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Online Marketing For Manufacturers Step 2: Say What’s Important

What does your Website say?

It’s a simple question. But one that leads to other more complex questions.

Does it say what you want? Or does it say what those that you want to work with need to hear about you? Does it give only a high-level, general description of your business – equipment lists, shopfloor pictures, and company history? Or does it take take prospects deeper into what makes you unique.

To paraphrase a friend of mine – you’d better be unique, or you’d better be cheap.

The second step of marketing a manufacturing business online today is your content – that is, what you say about your business to ‘stealth prospects’ that visit your site (and leave) without your knowledge. Here’s how to ensure you can get more business, more attention and give them what they REALLY want.

Here are some content examples for manufacturers’ Web sites that will help you do all that, and build effectively on your base (Step 1).

The simple solution to how to differentiate yourself online – or anywhere – is to explain in detail what you’ve done for others. In context. And in the language that those you want to impress speak.

A sample vignette for a machining business (click to enlarge).

  • The case study is dead. Long live the case study. No one that you want to talk to goes to the Web to read, they go to the Web to work. For them, what you’ve done for others and the success they’ve had because of it is hugely important. The days of the long, verbose 16-paragraph death march case study is still around only because so many people still write that way. Instead, create brief vignettes of work you’ve done for others that can be quickly digested by technical professionals and used to make your case. Often, small and mid-sized manufacturers show pictures of parts or assemblies and leave it at that. Add to them as much as possible about the creation of the part (design improvements, files accepted, applications & technologies used, tolerances, cycle times, materials) and the ancillary services that support the part (shipping, marking, finishing processes, special packing requirements). These are the capabilities that differentiate you from your competition, and will stand a greater chance of attracting more leads and contacts. The bottom line is that buyers, prospects and sourcing cats are looking for capable, dependable partners and you need to SHOW them why you are one.
  • Create a ‘bucket’ list. No, not THAT kind of bucket list – I mean a list of places to ‘store’ your vignettes. I call ’em buckets, but they’re really the categories that define what you do. Make a list of the INDUSTRIES you’ve done work for. The MATERIALS you specialize in, like exotic metals, composites, and the like. The APPLICATIONS you’re good at, like milling, OD grinding and gear hobbing. Now, let’s imagine you have a part that was done for the Aerospace industry, that was made from titanium, and was milled and ground to spec. That’s 4 buckets that you’d ‘store’ that single vignette in. And link to those buckets like your life depends on it. Why make stealth prospects work harder to find what’s important about you? Give ’em what they want, in the context THEY expect.
  • Blog it like you own it. Often, small manufacturers’ Web sites present pages that describe the company’s history, events, news and other pages that describe the company. But why do all that when you can do it in one spot, categorize the posts under those (and other) sections, and make the info you’re presenting easier to find and read? And search engines love blogs. They’re easy to create and update, unlike those static pages mentioned above. And better still, it makes it easier to share information about new equipment, upgrades, newly acquired accreditations, employment opportunities (you remember those, don’t you?), community outreach and other events quickly and efficiently. And it doesn’t hurt to share an opinion or two. This model can paint a more accurate portrayal of your company as a preferred partner than all those separate pages.

Deploying the right content, in the right context, is the equivalent of stocking the shelves of your store with the highest-quality products for your customers.

And it’ll differentiate you from your competition in the only meaningful ways to those stealth prospects looking for specific solutions.

AJ Sweatt
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