Many manufacturers that we work with are confused about marketing their products. And while we recognize that we do this for a living, I’ll let you in on a little secret:
Marketing for manufacturers is exactly the same as marketing for other businesses.
Whether we’re teaching others how to market or creating a strategy for a client, there are 5 steps to creating a marketing strategy.
Step 1: Market Research
Market research is the step that most people and businesses skip, which is why they find creating a strategy so difficult. It’s the ‘secret sauce’ in the Ad4! Process. We are willing to do the work that most people skip because it’s boring, or hard, or whatever.
There are four parts of market research:
1: Industry – What’s going on in your industry? What are the trends? How do companies do business? What will change about the way companies do business in the future?
2: Competition – What does your competition do well and not so well? In other words, what are their strengths and weaknesses? But there’s more here, where are your competitors located geographically? Do they have any geographical advantages?
3: Customers – Who are your customers and what do they want? Seems like an easy enough question. Seems like a question that you probably know off the top of your head. But do you? It’s amazing what you learn when you ask?
4: Company – What you are your strengths and weaknesses? Based on all the previous research, what are the opportunities you see in the market? While you would naturally think that weaknesses would be next, they are typically an operational challenge.
Step 2: Brand Culture
What’s your brand? Why would your target market do business with you instead of any other company? In other words, what makes you so special?
Your brand is everything about how you do business. From your logo to how you answer the phone. It’s how you treat your employees and how your employees treat your customers. It’s all these things wrapped up into one nice package. It’s your promise to the market.
Step 3: Marketing Strategy
After we take all this research and put it into a pot and cook it real good, a strategy usually jumps out.
If you do the research and don’t skip the steps, the answer is usually obvious. Connecting with your target audience is about telling your story the way you want it told, to the people you want to hear it. Think about the best way to share your story to the people that you want to reach. More on this step in another post.
What are your specific goals? Do you have any? How will you know if you succeeding if you don’t have goals? The more specific you can make your goals, the better off you’ll be. It’s hard to measure “I want to do better.”
Step 4: Action Plan
Having a strategy is not enough; you need a plan. When is it due? Who will do which piece? What’s your budget? Is there a deadline for getting your information together? Which channels will you select for communicating your message?
I like to use a spreadsheet to lay out each piece of each different strategy. Who is responsible, what’s the channel, time frames, budget, and so forth. By laying out each of the pieces, it’s easy to keep track of time frames and manage your people and campaigns.
Step 5: Monitor
The second most skipped step: monitor your results.
Do you meet your goals? Yes, what could you do better next time to get even better results?
What if you didn’t meet your goals? Did you perform well with your target audience? No, maybe you selected a communication channel that was not as effective as you had hoped. Maybe you should select a different channel and see if your results improve.
Maybe you’re just impatient. You’re likely not going to get results after one day. Even a well-planned media campaign will take some time to build results. People have to see or hear a brand message 6 – 8 times to remember. We’re bombarded with brands and messages every day. It takes a little frequency to make progress.
That’s it! A quick and easy overview of marketing for manufacturers, or anybody. In future posts, we’ll get into the details of metrics, markets, demographics, and all the rest.
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