As a manufacturer, do you ever feel like you need to press the refresh button for your marketing strategy? In our personal lives, it’s normal for us to get something new every once in a while; a different haircut, a pair of shoes that cost too much, or a new place to have dinner on a Friday night. We don’t desire to be a different person, but rather, a slightly modified and better version of ourselves. As people, these things make us feel important, and your marketing needs that same sort of attention and refresh to its purpose and feel.
But building a manufacturing marketing strategy isn’t always easy. There are so many factors to consider-identifying the right direction for your brand that reflects the most important benefits of your product and finding ways to increase your presence with sales reps and distributors. Not to mention, staying a few steps ahead of your competitors and keeping your customers informed of new products and features. It’s a lot to keep straight.
To achieve these goals, the best approach to building this strategy is to simplify it into two key steps—solidifying your brand identity and understanding the customer journey.
The first step to any successful manufacturing marketing strategy is ensuring that your brand identity is clear. The way to start this is to ask yourself a few basic questions about your product.
Who is my audience?
Your audience is anyone who wants to buy your product. Ask yourself a few questions, like:
- Who are these potential customers? Why are you targeting them specifically?
- What type of business do they operate?
- Where do they get their information when procuring new products?
These are all questions that build an audience profile that are crucial in creating the remaining pieces of your plan. Audience analysis can be tricky though, so try not to categorize them too much. You don’t want to put the audience in a box, you just want to know a little more about them.
What is the core benefit?
Now that you’ve identified your audience, you will need to consider the core benefit.
- What is the core benefit your product provides to your audience?
- What makes your product unique amongst your competitors?
- What goals are they trying to accomplish by purchasing this product?
- What is driving their ultimate choice? Is style, reliability, name recognition, or cost savings most important to them?
These questions will identify how to make your product stand out in the marketplace and uncover the customer’s deeper motivations when making a purchase. If you have access to your ideal customer, ask them these questions (voice of customer or VOC). The more you can hear from your customers, the more accurate your core benefit will be. This will guide your marketing strategy moving forward.
What are your reasons to believe?
The last part of solidifying your brand identity is to determine the reasons that your audience will believe in your product’s core benefit. The questions here are:
- What features does the product have that creates the core benefit?
- What features separates you from your competitors?
- What is it about you as a company that is appealing to your audience?
These questions allow you to share the story of your product in a way that drives the audience to believe in its inherent value. It strengthens your position in the market and makes you a viable business partner.
Understanding the Customer Journey
Step two in building your manufacturing marketing strategy is to understand the customer journey. We already started this in step one when we were defining our audience, but now we will take it further by defining how your audience becomes a customer. This journey starts with bringing awareness to your product.
The awareness phase is defined as how customers become aware of a product. This phase of the journey can happen in a variety of ways; websites, social media, videos, print, email, or simply a conversation with a colleague. And since you’ve identified your audience, you can think of how to strategically place your product in spaces for your audience to engage with your brand. Ask yourself:
- Where does your audience go to get their information when they research new products to buy? Trade publications? Google? YouTube? Social media? Sales reps?
- How can you communicate the core benefits of your product in a concise manner? During the awareness phase, your audience is engaging with a lot of products and your goal is to stand out, so keep it simple and direct.
- What does your audience want to see? Do they want to see the product in action to convince them of the core benefit? Some manufacturers will strategically place their products in how-to videos because they know that’s where their audience is likely to engage.
The awareness phase is where the audience decides to consider your product or not, so strategic placement is of the utmost importance and is the first thing your manufacturing marketing strategy will address.
Now that the customer has seen a few products (both yours and your competitors) they have moved into the consideration part of the journey. During this part, most people have a single key consideration (cost, quality, etc.) at the top of their list that will drive their ultimate decision. For example, if cost is their motivating factor, then they will typically only consider low-cost options and eliminate the rest. This is why effectively articulating that core benefit during the awareness phase is so important. Since the customer believes in the core benefit, consider these questions:
- How do you share the reasons to believe in the core benefit of your product?
- What features are most important to the audience?
- What type of media are you using to share these features?
- Have you considered 3D animations or product diagrams that explain what sets your product apart?
- If your product is a cost-effective option, have you considered how to show the savings benefit in a unique way?
Remember, this is your chance to show the audience why they should believe in your product as they analyze their options. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to give them more information than you did during awareness.
The customer has now reached the point in their journey where they take action towards purchasing a product. This phase is marked by either giving the product a test run and/or deciding to make a purchase. This part of the journey is an exciting one because it allows you to deliver on the promises identified during the first two phases of the journey. This is where the customer validates the usefulness of their purchase and decides whether or not to become a repeat customer and advocate.
Your role in this phase is to keep in contact with the customer to ensure their needs have been met and that you are there for those needs. It’s also an opportunity to elicit feedback about the product they bought to learn more about improving the customer experience. This often happens via email, but can also be done by phone,—again, by knowing your audience you can do what is appropriate for them.
The final stage of the journey is when your customer becomes an advocate of your product. The word of mouth advertising they bring in this phase is invaluable as they become an important part of the awareness phase for your audience that trusts in their opinion. This brings immediate credibility of your brand identity to your audience that is beginning their customer journey with you.
You want to to stay on their radar with new/existing products by continuing to share the core benefits and the reasons to believe along the way. As an advocate, they won’t need the hard sell, but you still need to maintain their relationship with your brand so their advocacy doesn’t start to fade.
By considering your brand identity and having a solid understanding of the customer journey, you will be able to build a manufacturing marketing strategy that is authentic and consistent at every stage. And consistency is essential to the success of any marketing strategy because your customer will always knows what to expect—and when you deliver on that promise, they’re sure to come back to you in their time of need.
Feeling empowered to start building a manufacturing marketing strategy of your own?
It’s ok even if you’re not. We have experience helping companies in the manufacturing industry discover their brand identities.Let us help