By Betsy McCloskey | Guest Column

Traditionally, manufacturing marketing is focused on sales. While business development is the number one concern for most industries, in a world where Google is the first source of information, things have changed. A manufacturing business that wants to grow and thrive must take a different approach to marketing its product lines.

Start by asking these tough questions.

  • Who are we trying to reach?
  • What problem does our product solve?
  • Who is the end user of these products?
  • How do we exceed their expectations on every purchase?
  • How can we create brand loyalty?


Know who you are

One part of this is defining your brand visually, with logo, colors and fonts, but it also means defining who you are and what you stand for, including your mission, values and point of difference from your competitors.

This defines your reason for being and helps perfect your elevator speech so it can be crafted into copy for the website, printed collateral and internal training materials. Consistency is key when it comes to building a strong brand.

Know your customer

Look at your customer base and determine who your ideal/most profitable customer really is. What are the types of companies you are selling to? What do your customers have in common?

Who within those companies is the decision maker? What do you know about them? Is it a 35-60-year-old male in a senior buying position or is it a 28-45-year-old female who is the CEO of her company? Knowing this will take your sale efforts to another level and drive everything from your branding to your web content. Before approaching them, you should know:

  • What are their motivations?
  • What are their barriers to purchasing your product?
  • Where do they gather their information about your product category?

This information will help you understand who you are targeting and how to craft your messaging. There may be more than one target person depending on the purchase decision process.

Once you know who you are and who your customer is, there are some key strategies to put in place to make sure you are reaching them.

Make yourself easy to find

Most prospects are searching online first when looking for vendors, so you need to be there as a solution. A solid content marketing strategy will help establish you and your company as a leader within the industry and give your website a SEO boost. Blog posts and case studies on your website that directly address the needs of prospects and customers will help you rise to the top when people are searching.

It is important to understand how customers are searching so you can incorporate those keywords/phrases into the content on your website.

Be the industry go-to

Authoring articles, being contributors to third-party articles and speaking at industry events provides a level of credibility. Determine the areas where you can provide the most value to prospects/customers and industry media, and then create an arsenal of content around those topics.

To get your content out, build a list of industry websites, publications and journalists to start pitching story ideas to. They are looking to build their content and are generally happy to publish information that is of value to their readers.

Capture the lead

Once you have prospects on your site, provide a user-friendly experience that helps them quickly find the solutions they are looking for. You don’t want to lose them before they even know how you can help them.

The site needs to provide a call-to-action on key pages. This could be signing up for a whitepaper or requesting a quote. The key is to make it enticing enough that they want to provide their email address. Once you capture their email address, you can start ongoing communications and get them in your marketing/sales funnel.

Don’t forget to ask for referrals from your happy customers, along with a Google review. They are pure gold for a growing business. •

Betsy McCloskey is a partner at Plaid Swan Inc. with offices in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque. Plaid Swan is a female-owned and operated marketing communications firm.