Unless you’re in the manufacturing industry, you may not give much thought to manufacturing and manufacturers. Most of us outside the industry aren’t pondering hydraulic cylinders or contemplating press pit foundations.
But manufacturing is a business. And like all businesses, manufacturers need clients and customers to survive. So says Captain Obvious.
In the past, manufacturers stuck to marketing within the confines of their industry - trade magazines, conferences, things of that nature. And these are still effective. But the digital world - and mobile technology in particular - has really changed the way manufacturers market.
The Manufacturing Sector Was Once Largely Invisible
And as far as television and magazine ads are concerned, it still is.
Nobody wants to see Matthew Mcconaughey staring off into the distant lamenting programmable logic controllers in order to promote new technology. (Or course it could be argued that nobody wants to see him ever.)
By the same token, Aveeno knows that promoting Jennifer Aniston’s glowing skin in a full-page glossy rag ad is going to be far more effective toward selling their lotion than highlighting the benefits of their extruder as it systematically squirts lotion into jars. That’s more centerfold material for Extrusion Magazine. And Aveeno wouldn’t have much success advertising their lotion there anyhow.
Which brings us back to our point. The majority of what people have known about manufacturing companies is the products they produce. John Deere is a mower. General Motors is a car. Trane is HVAC. In other words, the manufacturing process has always fallen secondary to the retail side of the industry. But that’s changing.
Digital Technology Has Impacted Both Manufacturing and Marketing
Current trends in the digital world are changing the way that manufacturers interact with customers. And labor laws, location and politics have increasingly made the manufacturing process part of a company’s marketing focus.
Here are some of the ways digital has changed manufacturer marketing:
Quick Response Codes (QRC)
Think of the QRC as the next generation of bar code.
Manufacturers have long been using bar codes to organizeproducts and streamline operations. But the QRC brings the customer smack dab into the supply chain by giving them the option to receive a large amount of information that can be easily read on their smartphone. They’re also capable of opening websites and interfacing with the database management software of your contact system.
Another big plus? You can get clever with a QRC. (And it won’t smack you.) The code doesn’t have to be square so it can be designed into logos, images, art or even innovative message generators. Maybe a tattoo?
Manufacturers As Educational Leaders
Websites as a form of marketing have been of tremendous value to manufacturers - even if they’d rather be operating a heavy press than a keyboard. Their website allows them to set themselves as leaders in their specific industry.
More and more manufacturers are incorporating blogs into their websites to provide information and set themselves as an authority in their industry. When an uninformed potential customer sets out to learn about a specific manufacturing sector, having access to informational articles, guides, and links to technical journals is a valuable resource. They’re more likely to trust a manufacturer who takes this extra time to educate their customers.
Plus, it’s helpful for SEO and pretty easy on the marketing budget.
Apps, Apps and More Apps
The simplicity of developing apps, along with their unbridled popularity, has made them a hugely effective way for manufacturers to interact with consumers.
They’re digitally renewable, so they’re always up-to-date. In manufacturing, this is a big deal. Being able to supply a customer with reliable, accurate and current product information is critical. And since updating is done electronically, it’s cost effective. Try updating a print ad every month.
Manufacturers Are Just More Connected
The internet of things (IoT) has undeniably brought more people together - even if simultaneously tearing people apart at the dinner table.
Websites and apps are connecting manufacturing businesses with customers in ways never before imagined. A customer can even use company templates on their smartphone or computer to customize a product that will then be 3-D printed. And from anywhere in the world.
Yeah. Digital has definitely changed the way manufacturers are marketing. And it looks like that evolution will continue.