KCMN’s February meeting featured two speakers who discussed the role of marketing in a successful manufacturing company. Speaker Rich Delaney, of 20/20 Marketing made the point: marketing is not just about running an ad somewhere, it’s about having a plan to respond to your customers, and to spread the word about what makes your company valuable. Rich noted that too many times marketing is ‘what those people in the marketing department do’. He believes that in order to successfully grow your top line, that all aspects of the company need to be involved in promoting the company and responding to customers. He gave the example of a company who wanted to spend $100,000 on a new customer service tool, but had never asked their customers whether this tool would benefit them, or result in their spending more money with the company.
Steve Hasty, with A & E Custom Manufacturing talked about the factors which have led to their growth over the past five years:
- Have a plan. Don’t be piecemeal in your efforts and understand how all of the things you do tie together around your brand or message.
- Have a website. Make sure the site reflects the image you want to convey, make it easy to reach a real person, and make sure you are able to measure your site metrics. (Can’t manage what you don’t measure)
- Ask your customers where they want to go, and then help them get there. Rather than focus on what you can sell them, make sure your solution is the best solution for them. This may mean re-training or rethinking your sales team.
- Use current technology. A & E has all but eliminated the use of brochures for video and live demonstrations and utilizes ipads for communication across all levels of the company.
- Network, network, network. Being involved in organizations both in and out of your industry gives you many more opportunities for collaboration. No one can do everything, so knowing how to work with other firms to offer your customers a complete solution is a win for both companies.
- Use the media. Public relations is more critical today when reporting and research budgets are being slashed, and reporters are increasingly looking for content to help them tell the story. A & E’s exposure in industry publications has brought them new opportunities, as well as re-enforced a positive image they have with current customers.
- Go to your customers. Steve stressed the importance of looking to current business for growth, not just trying to find new customers. Make sure you have regular and open communication, and serve as a resource. One example is A & E has started looking at trade shows not only in their industry, but at shows that their customers are attending.
Of course many of the headlines revolve around social media. Social media can be a great vehicle for staying in touch with customers, but is not a panacea, it is just another channel. Ad Words campaigns typically have little value, unless they can be focused around a particular competency, skill or product that is unique or in high demand. Bottom line, the value of a particular marketing tactic is only as good as the overall plan that is developed with all functional areas of the company’s input.