B2B Marketing for Manufacturers: A Guide for Beginners

Jack Carnahan

Many OEMs and contract manufacturers have been selling successfully to downline businesses for decades. Everything from lead generation to relationship building to closing deals has been considered “sales.”

But as always, times change, and even the most niche B2B manufacturers must find ways to truly differentiate their products in a crowded marketplace.

That’s where B2B manufacturing marketing comes in. In this short guide, we answer the basics for manufacturers looking to up their B2B marketing game:

What is B2B Manufacturing Marketing?

B2B manufacturing marketing is the creation and execution of a strategic plan to promote and sell products to other businesses. The goal of manufacturing marketing is to differentiate your business and build brand awareness so that you can turn prospects into paying customers.

Developing a marketing strategy for your manufacturing business is easier said than done. There are many aspects to consider, including:

  • Knowing your customer
  • Knowing your competition
  • Creating valuable content
  • Building a high-converting website
  • Optimizing for SEO
  • Optimizing for conversions
  • Deciding how to best use social media
  • Building digital marketing campaigns
  • Creating an email strategy

The list could go on, but you probably get the idea. On top of that, manufacturers have unique marketing challenges that make their jobs even harder.

What makes manufacturing marketing difficult?

Manufacturers have unique challenges in generating interest and demand for their products.

They sell high-priced products, viewed more as business investments. It takes more time (and more words) to convey unique value to the buyer. This results in a longer buying process where education is critical. On top of that, purchasing approvals likely involve many people and departments, making the purchase process convoluted to get the final sign-off.

These challenges have a profound influence on the way manufacturing marketing strategies are constructed and executed. Especially if you’re starting out, you’ll need a solid marketing foundation to address these challenges. 

While not every strategy or marketing tip will work for your manufacturing business, here are some tried and true areas that can lead to effective manufacturing marketing.

What makes manufacturing marketing effective? 5 things

#1. Research

Effective marketing – regardless of industry – starts with research.

Good marketing research starts with understanding your customers.

Find out what kind of content or information your audience wants – and where they go to find it. Understand and be able to speak directly to their pain points. From there, demographics and psychographics can be used to construct customer personas, which are useful for creating tailored messaging, content and other marketing materials. The more detailed you can be, the better, but don’t get bogged down by analysis paralysis. Get the key points and keep moving.

Once you understand your customer, you can assess your competition. If you’ve been in business for decades, you may already have a good understanding of your industry and the competition you come up against. But reassessing never hurts, and it could enable new insights.

Understanding your competition is crucial to figuring out how to effectively position and market your own brand.

In this exercise, you’ll want to identify a few of your biggest manufacturing competitors, from established names to start-ups. Answer questions like:

  • How do they position themselves?
  • What are their key messages and takeaways?
  • Which tactics do they employ most frequently? 

Understanding your customers and competition gives direction to your marketing efforts.

#2. Establish a Unique Brand Identity

Before you start anything else, you need to define what makes your company unique and appealing to your potential customers.

At a surface level, your brand identity includes your company name, logo, tagline, values, and mission. But it’s much more than that. Brand identity should convey what actually differentiates you from your competitors. That identity builds recognition and trust over time, making your marketing efforts more effective. 

To develop your brand identity, return to your customer research – their needs and pain points. Think about the needs, preferences, and pain points. Also, understand your competitors’ branding and messaging and create 

Manufacturers across all industries typically say the same thing when asked what makes their business special – they have tons of experience, technical expertise and flexible, responsive customer service.

You can do better and truly stand out with a unique brand identity that shows exactly why you’re different.

#3. Create Valuable Content

As we’ve said before, education is a key part of the longer sales cycle many manufacturing businesses encounter. You need valuable content that prospects will want to consume to learn more at each stage of their buyer’s journey.

Here are some ideas of the type of content you can create, but at the end of the day, it’s all about producing content your ideal customers will want and look for.

  • Blog posts
  • How-to content
  • Technical articles
  • White papers
  • Guides
  • FAQs
  • Videos, both live-action and animated
  • Audio content, like podcasts and interviews
  • Case studies

Now that you have valuable content, it’s equally, if not more important, to be able to offer the right content at the right time to the right people when they need it. To do that, you need the right mix of marketing channels.

#4. Use Multiple Marketing Channels

Effective marketing requires a mix of channels and tactics to reach and engage your target audience. Depending on your budget, goals, and audience preferences, there are plenty to pick and choose from:

  • Website
  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • SEO
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising
  • Trade shows
  • Industry publications

Each channel has its benefits and drawbacks. But the most critical factor is to align them with your brand identity, content strategy, and buyer personas. 

#5. Track and Analyze Results to Improve

Marketing is never “set it and forget it.”

It takes constant monitoring, pivoting, and incremental improvement to achieve your marketing goals. To measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategies, set specific and measurable goals and track the related key performance indicators (KPIs), such as impressions, website traffic, click-through rate, and conversion rate.

Based on your findings, you can tweak your campaigns and content to build on your success. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new. Sometimes, the craziest ideas are the ones that work.

What if I don’t have the time or the team?

If manufacturing marketing sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. Adding marketing into the mix of your team’s daily tasks may be a bridge too far.

The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. Partnering with the right manufacturing marketing agency can make an effective marketing strategy achievable. The important thing is partnering with the right agency.

When choosing a manufacturing marketing agency, ensure they can demonstrate their expertise in manufacturing in your specific industry. Ask for examples of work, proof of results and specific plans to help your business stand out.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a better idea of what B2B manufacturing is and what it entails, it’s time to get to work. Whether you’re planning to bring marketing in-house or partner with an agency, it’s important to realize that successful manufacturing marketing takes time – especially starting from scratch. But if you start with the tips and strategies listed in the blog, you’re starting off on the right foot.

Jack Carnahan

As Content Marketing Coordinator, Jack assists in developing and executing B2B content strategies that are uniquely tailored to clients’ brand and business needs. His writing and research skills are put to use creating a variety of compelling content for Altitude and our clients.
A graduate of Auburn University, Jack holds certifications in HubSpot, Google Analytics and Google Ads.