Lisa Reisman is a long-time friend of MFG.com and a partner at Aptium Global (you can check out their blog right here) - a consultancy that works with international firms to refine their material sourcing strategies. Lisa has been in the business for quite some time (a third-generation manufacturer) and works with manufacturers of all shapes and sizes.
I got an e-mail from Lisa this week that points out 5 mistakes that Aptium sees metal producers and suppliers make in their marketing efforts. Lisa's observations so closely matched our own at MFG.com that we had to share them with you. While Lisa's examples were written in observation of metals cats, they are absolutely relevant for all small- and medium-sized manufacturers.
1. Lisa Reisman - We see a commonly held belief that banner ads are sufficient to generate new leads and identify potential clients. In certain cases, we agree that banner ads can help from a name recognition/branding standpoint. But we'd argue that rarely, if ever, do banner ads result in new business for the producer/supplier - especially profitable business. Moreover, most companies have difficulty tracking who comes in the door via banner ads.
MOJO: Manufacturers often mistake activity on their sites for value. It's rarely the link to the site that matters - it's what prospects find at your site that motivates stealth prospects to reveal themselves and become a legitimate lead.
2. LR: We've observed that a tremendous amount of internal research and knowledge sits un-leveraged behind closed doors in the sales process - many producers and suppliers sit on a wealth of data desperately sought by buying organizations. But producers/suppliers often feel this information is "too sensitive" to share and so the opportunity for a meaningful dialog goes unrealized.
MOJO: Information that you have about previous projects and the value you brought to them - improved cycle times, cost savings, dependability, creativity, participation as a partner in the product development cycles - differentiates you from your competition and raises your value beyond price alone. And speaking of price ...
3. LR: Supplier directories/online catalogs/marketplaces are most certainly potential places where customers can reach out "for a quote." But these types of opportunities force the producer/supplier to compete on nothing but price. And moreover, those that succeed in these environments are typically only a select minority that know how to play the online game - 80%+ of suppliers waste their time in this format. For some, these opportunities are good for "fly catching". But in terms of developing long term business (e.g. contract relationships) they leave a bit to be desired, even in the best of cases.
MOJO: A manufacturer's Web site is meant to accelerate the initial business cycles - discovery and preliminary due diligence. Marketplaces like MFG.com are most effective when relationships initiated on them are followed up and nurtured traditionally. And traditional media still play useful roles in the marketing of your business; but they are most useful these days as a reference to your Web site, where the prospect can learn more about you and your actual value to your customers and partners.
4. LR: Let's examine Google advertisements. Without question, these can be helpful in terms of driving web traffic. But they're typically only linked to the producer/supplier's home page and when successful, only provide an overview of services. Or, they link to a place in which the buyer can "send his inquiries and in return receive a quote". Which is precisely the type of transaction-oriented relationship producers/suppliers have the opportunity to move beyond. And should move beyond from a margin perspective.
MOJO: Your Web site CONTINUES a conversation about you that a prospect has started without you in the room. This is why the previous 3 points are so critical - if you haven't created the message about specific experiences, then prospects can only see what you have included on your site. Ask yourself: does your site include several examples of actual project, products and partnerships that show specifically how you rock? Or do prospects only find equipment lists, industries you serve, and the number of years you've been in business? If it's the latter, then you look just like everyone else - and you'll get less from your marketing efforts.
5. LR: We all too often see sales content/marketing content that checks the box on being successfully written in the English language, but little else. Most of it is not conversationally-driven - an entree to engage in a meaningful dialog. The buying organizations we work with and represent see 99% of this as "brochureware" that does nothing to start a two-way discussion that engages prospects in deeper conversations about the issues they face while sourcing metals.
MOJO: There are 2 objectives that your marketing efforts should focus on, regardless of your place in the manufacturing ecosystem: differentiating your business from your competition, and leading prospects to deeper conversations about your value to them. This includes your Web site and all of your online presence on outposts (like your MFG.com Profile, for example).
Manufacturers require much greater specificity and volumes of data to support long sales cycles or to manage extended, complex supply chains. They're looking for you right now. Your site should deliver the goods - otherwise, why bother?