As we approach 2024, the manufacturing landscape is undergoing dynamic transformation. These shifts are being driven by technological advancements, evolving consumer expectations, and a growing emphasis on sustainability and resilience. In the wake of a recent global pandemic, manufacturers have been compelled to consistently adjust their strategies to stay competitive and thrive in this evolving environment.
“As of July 2023, annual construction spending in manufacturing stands at US$201 billion, representing a 70% year-over-year increase and setting the stage for further industry growth in 2024.” Deloitte, 2023)
The Challenge of Differentiation
Manufacturers face unique challenges when trying to differentiate themselves from the competition. In marketing their services and capabilities, manufacturers are operating within highly competitive markets that are increasingly commoditized. Whether engaged in the production of precision parts, intricate printed circuit board assemblies, or injection-molded plastic components, thay all face a common dilemma – how to showcase what sets them apart and makes their approach for delivering services and finished products better than the competition.
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), distributors, government agencies, technology partners and other Business to Business (B2B) organizations who source manufacturing expertise are faced with an abundance of choice from manufacturers who are vying for their attention. In most cases, these competing manufacturers all have people, processes, and technology that meet or exceed customer needs. These companies would not exist in the manufacturing ecosystem if they did not have these unique capabilities.
Making matters worse, to attract customers, more and more manufacturers are being dragged into price wars leading to lower profit margins, and impacting quality and innovation. When coupled with ongoing supply chain disruptions, rapid changes in technology and regulatory compliance, it is becoming harder and harder to stand out from the competition.
An enduring challenge, particularly in the post-COVID era, involves the recruitment and retention of top-tier talent within manufacturing companies. While the peak of the ‘Great Resignation’ may have passed, the factors contributing to this widespread workforce shift persists and is compounded by low unemployment rates.
Distinguishing manufacturers, by focusing on culture, values and purpose, becomes paramount. Effectively promoting a manufacturer’s unique culture and fostering a positive company mindset is crucial for both retaining existing talent and attracting new staff. In the current landscape, ensuring consistent and compelling communication of corporate values contributing to a good work/life balance has never been more critical.
Facing challenges like economic uncertainty, skilled labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions, manufacturers in 2024 should focus on improving operational efficiency, expanding aftermarket services, leveraging digital transformation, and transitioning to zero-emission products
The Importance of Marketing in Challenging Times
During times of significant change,the promotion of your manufacturing business becomes more important than ever. It is what makes you a beacon for the best solutions in your market.
Creating an adaptable marketing strategy that takes an integrated approach will ensure your company is found and understood across multiple communication channels. Critical components of a successful strategy include:
- Understanding the needs of your target audience.
- Defining customer personas and their journey.
- Creating compelling brand messaging that makes an emotional and memorable connection (People2People Marketing).
- Establishing a strong content marketing strategy that clearly articulates your brand messaging.
- Harnessing the latest digital tools to effectively reach and engage with your target audience.
Only when you have focused on these key marketing areas can you develop strategies for success that will drive new business opportunities for your sales team.
Manufacturing is a Relationship Building Business
Customers do not simply walk into a facility or go online to secure complex manufacturing services. Often, they are seeking a manufacturing partner that can guide them through the complexities of bringing their innovative products to market.
Modern manufacturing marketing has become more customer-centric, data-driven, and technologically sophisticated. It’s crucial to connect with your audience in meaningful ways.
Business to Business (B2B) customers now engage in team-based decision making and are seeking more than just a transactional connection. They do not want to just buy ‘from’ manufacturers, they want to buy ‘into’ them. Establishing enduring, trust-based relationships requires ongoing and targeted outreach efforts to sustain connectivity and a leadership role.
Building trust and confidence is a gradual process and gaining entry into a prospect’s bidding cycle poses a significant challenge. Rarely does a salesperson connect with a prospect precisely at the moment they are ready to bid on a project. Effective lead qualifying and nurturing tactics must be strategically deployed.
Embracing technologies like the industrial metaverse (“smart factories”), generative AI, and digital supply chain solutions is essential for efficiency and resilience (Deloitte, 2023).
Ensure Your Business Enters the Bid Cycle
It is time to invest in strong branding and content marketing consistently amplified through digital marketing strategies. Tailored content leans into the challenges faced by prospects and how a manufacturer is best equipped to solve them through the value provided in their capabilities and services.
A strong brand ensures that B2B customers will recall the manufacturer’s name and associated scope of services when needed, drawing content seen in industry publications, online searches, and social media channels. Consistency in content marketing is paramount for long-term effectiveness, contributing significantly to building trust in a brand.
Recognizing that there is ‘no one size fits all’ content marketing approach for manufacturers is crucial, given the unique qualities of each business in the field seeking attention. Equally important is understanding how to develop tools and tactics that foster consensus among decision-making teams.
Today, few B2B organizations rely solely on a Procurement department for securing parts and services. Vendor selection often involves a multidisciplinary team from engineering, operations, and the C-suite. Aligning with their thought processes and presenting information in a way that resonates makes it more likely for them to choose your manufacturing services over others.
Gain Insights Into the Needs of Your Target Audience
Today’s marketing tools and technology are empowering manufacturers to gain valuable insight into how prospects discover and engage with their business. The era of operating blindly and ‘hoping’ to attract the next big customer is over. Instead, when manufacturers work with skilled marketing professionals, they are equipped to understand how to attract top-of-funnel B2B contacts that can be nurtured over time, and converted into strong sales contacts and loyal customers. The tracking of engagement phases in the marketing funnel cost-effectively establishes a solid foundation for success.
How Manufacturers Can Grow and Thrive in 2024
How can we help your manufacturing business? SaladBar Group understands the needs of manufacturers based on years of working with a diverse mix of North American companies.
SaladBar is a collective of like-minded marketing entrepreneurs with complementary skill sets that range from strategy, content development, advertising, video design and production, to social and digital marketing. Our unique blend of senior-level experience and next-generation talent ensures that our manufacturing clients get solutions that are distinct and targeted.
We provide manufacturers with a full-service agency at a fraction of the cost, thanks to our efficient business model. As the name SaladBar implies, you pay for only what you truly want and need.
We are also in the business of building long-term relationships. Let’s start one.
Pivot Point Marketing is a founding member of SaladBar Group.
See how we have elevated the brand for these manufacturers: