturers care most about finding new ways to grow, excel at product quality while still being able to take on short lead-time production runs from customers. New business models often bring the paradox of new product lines that strain existing ERP, CRM and PLM systems by the need always to improve time-to-customer performance. New products are proliferating in manufacturing today, and delivery windows are tightening. Manufacturers are turning to machine learning to improve the end-to-end performance of their operations and find a performance-based solution to this paradox.

The ten ways machine learning is revolutionizing manufacturing in 2018 include the following:

  • Improving semiconductor manufacturing yields up to 30%, reducing scrap rates, and optimizing fab operations are is achievable with machine learning. Attaining up to a 30% reduction in yield detraction in semiconductor manufacturing, reducing scrap rates based on machine learning-based root-cause analysis and reducing testing costs using AI optimization are the top three areas where machine learning will improve semiconductor manufacturing. McKinsey also found that AI-enhanced predictive maintenance of industrial equipment will generate a 10% reduction in annual maintenance costs, up to a 20% downtime reduction and 25% reduction in inspection costs. Source: Smartening up with Artificial Intelligence (AI) – What’s in it for Germany and its Industrial Sector?

 

  • Asset Management, Supply Chain Management, and Inventory Management are the hottest areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning and IoT adoption in manufacturing today. The World Economic Forum (WEF) and A.T. Kearney’s recent study of the future of production find that manufacturers are evaluating how combining emerging technologies including IoT, AI, and machine learning can improve asset tracking accuracy, supply chain visibility, and inventory optimization. Source: Technology and Innovation for the Future of Production: Accelerating Value Creation 

 

  • Manufacturer’s adoption of machine learning and analytics to improve predictive maintenance is predicted to increase 38% in the next five years according to PwC. Analytics and MI-driven process and quality optimization are predicted to grow 35% and process visualization and automation, 34%. PwC sees the integration of analytics, APIs and big data contributing to a 31% growth rate for connected factories in the next five years. Source: Digital Factories 2020: Shaping the future of manufacturing

 

  • McKinsey predicts machine learning will reduce supply chain forecasting errors by 50% and reduce lost sales by 65% with better product availability. Supply chains are the lifeblood of any manufacturing business. Machine learning is predicted to reduce costs related to transport and warehousing and supply chain administration by 5 to 10% and 25 to 40%, respectively. Due to machine learning, overall inventory reductions of 20 to 50% are possible. Source: Smartening up with Artificial Intelligence (AI) – What’s in it for Germany and its Industrial Sector?

 

  • Improving demand forecast accuracy to reduce energy costs and negative price variances using machine learning uncovers price elasticity and price sensitivity as well. Honeywell is integrating AI and machine-learning algorithms into procurement, strategic sourcing and cost management. Source: Honeywell Connected Plant: Analytics and Beyond

 

  • Automating inventory optimization using machine learning has improved service levels by 16% while simultaneously increasing inventory turns by 25%.AI and machine learning constraint-based algorithms and modeling are making it possible scale inventory optimization across all distribution locations, taking into account external, independent variables that affect demand and time-to-customer delivery performance. Source: Transform the manufacturing supply chain with Multi-Echelon inventory optimization

 

 

  • Improving the accuracy of detecting costs of performance degradation across multiple manufacturing scenarios reduces costs by 50% or more. Using real-time monitoring technologies to create accurate data sets that capture pricing, inventory velocity, and related variables gives machine learning apps what they need to determine cost behaviors across multiple manufacturing scenarios. Source: Leveraging AI for Industrial IoT

 

  • A manufacturer was able to achieve a 35% reduction in test and calibration time via accurate prediction of calibration and test results using machine learning. The project’s goal was to reduce test and calibration time in the production of mobile hydraulic pumps. The methodology focused on using a series of machine learning models that would predict test outcomes and learn over time. The process workflow below was able to isolate the bottlenecks, streamlining test and calibration time in the process. Source: The Value Of Data Science Standards In Manufacturing Analytics

 

  • Improving yield rates, preventative maintenance accuracy and workloads by the asset is now possible by combining machine learning and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). OEE is a pervasively used metric in manufacturing as it combines availability, performance, and quality, defining production effectiveness. Combined with other metrics, it’s possible to find the factors that impact manufacturing performance the most and least. Integrating OEE and other datasets in machine learning models that learn quickly through iteration are one of the fastest growing areas of manufacturing intelligence and analytics today. Source: TIBCO Manufacturing Solutions

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6 Reasons why B2B Manufacturing Companies Need Marketing Automation

marketing-automation

Marketing automation has revolutionized the way many industries and business sectors manage their marketing efforts. The B2B manufacturing industry, though heavily automated on the shop floor, may not have made the most of embracing automation for their sales and marketing activities. Yet. To compete in the digital environment where customers live (and buy)- B2B manufacturers need to kick off their marketing technology stack with a marketing automation tool.

Here are 6 compelling reasons why marketing automation is a basic need for every B2B manufacturer:

1. Improved conversion

Lead scoring – Marketing Automation can improve lead scoring which in turn can ensure the sales team gets a set list of qualified leads to work on. This can serve as a major win for manufacturing firms who have several distribution channels.

With a streamlined, customized and consistent communication process, marketing automation can help optimize the sales process by closing leads quicker. Marketing Automation shortens and improves the lead identification time. Without it, a sales executive would have to manually identify prospects and also identify which stage of their buying journey they are at before customizing brand communication accordingly. When the time taken to identify the right prospects at the right stage of the journey is reduced, marketing and sales executives can spend more time on creating campaigns and crafting messages that actively help increase conversions.

  • Marketing automation can save time, money and effort on chasing prospects not ready to buy (by identifying leads that most likely will).
  • By identifying what stage of the buying journey the prospect is in, it helps the team chase hottest prospects first while nurturing the others with other communication in parallel.
  • Marketing automation supports the plan to develop engaging content that can effectively lead prospects through the typical sales funnel.
  • Easy A/B testing at scale and easy tweaking and testing of messages become possible for improved conversions based on what resonated most.

2. Stronger Understanding of the Buyer Persona to Understand Shift in Buying Behavior

Buyers today want a more personalized experience and marketers across industries are striving to give them just that. Marketing Automation can allow manufacturing industry marketers to use forms, customer content and improved workflows to understand their online buyer’s persona, their current challenges and which stage of their buying journey they are currently. Marketing teams across industries invest in understanding the buyer’s persona because it helps create marketing strategies that marketing teams across industries invest in understanding the buyer’s persona because it helps create marketing strategies that are more specific to this persona. Marketing Automation tracks engagement thereby helping marketers and data analysts constantly improve the messaging and customization

Buyer intent and behavior – Real-time data and analytics can allow manufacturers to gather insightful information on their page visitors. With advanced marketing automation software, they can access a prospect’s log (of all the pages they’ve viewed on the website and the time spent on each), every email open and the time spent on it, every piece of content they hovered over more, thereby indicating interest for a product or service.

These insights serve as strong signals because a prospect’s behavior can help know what particular product or service they are interested in or need. It also helps gauge how seriously they are considering your company as a vendor.

  • Marketing automation software can be configured to collect and store information about how customers interact with the manufacturer’s communication efforts
  • Marketing automation gives critical behavioral information and in turn, can help facilitate meaningful conversations with customers in real time

3. Improving sales and marketing alignment, efficiencies:

Integrating marketing automation with CRM, for instance, eliminates manual processes and helps streamline activities

When labor intensive marketing and sales processes like direct mail are automated, it frees up the time of the team to focus on another activity. Marketing Automation software will not only help with customer segmentation, but it will also allow automation of dynamic responses that drive conversions.

Syncing is in today! Often, there is a gap between teams, and manufacturing is no stranger to this. It also makes it easier to share data across business levels and functions for a more centralized view and overall process. Shared CRM data can help teams minimize duplication of efforts related to customer management too.

4. Optimizing the overall customer journey and CX

Marketing Automation offers marketers in manufacturing a stronger chance at planning a seamless customer journey across multiple platforms and touchpoints. It enables better lead targeting at the top of the sales funnel to a smoother email marketing campaign process. Furthermore, when you customize your marketing automation tool it can lead to the timely execution of campaigns while also helping to reduce the time taken to plan and execute campaigns across buying stages: from lead nurturing campaigns for mid-funnel prospects to campaigns that are specifically needed to drive conversions of those leads at the bottom of the funnel.

A marketing automation software, like HubSpot can help marketers in manufacturing run a successful ongoing contact program at scale.

All of this contributes to a seamless brand experience. It reduces the chances of unattended customer doubts or delayed follow-ups.

Here’s another added advantage, a good marketing automation software can also ensure there are no lags in customer follow-ups due to churn in sales and marketing because it provides a steady flow of communication updates and predictions.

5. Real-time analytics and reporting

Marketing Automation provides detailed reports on the performance of every campaign. Marketers in manufacturing can use this to identify what is working and what isn’t as also the ROI on marketing investments. Compared to measuring outcomes and ROI manually from trade shows, print campaigns, brochures and other traditional marketing methods that are common to manufacturing, marketing automation offers speed, efficiency, and accuracy.

6. Better Partner Management

Manufacturing companies need to manage relationships with their channel partners. A good relationship helps have a smooth supply chain. Marketing Automation helps manage these complex relationships at scale by automating all the communications, reminders and other notifications based on pre-defined triggers. A Marketing Automation tool helps by allowing manufacturers to keep track of the many conversations, segment different channel partners based on business priority and value, maintain individual profiles, etc.

Marketing Automation was never meant for any one sector. Customers- whether B2B or B2C- have come to have high expectation from marketers when it comes to personalization, relevance, and responsiveness. Marketing automation platforms help marketers deliver all that in a way that is fairly simple for non-technical marketers to execute, track and measure.

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How Lake Effect Snow was No Match for the (HubSpot) Cloud

lake-effect-snow-hubspot-cloud-hubspot-grand-river-rubber-and-plasticsMarch 2nd, 2018 was a chaotic winter workday that all Northeast Ohioans know too well.   Our city’s school district was on a 2-hour delay with heavy snow on the roads, the dog wanted to go out and play, and the driveway needed to be cleared. I quickly accepted that getting to the office that morning would also be delayed.

Once I finished my “snow day” tasks and my teen drivers were off to school, I felt like everything was falling back into place. I ran my 10 am video call from my kitchen and afterward, took a much-appreciated shower The plan was to dress quickly and drive to the office. But as we all know, in business and life, sometimes things don’t go according to plan and you have to be prepared to adapt.  I came out to find three text messages and an urgent call for help from our client, Grand River Rubber and Plastics.

The Client Crisis:

Apparently, our client further north of us got slammed with heavy snow, sleet, and ice so bad that all power and phones were knocked out for 24 hours with no relief in sight for another day. Customers’ orders were not being received or acknowledged and they had lost several shifts of production.

Despite the unfortunate act of fate and the chaos that came with it, Grand River Rubber & Plastics wanted to notify customers and colleagues of the situation as quickly as possible. Flashback one year prior to today’s snowmageddon, the company had hired us to impact lead generation via inbound marketing as well as utilizing public relations and social media. Customers were increasingly using new forms to communicate and marketing activities were generating new leads – – all being recorded and documented in their new customer relationship manager (CRM), and you guessed it, in the cloud.

The Communication Solution: The cloud came to their rescue that day. With my laptop still warmed up from my video call, I quickly accessed their HubSpot CRM online, drafted an email with pertinent information and sent to their 750+ registered contacts. Simply the urgent message and what was being done. Within the same HubSpot portal, the message was immediately posted to their company LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Aftermath:

Fortunately, power was restored over the weekend. I updated the Grand River Rubber & Plastics social channels. The company was now able to once again access their server, the internet and update their customers directly.

Grand River Rubber & Plastics’ HubSpot platform, a CRM and inbound marketing platform in one portal, allowed our team to share the urgent message with customers quickly and efficiently across email, social media and web. Snow, sleet, and ice may have started the fight but the cloud (and inbound marketing) came to the rescue. Contact Us

5 Tips Manufacturers Can Use to Drastically Improve Email Marketing Effectiveness in 2018

email-marketing

Email marketing is a powerful way manufacturing companies can showcase their products and services to prospects, customers, distributors, and partners. Think about your day so far. How many times have you opened, searched, or read through your emails? According to HubSpot’s 2017 statistics, more than 3 billion people in the world will be using email by 2020. Unfortunately, a lot of manufacturers still do not know how to utilize email marketing effectively. Below are 5 tips to improve your email marketing strategy and create stronger relationships with your prospects and customers.

Personalization is Key

Avoid sending the same generic email campaign to all clients. Each client is unique and the email should be personalized to the client based on their industry, interests, and products and services that individual uses or could use. Segmenting individuals in your database into appropriate marketing campaign lists allows you to reach them more effectively. It will also make you more aware of their wants and needs based on what marketing campaign list they are in. For example, you wouldn’t want to send the same email to a returning client as you would a potential one because they are at different stages in the buyer’s journey.

buyers-journey-email-marketing

Offer Quality Content

Email marketing is a powerful tool to inform your prospects and clients about new products and services, company press and awards, and also, share your company’s knowledge and expertise. Emails should always provide value to your reader and be more informational rather than sales focused. Whether you are talking about what your company can offer or reach out to potential clients, providing clear and relevant content could shed light on what your contacts are interested in based upon the content they consume, and allow you to better tailor your email marketing strategy to your contacts.s.  Along with creating quality content, it is essential that your email template is mobile friendly. According to Litmus, 54% of all emails are opened on a mobile device, and more people are not only utilizing their mobile devices for email but other forms of social media as well.

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Automation and Tracking

It is important to track your email campaigns properly, as well as keeping the same talk-flow throughout your emails. You want your customers to believe they are talking to a real person, not an automated machine. Automation doesn’t mean you are necessarily sending the same email to everyone, but an email with the same content. These two useful tools will allow you to track your clicks, traffic, sales, bounce rates, unsubscribe rates, open rates, and much more to see how engaged your audience is with your emails once you start a campaign. The tools will also allow you to know how to target different customers based on their engagement with one email versus another, if your email campaign is working effectively or not, and what adjustments should be made in your strategy.

Avoid SPAM

One of the last things a company wants is for their emails to end up in their customer’s junk folder. Before starting an email marketing campaign, make sure you are up to date with the CAN-SPAM Act and all of its regulations. Failing to comply with this act could result in a hefty fine for your company as well as loss of potential customers. To prevent this, make sure your company is not sending a million emails in one day, as that could also turn away potential clients from your business. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about how you would react! Also, avoid purchasing an industry database and doing large email blasts to individuals and companies that have not heard from your company before. This puts your company at risk of violating SPAM laws, as individuals who haven’t heard from you or agreed to be in your email database are more likely to flag you as “spam”. Instead, reach out to people in your email database individually and make a personal touch before adding them to your company’s email marketing database.

Coordinate and Track Email Marketing and All Marketing Efforts on One Platform  

A great way to reach potential new clients and bring them through the sales cycle quicker and more efficiently is by tracking and coordinating your email marketing efforts, website optimization, blog, social media, and sales follow up in one platform. An inbound marketing platform, such as allows you to track prospect and client engagement throughout your website and various marketing efforts in one space. An inbound marketing platform allows you to view what pages an individual has viewed, what emails have they opened, and did they answer any follow-up questions. It allows you to not only tailor your email marketing strategy to the buyer but also, helps provide your sales team with a 360 view of who that lead is and how they move through your sales funnel based on documented behavior.

Although the manufacturing and distribution industry is often using outdated tools for promotion, having possession of a potential client’s email means they have already shown a sign of interest in what your company can offer. Email marketing gives you the tools to increase this interest level and hopefully convert leads into returning customers. If the email marketing is done right, there can be a great return!

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Manufacturing Salespeople— It’s Time to Let Your Prospects Nurture Themselves

Manufacturing salespeople, I’m going to tell you something that may shock you. It’s time to take a more hands-off approach to prospect nurturing. I know, I know, that goes against everything you’ve been taught. However, just like you cannot expect to get married on a first date, you cannot expect to meet a prospect and close a deal immediately. The biggest mistake I see salespeople making is not customizing the sales approach based on where the prospect is in the buyer’s journey.

Not everyone is ready to buy, especially when you are approaching your quota deadline and fielding update requests from your sales manager. So, what are manufacturing salespeople to do to stay top of mind to their prospect and develop a relationship that ends in a sale? Also, what about all the TIME it takes to follow up with key prospects? Use the 3 key steps below to streamline your sales cycle and customize your approach to each prospect’s stage in the buyer’s journey more efficiently.

manufacturing-salespeople-buyers-journey

3 Key Steps to Streamline Prospect Nurturing Quicker and More Efficiently

  • Targeted a specific type of buyer (prospect persona)

Need help? Why Developing Buyer Personas is Invaluable for Manufacturers

  • Developed relevant and interesting content

Need help? Why Manufacturers Need a Content Map for Inbound Marketing Success

  • Setup an automated way to personally communicate while you do another task

I know, the 3rd point is daunting to most manufacturing salespeople.  Have you not found a way to clone yourself? Would be nice, right? Read on to hear how you can essentially “clone” yourself and multi-manage your prospect nurturing.

manufacturing-salespeople-prospect-nurturing

“I Like Pizza” Watch the movie Multiplicity. Not all clones are created equal!

Well, it is possible to save time and clone yourself, if executed correctly! Automated email sequences are the closest thing to cloning in the sales world and it works amazingly for us and our clients.

What Are Automated Email Sequences?

Email sequences are a pre-written, customizable series of emails and task reminders. Turn repetitive tasks, such as follow up reminders into simple, easy-to-launch messages. We utilize sequences to following up with prospects when they do the following: download an eBook, we see them at a trade show and think they can benefit from our media interview services, we identify a prospect that should parlay company announcements into published industry news stories, or even when we are trying to reconnect with a lead we have not spoken to in months or even years.

At any time, our agency may have multiple, buyer’s journey staged sequences with 4 or more emails, timed to send over a series of days. We can set reminders to call or even remind us to send a LinkedIn invite to prospects once emails have been automatically sent. Sometimes we get a response from a prospect on the very first email, which prompts an immediate conversation. Other times, the entire series plays out and we get nothing (which is good!)

Why You Should ‘Go For the No’

What’s good about hearing nothing back from a prospect you may wonder? Ever heard of ‘going for the no’? Not everyone who you meet in a target industry or who views your website is a prospect. The technology we use allows us to see if a prospect has opened an email and if they have clicked a link we provided. This inside knowledge of the prospect’s behavior, such as a download or reading of an eBook makes the follow-up call so much easier and more focused on their behavior.

Now sit back, use data to help you identify the best-performing sequences and bam, a successful use of your time and the perfect appearance of professionalism from your new cloned self.

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Ginni Rometty, IBM and the Future of AI

AI-Ginni-Rometty-IBM

Ginni Rometty, chairmen, president, and CEO of IBM

I had the pleasure of hearing Ginni Rometty, current chairman, president and CEO at IBM speak at the Ideas For Tomorrow Series at The Cleveland Clinic yesterday.  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic throughout every industry you can imagine. Rometty spoke about the infamous Watson computer, the future of AI, and the need for transparency from companies using AI.  Below are my takeaways from her seminar.

The Current State of AI

When most people hear the term AI, they think that it is some science fiction nightmare but you may be surprised that you are using AI in your daily life. Fraud detection service from your bank, online customer support, news generation (the Associated Press, Yahoo! and Fox all use it for simple story writing), music and movie recommendations from services like Spotify and Netflix and the list goes on and on.

The current AI systems most companies and individuals utilize are “speech to text to search”. The systems are built with some basic Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities or the ability to understand language. These systems can answer basic customer service questions or tracking behaviors and find customers suggested products based upon their purchasing patterns. However, these AI systems are not as helpful in highly technical professions or with companies that must mine a significant amount of data.

IBM and the Future of AI

IBM’s AI system is far more advanced and is utilized in technical professions and by large corporations. Rometty made the distinction that IBM refers to the system as “cognitive computing”, instead of AI. IBM’s cognitive computing system was designed to help people make better decisions.  According to Rometty, “A study said on average that a third of your decisions are really great decisions, a third is not optimal, and a third is just wrong. [IBM has] estimated the market is $2 billion for tools to make better decisions.”

Cognitive computing works alongside individuals to help them make informed decisions. Unlike the “speech to text to search” systems to which we are accustomed, cognitive computing systems are designed to solve problems the way that humans do. An example of how AI and cognitive computing differ and be explained when discussing the medical industry.

If both an AI and cognitive computing system were analyzing a large medical records database and medical journals, the AI system would tell the doctor the treatment for the patient, whereas the cognitive computing system would provide the doctor with information, percentages for success with certain treatments, and allow the doctor to reason and make the ultimate decision. Cognitive computing is also being used heavily in the legal research, investment and geo-analytics industries read more here.

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When asked about skepticism from consumers regarding AI and big data, Rometty stated that AI is powerful and companies need to have ethical standards regarding their use of AI.  “There needs to be transparency from companies utilizing AI.” She stressed that consumers have a right to know, “who trained the computer, who are the experts behind the data, and where the data is coming from.” Rometty also stated that consumers should be told that the company owns their intellectual property and where the data will be utilized.

AI’s Role in the Manufacturing Industry

AI or cognitive computing is a growing and ever-evolving industry. Rometty stated that she believes “100% of future jobs will be changed by AI.” There will be growing pains implementing AI into business, just like there were growing pains in the Industrial Revolution for manufacturers. AI will soon play a great role in the manufacturing sector. HubSpot, the inbound marketing and sales software Felber PR & Marketing utilizes for ourselves and our manufacturing clients, recently acquired Motion AI.

Manufacturers utilizing HubSpot can automate the chat and messaging process and deliver hyper-personalized content to their prospects and customers. AI is the way of the future and will be a resource and a tool for humans to do their jobs more accurately and efficiently. The sooner manufacturers embrace the technology, the more they will succeed in the business world of today and tomorrow.

What Manufacturing Sales Reps Are Missing in their Lead Generation Strategy

manufacturing-sales-reps

Manufacturing sales reps can compare the sales of the manufacturing sales process to a retail experience. From fast food to retail clothing, the phrase “How may I help you” is uttered repeatedly, almost unconsciously by armies of clerks, waiters and yes, sales representatives. In retail, the assumption is you are searching for something, otherwise, why would you be in the store, a brick and mortar store no less (read on).

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In manufacturing sales, especially with high-ticket equipment, the sales cycle might be 12 or even 18 months. A consultative approach almost always requires in-depth questioning, audits, assessments and maybe even sample projects. Are you there to help? Of course you are.  If your prospect feels more like you are selling then consulting, a natural distrust creeps into your relationship. No one wants to, let alone admit to, being sold.

In our eBook, The Industrial Manufacturer’s Guide to Inbound Marketing we explain how building trust, converting visitors to leads and retaining customers is all about your prospect’s self-discovery of just how you can help.  And, here lies the success for manufacturing sales companies, focus on how and IF you can help. We find prospects more willing to discuss goals, challenges, and plans if they understand that your questions are just trying to determine if you and your company can help. How you can help, why, with what tools and tactics are best received if the prospect discovers this fact for themselves. See the inbound sales funnel here.

There is plenty of time, later in the process, to show your fancy presentation. I often repeat the phrase:
‘I am just trying to determine if I can help.’ Your questioning, unlike an inquisition, should be bolstered with tips and tactics that not only provide value to your prospect but position you as a caring expert in your field.

Can you help? Perhaps. You still need to gather information from your prospect to not only move them through the buying cycle but to discover for yourself if your services are a match. Also, do you like this prospect and can you do something spectacular together? This part of the process is most similar to dating. You’re not proposing marriage, talking about future kids and picking out china patterns on the first date. Dating is questioning. Keep asking and keep stating, you’re just trying to see if you can help. And, through mutual self-discovery you and the prospect both determine there is a way you can help, now your sale is closed.