Strategic Management

Content to Customers: A Manufacturer's Guide To B2B Digital Marketing In 2021 (Part I)

Digital Marketing is not limited to social media or blogging. It's about making small modifications as you grow. Individually, these changes might not offer massive gains overnight but together, they have a noticeable impact on your site's user experience and performance in organic search results. Read on to learn more.

Published on
11 Jan 2022
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'Change is the only constant' - Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher)

While people have been stuck at home, with no restaurants to dine in and further limitations on gatherings, people are spending most of their lives online. COVID-19 has transformed the way we use the world wide web.

The pandemic has also forced many business sectors to transform digitally to keep some semblance of normalcy in the way we work. Similarly, businesses have started to rely on enterprise software such as Notion, Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams for communications.

As a full-service consultancy-agency for textile mills and manufacturers, we understand why the term 'Digital Marketing' can seem daunting, alien or even miles away from the marketing payoffs of trade shows, sales calls and referrals. But manufacturers that can leverage technology well to keep going and rethink their business model for the future will be ones ahead of their competition. Here's INQOVA's formula to digital marketing success:

A Strong Brand Identity + Digital Showroom + Community + Optimisation

What Is A Strong Brand Identity?

Usually, B2B companies would, at the very least, have a logo, a functional website, perhaps even in a LinkedIn page and a digital copy of their latest concept booklet. It's a good start; however, it won't get you very far. To know if you have a strong brand identity, here's what you need to ask your customers:

  • Does our branding communicate our personality, and how does it shape their perceptions of who we are?
  • Does our branding project the expectations and promises we extend to our customers regarding service, reliability and trustworthiness?
  • Does our branding differentiate from our competitors?
  • Does our brand identity positively influence their purchasing decisions, directly impacting our profitability?

You need to audit your communications and brand assets the same way you would for a production line. A strong B2B brand:

  1. gives customers a reason to choose your offerings over competitors;
  2. creates an increased willingness to try new and experimental offerings;
  3. shortens the sales cycle;
  4. enables your brand to charge and sustain a price premium;
  5. creates loyal customers, advocates, and even evangelists, out of those who buy; and
  6. lowers sensitivity to price increases.

While branding may be a one-off investment, digital and content marketing needs far more nurturing. An excellent place to start is performing a 'content gap analysis to identify missed opportunities in your marketing strategy. It allows you to spot missing content blocks that could and should align with the various stages of your target audience's buyer's journey.

What Is Digital Showroom?

A digital showroom lets you share your collections with a click of a button and schedule virtual appointments with retail buyers. Depending on the software, you can share 3D product images and product videos and accept purchase orders, all within the same platform.

Despite the increased accessibility to online buying and digital showrooms among brands in the past year, manufacturers are yet to wrap their heads around the concept of presenting samples online. Some were quick to adopt and have creative solutions using QR codes and digital sourcing platforms. But manufacturers don't have to go so far as adopt a third-party resolution to present their samples effectively.

One can achieve a lot by adopting an e-commerce front end layout, high-quality video, and zoom in capabilities. Sure 3D and AR sound impressive (as seen below), but with higher stakes and smaller budgets, manufacturers should prioritise creating a familiar, user-friendly and effective showroom solution that acts as an extension of one's brand.

Manufactures should be proactive in protecting their developments and their user data to understand their customer's preferences and buyer journeys.

Why Should Manufacturers Invest In Community Building?

Did you know that 80% of decision-makers prefer to get product-related information from an article instead of an ad? Knowing this, we recommend that you invest just as much time and effort, if not more, in creating compelling content for your audience, aka your customers.

You might be wondering, sounds excellent, but what do I share with my audience?

Think checklists, white-papers, industry report summaries to build awareness and attract new prospects. For those at the consideration stage, host webinars, share case studies, ROI calculators, and testimonials. Your content should serve as a resource for your customers to validate their purchasing decisions and build trust.

But before you get ahead of yourself and begin writing a detailed abstract account on how unique your latest collection is, think about your target audience. Build buyer personas and answer the:

  1. Who? (demographics, communication preferences, demeanour)
  2. What? (what are their goals, challenges, motivations? and how can you help them?), and
  3. Why? (Why should they buy your product?)

The process ensures that your effort and communication offer your customers value via the right channels and resources effectively.

Once you have defined your target audience, optimise and make your websites user friendly. More than 80% of buyers visit a website before making a purchase decision, making them an effective medium for communicating your products and services. Once you have set up a website, it's essential to invest in making it discoverable; that's where SEO comes in.

There are many tried and tested SEO tactics, which we will be summarising later in this series. If you have already invested in SEO and have covered the basics, it's time to grow a community. Social Media is a powerful tool for humanising your business - which is crucial for marketing and connecting with prospects and existing customers. When done right, your brand may even become an extension or social capital for your customers.

LinkedIn happens to be an excellent place to start, and it allows you to involve your employees in your B2B marketing strategy. Why? Because content shared by your employees receives over eight times more engagement.

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