It's Romeo and Juliet without all the dying. It's Bonnie and Clyde and their fame and fortune, minus all the police evasion.
It could be your business's very own love story.
What do you think when you hear "marketing a manufacturing business"? Trade shows? Snail mail flyers? Word of mouth?
We'll be honest with you: only one of those marketing techniques is super effective in 2015.
92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. In a recent study, 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.
We're not going to argue with that. If you're getting a lot of business through word-of-mouth, keep doing whatever it is you're doing. Great job.
Trade shows are great for networking, but what buyer worth their salt is going to drop $15k on a product from a trade show without any further research? You need to have the relevant information easily available when they go online to do that research.
And flyers? If you're lucky, the recipient will scan the front AND back before tossing it into the trash. You know, like you do with insurance/Internet/ phone service mail flyers. Your flyers aren't any more interesting just because they're yours.
So what's a manufacturing business to do?
- First: be online. As we mentioned before, buyers aren't going to throw caution to the wind and commit to your company for no reason - they'll want to know all the tiny details about what you do, how you do it, and what that means for them.
Buyers will do all of that necessary research online. If your business isn't front and center when they're looking, they'll shrug, think "meh," and move on to another manufacturer who's more modern and accessible.
- Second: attract buyers. There's only one effective way to increase brand awareness online. Marketers call it inbound marketing, but informally, most people know it by its parts: SEO, social media marketing, blogging, etc.
If you're not using ALL of these web marketing resources, your marketing strategies won't be as effective as they could be. All of the pieces work together to push your business to the forefront of your buyers' searches.
Think of it like your manufacturing machinery rolling out a product: if one of the gears is missing, you're not going to get very far in the production process.
- Third: make some sales. (If we need to explain this one to you, you might want to reconsider your career choice.)
Most of our clients get stuck on the second point. Since they're in business, they're obviously still making SOME sales and getting customers.
But they're not attracting as many customers as they could be, and they're looking to grow their business. Their problem is... they simply don't have enough Internet savvy to put their website in front of potential customers.
They create a website, sit back, and have a beer, thinking people will just stumble onto their website without any assistance.
The truth is, people can be pretty dumb. They're like blind mice bumping into walls and starving because some jackass didn't leave any crumbs to follow and now they can't find the food.
These mice are going to eat your food and then poop out piles of money. Wouldn't you want to make it as easy as possible for them to find the food?
Your web marketing strategies are your bread crumb trails in this questionable analogy. YOU know your website exists - but what good is that if your buyers can't find it? You have to help them find it.
Ain't Nobody Got Time for That
Here's another trend we notice among our clients: even once they understand the importance of web marketing, they don't have the time or the resources to do it (either effectively or at all).
That's where inbound marketing services come in.
Inbound marketing services can be your business's knight in shining armor, its prince charming on a white horse, the princess to your frog. Except, we're not going to kiss you fix your website. Sorry.
A professional inbound marketing agency can assist you with everything from SEO to content writing. They will have the expertise to fix the things that you can't, and the resources to produce the things you don't have time to produce.
If you're strapped for time or expertise, it might be smart to call in the cavalry.
Why Choose an Inbound Agency?
Like we said, inbound marketing services can make your life a million times easier.
"But wait," you say, "I have a nephew who knows a guy from college whose dog does some SEO on the side. Why can't I just hire him to work on my website?"
Good question, but also a silly question. Would you trust your business's financial operations to some guy just because he files his own taxes every year? (We hope the answer is no way.)
Let's go over some quick pros and cons of working with a professional agency:
- Pro: You're basically guaranteed good results.
Professional inbound marketing and SEO providers have years of experience behind them. And - most importantly - they'll have a slew of previous customers who are willing to vouch for the quality of their work.
A great SEO company will also be able to provide a portfolio and/or case studies to demonstrate what they can do for your business.
Your nephew's college buddy's dog may know a bit about SEO, but you can't be sure he's going to do it effectively (or that he won't get you penalized for the things he does).
- Pro: A professional agency will be able to offer continuous, real-time updates and analytics. They'll also offer expert recommendations for your business based on the results.
They may not WANT you to call at 5pm on a Friday to get those recommendations, but they'll provide them if you ask. (Do try to make appointments for these things - pop quizzes are unnecessary and they make us grumpy.)
- Con: It's going to cost money. But then, so will most of the things that make your business successful.
And, even though you're paying for the services, you'll see a return on your investment through the new business you'll attract. "No pain no gain," right? Right.
How Do I Know It's True Love?
What makes a good inbound marketing agency? What makes them a good fit for YOU?
- Plenty of positive customer reviews, testimonials, and case studies. If not offered publicly on their website, they provide them if you ask.
If they get weird about letting you talk to prior customers, there's probably a good reason for it. Start looking at other agencies.
- Open, honest communication. The best agencies in our business won't try to hide their strategies from you, or confuse you with big words and smoke and mirrors.
If you're confused, they'll help you understand. Nothing is an "industry secret" or "confidential" unless it pertains to their own business methods or private client information.
They'll also maintain consistent contact and answer your inquiries promptly and professionally. If an agency seems flaky with their communication, drop them like a hot potato.
- Practice what they preach. One way to assess an inbound agency is to watch how they do business. If they do marketing the way they want you to do marketing, that's a good sign.
Specifics to watch for: look over their social media profiles and their blog. Are they updated regularly? Do they offer high-quality information?
Try to avoid companies that push their services on you - they'll do the same with your business to your own customers.
- Let you come to them. Speaking of not shoving services on clients, DON'T entrust your website to someone who approaches you with SEO services.
Even if your SEO sucks bad, you should do your own research to find an agency that works for you. If someone offers to do SEO for you and you didn't initiate that contact, at least do research on them and see what you find. Generally, those practices indicate shady business.
- They've worked with similar businesses in the past (and brought them success). Whether their other clients were in your same industry or held similar values, prior customers are the best measuring stick for finding a good fit.
- You don't dread talking to them. No matter the reason, if you can't at least tolerate communicating with them, it's probably best to move on.
Maybe their voice reminds you of a teacher who sent you to the principal's office in elementary school and that makes you feel small and insecure. Maybe one of them has a lazy eye and it freaks you out because you don't know which eyeball to make eye contact with.
Whatever, just make sure you're comfortable with your agency. Because...
- You should be able to see yourself forming a partnership in the long run. Inbound marketing and SEO aren't once-and-done services.
They require optimization, maintenance, and monitoring over a long period of time to work effectively. That means you'll be working with the same group of people a lot for a freaking long time.
If you can't get along, you're going to hate your life until you drop them and find someone you like. So, might as well do it right the first time around.
Advice from Inbound Experts:
Shop around. Don't commit to the first agency that crosses your path. Do a few consultations to find the best fit. There is somebody for you.
Your business's relationship with your inbound marketing agency will be very much like your personal relationships. You'll hold on to each other through the good times and the hard times, you'll weather economic storms and shifts in search engine algorithms.
And, ultimately, you'll both come out better because of that relationship.
Here's to love, business growth, and great partnerships.