Before jumping into the realm of developing large quantities of content for your manufacturing marketing plan, you must first understand what content marketing is.
Put simply, it is a form of marketing created with the purpose of increased profitability, from a specific audience, by providing them with relevant, significant and frequently updated content. For small manufacturers, this new internet marketing style is the proverbial ‘foot in the door!’
Small Manufacturer’s Have The Advantage!
One of the most significant benefits of doing business of any kind on the Internet is that, it does indeed create a level playing field. You have the identical resources to work with that your larger competitors do. Having said that, your larger competitors may choose to spend significantly more than you do for things like advertising but, as a small manufacturer, you actually have the upper hand over your largest competitors, if you manage your efforts correctly.
First of all, if you try to compete head-to-head with your largest competitors, they will out-gun and out-spend you every single time. Therefore, it is most important that you recognize that in order for you to gain the upper hand you have to think NICHE, when thinking about your manufacturing marketing plan!
Figure out a way to be 1/2 an inch wide and a mile deep. Answer the following questions, honestly: What makes us different (from all of our competitors) and, WHY should our customer’s care?
The high likelihood is, when you answer those questions effectively, you will have found a niche that your larger competitors are either not interested in filling or it just isn’t worth their time and effort. Your target customers will figure out very quickly that your are far more capable of fulfilling their needs than a larger competitor, who really isn’t interested in their business! This can make all the difference in your manufacturing marketing plan!
It’s Free – If You Need It To Be
Now to be clear, nothing you do will be completely free. It will cost you the time and effort required to research and develop your content. Clearly, if you decide to invest in professional help, that will cost you more but, you can expect to see a better ROI for you efforts as well.
Unlike other forms of marketing, content marketing can be any price you want it to be. The good news is, you will get out of it what you put into it. Typically, the return is much better than the investment, from my own personal experience.
Whatever you do, don’t “Compare-And-Despair!” Everyone does it at one time or another. You know how it goes, you look around at what other people are doing and compare that to what you are doing and get depressed about the fact that you aren’t doing the same or, as much. Like I said, don’t do that! Use those other sites or competitors as a motivation to do more and do it better.
Use whatever you have. Take advantage of the skills you know that you have. Take motivational speaking as an example. If you’re a good motivator, make motivational videos that are relevant to your target audience and throw in plugs for your products every now and then.
Motivational speaking is one of the most successful marketing mediums, both online and in person. It takes a knack for someone to be able to motivate the masses however, over and over it’s been proven to grab people’s attention and loyalty. Your potential customers will be much more apt to buy something from you if they feel that you have their best interests in mind and the thing you’re selling is secondary to that.
In fact, when you create a loyal audience this way, they will go out of their way to find the things you are a part of just because they believe in you and your message.
Your Target Audience Is Actively Engaged
Content marketing is really a form of advertisement in disguise. While your less up-to-date competitors will be paying large amounts of money for ads that viewers will skip the vast majority of the time, you will be miles ahead of them getting ‘free advertisements’ by providing useful content to your loyal fans (read – future customers) who actually want to see.
Where a normal advertisement attempts to “steal” the audience’s attention and time, content marketing plays to your audience’s desires. This leads to a more open mindedness and less distrust. It’s a simple formula really:
Produce Significant amounts of relevant content + Make it available to your target audience in the right places = Gain trust and earn their business
Be sure not to violate the trust people put in you. As soon as someone realizes “Oh wait, it feels like they’re trying to sell me something”, they start viewing everything you do with suspicion. The key to being successful is to continue to build trust with the people you’re engaging with. Attempting to shove a sales message down a social channel is a sure way to turn people off.
Here’s a great example of how to calculate what that kind of trust is worth to you:
The tone of your overall manufacturing marketing message is everything. Keep in mind that your goal needs to be to inform, educate or entertain. Selling anything comes second. It’s counter intuitive but, focusing on selling second and informing and educating your audience first will create a better ROI.
There Are Opportunities Everywhere For Your Manufacturing Marketing Plan
After you’ve fine tuned your techniques, you’ll start to see opportunities everywhere, without even trying.
Maybe you’re a good writer and you’ve developed an interesting blog. Or, maybe you like to travel. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hotel guru, event host, or just some guy on a road-trip. Who’s to say that you don’t slip in how “the new aftermarket cushion your company made saved your back on that long car ride,” while talking about your vacation in the travel blog you write.
Apply that example to your own manufacturing marketing activities… can you think of ways you could talk about the benefits of your products in ways that your target customers would be interested in?
Another great opportunity is your existing customers. Have you spoken with your customers lately? Have you asked them what types of content they like or that they would like to see from you? I’m pretty sure they will tell you. If they are your existing customers, then there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll want more of them, right? So, listen to them.
Contacting a social media personality, in your industry, is a great idea too. Do a few searches to see who’s doing what in the social spaces surrounding your industry.
These people are pros. Not only will you get some good advice, but if you offer them some form of sponsorship, you’re pretty much guaranteed to learn something and earn their promotion. Not only will they use your item in videos (for example) in a way that only the most discerning eye will realize is a sales tactic, you’ll get a few chances to pick their brain along the way.
Try finding someone that is BIG and well respected in the industries that you serve. Whatever you manufacture, look for the people who have the most social juice (read – influence) and connect with them. I guarantee they know how the game is played!
This is the last, most important, and most often undiscovered secret to marketing.
Don’t give up after your 5th or 20th or whatever try. Who’s to say that your next try doesn’t put you on the map in a big way? In the words of Sir Winston, “Never, never, never, … give up!”