October 12th, 2020

How to Build an Inbound Marketing Strategy for Manufacturers

Author: Laura Lynch
Laura Lynch
Director of Marketing

Manufacturers need to make a strong case for their brand by establishing a history of excellence.

When most people think about marketing campaigns, the ideas that come to mind are largely centered in the sphere of consumer goods—retail stores, electronics, even cars. This makes sense. After all, these are the marketing campaigns they’re exposed to more than any other.

As a result, when people start to think about larger, behind-the-scenes companies—the manufacturers supplying the components that make all these other products possible—marketing for these companies is less obvious. Many people don’t even know what a marketing campaign for these kinds of companies might look like.

Fortunately, we do know what these campaigns look like. Rather than the fast turnarounds in retail, manufacturers benefit from inbound marketing strategies that take longer to build, but once the momentum gets going, last far longer than the temporary results from traditional advertising.

Interested? Here’s how to build an inbound marketing campaign for your manufacturing business.

1. Know your audience—and your competition.

Inbound marketing strategies rely on more robust, in-depth marketing materials than a two-line advertising slogan. Because you have more room to work with, taking the time to learn deeply about your audience and their concerns is worth the effort. And while you’re at it, you should look at the competition, too.

Market research for an inbound marketing campaign includes the following elements:

  • Keyword research. You should have a list of your target key terms, which should be based on the words and phrases your ideal customer will be searching for.
  • Competitive landscape analysis. You can probably name the top two or three competitors in your field, but if you look farther, you can probably find plenty more—some of whom may be handling their marketing in ways you might want to emulate.
  • Customer review. Can you speak with your current customers to learn more about how they found you and why they chose you? If not, do you have this data stored somewhere accessible? Look at this data to determine what attracts new business to your company.

2. Clarify your marketing goals.

Many manufacturing campaigns lose focus by not being sufficiently focused. They use overly generalized language that fails to speak directly to their customers. And yet, more targeted marketing approaches are usually more successful—and cost effective.

How many sales do you need to achieve your marketing goals? For some businesses, bringing in one or two new clients a month would be considered major growth. Others need only a handful of new clients a year to be full to capacity. With numbers like these, it’s clear that a marketing campaign doesn’t need to sell to thousands—just the dozen or so who will actually convert to customers.

3. Broaden and deepen your range of marketing materials.

Once you’ve identified your ideal customers and established your goals, it’s time to work on creating the resources that will speak directly to their interests. Manufacturers shouldn’t feel hesitant to be hyper-specific in these resources. If you’re trying to convince someone to invest millions of dollars into a partnership with your company, speaking at length about your technical capabilities will only serve to demonstrate your qualifications.

That said, most manufacturers have more than one ideal customer—which is to say, many work in multiple industries, each of which will be attracted by targeted marketing resources. If you machine parts for heavy-duty equipment, you may to talk about your experience in the automotive industry. But you also may want to develop resources discussing your history in aerospace, or in supplying parts for farm equipment.

Inbound content includes:

  • Articles or blog posts on your website.
  • Sell sheets.
  • Case studies.
  • In-depth PDFs of your products and services.

4. Attract and nurture your leads for the long-term through rich content.

The next step is to draw in more leads to your website by publishing your marketing materials and optimizing them for SEO. This is where your previous keyword research is essential. As more visitors come to your website, they will become familiar with your brand.

They may be interested enough to subscribe to a mailing list, or follow you on LinkedIn. Or they may know of someone who would be a good match for your services and can pass a link to your website along. They may simply want to read through your materials as they consider you for an RFP. Or they may decide to contact you directly for a sales call.

Each of the content pieces you developed should exist on your website in readable or downloadable form, but they can also be used to develop a marketing funnel for leads. If someone comes to your website and downloads a case study, you can keep your brand top of mind by sending them follow-up resources that relate to your case study. Your lead may not make a purchase right away, but they’ll think of you when they’re ready.

Manufacturers can combine inbound and outbound for greater effect.

One of the beauties of inbound marketing is that, once you’ve developed these resources, you have much more to work with when you create outbound marketing campaigns. Instead of relying on ad campaigns that need to attract people ready to buy right now, you can attract leads who are still at the consideration stage of the purchasing process. Your inbound resources will keep them engaged throughout the time it takes them to come to a decision.

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