So, how does social media work for manufacturers?
That was my opening line at a recent talk to MDs and Sales Directors of 30 or so UK manufacturers at a factory in Burnley....a first for me! Almost everyone in the room was a B2B company, with a serious commitment to growth and everyone was there to learn more about marketing in the context of being a British manufacturer.
So how does social media work for manufacturers as part of your marketing tooklit? Well, the same as for any other B2B business to be honest. If you stick to the basic principles of marketing - that is to say to attract, get and keep good customers – it’s pretty simple to apply those principles in a social media context.
Let’s look at a core business need that any growing manufacturing company has – prospecting for new business (your company might call this business development or lead generation). If you’re part of any function in the business where your role is to “attract” customers, using social media can help to meet this need more easily than you think.
Part of prospecting is to understand the total addressable market for your manufacturing products or services. This addressable market – usually referred to as your “audience” in social media terms – is made up of 4 main groups:
the “unawares” - those who don’t know you and don’t know they have a problem you can help with
the “awares” - those who know you & know they have a problem you can help with, but have no intention of addressing you or the issue now (or maybe ever)
the “shoppers” - those who are actively shopping around for companies/products who can help them with their problem
the “buyers” - those who have engaged & met with providers and are about to make a purchase decision
(Thank you Martin Stevens for this brilliantly succinct précis!)
So what’s the most “social” way to draw attention to your manufacturing business in your market? And how do you make it easy for yourself to identify which of the above 4 groups your prospects fall into? Here are some ideas:
Post regularly and consistently (and by that I mean daily). Make your posts conversational to avoid coming across as spammy. Ask questions – you want to know your prospects’ urgent needs, opinions, likes, dislikes. Share relevant manufacturing industry content whether that’s your own or something well written and thought-provoking by someone else (even a competitor). This stimulates actual conversations with real people (amazing huh?) which is the start of nurturing a relationship.
Actively engage in conversations on manufacturing related topics. Whichever social media platform you’re using, you’ll find groups of like-minded people talking about what they make. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, with an opinion and to share your own knowledge as well the brand messages of your organisation (at a ratio of 80:20 personal:brand).
Adopt a friendly, open and conversational tone of voice. Be human! It’s called “social” media after all.
It won’t take long for individuals within your sales team to begin identifying prospects from this type of social engagement. And once you’ve identified your prospects, you can turn them into leads. It doesn’t take much due diligence on the part of your sales teams to come up with an email address and phone number so you can make a direct approach. Once a prospect becomes a lead they can be nurtured through your sales funnel in a way that suits their needs.
I reckon that’s a big YES to social media being made for manufacturers!
How Fire NBM can assist you with prospect based marketing:
· BRAND INSIGHT, POSITIONING AND PROPOSITION DEVELOPMENT
Our experienced researchers conduct brand perception surveys, insight programmes and phone interviews for businesses to discover what challenges their prospects and existing clients face, what they are looking for in service and product providers and how they make their buying decisions. Our strategic marketers and creatives then bring this to life!
· CREATIVE DEMAND GENERATION Fire NBM works with companies to develop B2B prospect personas, content marketing strategies, propositions, campaigns and creative execution. Our social media specialists ensure messaging and content works well across all digital media whilst our content team includes qualified journalists.
· PR AND MEDIA IMPLEMENTATION We plan and implement the optimal mix of digital and offline media for integrated, multi-channel, inbound and outbound campaigns, making your B2B business growth initiatives more productive in terms of new leads and ROI.