For years, we've been hearing that voice search for B2B is the next big thing. But the evidence is scarce that Alexa, Siri and Cortana are moving the needle in the SEO world.
B2B Manufacturing Marketing Strategy: How to Stand Out
In a world where everyone is competing to become the best, how will you stand out? In the manufacturing industry, the competition is especially fierce because products and services can be rather similar to each other. Having something unique and valuable makes it easier to come up with a sound B2B manufacturing marketing strategy.
Product differentiation and B2B manufacturing marketing go hand in hand. When you can identify your strengths, your weaknesses and what makes you unique, it will be easier to market your company.
Let’s start this journey by understanding what makes you unique first. This will make it easier for us to think of how to market manufacturing companies.
What is Product Differentiation?
Product differentiation is a marketing strategy that aims to make a company’s products and services distinguishable from its competitors. As an established manufacturing company, how are you any different from startups that are entering the market? Or your traditional competition?
To figure this out, a company needs to identify its unique qualities and differentiators. In other words, what do you do that nobody else does? And how do you do things differently than the competition?
The goal of product differentiation is to create a competitive advantage over its competitors. The more value and uniqueness you bring to the table, the more attractive your offers are. It goes way beyond just having the best products and services. Who you are as a company and what you do greatly impact product differentiation.
Types of Product Differentiation
These are the three types of product differentiation. It’s important to get acquainted with both so that you can play to your strengths and weaknesses in appealing to your market. In most cases, a customer’s choice in a purchase is a mix of two.
Vertical differentiation is when customers rank products based on measurable factors like price or quality. Despite these factors being objective and measurable, the choice still lies with the client.
For example, a client could want a manufacturing company that can produce cheap materials with relatively OK quality. Another client may have a bigger budget, so they prefer better quality over cheap price.
Horizontal differentiation, on the other hand, is when customers choose products based on their personal preferences. It focuses more on subjective taste than objective factors.
For example, a client prefers blue over red. It has nothing to do with the price or quality. It’s purely based on the subjective preference of the client.
Mixed differentiation is a combination of the two previously discussed differentiations. The client takes into consideration objective factors like price, quality, and features and also considers their personal preference.
Most purchases belong to this category. Clients usually have a lot of factors to consider so when marketing for a manufacturing company, flexibility and variety is always attractive.
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Benefits of B2B Product Differentiation
Given that product differentiation sounds great, is it really worth it? Is going through all the trouble of building a company that stood out worth all the trouble? Wouldn’t it be easier if you were just a good company that offered good products and services?
The more unique and valuable your products and services are, the more people will talk about you. The things that make you stand out will help get your name out in the market. This creates a buzz in your market and gets your brand back in the spotlight for discussion.
Introducing new and innovative products and services will also help you grow your market. New people will discover your brand and will see how much value you can bring them.
Achieve a Higher Price Point
When you offer products that are unique and bring a lot of value, clients won’t complain if it’s a bit expensive. Buyers often perceive uniqueness as something worth paying extra for.
As a B2B manufacturing company, increasing prices may be a challenge because your market is already used to what you charge. Presenting what makes your new products and services unique will help your transition to higher prices more easily.
Promote Brand Loyalty
When a product becomes truly distinct, it’s hard to find a substitute. This is where functionality, quality and value come in. Having these things in your products will help your customers stay loyal to you and only you.
Since you already have an existing market, product differentiation will make it impossible for them to replace you. Nothing beats quality products and services that have withstood the test of time.
Marketing for Manufacturing Companies: The Bottom Line
Marketing for a B2B manufacturing company can pose quite a challenge because the industry doesn’t exactly practice “marketing” in the traditional sense. In the manufacturing industry, businesses usually get clients through referrals and connections.
This is because the process of choosing a manufacturer or OEM can be quite tedious. There are tons of decision-making bodies that need to approve of the manufacturer before actually buying from them.
But don’t worry because it’s still possible to market your manufacturing company. It only takes the right strategies to make it effective.
Manufacturing Marketing Terms
Before diving into the nitty-gritty of the challenges in creating a B2B manufacturing marketing strategy, let’s get to know a few terms first. You will be encountering these terms a lot during the article so let’s start with them so you won’t get confused.
B2B stands for “business-to-business.” These are the companies that provide products or services to other businesses. They can be companies where supplies come from or companies that put together the supplies. In our case today it’s a mix of both. These are companies that manufacture products.
B2C stands for “business-to-consumer.” This is the kind of business that sells directly to the consumer or the customer.
B2B2C stands for “business-to-business-to-consumer.” This is often a distributor or OEM – a company that makes a product, then sells it to another company that ultimately sells it to the end-user.
Challenges in Creating a B2B Manufacturing Marketing Strategy
Compared to B2C companies, B2B companies have very different needs when it comes to marketing. Here are a few things that can become a bit complicated when marketing for a B2B manufacturer.
Buyers are Looking for Something Very Specific
When companies are looking for a manufacturer, they’re usually looking for something very specific. They’re very strict with the processes, the budget, the materials used, and all needed certifications.
Because of this, marketing for a manufacturing company can be quite tricky. Some specifications should be concealed to avoid being copied by competitors. On the other hand, you should also be able to share enough information to cover the needs of the clients.
It has to be the right blend of being informational enough without giving away company secrets.
B2B manufacturers typically sell at high price points. And if they don’t, they’re usually selling in bulk – millions of pieces at a few cents apiece. That’s a challenge from a marketing perspective – the buyer needs to realize the value of their investment.
More People Involved in the Decision Making Process
When you’re marketing for B2C companies, the customers are the only decision-makers. It’s easier because you only need to convince one person that the product is worth buying.
But when you’re marketing for B2B manufacturers, things get a little more complicated.
The market that manufacturing companies are targeting usually involves a lot of decision-makers. You’ll first encounter the employee who is tasked to look for a supplier. Then you’ll meet that employee’s manager. Then the department head, then potentially a committee, and finally, the decision-making body.
In all these steps, you’ll be conducting meetings, discussions, demos, and quotations.
This is normal when it comes to manufacturing companies because your clients would want to make sure that they’re getting the best deal possible. This is why at the very start, you’ll need to make sure that your marketing strategy can affect all of the decision-making bodies.
Long Sales Cycles
There are a lot of B2C marketing strategies that revolve around creating a sense of urgency. For example, sales are a great way to drive up sales. It incentivizes people to buy because of the low prices and the limited time offer. As a response, customers feel the urge to purchase these products and services despite not having the need for them.
When it comes to B2B manufacturing marketing strategy, creating a sense of urgency won’t necessarily work.
As previously mentioned, marketing manufacturing companies tend to be a long process because of multiple decision-making bodies. This also means that the whole sales cycle can be quite extensive. They’ll need time to decide and maximize their resources.
This is why when it comes to creating a B2B manufacturing marketing strategy, you’ll be considering different factors compared to B2C.
6 Strategies to Market a Manufacturing Company
We’ve discussed what product differentiation is, its benefits, and the challenges of making a B2B manufacturing marketing strategy. It’s important to understand these things to fully appreciate the challenge of marketing for established manufacturing companies. Now, here are the strategies you can use to market a B2B manufacturing company.
Invest more in SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. To make the very long story short, it’s the process of improving your website to increase its visibility in search engine result pages. So if your customers will look for your products or services online, your website should be the one on top.
SEO helps you establish a presence online. It makes it easier for possible customers and clients to find your manufacturing company.
According to Statista, as of April 2021, search engines are the No. 1 source where buyers search for products. Statista also shows that 81% of buyers research online before making big purchases.
In other words, you’ll be losing out on a lot of potential customers if you don’t invest in SEO.
Optimize Your Website
Prioritizing content is important because it’s what brings people in. But if your readers or audience can’t access the content, they’ll immediately leave no matter how good your content is.
According to Think with Google, if a page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds, the probability of bounce increases 32%. If your website loads too long, you will lose traffic and gain a high bounce rate. Put those 2 things together and Google will lower your SERP ranking. This will then result in your website ranking lower on search engine result pages.
You should also constantly check if your links are working. It can be frustrating for your website visitors when they click on a link and it doesn’t work. It can also affect your SEO ranking if your internal links are not working. Finally, make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. According to Statista, as of 2020, there are 4.28 billion unique mobile internet users. This makes up over 90% of the global internet population. If you don’t optimize your website for mobile visitors, you’ll be missing out on the biggest chunk of internet users.
But wait, you say: “We’re a B2B company! Most of our traffic comes from desktops!” And you’d be right. Problem is, Google indexes largely based on the mobile version of pages. Even if a human almost never sees your mobile site, you need it to be good.
Optimize Google Ads and PPC
SEO is a long-term investment. It’ll take a while for you to see the results. This is why most companies couple SEO with Google Ads and PPC.
PPC ads stand for pay-per-click ads. Like Google Ads, they are paid online advertisements that appear with relevant searches. They’re the ads that you see on top of what you’re searching for in search engine result pages. If you want to get noticed right away, PPC ads are a great solution.
With PPC ads, you only pay when a user clicks on your ad to visit your site. You can tweak these ads anytime so that they target a specific group of people. For example, you want to target a specific group of people based on their interests, age, and geographical location. You can set all these when you’re working with PPC ads.
PPC ads are also measurable and trackable. You’ll be able to see the statistics that matter to your manufacturing company like impressions, clicks, and conversions.
These stats are readily available so you can see which ads are working well and which ones are not. From there, you’ll be able to identify what is performing well and what isn’t. From here, you can tweak the ads that don’t perform that well or learn from them moving forward.
Be Diligent with Email Marketing
As discussed earlier, it’s natural for a B2B marketing strategy to take a while to get moving. In this setting, email marketing becomes one of the best tactics that you can use.
Email marketing focuses on sending out emails or newsletters to promote the products and services of your manufacturing company.
Through this channel, your newsletter subscribers will be updated with your latest items, promotions, and developments. You can also become valuable by sending in news about the industry or content that can bring a lot of value to your readers.
It helps with lead generation, brand awareness, engagement, and relationship building.
It’s a very good B2B manufacturing marketing strategy because it periodically reminds your customers that you exist and you can help them. It can also be automated so it can be taken care of without too much effort.
Focus on Content Creation
As a manufacturing company, one might think that blogging won’t bring much value to the company. But on the contrary, a blog can be one of the best ways to market your company.
Content is still the reigning king when it comes to marketing for any kind of business. Releasing content that is reliable, credible, helpful, and valuable will help people find their way to your website.
When people are looking for articles, news, or general information about the industry you’re in, they can turn to your content. This becomes the first contact with a potential new customer. It can then continue to become a relationship once they keep coming back for more content. At some point, when you’ve finally gained their trust, they’ll reach out to you for more details.
Creating high-quality content will also position you as an industry authority. It establishes that you know what you’re doing and is an expert in the processes that you’re dealing with. This will help you gain the trust of your audience. It also makes you desirable to work with because you know the inner workings of your industry well.
When you’re creating content, you should think about multiple ways on how you can deliver that content. Some of your audience will prefer to learn more through written articles while others would prefer to learn through a video.
For example, if you’re talking about a complicated procedure in your manufacturing process, a video may be better than a detailed article. But if you’re discussing statistics of new studies in your industry, an infographic may be a better form of content.
You should be able to find the right form of delivery to effectively communicate your content is important. It’s not just about producing content but it’s also about making sure that your content is digestible. Aside from that, being able to deliver your content in multiple forms widens your reach.
It also becomes extra important if you manufacture very complex products. You’ll need to create content that will describe in detail what you can offer so that potential customers can better understand them.
Maximize Social Media
It’s important to make sure that your brand and your content are displayed in places where people socialize. Think of it as setting up a display in front of your shop so the people who pass by can see what you’re offering. This is why it’s important that you include social media in your B2B manufacturing marketing strategy.
Social media has become the center of socialization and interaction. This was further magnified when the COVID 19 pandemic happened and everyone was forced to stay inside. This resulted in more people inhabiting the online space.
At the same time, social media platforms have also evolved to accommodate businesses. These platforms now have features that allow businesses to connect with their target market.
As a manufacturing company, it’s best that you take advantage of this to create connections with your potential customers. It’s the perfect avenue for you to show them who you are, what you can do, and what value you can bring them.
For example, posting high-quality content on LinkedIn will help you establish your credibility in the industry. It shows people that you’re an expert in your field and knows what you’re doing. As you get connected with more people who are in the same industry, you’re widening your reach and start establishing relationships.
It may not pay off quickly, but leaving a good impression on these people may pay off one day. When the time comes that they’re ready to make a purchase or finally have the need, they already know who to contact.
tl;dr: Manufacturing Marketing Strategies
Marketing for established manufacturing companies can be really challenging. Some of the challenges that you may encounter during the process of making a marketing strategy include the following:
- Buyers are looking for specific solutions
- Investments are large
- The decision-making process is complex
- The sales cycle can be long
In other words, this isn’t B2C. That said, you can tailor an effective B2B manufacturing marketing strategy if you pay attention to key points like:
- Website optimization
- Google Ads & PPC
- Email marketing
- Content creation
- Smart use of social media
Beyond that, product differentiation can give you the edge you need to create a striking marketing campaign for your established manufacturing company. It’s something every company should be investing in to be able to stand out in a saturated market.