Three ways B2B marketing can help manufacturers innovate, differentiate and sell

Posted on June 17, 2016 by Man Bites Dog

The world’s smartest organisations congregated in Liverpool this week at the International Festival of Business 2016. I was lucky to be invited by the manufacturers’ association, EEF, to attend ‘Made in Britain, Loved by the World’ to hear what the leading lights of the manufacturing industry are doing to stay ahead of the curve.

In a room packed with inventors, innovators and problem-solvers, united in their efforts to increase productivity and deliver cost and time efficiencies, it struck me that marketers could be at the forefront of tackling these challenges.

Manufacturing marketing Man Bites Dog Tara Burns B2B

Here are three ways marketers can help manufacturers to innovate, adapt, respond and sell:

  1. Connect With Your Customer.

You don’t always have to look far for great ideas. Talk to your customers and listen to what they have to say. Hotel Chocolat CEO and co-founder Angus Thirlwell did exactly that. He set-up a 70,000-strong tasting club that became a mini focus group, brimming with ideas for recipes that later went on to become bestsellers.

The best marketing programmes put the customer centre-stage. They use audience data to guide strategy and are based on original ideas that capture a customer’s interest and ultimately drive sales.

  1. Look Outside In.

Great things can happen when you make new and surprising connections. Whether you speak to sales or R&D for inspiration or data and customer service teams for insight, gathering fresh perspectives and learning from the experiences of others can be invaluable. But don’t stop there. CEO of Brompton Bicycle, William Butler-Adams urged manufacturers to look to other companies and industries for inspiration on everything from improving the production line process to honing distribution, HR and management processes.

The foundation of any communications programme is a sound strategy, due diligence and a fair bit of internal soul-searching. Marketers need to identify the white space their brand can occupy and generate a commercially-effective idea that connects their products or services with customer concerns. In doing so, brands can create content that speaks to the person behind the organisation and job role.

  1. Stand Out.

One of the biggest challenges mentioned by all the panellists is differentiation. In a fast-paced and competitive marketplace, it’s hard to tell the difference between the main players. This is because from the outside, organisations look and sound the same, producing similar products and services to the manufacturing firm next door. This can force you into transactional sales conversations focused on price and delivery lead times.

We all know that from the inside, businesses actually look and sound very different. It’s the collective thinking of their people that makes them distinctive and will enable them to stand out from the competition. Manufacturers have huge potential as ‘thinking brands’ – all the ingredients are there. They are full to the brim with great ideas, experts, IP and insight.

The challenge is turning the complex information that exists within manufacturing businesses into original and engaging stories. The aim is to develop ideas that speak to an organisation’s unique capabilities and create a call to action for what you sell.

Exciting times lie ahead. The fourth industrial revolution is under way and a tremendous opportunity exists for marketers to own more of the sales process, becoming the team that brings marketing, PR, and sales together with unifying content.

Get in touch to find out more about our approach to mapping content to the buyer journey or click here for our free guide to help you generate original ideas to help you stand out and ultimately, sell.


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