the top 3 challenges for manufacturing marketers

What Are the Top 3 Challenges for Manufacturing Marketers? (And How to Solve Them)

While many marketers face the same hurdles in their departments, each industry brings a unique angle to these roadblocks. For example, scaling and maintaining your lead generation efforts will always be a focus area for marketers, but depending on your type of business, the details of why this is a challenge can vary.

That said, marketers in the manufacturing industry face a variety of commonly stated challenges that are reflective of their specific companies and environment.

To get a better understanding of what life is like for these marketers, we’ve published the first State of Digital Marketing for the Manufacturing Industry research report in which we surveyed almost 200 marketers in this demographic. We wanted to know specifically where they were at in their marketing practice, what they found important, and, of course, what they were having trouble with accomplishing.

Download the 2022 State of Digital Marketing for the Manufacturing Industry report here

We’ve pulled out the top three challenges stated by these marketers in this post, as well as insights on how to solve these problems to see success and to get ahead of competitors.

Challenge 1: Making the transition to digital marketing activities

Nearly half (46%) of those surveyed said that “making the transition to digital marketing activities” was the top challenge they were facing this year. That honestly comes as no surprise, especially after we’ve spent the last few years helping these companies survive and thrive during the pandemic, employee shortage crisis and supply chain issues.

Growing your company in a digital space can be incredibly difficult if you’ve been accustomed to conducting business in person for the history of your organization. Coronavirus hit and all of a sudden, manufacturing marketers were faced with a world with no tradeshows, no conferences, no meetups and demos and networking. This came as a shock to many manufacturing companies, especially those who admittedly weren’t as well-versed with digital marketing and technology tactics.

As COVID-19 and comfort levels of the world continue to wax and wane, it’s no breaking statement to say that the digital environment will be a mainstay indefinitely. There is no “going back to normal,” and instead, marketers in the manufacturing industry will need to adjust to this new consumer landscape.

Manufacturing marketers need to focus on their website

When working with various manufacturing marketing clients, we’ve seen that many of these organizations haven’t put the time into creating a functional, lead-generating website. This is absolutely square one for making the transition to digital marketing activities — your website is your biggest marketing tool. It’s a hub for your consumers to learn about your products when they can’t visit your in-person booth at a tradeshow, a way to bring in new customers through SEO techniques and a useful tool to tell your story and to showcase your products and process.

Here’s an example of how 3M is using content on their website to showcase their company in a compelling way. Their 3M News Center is filled with articles about how their products help their customers, from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, to Ukraine.

3m website example of manufacturing content

Brainstorm digital translations of your existing efforts

There’s nothing marketers love more than a no-holds-barred, white-boarding session. (Please don’t hold me to this statement! It was not part of our survey!) If you haven’t already, dedicate a meeting to brainstorming around how all of your successful in-person marketing tactics can be translated to digital efforts. Include your marketing team, stakeholders, client-facing staff, product leaders, etc. Here are a few ideas of how to upgrade traditional efforts to digital:

  • In-person demos > explainer videos
  • Direct mailers > email campaigns
  • Physical catalogs > high-quality product landing pages
  • Networking events > virtual lunches and happy hours

Challenge 2: Keeping up with new marketing techniques

The second most common challenge that manufacturing marketers say they face is the struggle to keep up with new marketing techniques. 43% of those surveyed stated that this was a top problem in 2022. Digital transformation is still a train rolling full steam ahead, and it can be difficult to find your place in a landscape that keeps shifting.

There are a few things that you can add to your regular workflows and plans to make sure that your wish to “keep up with new techniques” isn’t a one-and-done activity, but a long-term solve to an ongoing problem.

Audit your own marketing practice (and your competitors’)

As a marketer, conducting audits can be an incredible way to get the pulse of what’s going on with your competitors, as well as the performance of the activities you’re currently doing. By looking at what your direct analogs are up to in addition to the “big names” in the space, you’ll be able to see missing holes in your own strategies. Add this activity to your roadmap, as well, and keep up on this research on a regular basis.

Set up innovation meetings with various staff members

Something that I always make sure to do when brainstorming messaging and campaign focuses is to reach out to a handful of people who aren’t in my department. Staff like customer service reps or account managers who work with our current clients directly, sales team members who hear firsthand about reasons why or why not a customer wants to sign a contract with us, or product developers who are spending time day-in-day-out with the core of your business are all good options to consider meeting with regularly to hear new ideas on tactics or adjustments to services.

Additionally, be sure to reach out to a diverse variety for these innovation sessions. Younger generations might have more ideas on up-and-coming platforms and trends or demographics close to the ones you’re targeting, which can provide valuable info on what may or may not work to convince them if they were a potential lead.

Challenge 3: Demonstrating the value of your products

A curse of many manufacturing products is that sometimes they’re very niche, complex and maybe hard to explain. Attending tradeshows or doing demos can help you explain in-person what exactly your product is and the benefits of it, but as we all know, relying on IRL events like these isn’t a reality, which is why 42% of our survey takers stated that demonstrating the value of their products was a challenge they’re facing.

As you’re researching new techniques (see above!) and learning about new digital tactics (see above again!), you’ll hopefully get a few new ideas on how to demonstrate your product’s value digitally.

Video, video, video!

Adding a variety of video content to your manufacturing marketing arsenal is a great way to personalize and humanize your brand, while also adding clarity to how your product works (and why your customers should purchase).

Explainer videos can detail exactly what you’d showcase during tradeshow demos and are easy for your clients to share with their teams or other buying stakeholders. Longer-form webinars can underline the authority your thought leaders have in the industry, as well. More casual live or short-form videos for social media can also help your brand awareness, demonstrating the value that your company itself brings to the consumer.

In this full post by my colleague Grace Hallen, she lays out some really great examples that manufacturing marketers can use in their video strategy: Video Marketing Ideas for Manufacturing Companies

Consider an influencer strategy… really!

Manufacturing companies have influencers, too — namely, happy clients. Use testimonials or user-generated content from your customers to advocate for your business. Maybe your manufacturing product isn’t Instagram-worthy, but a good case study or video interview with a client shared on their social media page can make a huge difference in getting your name out there, as well as your product’s value.

Don’t be afraid to admit you can’t do it all

Truth be told, most marketers have felt the crunch the last few years. Other issues listed in our survey for challenges faced include reaching the right audience, inability to measure ROI and traffic generation — struggles that sound familiar with marketers in MANY industries, not just manufacturing.

Working with a third-party agency can be the best thing a company can do to home in a full digital strategy, especially a content-first one, which Brandpoint specializes in. From maximizing budget to content creation to auditing to web dev, finding an agency with specialized strategists can help fill in the gaps you have on your existing team. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed say that they currently work with a third-party agency to create and execute their marketing plans.

[Read More: A Marketing Agency vs. In-House Team: Who Should You Hire?]

More resources for manufacturing marketers

Want to learn more about how you can grow your manufacturing business with marketing to earn more leads, get more traffic and scale your efforts to affect your sales? Reach out today! We’d love to work with you.

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