Manufacturers: How to Use Digital Media To Attract New Business
by Tony Shannon
Many manufacturers have a tough time with digital marketing. As the landscape has become more competitive and ad prices have increased online, small and mid-sized manufacturing companies have had difficulty finding reliable digital marketing strategies that drive measurable results and attract new business.
Many of the old, traditional digital marketing tactics just aren’t driving the same results that they once were.
At RiseFuel, we work with manufacturers to put together a reliable long-term digital marketing plan that is guaranteed to facilitate results.
We always push our clients to embrace inbound marketing, a marketing strategy that focuses on building long-term relationships with your prospects and clients.
Understanding Inbound Marketing for Manufacturers
In short, inbound marketing is a strategy that uses many forms of marketing collateral — content, blogs, search engine optimization, social media, events, and others — to build brand awareness and attract new customers to your business.
It differs from more traditional forms of outbound marketing because the philosophy is built upon earning the attention and awareness of your customers rather than trying to interrupt their attention with ads.
When it comes to marketing for manufacturers, the digital landscape has become increasingly crowded in recent years. Ad prices have skyrocketed.
More big-name manufacturing companies are dedicating increased amounts of their budget toward digital marketing, squeezing out smaller companies who have relied on those income streams for years.
For these companies, chasing the old outbound marketing tactics is not only a waste of time but money as well. Buyers today are more empowered than they ever have been before.
The internet provides them with an endless stream of information about the companies and products that they are interested in and B2B buyers make full use of that info when making important buying decisions.
Inbound marketing places focus on educating prospects and customers over time. By providing high-quality educational content, you walk prospects down the path from first-time visitor to delighted customer.
If you have worked in marketing and sales, you probably know about sales funnels:
In inbound marketing for manufacturers, you craft various forms of content for each stage of the funnel that takes your prospects from first-time visitor to delighted customer.
The top of the funnel (ToFu), middle of the funnel (MoFu), and bottom of the funnel (BoFu) each have different goals and therefore, different types of content that are delivered to prospects.
Let’s take a look at the different types of content that we typically use when designing an inbound marketing plan for manufacturing companies.
Top of Funnel Content Marketing for Manufacturers
The top of the inbound marketing funnel is where you begin to establish awareness and rapport with the people that visit your website.
Typically, these visitors will come through organic search, PPC ads, or social media. In most cases, they are looking for information on a specific topic, product, or service and have arrived at your website in search of answers to their questions.
Your goal is to ensure that you provide high-level, valuable content that helps to educate them and provide solutions to any problems that they may be experiencing.
There are several types of content that perform extraordinarily well in this role.
Educational Content and Blog Posts
Educational articles and blog posts are the most common way for a first-time visitor to arrive on your website. Blog posts can and should be present at all stages of the inbound sales funnel, but are particularly important at the top.
Top of the funnel content typically focuses on popular and complex topics, simplifying them for your audience.
By educating them and helping them to understand topics, you position yourself as an industry authority and build rapport.
eBooks and Whitepapers
Ebooks and white-papers are a great way to deep-dive into subjects that require additional explanation.
By packaging these materials in a PDF (and gating the content behind an email subscription opt-in), you make it more easily sharable and distributable.
A great example of a white-paper from a manufacturing company is The Rodon Group’s white paper, “Plastic Injection Molding,” which breaks down the topic and helps readers understand how the process works.
Providing original research and insight into your industry can be a great way to increase awareness and build standing within your industry.
Remember, your potential customers aren’t only concerned with your company, products, and services.
They want to have a wider understanding of the industry and providing original research can be a great way to position your company as a reliable source of information.
Email courses are a great way to package content that would typically be included in a white paper or ebook.
By delivering the content once per day or week directly into prospect’s inboxes, you constantly stay top-of-mind while delivering valuable information. It’s a great way to quickly build rapport with your audience quickly.
Middle of Funnel Content Marketing for Manufacturers
In the middle of the inbound marketing funnel, the focus shifts. Content in this stage is used to convert visitors into leads, and begin the process of turning those leads into buyers.
The middle of the funnel is often the deepest, as B2B buyers often take longer periods during the evaluation process.
The middle of the funnel provides a chance to build on the foundation of the relationship that you have built with prospects and continue to establish trust be delivering informative materials.
A few of the different types of content that we typically use in the middle of the funnel for manufacturing companies include:
Product Comparison Guides
How do your products stack up against the competition? How do your products compare to each other? Your prospects may not know which option is the right one for them based on their situation.
Providing detailed product comparison guides can help them to understand the differences and make a buying decision with confidence.
B2B customers come to you because they want a problem solved. To give your prospects confidence that you will be able to solve their problems, you have to show them that you have been able to do it for other, similar companies in your industry.
Case studies are a great way to highlight your biggest successes while giving prospects an idea of what you are capable of delivering.
Product Buyer’s Guides
As your prospect’s work their way toward the bottom of your funnel, they will start ironing out the final details for choosing a supplier. The middle of your funnel is a great time to aid them in this process.
Help them to determine what is important when choosing a supplier, and provide them with a step-by-step guide for getting it right, and they’ll be more likely to choose your company when the time comes.
Bottom of Funnel Content Marketing for Manufacturers
When prospects reach the bottom of the funnel, it’s time to convert them into buyers and, if all goes well, delighted longtime customers. Content in this section of the funnel is going to be much more outwardly promotional.
Some of the common types of content that we put together for manufacturing companies in this part of the funnel include:
Product Highlight Videos
Did you know that one-third of all online activity is spent watching video? Product highlight videos can be a great way to remind leads about the benefits of choosing you as their supplier as it becomes time for them to make the buying decision.
A simple video that explains a product’s benefits can drive home important points that leads need to take into account when making a buying decision.
Product Spec Sheets
Arm your leads with the information that they need to finalize their buying decision. Product spec sheets are an important piece to the puzzle, as they provide leads with simple documents that they can pass around their company to all decision makers before pulling the trigger.
Putting It All Together
Inbound marketing doesn’t result in immediate sales. It’s a process. The content that you deliver to products will need to be put together over the course of months, building as you go along.
It may take some prospects just days to go from the top of the funnel to the bottom, while others may take months.
Having relevant content that is specifically designed for each section of the funnel enables manufacturing companies to walk prospects through the process of getting to know their company and eventually, making the buying decision.
To attract new business with inbound marketing it is a steady and consistent approach that when done correctly builds a lead generation machine that will continue to produce leads.
Feel free to reach out to us and let us know if you would like more information or have any questions. We only work with one manufacturer in each competitive arena.