Manufacturing companies aren’t known for their marketing prowess. Many have dull, industrial looking websites, filled with technical information about things like equipment, processes, packaging systems, and quality control. It’s all good information, but not marketing information. Here are the typical mistakes manufacturing companies make when it comes to marketing, along with some alternative suggestions.
- Using IT to build a website. I can’t tell you how many manufacturing companies I’ve come across with websites built by an IT guy (it is usually a guy) who did it as a kind of side project. There are a couple of problems with this. First, the site can’t be edited or changed by anyone but the person who created it. It’s all custom code and only the coder knows how to modify it. This is particularly challenging when that person leaves the company–taking the code knowledge (and often the passwords and hosting information) with him. Websites should be built on a standard Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, for which there is a large pool of developers and freelancers trained to use it. Also, IT people aren’t marketers, and probably aren’t able to implement good search engine optimization (SEO) on the web pages, which is key to your site being found by the people looking for your products and services.
- Filling the site with technical information. Manufacturers like to talk about all the stuff they do to make their products great. Printers talk about their printing presses. Machine shops talk about their mighty mills and lathes. Medical manufacturers talk about their hermetic sealing capabilities. For the most part, customers are not looking for what you can do as much as they are looking for what you can do for them. They want their products made faster, more cost-effectively, and to meet all requirements with minimal time and effort on their part. If you’re going to go into excruciating detail about your capabilities, make sure you include the benefits these bring to your customers.
- A speech from the CEO. A video with the CEO explaining the mission and vision of the company will put your visitor to sleep or just turn them away. Think like a customer. What are they looking for? Most are looking for a solution to a problem. They have a manufacturing problem that caused them to start the search process to begin with. Your website should help them a) confirm that their problem is a common one; b) discover that solutions exist; c) understand the solution that you offer; and d) determine if the solution you offer is right for them.
- No calls to action. If someone visits your site and wants to request more information, how hard do they have to work to ask? Some companies have a tiny “contact us” button hidden in the bottom right corner of the home page. When you click on it, up comes the address and phone number for the company headquarters. You should make it as easy as possible for someone to contact you. There should be an opportunity on every page, with a button that opens a form where people can quickly enter their name and contact information. You should also have your phone number on every page for people who are ready to make a call and it should be responsive, meaning that for mobile users on the go, they just have to tap the number and it will be dialed on their phones.
- Speaking of mobile, websites that don’t scale to phones and tablets should be against the law. Mobile search is bigger than desktop search, and it’s growing faster. If your website doesn’t deliver a great mobile experience you will be penalized by Google (meaning people won’t be able to find you) and by anyone who does find you because they will immediately leave.
I’ve found that manufacturing companies and other industrial B2B companies often dismiss online marketing as something that doesn’t really apply to them. “Our customers don’t shop online,” they say. Correct. They don’t shop online for manufacturing products and services in the sense that they expect to “click to buy” machinery or manufacturing services. But nearly everyone researchers online when they have a business problem that they can’t solve by themselves. Smart companies with a strong web marketing strategy will get found and most likely be contacted by the customers who see that the company might be able to solve their problem.