By: Laura Benjamin, President and Owner of Satellite Six
Are you a manufacturer who prefers to rely on boots-on-the-ground, cold-calling, face-to-face sales to close your deals? While a strong sales team is a critical function of every business, if I’ve learned anything in my 16+ years in marketing, relying on your sales team alone – without marketing to augment and position your business ahead of a prospect reaching your team – means you may be limiting potential growth, taking longer to close deals, and driving up your cost to acquire new business.
The manufacturers I work with in my consulting role often fall into one of two camps: Those that rely on primarily the sales team approach, and those using marketing to automate relationship building, and create interest and demand in their product. Interest and demand mean greater close rates and shorter sales cycles, and just like your internal production systems, you can build systems around your marketing to drive results.
Filter through the marketing noise
Successful manufacturers use content marketing, inbound systems, and automation to drive new lead generation. Today’s customer – particularly those that skew younger – prefer to build relationships with products and brands through social media, websites, and online video. We’re ALL publishers now, in addition to our core competencies. And for this reason, it’s critical to use new media and digital marketing to build relationships with your customer base. We’re in an age where sales and marketing is more than just promotional message. It’s interaction, thought leadership, and building value upfront to make your brand stand out.
Where to start?
The good news is, you can build these relationships with your customers. I have written a more complete guide to kickstarting your marketing in 2019 here: satellitesix.com/2019guide – and want to provide a few key ways you can get started below.
#1 – Profile your Audience
If you haven’t yet, build a customer profile that consists of four things (download a guide at https://www.satellitesix.com/resources/ if you would like a format to follow):
- Demographic Information (Age, gender, location, income, job title)
- Pain Points they have that would cause them to want your product
- Goals they have in using your product
- Types of media they use.
If you’re not sure, start by modeling this after your 5 best customers. Profile anyone who has reason to seek you out and is making a purchase decision about whether or not to buy your product.
#2 – Write for your Audience
Blogging doesn’t have to be difficult. The biggest barriers I hear about from clients is in knowing what to write about. When you know your customer, it becomes much easier to create content for your blog and social media.
- What problem or frustration does your customer have that you can help him or her solve with a basic guide?
- Ask your sales team what questions they’re asked frequently – and turn each into a blog post.
- What does your customer enjoy doing in his or her free time that you can write about? Often this is peripherally related to your product, such as a camera company blogging about outdoor adventures.
Always remember that your content marketing is about sharing your expertise and authority – not about selling.
#3 – Automate Early-Stage Communications
One of the best ways to save salesperson time and pre-qualify your prospects is through automation. Your sales team will know better than anyone the decision and information-gathering steps your customer goes through before being ready to buy. Turn those steps into automated emails: sequences of email messages that link to information, resources, and content designed to build a relationship and get customers through early-stage objections so that your sales team can focus on closing more deals once the prospect reaches a point of readiness.
What else is out there?
Building a marketing system can be a complex undertaking, but getting started is easy, and builds momentum over time. The most important thing is to just get started, and use your audience feedback to plan out how to improve from there.
If you’re serious about gathering more information for your own marketing efforts, I recommend checking out the following links:
satellitesix.com/resources – 100% free downloadable guides and materials for profiling your customer and building your marketing strategy.
satellitesix.com/2019guide – Expanded from this article, this links to a more in-depth look as to what marketing strategies are working this year for manufacturers.
makermarketing.co – The Maker Marketing Podcast, a weekly show about what’s working in manufacturing marketing. (And if you have a story about a sales or marketing system and how it changed your business, we’re always on the lookout for guests, too!)
Laura Benjamin is the President and Owner of Satellite Six, a marketing company for manufacturers. Visit satellitesix.com for great resources and tools to further your growth goals through marketing. She also hosts the Maker Marketing Podcast, a weekly show that explores what’s working in manufacturing marketing. Listen to the show at makermarketing.co.