Our manufacturing clients and prospects have shared a common concern in the past year—how do they adapt their marketing strategies to meet the ever-changing online marketplace?
Manufacturers have historically relied on traditional marketing tactics, such as print advertising and trade shows, to market and grow their businesses. While many now have a website, they are not generating the opportunities they could and should.
As more purchasing agents and decision-makers look for manufacturing equipment, services and resources on the web, how can these businesses be a part of the vendor selection process? How can they extend their offerings by being a resource of expertise, build brand loyalty, and showcase their culture and beliefs?
Let’s look at a few companies that are getting it right.
Molex is a global supplier of interconnect products with a portfolio that includes everything from electronic, electrical and fiber optic interconnects to switches and application tooling. They have created a blog that acts as their social media hub, cleverly called “Connector”.
They leverage the experiences of their seasoned team to author a variety of industry-related topics, such as renewable energy, automotive and industrial automation. The blog ties together all of their social media channels, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Their YouTube channel features over 100 videos highlighting expertise, industry partnerships and events. They do an excellent job of providing resources for their constituents, but the only thing missing—according to my outside perspective—is engagement.
In viewing their blog, Facebook wall and Twitter feed, the activity seems focused on pushing out content versus having conversations with customers and prospects. They have greatness in the making with rich content on diverse subjects, and when they begin regularly communicating with customers, it will almost certainly bring in results they can measure.
Procter & Gamble
Do you have a game-changing innovation? Procter & Gamble wants you! The P&G connect + develop site is an online collaboration portal that matches companies both large and small with the solutions that P&G seek. They will consider any innovation—packaging, design, marketing models, research methods, engineering, technology, etc.—that would improve their products and services. Some of the success stories include Olay® Regenerist, Mr. Clean® and Pringles®.
P&G employees can list the solutions they seek, and companies can pitch their innovation. Innovations can also be pitched even if the need is not currently listed but could fit within a list of criteria. This site, while not as well managed and intuitive as it could be, is an inspiring attempt at global crowdsourcing. While I am not insinuating that P&G is looking for “free” ideas, I do know the time, effort and expense of sourcing at a small company. What a genius way of having ideas find you, and who would not want the opportunity and access to pitch a mega corporation like P&G? My wheels are turning already!
While researching information for a client pitch, I stumbled upon John Deere’s incredible online brand. John Deere is a manufacturer of heavy equipment and parts for the Agriculture, Commercial, Industrial and Residential Industries. The John Deere Worldwide branded site contains a web presence for seven markets, each containing messaging specific to the market. In many cases, the site content is authored in the country's native language. While I could focus on some of the resources they provide customers on their websites, such as their product support, answer center and product training, I would like to turn your attention to their Facebook page.
With over 750,000 highly engaged fans posting everything from birthday wishes to personal photos, I have to say that I was blown away by the content of their fan site. We are talking tractors here! In a brilliant tie to a new product launch and their support of Agribusiness throughout the world, they recently completed Project “Can Do” to recognize the vital role that America's farmers play in feeding the world. Project Can Do gave consumers a chance to be a part of building the can sculpture by virtually creating cans of food and submitting their name and a photograph on the John Deere Facebook page. Other notable elements of their fan page are the house rules, where they highlight best practices for posting and participating on their page, and their landing tabs for markets, such as Brazil and Mexico.
While you may not have the marketing budget of a John Deere or P&G, manufacturers who are willing to commit and invest in their online brand will be rewarded with unique opportunities, new customers and a talented, young workforce.
Co-founder of Desert Rose Design | Chief Creative
With nearly 20 years of experience in marketing, Kathy Steele leads a firm dedicated to the creation of smart, integrated strategies that drive revenue, create brand awareness and solve business problems.
Kathy has delivered presentations, panel discussions and workshops on the subjects of branding, social media and consumer engagement. She enjoys sharing her take on topics like being an entrepreneur, social media, branding and emerging media.