Every business wants to stand out. If you’re a company like Apple, it’s easy.
If you’re a manufacturer making, say, tiny machine parts, it gets a lot harder to differentiate yourself.
Harder, but not impossible. Last year, the Manufactures Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) polled its members about differentiating their value.
Here are five things they learned:
- Product and service matter more to customers than cost. Product quality and technology were two of the key factors determining customer purchasing, while the cost of parts and operating were among the bottom three factors.
- In order to be paid a premium, companies need to define value in dollars and cents terms customers will comprehend. Many companies use value/ROI calculators.
- Many top companies use customer listening practices – voice of the customer, translating needs into requirements — to understand what things their clients find important.
- The top-performing companies did their homework to determine customers’ willingness to pay. “Given the critical importance of getting pricing right, this is a major opportunity for companies,” MAPI said in its review of the survey.
- The experience your customers have is what separates good companies from lesser ones. The top-performing companies outdid their peers when it came to things like customer service, quick or on-time delivery and parts availability.
All of these things are important, but there’s another thing to remember: No matter what they make, manufacturers still have an audience who want to hear their story.
And if you’re a manufacturer, your story shouldn’t be “We’re the best.” Anyone can say that. Your story should tell your customers – and the people you want to become your customers – “This is what makes us stand out.”
And that’s where inbound marketing can help. Inbound marketing refers to practices you use to bring customers to you. It’s the opposite of outbound marketing, aka the traditional methods of selling your company (billboards, trade shows, cold calling).
Let’s take a look at some of the components you’d find in a solid inbound marketing campaign:
Create Content That Helps Them With Their Problems.
The blog posts, e-books, whitepapers found on your site should aim at solving visitors’ problems. Not everyone who visits your website is ready to become a customer.
Early on in their journey, buyers may not be aware of your company. They simply have a need. The content you create for this stage of their journey should be focused on their pain points rather than on your product or service.
For example: a company manufacturers and repairs industrial tools. Rather than writing blog posts solely about their company, they give the audience titles like “Which Tool is Right for Which Situation?” and “How Often Should I Have My Tools Calibrated?”
Of course, the company blog can also include news about new products, or posts about company milestones. It just shouldn’t be ONLY those kind of posts.
Stand Out On Social Media
While we’re on the subject, it’s important to make sure there are more than just a stream of updates about what you company can do for people. Platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram can let you share helpful, interesting content, and also engage with fans of your company.
By answering their questions and helping them solve problems, you’ll make them advocates for your brand, meaning they’ll be more likely to share your content, and bring other leads to your site.
Stay In Touch
When you present your audience content through things like e-books, white papers and other offers, you should be getting in return: their contact information.
Once you get that information, stay in touch. Let these prospects know what’s happening with your company. If they were interested enough to download your content, they’ll be happy to hear from you when you have similar content, and think of you when it comes time to seek out your product.
With inbound marketing, a company can reach the audience it wants, and tell its story in a way that lets it stand out from the competition.