All Posts By

Liam Underwood

How to build the perfect manufacturing or engineering company’s sales pipeline

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It’s common knowledge that a healthy, high-quality sales pipeline can transform any manufacturing or engineering business.  In fact, creating and maintaining such a pipeline is pretty much every business owner’s and business development manager’s dream.

Because a healthy sales pipeline means there’s a steady stream of quality new prospects or leads, all open to trying your manufacturing or engineering product or service, there should not be any more sleepless nights wondering when your next enquiry will come in and no more worrying about whether the production line is going to be kept busy or if there are any issues with meeting payroll next month.

Healthy sales pipelines make for all-around healthy manufacturing or engineering businesses,  sustained revenue growth and long-term profitability

And this unique position gives you more options – i.e. deciding to steadily grow or being more selective about the work that’s taken on or swapping out low margin, awkward jobs for higher margin, more straightforward work. You also have the luxury of being able to:

  • Forecast future business results more accurately
  • Analyse and optimise sales strategies for continual improvement
  • Manage and allocate internal resources more effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate how you’re performing against your sales growth targets

Inadequate sales and marketing nurturing processes lead to an unhealthy sales pipeline and poor-quality leads which results in low margin sales as well as many more problems for manufacturing or engineering companies.  These poor results are invariably caused by failure to effectively manage and review and refine the sales, marketing and nurturing process on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, it would appear they’re rife across other sectors too.  According to research carried out by the Sales Management Association, 44% of executives think their organisation is ineffective at managing their sales pipelines. 

Companies with a Formal Sales Process Generate More Revenue

Meanwhile, a study carried out by the Harvard Business Review revealed an 18% difference in revenue growth between companies that have a defined a formal sales process and those that haven’t.

How manufacturing and engineering companies can develop a more successful sales process to prime the sales pipeline

Healthy sales pipelines don’t just happen by chance.  We know this because we’ve helped countless manufacturing and engineering businesses build a sales and marketing process that is still delivering just as well for them now, as they were when we first implemented them. We achieve this by helping them:

  1. Decide what their perfect customer looks like and who they ideally wish to work with: 

  • Company size
  • Sector
  • Cultural fit
  • Products and services that are core to their offer
  1. Scope out the lifetime value of what that customer looks like (or could look like):

  • Profile top customers by sector size etc.
  • Desk research other businesses, including their best customers’ competitors
  • Purchase data from Direct Marketing Association-approved sources
  • Sift and cleanse the data
  1. Develop their unique proposition and positioning to put them in a category of one:

  • What makes them unique?
  • Why do their existing customers use them over their competition?
  • Create a compelling value proposition
  • Develop campaign collateral and sales copy that underpins the above proposition
  • Claim that unique position in the market through marketing and nurturing communications
  1. Support their team with:

  • Telemarketing to find the decision makers with the budget, authority and need that aligns perfectly with their engineering capabilities
  • Persuasive sales copywriting that delivers the top unique capabilities to the decision makers
  • Direct personalised email marketing that educates and nurtures the decision maker until they are ready to buy
  • Direct personalised direct mail to ensure the message is received through a physical media
  • Digital/search marketing to ensure prospects looking for a solution to their problems find them and either reach out or are followed up
  • Social media to underpin the positioning and to build more targeted prospects.

An integrated and systematic approach to marketing and lead generation to develop a sales pipeline involves building funnels/customer journeys and adopting marketing automation sequences to find the decision-makers and deliver campaign messages that focus on customers’ pain points and to show them how they can overcome them.

By building relationships using ‘evergreen’ strategies, trust and rapport develop and, combined with consistent and time-prompted follow up processes (using CRM systems), results will start to flow steadily through.

These are just some of the many components that go into bridging the gap between sales and marketing to deliver a healthy sales pipeline.  

For more details or to find out more about the results we’ve helped our manufacturing and engineering clients to achieve, please call us on 01827 69772 or complete the short contact form below.

Social media for manufacturing: Are you still wasting time on Facebook?

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With a whopping 2.3million+ active users, Facebook has grown to become of the largest connective platforms in history.

Everybody’s heard of it and, if stats like the one above are anything to go by, everybody’s using it.

social media

So, why did we start off this post by asking you that somewhat contentious question about how much time you’re wasting on it?

By ‘you’ we mean manufacturing businesses, who we’ve been providing proven lead generation sales pipeline and marketing services for, for more than 15 years.

And in our vast experience of leading and developing new B2B business opportunities for this amount of time, we know that (as much as we hate to say it) if you’re a manufacturer who’s putting all of their social media eggs into the Facebook basket, you’re most probably getting little ROI from it.

You see, plainly speaking, Facebook isn’t set up for B2B businesses. It’s great at showing you what your friends get up to at the weekend, who’s got married, who’s expecting and whose birthday it is, but from a B2B perspective, it’s not a B2B marketing platform.

What’s more, due to sophisticated algorithm updates, Facebook no longer shows all posts to all followers, which means it can be difficult to scale your efforts unless you use boosted posts or paid for advertising campaigns, which obviously come at a cost. You could try these options, but let’s face it, the chances of the likes of JCB’s chief buyer engaging with you on Facebook is highly unlikely.

But you don’t have to rip up your social media strategies right away, you just need to tweak them, so they’re more in line with the world in which you operate. And the good news is that it is possible to deliver social media for manufacturing companies that does make a difference.

For instance, you could focus on using a B2B platform, such as LinkedIn, instead. You’ll certainly see a marked difference in your results.

LinkedIn is great for researching job titles, but, of course, not everybody’s profile will show up unless you’re connected to them or subscribe to paid versions, which also have their limitations. Yes, there are automated systems out there that can help you with the LinkedIn legwork, but won’t guarantee the top buyers within the top companies are going to engage with you.

So, what’s the solution for amplifying your LinkedIn lead gen efforts? In fact, is there a solution at all? Yes, there is, and it involves building your LinkedIn activity around these three key areas:

  1. Proposition

Before you even start to put your LinkedIn wheels, or any other social media wheels, in action you need to nail your proposition, which involves asking yourself – why should companies choose you over the competition? What’s unique about your offering? How does your expertise stand out from the rest? What’s so impressive about your resources/service/delivery etc?

  1. Digital inbound marketing

How does your company perform in online searches? The best attraction marketing campaigns hone in on the decision-makers who have a challenge/issue they need to overcome now, hence the reason why they’re hitting the search engines. The question is – are your products/services guaranteed to show up within their search results, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated due to many factors including GoogleAds, artificial intelligence and voice-activated search, which is a whole world in itself away from traditional SEO?

  1. Outbound

Support your digital inbound marketing efforts with direct marketing campaigns that target the buyers and budget holders who don’t know and trust you yet, as well as those who’ve found you within their online searches.

Your outbound activity should involve carrying out desk research into identifying the right companies, using the telephone and LinkedIn to find the name of the right person to approach and asking permission to market to them. You’ll also need to deliver the right information at the right frequency in the right formats (words, graphics, emails, posted mail, case studies and videos), to encourage prospects to know you, like you and trust you. And this needs to be implemented using an integrated approach, which includes generating relevant tailored content on a regular basis.

Got any questions or need help with any of the three areas above? We have significant experience in creating and delivering highly successful social media for manufacturing strategies and can do the same for your business. Contact us on 01827 69772 or you can use the form on this page for more information.

Marketing for manufacturing businesses: Where should you start?

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While it’s not uncommon for manufacturers’ order books to be continuously filled by repeat customers and recommendations, their long-term success does depend on their ability to cast their net much further afield.

Like most industries, the manufacturing sector is switched on to the benefits of marketing, both tried-and-tested traditional techniques and 21st century methods, including digital, inbound and content marketing.

According to a report carried out by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 78% of manufacturing marketing professionals use some form of inbound marketing and 71% of manufacturing content marketers list lead generation as a top organisational goal. 

But knowing which strategy is guaranteed to drive sales and generate a healthy pipeline isn’t always easy, particularly when you’re time-poor, have limited resources or haven’t always prioritised your marketing efforts.

15+ years’ manufacturing marketing success

Having delivered countless successful marketing and lead generation campaigns specifically for manufacturing companies for more than 15 years, we instinctively know which marketing tactics resonate the best within the world of manufacturing.

In fact, our proven Business PropellerTM lead generation process was developed to help business owners, including manufacturers and engineering companies, tackle one of their biggest challenges – how to find new prospects with the budget, authority and need; start a meaningful conversation with them and nurture them until they become loyal, repeat customers.

And while it’s encouraging to see many manufacturers are implementing marketing strategies, not all of these strategies have started in the right place. And, of course, there’s also the cluster of manufacturers who aren’t sure where to begin in the first place…

So, where should manufacturers start their marketing?

Well, the first step involves putting yourself in your prospects’ shoes and identifying their main pain points, and by pain points, we mean the business challenges that most keep them awake at night. Once you’ve honed in on this key piece of information, you then need to present them with a solution to their pain points. (Note – your prospects may have just one main pain point or multiple and you may have one, catch-all solution or several).

But being armed with this insight is only part of the equation. It’s essential the key decision-makers within the organisations you’re targeting: a) have an instant brand recall with your company, b) know and like you and c) trust you. And from your perspective, it’s important you market your solution to their problems, keep them warm with long-term nurturing campaigns and always, always follow up with them every month, no matter how busy things get.

Right messages to the right people at the right time

And this is where your marketing efforts are key. From your overall brand and your website, to your direct marketing materials, they all need to be clear and consistent and, more importantly, communicating the right messages to the right people at the right time (follow-ups included).

In today’s digital era, having a website is a basic marketing requirement and just simply having an online presence is just the start, especially as 99% of web visitors reportedly leave a site without making contact and 70% of people who go to your Contact Us page won’t actually make contact. (The words ‘horse’ and ‘water’ spring to mind here…)

While this is a significant obstacle, it is possible to overcome it, with the right strategy and implementation, such as web visitor forensic tools, online advertising, highly relevant content marketing campaigns and systemised follow-ups in place.

Admittedly, marketing for manufacturers isn’t without its challenges, but they are all challenges that can easily be tackled with the right insight and approach.

What’s more, if you’ve started your marketing at the point we suggested at the start of this post, then you won’t have half as many issues to deal with, meaning you can spend more time and energy nurturing leads that are guaranteed to convert.

Got any questions or perhaps you’re a manufacturer or an engineering company who’d like our help with developing and implementing a winning marketing strategy? Contact us on 01827 69772 or you can use the form on this page.

RIP Google+: The battle’s over, but the social media marketing war has only just begun…

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In January 2019, everybody with a Google+ account received an email informing them of something many of us didn’t see coming…time’s up for Google+.

Google has closed the social network it set up to take on Facebook. On April 2, every single Google+ page and all photos and videos stored in Google+ archive albums were supposedly erased, never to be seen again.

However, while the total shutdown may run on a little while off yet, users are already being prevented from creating any new Google+ profiles, pages, communities and events.

According to Google, their decision is based on ‘low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations.’

The announcement has been the subject of much speculation and debate since it was revealed, sparking many a story centred around failure.

But if only that were true….

Yes, Google may have lost the battle against Facebook, but by no means has it lost the war. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may be streets ahead, but who’s the one that dominates the search market? Google!

However, this doesn’t mean it should be taking down its guard anytime soon. The search engine giant is facing a new, up-and-coming challenge – how to safeguard its long-term future against voice-activated search on the likes of Siri, Alexa and other voice-activated apps.

The rise of voice search has caused new ripples through the world of SEO, with many questioning whether adverts on social media platforms will take over from conventional search. For instance, people are already increasingly turning to YouTube and Google images for search.

And will direct advertising on Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram reign supreme? Where the masses go, the advertisers follow, creating a cycle that’s continuously evolving over time.

Our conclusion? Social media channels and digital marketing platforms are morphing. They are merging and lines are becoming blurred.  SEO may well have had its day as a scalable national and international form of lead generation however, content marketing can still be effective in driving targeted traffic to websites.

Artificial intelligence will play an increasingly valuable role in helping marketing professionals profile B2B prospects on wider parameters than ever before. Social media marketing organisations know who these people are, where they go, what their beliefs and motivations are and will continue to grow in popularity and effectiveness as the market fragments and matures.

As for Google+, some will miss you, I am sure that Google has learned a lot whilst it has been testing and measuring.  In the words of Winston Churchill, ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’

Got any questions or want to find out more about our industry-leading B2B social media marketing strategies? Contact us on 01827 69772 or fill in the contact form on this page.

Book Summary: Marketing for Manufacturers

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Marketing for Manufacturing by Carl Jarvis We thoroughly recommend you buy this book, here is a summary of the book Marketing for Manufacturers, by Carl Jarvis.  In it, Carl states that 80% of small to mid-sized manufacturers mismanage their marketing.  Carl started off his working life as an engineering apprentice and later had a successful corporate career in sales and then marketing before becoming a Marketing and Business Advisor.

Here is a summary of some of the key points, 10 chapters distilled into a bullet-pointed list below:

Introduction:

  • There are approximately 30,000 small and mid-sized manufacturing companies in the UK generating £151Bn and employing over 1.1m people. Many of these manufacture world class products.  As good as they are at making things, it is generally accepted that they are ‘universally poor at marketing them’ and their ‘products are the best-kept secret in the market.’
  • Carl estimates that the inability to market correctly is costing companies around 20% of their potential and estimates that this is costing the UK around £24bn/year and accounting for one of the major reasons for business failure.
  • This isn’t a how-to book on marketing though. The book sets out to inspire manufacturers to embrace marketing and to let go of the old ways such as relying on 3rd parties and word of mouth.
  • Many manufacturers have filing cabinets full of contacts, lapsed customers, web enquiries, prospects that have been quoted but not won. Contacts that could be entered into a CRM system, contacted and nurtured and followed up. Lapsed customers that could be called and asked why they have gone elsewhere.  Existing customers who could be upsold and market researched to ensure they stay ahead of the competition.

Part 1: The Inconvenient Truths about Marketing

  • Manufacturing companies are set up by manufacturers and engineers who tend to have very little professional sales and marketing experience, if any at all.
  • Very few companies have one person of authority responsible for managing the marketing function. It may sit with the MD/CEO but does it ever have as much focus as operations or finance?

CALL TO ACTION: Give marketing the same weight as production planning, QC, materials handling, stock control, scheduling and WIP.  Your marketing needs that same level of commitment and focus to succeed.

  • Be in control like you are with operations and don’t leave the reputation of your company to chance.
  • Your sales and marketing process should replicate your production processes. Bring in raw materials (leads), convert the materials into products (lead conversion process), package, ship and fulfil the order (sales then convert them into a first-time customer and wow them), so they become a regular, repeat customer.
  • Every business has 3 functions:
    • Production (make it)
    • Finance (manage the flow of money)
    • Marketing and Sales (promote and sell it).
  • Jarvis states that in all his years he has never met an MD that is strong in all 3 areas (4 if you separate sales and marketing).
  • Jarvis: ‘If most companies ran their financial and production departments like they run their marketing function, they would be in complete and utter chaos.’
  • One of the biggest challenges a business owner will face is finding highly qualified leads or prospects to convert into rewarding profitable business, whilst simultaneously developing and expanding their existing customers to increase order value and order frequency.
  • CALL TO ACTION: MDs should balance the business and get support on marketing. If they delegate to a junior member of staff, they should get support from an external source.
  • Look at your organisational tree and delegate marketing to a senior person and support them with the resources required to deliver results.
  • Develop a marketing strategy and an annual marketing plan and budget. Then resource it correctly to ensure results are achieved.  See guidance on marketing budgets below.
  • Make sure you implement! Take action, as failure to implement is a primary reason for business failure.  
  • Many manufacturers do not have an adequate marketing budget.
  • Some think they will allocate the budget AFTER the sales come in. It never happens.
  • Recommended marketing budgets: Jarvis quotes a MORI poll on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Marketing 2010 with some interesting insights:
    • The average marketing spend as a percentage of gross annual turnover is 7.29% (excluding marketing salaries).
    • The average spend by sector is: Financial services-7.79%, Manufacturing is lower at 5.83%, retail -7.61% and technology – 7.76%
    • Average UK marketing spend by annual gross revenue:
      • Below £1m T/O -9.96%
      • £1m-£10m T/O – 7.61%
      • £11m-50m – 4.72%
      • £51m – £100m – 6.64%
    • Jarvis surmises that you should be spending 8%-11% of gross annual sales on marketing.
    • McKinsey & Co recommends a minimum annual marketing spend of 5% of gross revenue.
    • Drew McLellan blue chip marketing expert suggests a 7%-8% spend of gross revenue.
  • Jarvis asks a leading question: Why is it that manufacturers can always find money for a new machine but rarely if ever for marketing? 
  • CALL TO ACTION: Work out how much the lifetime value of a customer is worth to you. Decide how much you are prepared to pay to buy each new customer. Allocate the budget and ringfence marketing as this is the activity that will generate future sales and profitable growth.
  • Look at your customer lists. Review your top 20% of customers.  Have a formal review with each customer every year. Discuss their future plans and needs.
  • Create customer records and make systemised contact Make a list and develop marketing materials that make it easy to get the message out there and include videos. Stop just sending data sheets.
  • Is your website too product focussed?  Get an independent review of your website and develop it as the hub of your campaigns to download information and datasheets:  ‘A website is for life, not just Christmas’.
  • Who is writing your marketing and sales copy? Get professional help with your sales copy as this will have a significant impact on your results.
  • Does your marketing material reflect the quality of your products and services? Who designs your literature?  Is it in-house by an experienced graphic designer?  Is it professionally designed and professionally printed or is it a DIY job in-house?  Don’t go cheap on this as the quality of your product/service deserves better.
  • Is your marketing fragmented? Make sure it is integrated and coordinated.  Develop regular marketing habits and review every year.
  • Make sure you identify your key markets and follow up again and again by systematically taking them on a customer journey. Ditch the stuff that isn’t working and do more of the activities that do and always ask for the order!
  • Build the profiles of your top engineers and communicate these to your customers.
  • Create case studies, articles and blogs.
  • Arrange speaking engagements at conferences.
  • Let go of the past and get social.

Part Two:  The Mechanics of Marketing Strategy

What is Marketing?

  • A list of definitions:
    • At its highest level, the purpose of marketing is to make selling unnecessary
    • A lifelong method of building trust and educating your customer so they believe in the benefits, advantages, value and beneficial results of your product or service.
    • Marketing is developing an intelligent process for increasing the customer’s desire for your products and services.
    • Marketing is forging lifelong, ongoing relationships with the customer.
    • Marketing is about bringing the market to desire your product or service. Sales is to close the deal. – Dr Eliyahu M. Goldratt, originator of the theory of constraints.
    • Strategic vs tactical marketing. Think first, decide key objectives then implement.

Three Critical Questions in Marketing Effectiveness

  1. What is your primary mode of marketing?
  2. What is your primary origin of sales?
  3. How do they differ or compare?
  • Why would anyone buy from you?
  • Why do your current customers buy from you? Ask them.
  • Market and sell end outcomes.
  • Develop customer avatars of your ideal customer. Who are they?  What do they really want from you?  Who makes the final decision?
  • 80/20 marketing. 80% of profits will come from 20% of your customers.  Why not target and win more of these types of customers?
  • Where is your area of excellence?

Conclusion:

A first in this sector, Marketing for Manufacturers is an easy read and makes a lot of sense.  It is not a ‘how to market your business’ book (there are hundreds of these out there).  This is a well-considered attempt to educate MDs and owners of UK manufacturing companies as to why they need to get better at marketing their business and when to ask for professional help.

Marketing for Manufacturers by Carl Jarvis is available on Amazon.

If you would like to explore how to get more of the right kind of customers, then please contact a member of the Stratique team on 01827 69772.