3 Marketing and Sales Trends Affecting American Manufacturers
Manufacturers Have New Tools to Reach Customers.
To stay competitive in this fast-paced digital world, manufacturers need to stay visible and engage prospects through multiple channels to win business. This needs to happen both online and offline, making prospects and sales funnels harder to manage. So B2B marketers have the challenge of maintaining their traditional channels such as email, trade print and shows while also managing their digital presence. Manufacturers are realizing that it takes a lot of work to stay digitally relevant, because content needs to be personalized to cut through the noise.
An interesting data-point* is that more than 58% of B2B purchase decisions are made based on digital impressions. This means that potential customers have already made a purchase decision before they contact a sales rep or call a service number.
And with all these new digital demands on marketers who need to grow business, several other changes are happening alongside that are connected to your online presence.
1. The integration of all sales channels into business development processes.
Traditionally, companies who manufacture consumer goods put their energy and budgets into selling B2B. In other words, manufacturers sell to customers, whose customers are ultimately the end-users. And now, thanks to a highly robust Internet shopping experience, the relationship has blurred between the manufacturer, the customer, and end-users.
So manufactures have to find the right balance of catering to the end-user (who can easily find them) while not jeopardizing their B2B customer relationships. One solution is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to help manage the business development process. A well-managed program can help generate leads and protect relationships with sales reps, distributors and retailers.
2. Understanding the customer journey and the many touch points.
Just 20 years ago, a customer buying journey had half the touch points of today. Finding a new supplier in the 90s meant calling the three companies with the best ads in trade magazines. In that scenario, a company might only be compared to five to eight competitors.
Today manufacturers can be compared to hundreds of competitors in minutes. For this reason, content marketing has become critical to manufacturers as a way to generate leads. Brands must be visible with RELEVANT video, blogs, photos and articles that engage people at every point in the buying journey. Taking time to map out the way your customers discover your brand and interact with your content is helpful in assessing the effectiveness of your touch points (here’s a helpful and free Customer Journey Template that we use: here).
3. Using data to understand your market and increase market share
Our favorite outcome of this new digital age is the data left behind for manufacturers to access. Analytics from websites and marketing sources are more robust than ever. And as our team says “better data — better decisions.” Data can tell you how your customers feel, and reveal market trends, competitor performance, gaps in your marketing, and so on.
While data is important, and vast quantities are easy to find, sifting out the quality data you need can be difficult. Understanding how to turn data into big decisions is another complication.
If you don’t have access to market analysis or experience with market research methodology, we encourage you to call us for assistance or direction.