Why Do Manufacturing Companies Need Digital Marketing?

When we talk to senior people in the manufacturing industry, they very often do not understand why they should invest in digital marketing, feeling more comfortable with the legacy tactics that have proven themselves in the past. 

It’s true that digital marketing for manufacturing is very different from manufacturing itself. It’s understandable that many of these General Managers, Presidents, and CEOs don’t give much thought to marketing automation to target customers for their products and services.  They may be familiar with the consumer marketing they see across the internet, but that is very different from the B2B digital marketing tactics relevant to industrial manufacturing.  

Many manufacturing companies have no in-house digital marketing expertise. They have blinders on when it comes to digital marketing. And this makes them very, very vulnerable.  

Developing digital marketing expertise is a critically important discipline to undertake, either by hiring the skillset or by outsourcing it to a digital marketing agency. 

Here are some of the reasons manufacturing companies have been slow to adopt digital marketing strategies: 

“We prefer the traditional sales and marketing approaches” 

“We’ve done fine without it so far” is what we hear.  The manufacturing sector has successfully relied on word-of-mouth (WOM) and traditional relationship-selling approaches for the entire career of many in their senior leadership.

Their experience has been that regional and annual trade shows have been highly valuable to them. They can catch up with other industry players and have quality face time with new and existing customers.

Face it: it can be hard to see beyond what has worked so well for so long. However, the pandemic accelerated the pace of change that has been quietly taking place for over a decade now. Emerging from this pandemic period of lockdowns and remote working, many see that events are not coming back on stream in the same way. Trade show attendance is lackluster.

Face-to-face meetings are hard if not impossible to get.

So with events not coming back in the same way, and business relationships getting more “virtual” than ever before, the companies that have pivoted and adapted will be the winners in this new world of manufacturing sales and marketing.

Learn more about how a digital marketing expert can help you here

“We have a strong customer base and revenue stability” 

We see many manufacturing companies who are over-reliant on an existing customer base, perhaps doing email marketing but not much more. However, that customer base is retiring. And this includes those customers with whom you have been doing business for so many years.

The largest contingent of Baby Boomers retired in 2022 and over the next few years, most Baby Boomers will be gone from workplaces. The decision-makers who will replace them are internet savvy and approach purchase decisions very differently. 

As search engines grew in their power to answer all our questions relating to everything including B2B buyer questions, a shift of power took place. Traditionally, decision-makers would meet with sales reps to get the latest intel on products, tech updates, and trends. Today, search engines present content and companies create content to answer these questions. This has taken over the traditional role of sales in attracting prospective customers and generating new business.

The buyer is no longer dependent on the sales rep for this information. The internet brings them all the information they need, and they can get answers to their specific pain points without having to take a sales call or listen to your sales pitch.

Younger buyers and C-Suite decision-makers do not take face-to-face appointments as their predecessors did. Today’s buyers conduct at least 75% of their search online prior to contacting you.  If you are not on page 1 of Google for their search queries, then you’re not under consideration for the opportunity. 

No Precedent in their Industry Sector

“This doesn’t work in our industry” or “We tried it and it didn’t work” are comments we hear. These thoughts are a grave misperception. 

There is no industry that is not embracing (and creating huge success) digital marketing strategies. If you don’t see them, that should be worrisome to you. Think of it this way: How does a predator take its prey? From behind – because it can attack unseen. This is a universal truth, seen in our capitalistic economy as well as in the animal world. 

If you tried some aspects of digital marketing and it didn’t work for you, then congratulations. You have learned that it takes skill, consistency, and the right partner to make it work. If you think back, you’ll admit that there were errors in your execution because you didn’t have the knowledge and skills necessary. Like any complex skill, mastering it means fixing the weaknesses in the last attempt and doing it again, better. 

Working with a competent digital marketing agency enables you to bring in the skill sets and expertise you’re missing. Additionally, your internal marketing team benefits from working with a full suite of seasoned professionals so their own competence grows over time.

Running at Full Capacity Currently 

We hear “we’re too busy at the moment” often because the plant is operating at full capacity. But the pandemic and resulting economic uncertainties have taken up bandwidth and attention, distracting decision-makers to short-term challenges and ignoring the even bigger challenges that are on the horizon. 

While you’ve been slow to embrace digital marketing, and strengthen the value of your website, your cost of sales has been increasing. If you have sales reps working in a traditional sales manner, cold calling, or working with an existing customer base, they are generating fewer leads on their own efforts than other businesses that are employing digital marketing strategies such as inbound marketing, SEO lead generation, and content marketing. 

One of the most compelling arguments for digital marketing is the benefits flow quickly to the bottom line. Your expensive sales team will be happy to be closing incoming warm qualified leads rather than having to find, warm up and close colder leads. And your cost of sales will decrease because the sales team is being more productive for your business, spending less time finding leads and more time closing new business. 

Let’s look at some of the other benefits of digital marketing for industrial manufacturing.

Digital marketing provides practical solutions for manufacturing companies: 

Educate buyers on complex products 

Digital marketing provides solutions to educate buyers on new services or product enhancements. Developing new markets or expanding into new geographies are initiatives well suited to digital marketing. Digital marketing can help with larger goals such as revenue targets, but also with more niche efforts such as explaining complex solutions.

Improve awareness of your company

Use digital marketing to renew your brand image and attract new, younger buyers. In a slow-moving industry, capture the position of voice leader and overtake competitors slower to embrace digital marketing. Generating qualified leads

Increase sales velocity

A successful inbound marketing strategy can turn your website into a lead generation engine and shorten the sales cycle effectively increasing sales velocity and company profitability 

A Recruitment tool 

An effective website can help attract talent, bring skilled workers to job postings on your website, and lowering recruitment costs. 

In seeing the value in shifting your organization to becoming more digital, you may wonder where should you start.  

Here is how you should approach the task:

1. Your Website & SEO 

If your website is looking old and tired, then you definitely should plan to set money aside for a website upgrade. But today best B2B websites are designed for lead generation so don’t spend money on a new website if you’re also not working with a senior SEO strategist or inbound marketing expert. 

Hand in hand with upgrading the website is planning out the web pages to deliver an effective user experience (read: be designed to keep people on the site and reading your content). To make this happen, there is industry research, competitive research, web design, keyword research, and content development work that must be done, and orchestrated to achieve the look, feel, and user experience that will bring good quality organic traffic to your website. If you’re a manufacturing company wanting a lead-generating website, you will need more than a web developer. Digital marketing agencies with experience in B2B website development can offer the types of teams needed.   

2. Content Marketing & Role of Buyer Personas 

A key to getting leads coming to the website is in generating a high volume of good-quality organic traffic. The value of a regularly updated blog is that the search engines see that you are actively making enhancements to your website, and they reward that with more traffic. The content must be high quality and relevant to your audience, or next customer. 

The use of Buyer Personas results in better quality content because the persona or potential buyer’s questions are being answered in this content. We develop buyer personas and identify their pain points, and then use these as a guide in writing highly relevant articles for the blog. The most successful inbound marketing campaigns involve writing to these buyer personas.

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Since most purchase decisions are made by multiple stakeholders, it is important to create content that appeals to multi-level roles within the organization.

Content such as product demos and brochures, case studies, testimonials, white papers, and point-of-view documents are just some of the items that must be in your content marketing arsenal.


Visit our Content Marketing Services page to learn more

3. Development of the Digital Marketing Strategy

Each business is unique. Your industry position, your size, your product strengths, and your culture define you as different from your competitors. A good digital marketing agency will take the time to get to know your business. They will provide insights into what strategies will work for your business based on these unique features as well as the marketing budget you have set.

We get deeper into where to start with this article.

Why you should start now

It’s important to understand that success takes time and consistency. In other words, you should plan to commit to a year of effort to see significant online gains. However, if you are working with a competent agency, you should see improvements within the first few months.

One of the best times to get started is when the economy is uncertain. At these times, many companies will delay or pause marketing. This is the wrong thing to do. You have already learned that doing digital marketing is hard and you know you don’t have the internal skill sets to master all its aspects. Therefore you must allow for the learning curve of both your internal team as well as your digital agency. The work is incremental, and success is also incremental. Use the period of economic uncertainty to create your early online wins: to sharpen your skills and to increase the value of your website. Then when the economy improves, your online presence will be rocking, and your business will be getting your fair share of new business leads.

Some sectors of industrial manufacturing have been dealing with supply chain issues, pivoting to on-shoring, and digesting hikes in commodity and chip prices. All of your competitors are as well. These challenges are not going away soon. Strengthening your online presence now means being better positioned to grow in spite of these huge challenges.

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