27 Tips for Manufacturers Business Development
When it comes to business development, manufacturers are responsible for a significant amount of Ireland’s economic success. However, you face real challenges – your organisation excels it producing your core product or product range, but chances are good that you are not quite so adept at marketing and getting the word out to potential retailers and other business partners.
This issue can be challenging for larger manufacturers, but it can be particularly daunting for small and medium business development. These organisations traditionally lack the budget to hire marketing specialists and strategists to help them get out in front of the pack.
The good news is that with the use of best practices and implanting a few simple tips, you can change that paradigm and improve business development. It is possible for start-ups, small manufacturers, mid-sized manufacturers, and large, established companies to all compete on a more even playing field without spending untold payroll hours focusing on tasks and steps that are not mission-critical.
- Know What Your Audience Wants: Perhaps the single most important tip for Irish manufacturers, for all businesses for that matter, is to know what your audience wants. Anticipate their needs and build the answers to those challenges into your product(s). It could be functionality that lets them do more. It could be a longer product lifespan. It could be more versatility or utility. The point is that you need to delve into what drives your customers to purchase your product, and then make it an even better fit for your needs.
- Offer Warranties: Warranty protection carries a lot of weight with buyers. This applies to both B2B and B2C companies. By backing your product with an outstanding warranty, you tell customers that you’re confident in the quality of your work, but also that you are committed to ensuring their ongoing satisfaction. How long should your warranty be? There’s no hard and fast rule here. Take a look at your competitors and then do it better. For instance, if 90 days is the standard, go for 180 days. If it is one year, then double it.
- Highlight Features: It’s important that you ensure your marketing materials highlight the features of your product(s) for your audience. This applies to traditional marketing collateral like magazine and newspaper ads, but also to modern marketing tools, such as blog posts, online video, and social media posts. Of course, you cannot simply talk about what your product does. You need to tie the conversation to how those capabilities help your customers’ address their challenges. The feature isn’t really the selling point. It’s the value that the feature delivers to your customer.
- Show Off Custom Work: One excellent way to stand out from the crowd as a manufacturer is to show off any custom work that you might have completed. Many of us have become conditioned to think of manufacturers as slow, lumbering entities that do things the same way, time after time. Customisation is not possible. Variation is to be avoided. You can stand that assumption on its ear and really make your brand stand out by showing just what you can achieve through custom work.
- Focus on Wow Projects: Wow projects are those you undertake for the ‘wow factor’ they create. They’re similar to passion projects and are usually designed to really highlight innovation, quality, the use of unique materials, manufacturer skill and knowledge, and the like. Show off your wow projects. Post about them on social media. Create videos for YouTube and Vimeo. Write blog posts and guest posts about them from a number of different angles.
- Show Your Capabilities and How They Benefit Customers: Your manufacturing company is unique, or else there would be no need for it to exist. Show your customers the capabilities that make you unique. Do you have a proprietary painting process? Do you follow a unique laminating process? Does your production teamwork with small, local suppliers? Highlight your unique capabilities to help you stand out.
- Be Present on Social Media: This is one of those tips that is something of a catch 22 situation. You know the importance of being on social media, but chances are good that you don’t really know how to leverage the various platforms, or even which platforms offer you the most traction as a manufacturer. Social media is a vital consideration for any business development – take a look at how global companies like Apple, Nike, and Brooks are using Facebook. Look at how other companies are using LinkedIn. Get active and get out in front of your audience.
- Go Green: Really want to make your company stand out? Go green. What does that mean? Really, it can mean almost anything today. Solar panels, geothermal heating, sustainable materials – these are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Show your care and commitment for the environment and you’ll begin creating positive buzz surrounding your brand.
- Give Back: Another way you can make your company stand out is by giving back to the community. Becoming involved with charitable events, environmental activities, and community organisations can all be good ways to build positive word of mouth and improve your branding while doing good for others.
- Focus on Materials: Today, there is a much greater push for manufacturers to use sustainable materials. Doing so can have profound implications for your branding and success. For instance, you may be able to remove a material that has negative connotations from your manufacturing process and replace it with a renewable material.
- Focus on Usability: Products are designed to be used, but there can sometimes be a surprising lack of thought applied to just how usable those products are. Take a tin of toilet cleanser for instance. Sure, it’s a convenient package type, but how easy is it for end consumers to use it? The less usable a product is, the more people will look for an alternative. Focus on usability and how you might alter packaging or product form factor to improve usability.
- Do More with Less: Every manufacturer focuses on doing more with less in some ways. It’s part of stretching your budget. However, a focus on streamlining production schedules, on doing as much in-house as possible, and on priority jobs, you will be able to ensure better workflow. That translates to shorter production times, fewer errors and defects, and more satisfied customers.
- Showcase Manufacturing Processes: How well do your customers know the manufacturing process you follow? Chances are good that they don’t really understand them. You can highlight the manufacturing process in a number of ways, including videos, social media posts, blog posts, articles, and even reports and white papers, to show your customers and business partners just how it is that you create your product(s).
- Focus on Loss Mitigation: Loss is a costly type of waste. It drives inefficiency and also increases resource consumption. By focusing on loss mitigation within your production processes, and then incorporating those into your marketing materials, you achieve two goals. First, you reduce your costs. Second, you show your commitment to the environment.
- Know Your Audience’s Pain Points and How Your Product(s) Solve Them: How well does your product address your audience’s pain points? What are those pain points? If you are not fully aware of what your audience uses your product(s) to achieve or how what you produce helps improve their lives, you’re already at a disadvantage. Know how your product benefits your customers’ lives.
- Forge Strategic Alliances: No business is an island, and that applies to manufacturing companies. Forge strategic alliances that allow you to build a better brand and extend your reach in the market. Your choice of allies can enable a number of benefits, including creating word of mouth with your peers, vendors, suppliers, and other organisations.
- Continually Analyse Trends and Adapt: We have seen an immense change in the last few years across every industry and niche. It has changed the way that businesses operate, and as a result, many companies have failed – they did so because they did not foresee the changes, and they did not adapt to them. By continually analysing trends and adapting to them, you can run leaner and avoid pitfalls that derail less prepared businesses.
- Be Committed to Innovation: Innovation is one of the most overused buzzwords of the last decade, but it is no less relevant for that overuse. Keeping up with technological innovation can be costly, but it plays a vital role in everything from meeting customer satisfaction to reducing operating costs and managing waste. Be committed to innovation and willing to spend what it costs to stay current with manufacturing technology in your industry niche.
- Find Ways to Diversify Your Customer Base: Creating a product that appeals to just one single audience is akin to putting all of your eggs in one basket. That’s a sure recipe for disaster. Diversify your audience so that market shifts, poor decisions by the leaders of client companies, and other forces, do not have as detrimental an effect. It’s about reducing vulnerability as much as it is improving cash flow and brand recognition.
- Find Creative Ways to Use Your Equipment: There is a rule about single-use equipment – it’s generally a bad thing. Single-taskers are costly, do only one thing, and force you to purchase additional equipment to achieve other goals. Instead, focus on finding creative uses for some of your manufacturing equipment. By finding secondary work for your equipment, you build additional streams of revenue and reduce downtime.
- Focus on Sustainable Growth: Growth – it’s the goal of every company. Without growth, you stagnate and eventually die as other companies out-innovate you and usurp your market share. However, not all growth is sustainable. You need to make sure that you focus on slow, sustainable growth that occurs over time and allows you the ability to manage and adapt to it, rather than rapid growth that leaves you unable to keep pace.
- Focus on Independence: Do as much as you can in-house to minimise the problems inherent with outsourcing parts of your production process. Every step outside your business involves time delays, cost increases, and the potential for errors and defects.
- Be Visible in All Areas: Your customers, whether those are retailers, warehousing firms, industrial companies, or something else, need to be able to find you online. You must be visible in the areas where they search for you. This goes beyond Google search results. You need to be present on Facebook and LinkedIn. You also need to be visible on industry-specific sites, directory sites, and many more.
- Listen to Your Customers: If you really want to build brand value and market share, listen to your customers about what they want to see in terms of product types, functionality and the like. Actively seek out feedback through polls and post comments, and then incorporate that feedback.
- Dominate Your Niche: No matter what your niche might be, you need to dominate it. That does not mean that you have to be the only company present, but you want customers to immediately think of your company’s name when your product type is discussed.
- Look to Overseas Markets: Not finding the success you need at home in Ireland? Think about expanding your operations abroad to overseas markets. Something as simple as marketing within the EU could have powerful results.
- Get the Right People in the Right Positions: You cannot achieve success if you don’t have the right people in the right positions within your organisation. You need team players who are willing to pull their weight and work toward the betterment of your organisation.
Keep reading to discover an additional three bonus tips for business development!
- Upgrade Your Sales Team: To bolster financial success, consider improving your sales team. You need the right lead management system, the right baseline sales process, and a way to find, hire, manage and coach true sales professionals.
- Have Insight into Your Financials: Know where your money is going – track your cash flow. Use financing to your advantage and make sure that you are being paid on time by your customers.
- Promote Your Success: Experienced success with your company? Brag about it. Share it with followers and customers through social media, blog posts, and more. The right story at the right time could go viral, but even if it doesn’t, it still offers tremendous traction and brand-building opportunities.
Following the tips and strategies, we have outlined above will improve brand recognition, audience segmentation, and profitability. However, if you are still struggling with success, we can help. We invite you to call us on 01 808 1301 to learn more about our services and how they can help your organisation thrive.