Amid an industry that is facing radical, accelerating change, it’s often far too easy for manufacturers to forget the need to have a strong, diverse marketing strategy. By Craig Hingston.

Manufacturing in Australia is in the midst of a global paradigm shift. Industry 4.0. The Internet of Things. Automation. Artificial intelligence. Virtual reality. New disrupters keep emerging, forcing the industry to rethink how it is going to evolve and remain competitive.

The world is not as it was… and marketing and advertising is not as it was. As a marketing practitioner to the manufacturing space for the past 25 years I have gone through as much change with regard to communication as manufacturers have with 3D printing muscling in on CNC machining.

Today, people in business are increasingly distracted and have less and less time to focus on new messaging. The business landscape is unpredictable and moving rapidly, which requires the majority of businesspeople’s mental capacity. Whereas I once wrote articles of 500 words, I am now having to say everything in a few sentences. Booklets have become flyers.

How do you effectively connect with your marketplace? If you are going to place your brand and your message (i.e. your capabilities, special offer) in front of your audience you need a multi-disciplinary marketing strategy. Don’t fall into the trap of doing an email blast here and an advertisement there. There is nothing ad hoc about effective marketing.

Start with the end in mind. That is, not what you want to say but what your audience is thinking. What challenges are they facing? What benefits will they gain from an alliance with you? Focus on those points more than listing what you are capable of. Anyone can do that.

When I refer to “your audience” I immediately think of collaboration. In Europe they understand collaboration better than we do. Their automotive industry is a classic example of this. It gives them a competitive edge. Here in Australia we are having to learn how to do it.

I am a member of AMTIL because I regard it as the pre-eminent organisation for the manufacturing sector. We are a like-minded community. Let me ask you: how often do you contact your peers through AMTIL? How well do you know them? Have you considered forming strategic alliances with your community so that you can achieve your growth goals? Isn’t it better to reach them together than never to reach them at all?

I have no doubt that you will find other AMTIL members who are a ‘perfect fit’ with your business. Even those which have similar equipment can have different strengths. Have the courage (and humility) to understand that it will probably take two or even three businesses working closely together to take you all to the next level.

If you agree with me, consider a marketing strategy in which messaging is repeatedly being sent to your audience. This follows the age old adage of ‘Frequency And Reach’. Your AMTIL peers and other manufacturers (as busy as they are) won’t necessarily respond to your message the first time, so spread your marketing budget throughout the year for maximum effect.

I coined the phrase ‘The Art Of Destabilisation’ to describe a pattern or sequence of marketing activities designed to build Accelerated Trust with your audience, so that they feel comfortable to contact you. Step One is Awareness. The first time someone sees your message they now know that you exist. Step Two is Building Confidence. When they see repeated messaging about your business it makes them aware that you are dynamic and active. Step Three is Understanding Their Needs, and this involves demonstrating your ability to address certain challenges in businesses from a variety of industry sectors. Step Four is Proven Solutions – case studies from within your audience’s sphere. Companies they know. Possibly their competitors.

The key is to present these messages in an unpredictable manner so that each ‘touch’ arouses a new curiosity.

Having a website and sending out emails is not enough. Look at all of the ways that your audience is impacted. It could be a mix of email, sales deliverables, sponsoring or speaking at a conference, an exhibition display, advertising, public relations (PR), cold calling and networking. The team at AMTIL host a range of great events throughout the year, but don’t wait for the next one. Invite people to your own business breakfast or lunch.

Not everything from the bygone era is out of date. There was a time before email when direct mail had a lot of impact. We used to post out quirky multi-coloured mailers to attract attention. When I ask business owners how much mail they receive these days it is almost nil. This means that whatever lands on their desk with their name on it is highly interruptive. Digital printing has the ability to individualise each flyer-brochure. Now you can post out material with the contact’s name and their business name embedded in the artwork. This AMT magazine was mailed directly to you. It’s a prime connection point and it makes good sense to be advertising yourself here to your community and sending in success stories to the editor.

Craig Hingston is the Founder & Director of Your Image Marketing & Media. For more information about formulating the right marketing strategy and reaching the right audience, Craig’s ebook ‘The 9 P’s Of An Effective Brand’ can be downloaded free from his website.