Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Roles For the Manufacturing Marketer

Marketing communications is going through a major shift. If you're an industrial marketer, you're probably more keenly aware of this than most. The shift is from traditional marketing methods (print advertising in trade journals; industrial P/R through trade journals; trade shows; direct marketing through the mail; hospitality events, etc.) to Internet based marketing tactics such as strategic website optimization; social media marketing; blogging; email marketing; online article and news release marketing; webinars and podcasts; and even video marketing through sites like YouTube.
People still go to both offline AND online sources for information, research, vendor sourcing, and networking. This makes an industrial marketer's job more challenging, and not just because you have to stretch your marketing dollars across a broader range of tactics. Convincing execs to give the thumbs up to less proven methods can be difficult.
If you can relate to this, it may be time to create allies and evangelists in other departments, including your bosses, if you want support for your online initiatives. If marketing is your world, you are probably more educated than those around you about the shift from offline to online marketing tactics. You also have a deeper understanding of the need to reach your target audience at as many "touch points" as possible in order to build brand awareness and credibility and achieve "top of mind" status. If you want to help your company keep a foot in both marketing worlds, you now have two more titles added to your job description: marketing educator and evangelist.
Gain more acceptance for a marketing plan that includes less conventional methods for connecting with customers and prospects by involving people from other departments in your initiatives. By doing so, you'll not only help to educate them but you'll also tap into a wealth of knowledge about your company's products or services that is rarely volunteered. Here are some examples:
1) Production / operation managers in your company can talk all day long about what you manufacture. Enlist their help in producing a short series of videos that you can post on your website, YouTube, and other social media sites. As you meet and work with them on the project, you will have teachable moments when you can communicate the impact that this kind of communication can have in terms of positioning your company as an "expert;" driving more traffic to your website; and improving your search engine rankings.
2) Spend a few days in the field calling on customers and prospects with some of your key sales staff. Take along a camera or video or voice recorder. This will enable you to do two things: 1 - document conversations with established, HAPPY customers that can be crafted into testimonials for your website, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other SM sites and 2 - hear firsthand how your sales team overcomes a prospect's objections or responds to their greatest challenges and then ties your products / services back to their solutions. If you have a voice recorder, you've got some good raw material for blog postings, tweets, even LinkedIn group discussion topics. (Of course it goes without saying that you need to request permission to video or voice record ANYONE.) Soliciting the help of your sales team makes them feel part of the marketing process and gives you opportunities to again - discuss the impact of various online marketing tactics.
3) If your company has engineers on staff, they are a goldmine of information for online marketing. Most engineers are more than willing to write a technical paper covering their area of expertise. Perhaps you could even convince them to do a series of papers dealing with the basics of a multi-step design process. Technical papers can be used for both off and online marketing efforts, so you'll get double duty out of these! Article marketing can be one of the most effective ways of building quality backlinks to your website. If your engineers aren't camera shy, they can also be great resources for webinars, podcasts, and even short videos explaining a certain technical design consideration. The key is to get them involved and while doing so, explain the importance of what they're doing to your online marketing efforts.
4) Educating executive management may be your greatest challenge. Busy VP's and CEO's may be hard to enlist for online marketing initiatives unless they've already started to buy in to the concept. A couple of ideas for including them in online marketing are: short video messages for YouTube and website posts; a blog written in their pen name (this will require you to interview them regularly for blog content); LinkedIn and Twitter accounts in their name (again, more writing for you, so you have to gauge whether or not this is feasible from a time standpoint.) The more they are involved in your online marketing efforts, the more support you'll receive.
It's human nature to want to belong to a group with common goals and to contribute to worthwhile endeavors. The job of the new industrial marketer is to make the world of online marketing a worthwhile endeavor that your whole company will want to rally around. That's why today, it's essential for you to not only implement the marketing strategies, but to also educate and build a community of online marketing evangelists within your organization. You're still being a marketer; but along with your company's products and services you're also marketing a paradigm shift. So much more fulfilling, don't you think?