COVID has been a challenging time for most manufacturing companies due to shutdowns and a near “halt” in the economy. Getting existing customers to resume projects has been challenging enough, let alone attracting new prospects.
Many manufacturers will continue to “do what they have always done” when it comes to lead gen, and for a few it might work, but for many it will be harder. Whether their focus has always been relationship selling, RFPs, trade shows, etc., these approaches may not be nearly as viable moving forward and selling post-COVID.
It’s an easy mindset to settle into. Say you traditionally rally around a dozen or so trade shows each year, and this is your main opportunity to engage with and meet new prospects. You have good products and services to offer everyone in that space and you have a strong sales team to follow up with all the potential prospects that attend the event.
This is good conventional logic. But what happens when that conventional logic goes away with a situation like COVID?
Instantly your main source of lead gen is dead for months. You don’t have additional channels established to help build your sales funnel. It’s a very risky strategy to put so much emphasis into one channel for lead gen. You have to remember that hope is not a strategy and if you don’t have a steady stream of leads coming in, then the best sales team in the world isn’t going to drive revenue.
Your success could very well hinge on how well you support your sales team right now. If your old methodologies aren’t working, then you need to figure out a new strategy for selling post-COVID – and do it quickly. Generating leads with a new approach usually doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s crucial that you start generating tomorrow’s leads today. Start working with your sales team to figure out what that new strategy looks like and how to support that strategy. It’s highly encouraged to think differently then you have in the past here and always keep both short and long-term goals in mind.
Your sales team will likely need a good amount of support to get going and reach new goals. They may need a completely different set of tools than they have used in the past. This support can come in many shapes and sizes. Let’s take a look at a few:
Branding and Messaging
Having a strong brand and brand message helps you to do three things:
- Makes your product/services easier to sell
- Makes your company easier to identify
- Makes your company easy to differentiate
This type of messaging can help give clarity and focus on who you are and what you do. This should help give laser focus to your sales team on how to best convey that message.
Who is the audience that your brand is trying to engage with? Let’s say that you do complete design work, prototyping, and full-body assembly, and you specialize in the electronic vehicle (EV) space. This is much more specific than saying that you’re a parts manufacturer for the automotive industry. If two different companies both going after the EV space that has the same basic capabilities, it’s not hard to see who the prospect will likely engage with more.
Your website is your marketing hub and should be treated as such. Does your website have strong messaging and positive user experience? It should show everything that you do, add legitimacy to your company, and reinforce buying behavior for the prospect. It should answer every question about why someone should buy from you over your competitor. Most importantly your website should help drive more revenue, period.
It’s also likely where most of your lead gen comes from. If you are doing it right, your website should be helping people find you online. Your website should also make it crystal clear to prospects why you’re the right choice.
This one is simple. Once you have the correct messaging developed, content (along with your website) is how you engage with your prospects. This can be a video series that explains your company’s capabilities and why you’re the best choice. It could also be sales collateral that better showcases the types of work that you do or the high-level of clients that you serve. You could create product catalogs or downloadable eBooks that are directed at a very specific audience that your services are vital to. This could also be a social campaign to help hire better employees as you grow.
Content should always be a steady stream of engaging information that is trickled out to your audience. It’s about being relevant and top of mind when someone is looking.
In order to succeed in selling post-COVID, manufacturers need to assess where they are and what they need moving forward from a sales and marketing perspective. Those who choose to close their eyes and hope everything goes smoothly may be in for some rough seas ahead. Those who rally around their team and focus on how they can take advantage of this unique situation will win.
If you are ahead of the curve and have all of these pieces in place working hard for you, that’s awesome and you should keep on pushing to get the best results possible. You should consistently revisit your strategy and revise, revise, revise to drive better results for you sales team. It’s better to admit something’s not working and change course than stick with a strategy that’s not delivering results.
If you are a manufacturing brand that is struggling with these transitions, then your path to selling post-COVID may be a bit more clouded and challenging. I know that it may seem very daunting, but you should definitely be optimistic about what your future could be. It’s about gathering the right people together and putting the right plan into place and then execute and measure.
Want to learn more about how to develop a digital marketing plan? Give us a call today at 248-579-9972 visit our website here and we’ll be happy to talk to you about the best ways to position your manufacturing brand moving forward.