Manufacturers everywhere are looking to evolve their organization during COVID-19 as their aging salesforce is replaced by the younger generation. Manufacturing must also report that their target audience is evolving because millennials are playing a larger role in the purchasing and engineering process. Let’s face it, millennial buyers are different.
But it turns out that most prospective industrial buyers today are changing the way they buy. They
want to conduct their research both online and with industry peers. They identify their problem, find a
solution and look for appropriate vendors—all without engaging directly with companies. HubSpot reports that purchasers don’t even engage with a salesperson until they are 70% of the way through the evaluation process.
So, what’s a manufacturer to do to adjust their inbound to COVID-19? Read on.
Why Your Marketing Efforts Must Become Inbound
We’ll get right to the point. If you’re a manufacturer and you want to attract today’s buyer, you need to change how you market. First, you need to identify the buyers you want to attract. Then, you need to figure out what essential information (i.e., content) will help these buyers solve their most common challenges and ease their pain points. Finally, you need to build a marketing strategy that is designed to present the right information at the right time.
This is the essence of inbound, a fairly new approach to marketing that’s the exact opposite of traditional outbound marketing efforts (i.e.,email blasts to purchased lists; cold calling; and radio, print or television ads). Outbound efforts cast the same marketing message to anyone and everyone who will list in the hopes of attracting leads.
The 4 Stages Of Inbound Marketing
Before you can start to figure out how to make your marketing efforts inbound, you need to understand the logic behind each distinct inbound stage. each stage centers around an action companies practicing the
inbound methodology must take.
Steps To Kickoff Your Inbound Marketing
#1. IDENTIFY TARGET MARKETS
If you have an internal marketing team, it’s likely you already have this step completed—congrats! You have a great start. If you haven’t identified your target markets, no need to panic although we do recommend leaning on a digital marketing partner who specializes in inbound marketing to help you strategically arrive at them. Note these target markets likely changed during COVID-19. A team of trained inbound marketing professionals will help you define your ideal customer in terms of:
- Company size
- Type of product or service need
It’s also helpful to prioritize these target markets based on your existing relationships, market penetration, revenue potential and fit for your product or service.
#2. DEFINE YOUR BUYER PERSONAS
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customer. Identify and define who these people are, their interests, where they look for information, the problems they have and how you can meet their needs. And because you want your inbound marketing efforts to be highly targeted, limit the number of buyer personas you create (ideally, create three to five maximum). Start by writing a short biography for each, listing key demographics and traits.
Continue to build out your personas by listing important background information (such as education), personality identifiers, goals/objectives and common pain points. If you want to take it a step further, you could spell out any objections each persona may have and start to think about a short marketing elevator pitch that could effectively resonate with each. It’s important to make these buyer personas detailed and to always go back and update and refine them every so often, but avoid going overboard—you want detail, not over-complication.
#3. CONDUCT KEYWORD RESEARCH
As is the case with any other online search, people who are searching for the service or product you provide are typing phrases into search engines in hopes of finding helpful information. In order to find out what your ideal buyers are searching, use a research tool that identifies the different words and phrases people use when looking for a solution that applies to one of your products or services. Often companies use their own vernacular or acronyms to define their products. use this research to learn the language that your prospect uses when searching for solutions. These keywords are an important part of making search engines work for your website.
#4. BUILD A CONTENT STRATEGY FOR DRIVING TRAFFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE
Prioritize the findings from the keyword research to develop content for (or rewrite content already on) your website. The words you use on your website need to match the phrases that people are using when they
search online so that your website pages are readily found during search engine searches. It’s often helpful to work with someone who understands search engine optimization and a person with expertise in writing for the web. this activity is part art and part science. You also need to develop content to serve as a means of attracting people to your website. This content should be posted on social media, industry websites, online forums and in other online locations that are not your own website. this same content can also be emailed out to current prospect lists.
#5. BUILD A DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY THAT DELIVERS THIS CONTENT TO THE RIGHT PLACE
Now that you’ve created the content that will drive people to your site, you want to strategically post it in places where your personas go to find answers, which you already know thanks to your buyer personas. common places include LinkedIn, youtube, industry forums, etc. Develop a distribution strategy based on your target markets and the personas within them. The goal is to publish this content where the personas will see it and have it link back to your website. this is how you drive better traffic to your site (i.e., traffic from people researching the solutions you offer).
#6. DEVELOP CONTENT OFFERS ON YOUR WEBSITE
Once you’ve driven people to your website, you need to continue to provide valuable content pieces that people can only access if they provide their contact information, such as their name and email address. These are called content offers. Your content offers should be developed to address the specific needs of your ideal buyers. keep in mind that many of these prospective buyers are still either defining their problem or are aware of their problem but still looking at all possible solutions. These buyers are still in the Awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, which is also referred to as being in the “top of the funnel.” It’s always a great idea to monitor whether top of- the-funnel offers are producing leads—if they’re not, change them up.
See how ThrivePOP developed a content offer with free resources above!
#7. CONTINUE TO NURTURE YOUR LEADS
Once a prospect has filled out a form on your website—any form, regardless of the buyer’s journey stage—you should continue to engage that lead using marketing automation software to create automated email
campaigns (aka drip campaigns). This is a great way to continue to move prospects further down the funnel, from top to bottom. You can also use this software to score and see which of your marketing efforts are working during COVID-19 (and, essentially, run all of your inbound marketing efforts behind the scenes).
#8. TURN “MARKETING QUALIFIED” LEADS INTO “SALES QUALIFIED” LEADS
Once a prospect has filled out a form for a bottom of- the-funnel offer on your website, someone from your sales team should follow up to further investigate the prospects’ interest. If this lead is a good fit for your product or service and you benefit them during COVID-19, this opportunity changes from a marketing qualified lead to a sales qualified lead. It’s now up to your sales team to work their magic and convert this prospect into a customer.
Inbound marketing for manufactures is about providing the right information to the right people at the right time. doing so demonstrates that your company is a viable solution to their need and generates interest. Think of the inbound marketing solution as being a new inside marketing and sales team (not one that replaces the ones you already have, but one that adds to what you already do). once inbound digital marketing efforts have generated interest and the prospect has identified himself, your staff’s sales process should seamlessly take over.
This new marketing process engages with prospects once they’re ready to have a conversation. It offers an efficient system that utilizes the best aspects of people and digital tools to speak to all generations.
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