It was easy before virus-interruptus to just plow through prospecting. Sure we sent emails and viewed LinkedIn profiles but did we really get to know our contacts at a personal level? Did we see the human smiling back at you in their profile picture or just click through to see how large the company is or where they are located? When you visited their offices and factories, you did not meet their dogs, see the art in their living room, or watch their kids searching for a snack in the kitchen while you zoomed.
In our new normal, we’re seeing each other with less of the armor of business and more of what makes us human; and that’s a good thing. Remember these experiences and cherish this time. I know that is strange to say, but this is the silver lining. For me, having my college sophomore twins home has led to the most consecutive family dinners since they were toddlers. Share your silver linings and your frustrations with your human prospects and you will certainly discover the person behind the lead.
So, turning 55 in a quarantine birthday was unique. In all the sadness and struggles it was uplifting to have a special day with family and friends. And, if you know my family, we make a habit of including the local news media. Watch me get totally surprised:
Remember when having a dog barking or the kids making noise in the background was so unprofessional? It took the world being put on pause to realize what we were missing – the human connection. Share – laugh – cry, but remember, We’re all in this together. We will be better humans having this experience. Who will you connect with on a new level this week?
My chief barking officer
I would love to hear your stories. Share below in the comments. Here’s to getting to know you better!
Inbound marketing is one of the most buzzed-about topics among manufacturers. Many manufacturing companies have implemented successful inbound marketing strategies, which are bringing them more qualified leads and giving them better insight into their prospects and customers. However, for as many manufacturers that have successfully implemented inbound, there are just as many who have dropped the ball and made some major marketing blunders. Keep reading to learn the top inbound marketing mistakes manufacturers make and my top tips on how you can avoid these pitfalls at your manufacturing company.
- Not Integrating Sales with Marketing
The beautiful thing about inbound is that it ties sales and marketing together. With an inbound marketing platform, such as HubSpot, you can track your prospects and their behavior. In one, easy-to-view command center, you can look at prospects and customers individually and see what emails they’ve opened and clicked, where they’ve been on your website and what content they’ve downloaded.
When integrating an inbound strategy, it is necessary to get sales onboard. By integrating CRM with an inbound platform, sales managers get a “360” view of who the prospect is and receives a valuable insight on that individual’s needs, wants, and goals. That way, when a sales rep reaches out to a prospect, he or she is equipped with solutions tailored to that prospect. When sales are disconnected from inbound, you will not see optimal ROI from your marketing efforts.
2. Eliminating Traditional PR & Marketing Tactics from Their Strategy
Inbound marketing allows manufacturers to track just about everything from website visitors to leads and sales. We’ve seen a lot of manufacturers dropping the ball on public relations thinking that inbound marketing is replacing the need for the name recognition and eyeballs publicity delivers. However, PR & traditional marketing (editorial, advertising, direct mail, etc.) have an important place in an inbound strategy. How you may ask? The first step in the inbound marketing process is to attract.
By exhibiting at a trade show, being featured in an industry publication, or by advertising in the right magazine, you are enhancing your brand. Going to a notable industry trade show or having a case study of yours featured in a respected industry publication is a great way to intrigue prospects and attract them to your website! Read my blog “Why Manufacturers Still Need Traditional PR & Marketing in a Digital World” for more information on the importance of inbound.
3. Underestimating the Power of Social
Many manufacturers are not tapping into the power of social media. If social isn’t integrated into your inbound marketing plan, you are missing out. You can write all the relevant content you want, but you still need to distribute that content. Social provides just the right mix of channels to broadcast your message. Let’s face it: we’re living and breathing in a social media driven world. More and more people are getting their news from Twitter instead of television news outlets and making connections on LinkedIn instead of cold calling or email introductions. If you read Rob’s blog on social selling, you’ll understand the impact social has on the sales process and how easily social selling incorporates into the manufacturing sales process.
This week’s Tactics Thursday video is all about how to make a strong content strategy through the process of content mapping. You’ve heard it before: content is king—and the way to create relevant, consistent content is by creating a content map. Content marketing is not a short-term campaign. Just like the manufacturing sales cycle, it is a long-term strategy to attract, convert, close and retain customers. Below, learn my best practices for creating a content map that will ensure your content strategy doesn’t fall to the wayside!
Are you currently utilizing pay-per-click ads in your marketing strategy? Are you seeing little lead conversion or ROI from your efforts? Creating an excellent pay-per-click ad is about more than writing snappy copy. It’s a mix of creativity and data-driven science that focuses on the right keywords, the right budget, the right pay per click rate, and engaging copy that answers your audience’s search questions. Below, you’ll learn the foundation of paid search—the difference between pay-per-click and paid social ads, how to find who to target and keywords, what offers to get the best lead conversion, and more.
The two types of paid ads we primarily use for our business-to-business manufacturing clients:
Google/Bing pay-per-click: Advertisers pay to display brief advertisements, service offerings, product listings, video content, and generate mobile application installs within the Google or Bing ad network to web users. For example, if a contact search “lathe cut gaskets” or “food-grade gaskets”, our lathe cut gaskets manufacturing client will most likely come up in the search.
Paid social ads:
LinkedIn ads can help your business reach a powerful audience of professionals. Not only are LinkedIn members influential, but they also have two times the buying power of the average web crowd.
- Sponsored ads are essentially promoted LinkedIn posts
- There are three different formats available for Sponsored Content ads: single image, video, and carousel
- Campaigns can run as native news feed ads and lead generation forms
To create a sound pay-per-click strategy, it is essential that you take the time to identify your ideal customers. This process is called creating buyer personas. Buyer personas help manufacturers identify their best prospects. The profile of your best prospect and how they buy is the buyer’s’ journey.
What Are Buyer Personas?
Semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on select educated speculation and real data about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.
Selecting the Right PPC Keywords
A well-organized PPC campaign will include a number of different types of keywords such as:
- Brand keywords: These are keywords that include the name of your company. Brand keywords tend to be low in cost and have very high quality scores. In addition, they yield excellent results in terms of click-through and conversion.
- Commercial keywords: These are keywords by prospects who are closest to the close stage of the sales cycle with the highest likelihood to buy. Whether to refer a given keyword to the commercial depends on the site niche.
- Broader, low-intent keywords: In order to expand your business’s reach, it’s important to also bid on some broader PPC keywords that have low intent, but give you the capability of increasing brand awareness. You can increase your conversion rate on broad keywords through remarketing strategies.
- Long-tail keywords: These are highly specific, longer, unique phrases that are often very low-cost and have less keyword competition. However, long-tail keywords often have low search volume.
- Competitive keywords: It’s a good idea to allocate some budget toward keywords your competitors are also using. This allows you to get your brand and offerings in front of people who are searching for the products and services of your competitors
Grouping and Managing Your PPC Keywords
Once you’ve established PPC keywords as your base to start with, you need to be able to put them to use in an organized way that optimizes your time and money investment. Proper keyword grouping allows you to stay organized so that you can target your customers more successfully, thereby improving quality score and reducing cost.
Increasing PPC Conversion Through Great Content Offers:
A great way to increase conversion on your paid ads is by offering a great piece of content. Your prospects are much more likely to fill out your forms if they are getting something valuable in return. Our clients have seen great success by offering the following pieces of content in their pay-per-click ads.
- Technical/White Papers
- Capabilities Papers
We see you there, cutting and pasting between spreadsheets, call reports, quotations and old RFQ’s. You’re diligently trying to market your manufacturing firm in the new virtual world. It all was somewhat manageable until we were all ripped from out cushy offices with docking stations and multiple monitors. Now, we’re struggling with our single-screen laptops, switching tabs so often even our pets cannot even follow our communication attempts. Woof!
Do you have access to your information about your customers and prospects? Now is the best time to revamp your approach and get everyone from sales and customer services to production and executive leadership on the same page.
What can you do with a free CRM?
HubSpot CRM is free at this link. Here’s what you can do on the FREE CRM:
- Contact management
- Contact website activity
- Tasks & activities
- Company insights
- Gmail and Outlook integration
- HubSpot Connect integrations
- Custom support form fields
- Ad management
- Conversations inbox
- Reporting dashboards
- Email tracking & notifications
- Email templates
- Canned snippets
- Meeting scheduling
- Messenger integration
- Custom properties
We’re a big fan of HubSpot. As a partner agency we develop strategy and execute advanced marketing and public relations tactics such as automated email and lead generation campaigns for manufacturers. Here’s what our clients say.
What if you need more power? Do you have content to actually “feed the machine” to generate the website and lead traffic you desire? Yes, that’s what we can do for you as an inbound marketing agency. Need help? Let us know. We’re happy to jump on a Zoom – by now I am SURE, you’re an expert video meeting professional.
Check out these past articles to see more about what your manufacturing company can do with a coordinated and targeted inbound marketing program.
Happy Tactics Thursday! Like each and every one of you, we are adjusting to our ‘new normal’ amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Coronavirus has shifted the way that we operate our businesses and daily lives, there could be a silver lining in this for manufacturers. Now is an excellent time to revamp recruitment strategies to fill open positions. There have been massive layoffs in entertainment, restaurants, small business and even manufacturing companies over the last 2 weeks. The Department of Labor reported that 3.28 million people in the United States have filed for unemployment benefits. There is a pool of great talent out there that are eager to find new positions and ready to work hard. Learn what we are doing to help our manufacturing clients market their open positions in this week’s Tactics Thursday video!
We are living in a Coronavirus World and it is evident that this is only the beginning of this pandemic and its impact on our businesses. For today’s episode of Tactics Thursday, I will share 3 tips to shift your sales and marketing strategy during the Covid-19 pandemic:
- Trade Show Alternatives– While industry trade shows have shut down, many are looking at providing webinars instead. Webinars provide excellent speaking and sponsorship opportunities for manufacturing companies.
- Implement Video – Now is the time to film videos highlighting of your products and processes. You can create simple, short videos using Vidyard or Loom. The only equipment you need is your webcam! Videos can be utilized on blogs, web pages, social media, and sales assets. The opportunities are endless! Check out our blog on incorporating video into your sales strategy for more great tips.
- Cue Up The Content– Now more than ever is the perfect time to work on your content marketing strategy. Have a conference call with your sales and marketing department to discuss what content you want to write or film. Check out our blog on content mapping to learn how to create a sound plan that keeps everyone accountable in developing content.
Hope these tips help. Keeping your health and the health of your families in my thoughts during this crazy time to be alive!
This guest blog was kindly provided by Ty Haines, President of Manufacturer Solutions, LLC.
Most of our customers are under $20M in sales and range from $500K to $7B. The top personnel laments are:
- Can’t get good people (hiring practices and attraction improvement needs)
- Can’t keep new people (leftover screening effectiveness and retention needs)
- And, I need people (piled-on stress is unfortunately shared with many)
Yes, the past four years of robust economic expansion have driven down unemployment to levels not seen since 1969 so the choices have become far less in quantity and quality of the lesser skilled applicants. With what is left of the labor supply, a large part of the employee turnover is now inspired by the new hire unable for a variety of reasons to show up ready for work. Many see the annual turnover rate in the group of associates with less than two years with the company at 20%, some as high as 50%. My question to them is what are you doing differently in this time of greater competition for good workers to change these continuing results? Too often, the answer is not much has changed with our practices since the cutbacks to survive the recession.
Recurring themes from employees of what they want from an employer include, in rough order:
- Recognition, respect, appreciation of their work
- Communications: inclusion & transparency on how the company is doing, where it is going – these are two-way and include both listening and acting on your teams’ needs
- Growth opportunities, advancement path
- Job security
- Fair compensation, wages & benefits pop up for people with families or the more mature worker
- Help on life issues & empathy
- Interesting work
- Loyalty from peers and management
- Working conditions including lavatories, changing areas, break room and work area
- Fair discipline
One factory with high turnover had a policy that required their hourly to stay in and eat in the lunchroom. Not the most competitive, but OK. The lunchroom was dark, dirty and smelled well, no, it stunk! It had been that way for years. This was one clear issue on the list we identified that was inspiring people not to hire on and not to stay long. We helped management recognize and fix this negative, removing a first clear impediment to the retention and that hurt attraction too.
Few contract manufacturers have a 30%+ net profit like seen on Microsoft’s published Annual Report or can afford to provide on-site daycare, or free gourmet cafes (Google) so what to do?
Do what you can! Require change, be inclusive and get creative are a great start. All can afford the low cost to tweak the culture to improve recognition, communications, loyalty and even fairly administered policy enforcement – these have high returns. A good option is to follow the Lean culture support for involvement, communications and to celebrate successes as we pursue improvements.
Working conditions – these start with a reliable & safe area to park your ride and extend to details like replacing dead lighting – even a coat of paint can help! Meeting State and Fed requirements should be evident.
One company found their local millennials cared more about higher wages and more time off than benefits – they hire part of their team as part-timers and can pay them more without benes. From mentoring newbies to the monthly injection of fun & pride into a lunch hour to celebrate something that went well: the list is endless of what can be done or adapted in your company. It takes someone to take that first step to try something different, is that you?
The above is an opinion not endorsed by the publisher.
We are living in a Coronavirus World and it is evident that this is only the beginning of this pandemic and its impact on our businesses. It is essential that businesses adapt to working remotely when possible. This week’s Tactics Thursday video focuses on the 2 business tools we use to connect with prospects and customers virtually. These tools are an essential part of our business and allow us to create a great customer experience for clients regardless of location.
Zoom— a video conferencing platform
I have used every other video conference platform out there and none have been as reliable as Zoom. I have used Zoom 20+ times a week over the last 2 years and never dropped a call or had any issues.
Vidyard– an all-in-one video platform for businesses.
- LinkedIn Videos– Such as these Tactics Thursday videos, company announcements, or announcements for Women in Manufacturing Ohio, which I serve on the board as Communications Chair.
- Client Tutorials– I often do tutorials when clients ask questions showcasing how to perform tasks in HubSpot or walking clients through email campaigns and workflows.
- Prospects Meeting Follow Up– If I have a strong meeting with a prospect, sometimes I will opt to do a video recap instead of a lengthy email follow up. This cuts through the clutter and adds a personal touch.