I have a problem with ‘manufacturing.’

Well, not with manufacturing itself – my problem’s with the term, and how it’s used to differentiate economic, marketing, sales & other business behaviors.

The problem is that ‘manufacturing’ is just too broad. It’s like describing ‘humanity.’ Cultures and traditions differentiate us in very important ways. I mean, when was the last time YOU ate monkey for lunch? But there are a LOT of people in this world that do eat things that would repulse others. Regularly.

Marketing the right food to the right market can work really well. But it won’t play EVERYWHERE. Several factors must merge for that message to resonate – need, familiarity, proximity, cost & value.

Manufacturing and its myriad subsets are similar to this analogy. Chemicals. Pharmaceuticals. Automotive. Defense. Consumables. Electronics. Furniture. Each come with nuances, regulations, verbiage, requirements and very real subtleties that differentiate what works well and where.

The type of manufacturer, the market, the priorities of price & cost, the constraints they must observe and navigate through, and the behaviors of buyers in those markets/industries all add up to Delimited Marketing. And it should drive and influence all of us as we construct effective marcomm strategies for our unique places in the manufacturing genome.

Recently, I touched on this in a post titled “Why Compliance Is Transforming Social Media For Manufacturing & B2B” – in it, I examine the impact of compliance & governance on our prospects and clients, and how those unique qualities effect the effectiveness of open, online channels to market and communicate.

But Delimited Marketing – marketing communications strategies that are tailored for the two-way street that includes your customers’ strengths & limitations as well as your own – must assess the factors that influence all parties. Like Security, Intellectual Property Protection, Regulatory Compliance, and Closed Markets or Supply Bases with Limited Competition.

At the risk of sounding as broad as the term ‘manufacturing,’ there are basic ‘types’ of manufacturers in and around most industries:

  • Custom or Discrete Products/Parts Manufacturers
  • Standard Industrial Products/Parts Manufacturers
  • Commodity Product Manufacturers

While all 3 of these classes of manufacturer share similarities in their buying & supply cycles, there are characteristics that distinguish them from each other.

  • Regulatory Requirements & Standards – The compliance factors that define how, where, when and with whom we do business to conform with standards absolutely influences our adoption & uses of Social and other media to do our jobs. Often, those influences are beyond our control, and the same likely goes for the very folks you’re trying to contact. At the critical stage of ‘engagement’ – when the influence of marketing is at its strongest, a message and medium that considers if and how they are being used will more often determine your success. Talk to the right people, at the right time & in the right context.
  • Length of the Buying Cycle –  Although I’ve been over this a few times alreadyit’s crucial to understanding Delimited Marketing. The length of the buying cycle you or your prospects adhere to often translate into complexities – the longer the buying cycle, the more complex the requirements to accept, select, utilize, integrate and apply technologies in an industrial environment. This isn’t to say that Social or other emerging media are useful for one and not the other; but the complexity & length of any buying cycle should be of primary concern when developing an industrial marketing strategy.
  • Industrial Culture – Marketers are a lot like manufacturers themselves in that they love to count and measure. Just as marketing is tough for manufacturers to get their arms around because its tough to measure, it sometimes tough for marketers to embrace the subtleties and indigenous procedures in vertical industrial industries. ‘How we do it here’ may seem provincial or quaint or even down-right feeble, but it can be a very real and important factor in constructing a message and channels that are sustainable and useful to folks that abide by them everyday.

We can all agree that marketing for manufacturing is ‘different.’ Call it B2B, Industrial Marketing, or whatever you want, but it is unique. What works for the consumer world won’t often fit in the industrial. And a cookie cutter industrial marketing strategy can backfire if tactics are simply copied from another industry to form it.

A strategy that begins with a focus on the industry, the behaviors and the needs & values as defined by the customer – rather than the communications tools and channels to use – is the definition of Delimited Marketing.

And ignoring these factors are usually the root cause of the divide between manufacturers and their acceptance of Social Media. Establishing Social Media channels that suit and serve the precise needs of those you want to serve & attract is the essence of encouraging manufacturing to adopt them.