How marketing can help weather the storm

3 min read

By Helen Duncan, MD, Fig Agency

In November, leading manufacturing trade body, Make UK, published the results of a survey that concluded that the sector is facing “an unprecedented combination of a post-Covid credit, cash and costs crunch”.

The Cash, Credit and Continuance report described a “perfect storm”, in which the UK’s factories are facing a range of challenges, including the burden of repaying debts taken on to help them stay afloat during the pandemic, Brexit-related supply chain disruption, a shortage of HGV drivers and rising energy prices.According to the report, many firms are at “tipping point”.

At first glance, spending money on marketing at a time like this could seem like a luxury. But according to Helen Duncan, managing director of specialist manufacturing creative marketing and B2B PR agency, FIG, investment in marketing has the potential not only to pull manufacturing businesses back from the brink, but also to flourish long-term.

FIG has been advising its manufacturing clients to follow a few basic rules when deploying a marketing campaign to help achieve cost-effective and sustainable growth.

One of these is Cheshire-based manufacturer of mobile intelligent transport systems, SRL, which embarked on a comprehensive marketing campaign in spring 2020, just as the pandemic struck.Deploying a strategic combination of marketing tools, including content marketing and PR, the company achieved 36% year-on-year growth.Linkedin followers increased by 24% in the first six months alone, with an average engagement rate of 6.5% (in relation to an industry average of 2%). Web traffic analytics showed a 35.5% increase in web users for the year to the end of August 2021 compared to the previous year.

1.Recognise that manufacturing marketing has changed forever

Gone are the days when effective sales activity simply involved sending reps out to sell products face-to-face.Buyers now begin the purchasing process by undertaking their own online research, and the trend of desk-based investigation has accelerated during the pandemic.

The internet has empowered B2B buyers in the same way as it has empowered consumers.While this means that purchasers have more choice than ever before, it also means that businesses who take themselves seriously online can reach customers they may never before have been able to.

2.Define your market – it may have changed

To ensure that your online - and wider - marketing is cost-effective, it is vital that you establish precisely who your customer is, the problems they are facing, the solutions they require and where they go for information.

A comprehensive customer insight initiative will give you the information you need to correctly position your business and decide where best to target your marketing activity for maximum return.

You may find that, with Brexit, the pandemic and the passing of time, your market has changed beyond recognition and you need to adapt.

3.Ensure your website is fit-for-purpose

According to industrial marketing firm, Thomas, in its 2021 Industrial Buyers Search Habits Survey, 40% of B2B buyers rate the quality of a manufacturer’s website as an important factor when deciding whether to partner with them.

Your website should be designed with your strategic objectives in mind and work hard to achieve them.As well as focusing on why customers should buy from you rather than a competitor, it needs to be easy to use, delivering the important information quickly.Waste a visitor’s time and you’ve lost them.

Written content is important for SEO, but the use of video and animation can help make your website more engaging and effective.

4.Deploy content marketing

Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing online information to generate interest in your brand, products and services.It can work alongside your website to supply your customers with compelling material as they research potential providers in order to make informed decisions.

Content marketing includes the use of social media such as Linkedin, which can be used to position companies and their senior staff as experts in their field.Social media provides an effective means with which to actively engage with the market.

Strong content marketing can also help manufacturers to rank higher for SEO.

These are indeed uncertain times and no one can deny the challenges facing the manufacturing sector, but firms with a robust, long-term marketing strategy can become more sustainable and less vulnerable to the inevitable ups and downs of modern manufacturing.

For further details about the way in which marketing could help your manufacturing business, please visit www.fig.agency or call 01457 857111.