Statista says that this year over 2 billion people are expected to buy some goods or services online. They have forecasted that retail ecommerce sales only in the US will be more than $740bn by 2023.
What do these numbers and trends indicate?
The technology is ready and commonly available to transact online.
How does it affect your manufacturing sector SMB?
The same people who are buying online in the retail segment are the ones who are either buyers of your industrial product, recommending solutions, key decision-maker, or the end consumer.
Buying behavior does not necessarily change for B2B or B2C. The need to seek information, and evaluate alternatives is the same. Rather in the case of business buying, the level or degree of involvement is higher, wider, and deeper. B2B buyers are keen to transact in the international market if their needs are met and the problem is adequately resolved.
Here lies the incredible opportunity for manufacturing sector SMBs like yours to connect with the enlightened and involved group of buyers, engage with them online and watch your revenues swell.
What is in this post? Who should read it? Why?
In this post, I will share with you 7 workable digital marketing ideas that you can put into action today. You should read it if you are an SMB owner who is trying to gain good customers, and increase revenue from newer markets. If you are reading this then I am assuming that you have a website with the bare necessities. You probably have some social media presence but nothing is structured.
This post will inspire you to start implementing the ideas using in-house resources or digital marketing agency services to generate higher ROI from your marketing budget.
What this post is NOT about?
It is not about “what is digital marketing?” There are terabytes of information on the topic if you type just 4 words in a Google search engine tab. I like this one.
Stephen Covey says “Begin with the end in mind.”
What are you trying to achieve through digital marketing?
Whatever is your digital marketing goal; it is a means to an end. You are after volume, sales, revenue, and profit. Simply having a company website like everyone else is not going to cut it.
You must know who your buyer and end-consumer are to communicate the right customer value. The majority of your business buyers assume that you will know what they need or want.
Here’s what you should start with.
Your product is either used in one industry or multiple others. Often there are two or more sets of advisors, influencers, and decision-makers. It varies between industries or the type of companies within the industry.
No one offers their products to everyone. You cannot say the same thing to everyone and expect similar results. You have to define a target audience whom you aim to delight. You need to speak to them directly.
Who is your buyer? Is the person different from the end-user? Is there anyone else who influences the decision to choose your offering? What is that person’s role or motives?
Your communication through digital means will be effective when you address questions like – How is your offering different from the competitors’? Why can your offering simplify their lives?
Defining different customer personas will help you know your customers intimately. What are their problems or challenges? What kind of a solution will be optimum (best is not always desired or needed) for them?
If you wish to succeed in your business and make the most of what digital marketing has to offer, start by knowing your customers well.
When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves. ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo (Author)
Customer personas will indicate the type of problems encountered by them. You have to identify the root cause to be their trusted solution provider. If you know what bothers them, you can do two things
The pull approach to marketing your product is sustainable compared to the resource-intensive push ones.
Choosing the right segment for your product is the key to succeeding in your marketing efforts. Before you go ahead with carving your digital marketing image in the virtual world, there is just one more thing.
It will tell you where your 4Ps of marketing stack up against theirs. You can craft your USP based on your strengths and weaknesses compared to what the others are offering in the same space. You may not be the best in your segment but with clever use of various tools of digital marketing, you can become an opinion maker, an expert that people turn to. All these organically transform into leads and sales.
The challenge is how you digitally connect with your extensive mix of customers, consumers, buyers. The next section of the post will explain the 7 workable digital marketing ideas that will effectively help you grow your manufacturing SMB across geographies.
Your company probably has some of the following (or all of them).
Website is the bare necessity. You can create it in-house or through an agency. It depends on your skills, resources, and budget. If you still do not have it, make it your first point on the agenda. Think of your website as the sun around which all the planets (=other digital marketing efforts) and their moons revolve.
The objective of the 7 workable ideas is to expand your online presence. It will connect you to prospects and customers.
Begin with one idea if you find 7 too overwhelming. If I have to choose, I would start from Idea #1.
Return on investment in digital marketing depends on the regularity and value of the information. How often do you post content to keep your audience engaged?
I recommend using a content calendar as your route map. It serves 2 purposes.
Try this out for 6 months. You will be surprised at the volume of valuable content that you have amassed.
There are a lot of online templates available for free. Just pick anyone. Start by filling it up. Do not try to be too ambitious.
A blog post/ week
1 Tweet/ day
1 LinkedIn engagement/ day or 1 Quora response/ day
You must have a blog if you still don’t. And you should post meaningful content regularly. B2B buyers need reassurance that they are making the right choice. A large billboard will not do the job. You can use your blog posts to instill that confidence. The power lies in education through free content.
Average website content is static. You do not change your home page, about us, products, services, and certification pages every few days or weeks.
The blog posts keep the website dynamic and signal the search engines to rank the website higher.
Keep them short (~1000 words), focused and informative.
Create your company page on LinkedIn. Post the links to your new blog content whenever you publish them on your website.
Search for industry groups that are either connected to you or those of your customers. Join them. Listen to what people ask for or say. What are the key issues, words, or problems that are recurring? What are the others in your industry posting? You can get good content ideas by observing these groups.
And once you do, you can post informative content on those topics. Publish them in your blog. Share the link of the post in these groups. People will soon start engaging.
You cannot be on all top SoMe sites because it is a waste of resources. Just because it is there, you do not need to be on it.
Choose the social media channel that is most appropriate for your business. If you are garment manufacturer, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest would be a better fit. If your product is a machine, posting on YouTube and LinkedIn will get you more mileage.
The good thing is you can post on one social media app say Facebook and then link it to Twitter and LinkedIn with minimal effort.
Where will you get the content ideas for your social media posts?
Repurpose content from the blog posts.
One blog post can generate content for 10 social media posts if you use them cleverly.
Videos are everywhere.
Instead of writing a 1500 word blog post on how your product or equipment works, you can make a small 3 – 5 min video and post it on YouTube. Share it on LinkedIn and Tweet about it on different days. Do not forget to embed the videos on your website too.
You do not need high-end equipment for that. The smartphones and accessories are good enough to produce decent quality videos.
Your website or company might be little known. You may not get enough views on your blog posts.
How do you build traffic to your website? Try contributing as a guest blogger.
Guest blogging is a terrific way to build your audience. Your guest blog site will has a following and presence in the digital world. People scan the site for information or expert advice. When your guest blog is published, it pulls you out of your anonymity and offers you a platform to connect.
This is how you expand your digital footprint and build digital real estate.
My list will be incomplete without the “Hashtags”. It is nothing but keywords (except without space). When people search for information, they will not use the name of your company (unless you are Nike, Schlumberger, or Evonik). They will search using a certain set of words.
If you post your content and include those words in your hashtag, there is a greater chance of the content being found, read, and shared.
If you circle back to #3, you will find a variety of keywords and hashtags used in your industry. Make a note of them and use them in your content.
Try the ideas suggested in the post. You will see the difference. Digital marketing efforts will not produce overnight results. Think of it as constructing a tall building. It will take time, patience, plan, and a fixed routine.
Two things that are a must to help you move forward:
Armed with these, you can make giant strides in a shorter time.
I will continue to talk about other interesting digital marketing options in my upcoming posts. Meanwhile, let me know what you think of this one. What is your product or service? Where are you in your digital marketing efforts? What kind of results do you desire? What challenges are you facing and how are you overcoming them? I am eager to listen and learn.
I write about small businesses, health, and life as I see it on Medium, LinkedIn, and my website.