One of the most significant hurdles between small manufacturers and success on the Web is the acceptance of discovery.
Most want to see absolutes and guarantees before they invest. Makes sense - they're engineers. But the Web in general - and Social Media specifically - often introduce our businesses to unexpected partners and opportunities that we never imagined on the drive into work this morning. Happens all the time.
You can't win if you don't play.
Recently on Twitter, I ran into a company named Graphicast, a specialty castings and machining company out of New Hampshire. A few days ago, I got some comments on a MOJO Blog post about how to be more social with Social Media. One of the comments mentioned Graphicast and how well they do online.
I dove into Graphicast's online universe to check 'em out in depth, and what I found shocked and surprised me - a small manufacturer that gets the Web & Social Media. You don't see that everyday.
If you're a small or mid-sized manufacturer yourself, considering your online strategies and what to do (next) you could do a whole lot worse than using what Graphicast does as a guide for your own company. Consider:
- They built their site on Wordpress: It's inexpensive, it's powerful (meaning it works, it's customizable, and easy to use/manage), it's open source and offers myriad tools and options. What tools you select don't have to be complex or expensive - just effective.
- They use Social Media outposts to feed their Web site: You can follow or interact with Graphicast throughout the Social Media landscape: Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn. The company also utilizes (very well) a video channel and SlideShare for presentations on all manner of manufacturing topics. Graphicast presents information in various mediums to attract buyers with varied interests. That's smart.
- They promote their value and differentiate themselves: This is the primary marketing goal for any manufacturer online, and it's the rationale presented for choosing Graphicast as a partner throughout the site. Their "Better Process, Lower Total Cost, Rapid Turnaround" graphic on the home page clearly enunciates the superior attributes of the Graphicast process over traditional castings. Other pages throughout the site offer more detail on these advantages, which give a great mix for buyers with varying levels of sophistication.
- They share Blogging and Social Media across the company: Graphicast has used Blogs in some interesting ways. Look at the lower right corner of their home page under "Graphicast Resources." You'll find many of the categories - Engineering & Design, Events, Company News, Perspective - contain contributions from various Graphicast team members, from the CEO on down.
What really distinguishes Graphicast is that last part - the entire culture is represented online. I recently wrote about Social Media as your new receptionist - a channel into all sectors of your business. What Graphicast does is take that to the next logical step - creating direct channels between their customers and prospects into engineering, sales and the executive suite. Embracing Social Media culturally improves the level & quality of knowledge, presents the company more accurately to customers/prospects, and greatly improves the efficiency of managing media. "We" is smarther than "me," indeed.
Take some time to get to know Graphicast. You'll find they're approachable, competent and easily distinguishable from just about any other small manufacturer you'll find online.