- Your Company Must Be Highly Visible
- You Have to Have the Right Asses In the Right Seats
- You Must Work On Your Business, Not Just In Your Business
- You Must Market Yourself and Your Company
- Keep Current With Technology
- Diversification of Your Customer Base
- Expand Through Acquisition
Today we are taking a closer look at Number 4, “You Must Market Yourself and Your Company,” or as I like to say, “Market Your Business Or Watch It Die!”
We’ve talked about the need to be “visible” on the web at length in this series. Although a strong web presence should be part of any manufacturer’s marketing strategy, I’m leaving that out of the discussion today, so as not to repeat myself. Our goal for this series is to provide you with a wealth of techniques that you can use to build your manufacturing business. As an Industrial Auctioneer and Manufacturing Business Broker, I see both ends of the spectrum. I see manufacturers who are growing and thriving and others who are dying. Marketing their manufacturing businesses is the difference in most cases. It’s the difference between growth and stagnation.
Some of what I’ll review here is basic, yet it surprises me how many don’t bother to do these simple things. I’ll also share some ideas for places to market yourself that perhaps you haven’t thought of. Whether it’s a review or a new idea to you, the discussion of HOW to market your manufacturing business is a worthy subject!
Much of what I will talk about involves communication to current, past and potential customers. The “method” of communication will be the subject of another series at the conclusion of this one. But in brief, you don’t have to spend tons of money to market your company in this day and age. Yes, you may opt to do full color brochures with pictures of your shop and facilities and capabilities lists – but an email blast with the same information is FREE! Your marketing campaign should be commensurate with your company’s sales level. If you are a small manufacturer, this can be done on a shoestring, and we’ll show you how in our future series. For today, I just want to address WHAT you should consider doing, rather than the HOW.
First – market yourself to your existing and past customers. If your manufacturing business is in a downturn, this is where you should start!
Are your current and past customers aware of ALL of your services and capabilities? If you’ve done a good job in the past, your customers will likely trust you with new projects. You’ve already got the hardest part accomplished – you’ve got your foot in the door and you have contacts within the target companies. Regular communication keeps that door pried open! Besides touting your machining capabilities, share some of your success (war) stories. Every business owner has them. Share those times when an impossible job came in with an impossible deadline, and how you rose to the challenge. Everyone wants to hire and work with a winner. From a marketing perspective, a little bragging on yourself is not a bad thing!
Next, take a look at your current customers and make a list of companies that THEY compete with. Do these companies not need the same type of products and services? You bet they do! Make sure that these people know who you are and how to contact you. Send your success stories to this list as well. Sometimes the best place to be is number two when trying to get new clients. Why? Eventually the guy in the number one spot will be late on a delivery or short on quality control. When that happens, the next manufacturer to get the order will be the one who kept his name in front of that potential customer.
Take a look at your own competitors. What are they doing that you are not? Do you know whom they are getting their work from? You should be marketing your company and services to the customers of your competitors. The same principle applies as above – the number two spot is a good place to be with everyone your competitors do work for!
Most manufacturers do sub-contract work for much larger corporations. Do these companies know where to find you? Make sure that your company is registered on Mfg.com. MFG.com enables sourcing professionals and engineers to quickly and easily locate quality suppliers for CNC Machining, Injection Molding, Metal Stamping, Metal Fabrication and many other processes through an easy-to-use online marketplace. For suppliers, they find open RFQs on MFG.com every day to help fill open manufacturing capacity. MFG.com is a seamless online system for requesting manufacturing quotes from the world’s best suppliers.
Get your company registered on www.InnovationSupplyChain.com. This site matches machining expertise with jobs! A quick check of the site shows inventors actively seeking manufacturers to make their products.
There are several international manufacturing registries that you should consider listing your company on like www.globalsources.com, www.Alibaba.com and www.ThomasNet.com. While we’re on the subject of international sales, if you are a small manufacturer and you’re not sure were to begin when it comes to exports, we found that there is help available for you. There is a Foreign Trade Webinar Series on www.census.gov, and it’s FREE!
Marketing your manufacturing business means “getting social,” with web sites like www.LinkedIn.com. While I’m not a fan of all social media sites, for business, I find LinkedIn to be the best there is. You can join groups within the community that are relative to your area of expertise. You can post articles to your groups to help establish yourself as an expert in a particular area. As promised I won’t talk too much about web or social presence because we cover those topics every month. For additional tips on marketing your business through the use of social media, visit our sister blog: http://blog.mfgwebsolutions.com/
I feel the need to speak briefly about having an automated plan for marketing your company. As business owners we all have too much to do and too little time to do it in. Devising a SYSTEM will ensure that you get some marketing done each and every month. Consider establishing a Marketing Calendar, whereby each week during the month you accomplish a marketing project to a specific group and cover all of the important groups within a one-month span.
Most people struggle with WHAT to say when marketing their businesses. Marketing does not always have to be about your manufacturing capabilities, it could be anything related to your company. The goal is to keep your name in front of people and give them a sense of who you are. Here are a few things you might consider as marketing content to current and potential customers:
- Write about any update to your facilities list. Did you buy a new machine? Brag about it!
- Did you or your staff complete a class or course to improve your trade skills? Shout about it!
- Did you just update your web site so that your product catalog is now online? Advertise it!
- Have you received an award of appreciation from a customer? Tell everyone!
- Have you opened your doors to a local Vo-Tech to inspire youth into the industry? Write about it!
- Have you or a member of your staff contributed their time or talent to a well know charity like Habitat for Humanity? Tell the story!
- Was your company featured in a news article? Send the article to everyone!
- Did someone get promoted in your company? Send out a press release!
Do you see what I’m doing? I’m taking your normal everyday business life and turning it into news. This helps you stay in touch with those that are already your customers, and helps those that are not yet customers learn about you. I have read DOZENS of business and marketing books. Most experts agree that it takes at least 9, (some say as many as 15), “touches” before someone will do business with you. What is a touch? It’s the potential customer hearing, seeing or reading about you. I recently contracted work to auction a machine shop and the owner had a series of letters from me in his office spanning more than a decade! Consistency is key. That’s why I’m a proponent of automated systems to keep your name in front of your targets. If you feel like you are a terrible writer and would never be able to construct an entire marketing piece on your new Haas CNC Mill, then hire someone to do it! Freelance writers or virtual assistants are great for marketing projects. You get the work done at a reasonable cost WITHOUT having to add payroll.
Clearly volumes can be written on different ways to market your manufacturing business, and this is a subject that we will continue to discuss in our ongoing effort to help our readership build successful companies. Today we hope to have sparked thought and perhaps given you a few places to expose your business that you may not have thought of. Yes, some of it is elementary….but are you doing it? If you are so busy making parts that you NEVER market your business, you’ll eventually have no parts to make!
Next month we’ll be taking a closer look at keeping current with technology. Until then, thanks for reading and remember to spend some time bragging about yourself, you can’t afford not to!
Fran Brunelle is an industrial auctioneer with almost 20 years experience, a manufacturing business broker, licensed real estate broker specializing in industrial properties, a real estate auctioneer, certified appraiser and author. Fran has established several corporations that provide services to the manufacturing industry. The “Accelerated Group of Companies” provides tools and services to help manufacturers grow and exit strategies to maximize dollars when they are ready to retire or sell their manufacturing business. The group of companies that Fran Brunelle has established includes:
www.AcceleratedBuySell.com – Provides Online Industrial Auction Services, Used Equipment Auctions, Capital Equipment Auctions, Plant Liquidations, Industrial Plant Cleanout Services, Used Machinery Location Services, Certified Machine Tool and Equipment Appraisals, and more.
www.AcceleratedMfgBrokers.com – Specializes in Manufacturing Business Brokerage and Mergers and Acquisitions. We help manufacturers develop exit strategies to maximize retirement dollars, and successful manufacturers expand through acquisition of other manufacturing companies, product lines and customer lists. Manufacturing Companies for sale throughout the United States are listed on this site.
www.AcceleratedRE.com – Provides Industrial Real Estate Brokerage Services, Online Real Estate Auctions, Sealed Bid Real Estate Auctions and complete industrial facility cleanout services.
www.IgniteMfg.com – Provides funding for products made in the USA, and engineering/manufacturing educational needs through Crowd Funding.
www.MfgWebSolutions.com – Provides web development and social media services for manufacturers at under-market rates.
Fran Brunelle is a contributing author to:
blog.AcceleratedBuySell.com - A site that provides the latest manufacturing news, statistics and opinion. It also provides information on how to grow a manufacturing business, and what to do if you are a manufacturing company that needs to close.
MFGWebSolutions.com/blog - Provides the latest information on social media and web development for manufacturers. It gives manufacturers tips and tricks for boosting their web presence.