We all make personal resolutions at the start of the year: lose some weight, go back to school, make more time for family, stop eating all the cookie dough before it goes in the oven...
(I can tell you right now that last one's not gonna stick.)
New Year's resolutions are great. They encourage us to start anew and put our best foot forward. They help us become our best selves and make time for things that matter.
So why don't we take a minute to talk about 2016 business resolutions?
Challenges for Manufacturers
Manufacturers face a host of never-ending problems:
- Reshoring? Offshoring? What's the best option? This is a hot debate topic, with financial and moral implications for all parties.
- How to find new manufacturing talent? Younger generations are losing interest in the industry. How do we make manufacturing attractive to millenials and Gen Z?
- How to deal with increasing materials/labor/input costs? Costs are only rising, and an increase in minimum wage is hovering on the horizon.
- Dealing with competition (global or otherwise)? Although manufacturing has been facing a downturn in the last few years, the companies still standing are intimidating opponents.
And so on. You're familiar with these issues. Each year brings even more challenges to the pile - suddenly, manufacturers have to be aware of things like Big Data and Smart Manufacturing. ("What do you mean my machinery will be connected to the Internet and doing self-maintenance like some kind of industrial, less adorable Wall-E?!")
It seems the Internet is bringing more grief than good. What's a manufacturer to do? Sit back and take it?
No! You hold more power than you know - maybe even in your pocket.
Computers, the Internet, and Marketing, Oh My!
"Marketing" is an obscene and scary word for many people. It connotes hourly spam emails, pop-up ads, and telemarketing calls at dinnertime.
Surprise! You're not going to grow your business, find new talent, or beat the competition with those methods. We're talking about a new, revolutionary kind of marketing.
(To be honest, this kind of marketing isn't so new anymore. Manufacturers just haven't been taking advantage of it yet.)
It's called Inbound Marketing, or, in layman's terms, Getting Prospective Customers to Buy Your Stuff by Not Annoying the Shit out of Them.
Some indirect perks of using inbound marketing include:
- making yourself more attractive to young talent,
- putting yourself in front of global clients (if this is one of your goals),
- becoming more competitive on the market (or steamrolling your competition if they're not using inbound),
- minimizing concerns about input and labor costs due to business growth,
- attracting qualified engineers, management, and other skilled labor.
How can inbound marketing do all of these things for you? It's simple: it taps into a resource that most manufacturers disregard or don't know how to use.
Many other industries are already taking advantage of the Internet and inbound tactics, so they're competing with each other on an entirely different level. They're using drones and other high-tech methods to fight a modern war; manufacturers are still shooting at each other with muskets and hoping they hit something.
Guess what? That means once you get your own drones, you're going to obliterate the competition. Since the manufacturing industry is so far behind on average, it'll take you a lot less effort to make visible progress.
However, most manufacturers are stuck in the loop of "this is how we've always done it," so they keep sending out snail mail and relying on referrals to get new business.
It's surprisingly difficult to help people whose motto is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," when they don't even know what "broke" looks like. And so, they fall farther and farther behind with their catalogs and websites made in 1995.
This is why we call them New Year's resolutions. It's a new year, the time for new strategies, fresh perspectives - and a chance to turn everything around.
It's 2016. Time to get out of your rut and start growing your business.
New Year's Business Resolution
We want you to make one simple New Year's resolution for your business. Not for us, not for you, but for the sake of your business and its future.
Resolve to learn about inbound marketing. Find out what it is, how it works, and what it can do for your business. Read case studies, learn about its mechanisms, find out what makes inbound marketing so popular among the young crowd.
Explore the social changes we're experiencing. One of the reasons inbound marketing is so successful is because of shifts in social norms. We're changing the ways we interact with each other, the things we expect from each other, and the ways we sell to and buy from each other.
All of these changes aren't just for "those darn kids these days" to deal with. You have to stay on top of them as well. It's not hard - kind of like riding a bike. You just have to practice.
Obviously, you don't have to implement any changes if you don't want to. The goal is to make your business as successful as possible - we're simply providing information you may not have had before.
Beyond that, only you can say what's best for your company. All we can do is sit behind our computers, put words on the Internet, and practice what we preach.
The rest is up to you.