Todd Hockenberry

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    Manufacturing Marketing Ideas for Advancing Manufacturing Technology

    Posted by Todd Hockenberry on Nov 20, 2012 7:47:00 AM

    Manufacturing is getting a lot of attention in this political season. One of the few things both sides of the aisle can agree on is that everyone wants to see the number of manufacturing jobs increase, either new jobs or returning jobs from overseas. But with all of this focus on manufacturing, very few people seem to be talking about inbound marketing for manufacturing.

    This baffles me. Inbound marketing offers a new way to think about publicizing new technologies and engaging potential beneficiaries of those technologies in productive conversations.

    Inbound marketing can be used to market emerging technologies and increase awareness and adoption of those new technologies. Most of our clients are in the manufacturing industry and we've noticed a few key areas we consistently address to start these companies on the road to successful inbound marketing campaigns.

    Thinking like a marketer and not just a manufacturer

    Thinking like a marketer puts you in the shoes of your ideal customer. The mindset is much like an engineer designing a feature in a product that solves a particular problem. The key is in translating that technical, product, problem-solving thinking into content for your marketing efforts. The benefits the customer receives are the fuel for your marketing. Manufacturers tend to think in terms of features and specifications and not in terms of the results the customer receives from the benefits.

    For example, producing a top notch product may be what you think seals the deal on sales, but it isn't usually enough in and of itself. You need to be able to attract leads first before you can dazzle them with an amazing product. If your competition is offering a lesser product but are highly visible in the market, they are going to keep getting sales that your superior product could have landed. When you market the benefits of your product using stories, case studies, testimonials, and industry information you give your company and sales team a much better chance of being heard.

    Website – not a catalog but a community

    When a manufacturer has built a "catalog website", it usually means they are thinking like a  manufacturer and not a marketer. Listing products and descriptions, maybe throwing in a picture or two, speaks to the manufacturing side of the business but leaves the marketing side lacking. If you want your website to attract leads you need to have more on it than your catalog.

    Your website should help you start the sales process by attracting prospects and showing them that your product or service is targeted to them, helps them solve their problems, and delivers the proof that you should be taken seriously.

    A good website is a community with forums for interaction between you and your prospects and customers, and offers interesting and relevant information they want to download. Manufacturing is full of highly intelligent people with specialized knowledge and your goal should be to build a website that showcases that knowledge.

    Social Media – create interest and ongoing engagement

    Social media might not seem like it's designed for manufacturing, but there is a place for it in your marketing mix. Manufacturers should not expect millions of followers, but for those people who are interested in manufacturing and technology, social media outlets provide fertile ground for researching new companies, products, and processes. Social media is a great way to easily share industry news and articles and to open up a dialogue with potential leads.

    Cool stuff like the 3D printing in this video are ripe for sharing and driving traffic to your site and in generating interest in your company.

    Reaching just a few influential prospects or industry experts will make your social media efforts worth the effort.

    Email – outreach and information

    Email is another great marketing tool for keeping interest and engagement up. With all of the tools that are available now, it's very easy to create multiple versions of an email specifically targeted at different segments of your email list. This gives companies a great opportunity for introducing new products, technologies, and offers in the best way possible to the people that want to consume information targeted to their stated needs.

    Manufacturing companies tend to have long buying cycles so using timed and automated lead nurturing campaigns to stay in touch with prospects throughout the buying cycle helps keep your company top of mind and gives the prospect a chance to stay engaged when they may have tuned your sales people and overt sales pitches out. Many manufacturing sales have a dead space in the buying process between initial and option research and final specification determination. Lead nurturing using email can keep you in front of prospects when they will not take your salespeople’s calls.

    Inbound marketing isn't going to magically fix the economy, but the more sales manufacturers can land the more people they can hire and that's good news for everyone.

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    About the Author: Todd Hockenberry is the founder of Top Line Results, an inbound marketing agency that specializes in leading top line revenue growth at small and medium-sized companies with a focus on manufacturing, technology and capital equipment.

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    Topics: small business marketing, marketing for manufacturing, Top Line Results

    Business Trends That Make the Case for Inbound Networking

    Posted by Todd Hockenberry on Jul 30, 2012 9:07:00 AM

    This is a guest post from Todd Hockenberry, owner of Top Line Results (@TopLineResults), a sales & marketing consulting and services firm that specializes in working with manufacturing companies. Todd is an expert at both sales and marketing and sees around the corners that most don't know exist yet...

    While reading some of my favorite blogs, I came across the following trends that lead me to believe that the inbound networking movement is a significant opportunity for small businesses and solopreneurs.  The trends...

    Trend 1: Outsourcing, while nothing new, continues to grow and is expected to keep growing according to this survey by Deloitte.

    inbound marketing

    All of these categories are areas where companies outsource a significant amount of business. The number of companies planning to outsource more of their sales and marketing support is more than double than the companies currently doing it. 

    Trend 2: Data shows that the size of the average business is getting smaller.  The distribution of businesses by size shows a relatively few giant corporations, a narrower center made up of a shrinking number of mid-sized firms, and a large and rapidly growing number of small, micro and one person (solopreneur) firms.

    inbound marketing

    Trend 3: Large companies are employing less people full time and more people on a contingency basis. The contingent share of the work force working at larger firms (those firms with over 1,000 employees) has grown steadily in the last few years.

    contingent work force resized 600

    The US Census says that large firms (1,000 or more employees) employ around 53 million Americans.  Some quick math says that these large firms have added about 2.7 million total contingent workers - in the US - over the last seven years.  Another survey, a recent Aberdeen study showed that 26% of the total corporate workforce is contingent.

    Trend 4: One more seemingly obvious (to most inbound marketers) and at the same time obscure (in its depth) trend is toward the use of big data by small companies. 

    I will use an example from politics.  It seems that politicians segment and use persona development as well as any inbound marketer I know.  As crazy as it sounds, it seems my beer choice factors in to who I might vote for...

    inbound marketing

    Voters are micro-targeted by the car they drive, the soft drinks they buy, where they eat, where they shop, what they watch on TV, music, radio... you name it. This shows that there is almost an infinite number of ways to chop up data and develop target personas, so that very niche businesses can target very refined prospects.

    When you put all of these trends together, you can start to see the potential of inbound networking:

    • millions of people are starting solo or small businesses (me being one of them),
    • companies are outsourcing work to these soloprenuers at rates that will only increase,
    • and data is available to help these solopreneurs define and attract their target personas, no matter how niche.

    Inbound marketing is necessary to help make the right connections! These small businesses/soloprenuers/contingent workers need to market their services and get found by prospects. Companies need to find these people because these companies are not hiring full time employees as often and want to hedge their bets by hiring small businesses/soloprenuers/contingent workers. Data exists to target to very specific markets for these small businesses/soloprenuers/contingent workers.

    Inbound networking will be necessary to help these small businesses do inbound marketing cost-effectively! Think about all of these small businesses and the challenges they have to just stay afloat, let alone devote enough time to do inbound marketing aggressively.  Content creation will be a constant challenge. Very few very small businesses will be able to build enough authority and relevance with the search engines in order to get found by enough prospects.

    In order to establish themselves, solopreneurs and small businesses will need to work together with complimentary businesses. They'll need to create an inbound marketing network effect by helping each other attract a larger audience, then cross-marketing and cross-selling each other's services.

    There are certainly many trends that are driving the rapid growth of inbound marketing and inbound networking. How are you going to take advantage of them?

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    Topics: inbound marketing

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