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How to structure a manufacturing marketing plan using the RACE Framework

Author's avatar By Sarah Lindley 29 Sep, 2021
Advanced Advanced topic

The manufacturing industry is moving towards increased use of technology and automation, but manufacturing marketing is not on the same level yet

Marketing is an important part of a manufacturing company’s activities as it connects you with both wholesalers and distributors, ensuring that your product reaches your customers.

The manufacturing industry has experienced a rapid acceleration of digital marketing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the in-person limitations that this brought. The industry saw a 12% increase in website usage by manufacturing companies last year.

Those in manufacturing marketing can utilize the RACE Framework which is used to structure a plan covering paid, owned, and earned inbound marketing activities.

RACE covers the full customer lifecycle or marketing funnel from:

(Plan) > Reach > Act > Convert > Engage

It covers how to improve your marketing across the full customer lifecycle or marketing funnel from, generating awareness to build your audience, encouraging interaction, lead generation, purchase, and then loyalty.

Omnichannel Marketing funnel

Our popular RACE Framework offers marketers and managers a simple 5-step structure to integrate their marketing activities. This is crucial for many sectors of marketing but particularly manufacturing companies operating during today's era of rapid digital transformation.

We've got marketing solutions to support marketing leaders in developing and adapting their marketing strategies. As a Business Member you can unlock a data-driven approach to managing your customer platforms and touchpoints, and see your results rocket.

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How to plan your manufacturing marketing strategy

The initial planning stage of RACE includes:

  • Formulating an integrated manufacturing marketing digital strategy, based on insights, to improve your digital marketing and plan for future growth
  • Setting objectives, defining the resources needed, the skills, and the technology required
  • Defining your personas and customer segments and utilize digital media to target your audience
  • Generate increased leads, sales and create a more engaging brand through improving your content marketing, USPs, and customer experience.

The most common persona types in manufacturing marketing include procurement managers, research and development teams, design engineers and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) managers.

The manufacturing buying cycle

The manufacturing buying cycle can be long and complicated, with the following six key steps:

  1. The purchaser identifies the need for a product or service
  2. The purchaser researches and gathers information to solve a problem
  3. If the design is new, the purchaser researches product data
  4. The purchaser seeks suppliers for their chosen solution
  5. The purchaser creates a shortlist of those it wants to consider
  6. The purchaser buys from their chosen supplier

manufacturing purchase cycle

According to Thomas, there are at least fifteen extra steps within the manufacturing buying process. During each of these steps, you should be demonstrating why you should be the supplier of choice for your prospective customer and how you can help them to meet their goals.

When your prospective customers are researching suppliers, they will most likely evaluate your:

  • Brand and reputation
  • Presence in the market
  • Testimonials and case studies from your customers
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Social media channels
  • Website

Crucially, without a customer-focused, data-driven marketing plan, you will miss opportunities to win new customers and retain your existing ones. Use the RACE Framework to break down your marketing strategy, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and implement new solutions to boost your results.

Can your Manufacturing business compete online?

With so much competition, you need to stand out. Use the RACE Growth Process to win more customers

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Reach your manufacturing customers

The Reach stage of RACE includes creating awareness of your brand, products, and services through building and driving traffic to your website, social media channels, and microsites from offline media and other websites.

To increase the number of good quality visits to the top of the funnel, you should:

  • Utilize in owned and earned media, focusing on social media, co-marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO), to boost your inbound visibility
  • Use paid promotion such as targeted Google Ads, social media, and affiliate and display marketing where relevant
  • Formulate a manufacturing marketing customer acquisition plan through setting a cost-per-acquisition based on return on investment forecasts and researching online search intent

Here are some planning activities and deliverables which you could utilize in your manufacturing marketing:

  • Media effectiveness review
  • Search engine marketing plan
  • Owned and earned media marketing plans
  • Paid and display media schedule
  • Acquisition and campaign plan

Attending trade shows, manufacturing forums and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn should enable you to find influencers who will share their knowledge online. You can use your networks to build your online presence through guest content and exchanging ideas for mutual benefit.

To measure the effectiveness of your manufacturing marketing activities you should track your:

  • Followers and sentiment about your brand, comparing your social media influence as a share of conversation or benchmarking the number of followers for the relevant social channels
  • Unique website visits
  • Value per visit which you can measure in Google Analytics as ‘Goal value per visit’

Encourage customer interaction with your manufacturing products and services

This includes enhancing your content strategy and the digital experience of your website in supporting the customer journey. Someone reading your blog posts, interacting with your social media posts, and finding out about your company or your products are all part of this stage. The goal is to generate leads by gaining the contact details of prospects through offering them something of value.

To manage the Act part of the RACE Framework for your manufacturing marketing, you should:

  • Undertake a customer journey analysis
  • Conduct visitor and customer profiling
  • Complete an audit of your content strategy and lead magnets
  • Create a landing page improvement plan to fully optimize them
  • Formulate a campaign plan including an editorial calendar

According to the Online Marketing Institute, 82% of marketers in manufacturing are using content marketing effectively. Content marketing should be key to your manufacturing marketing strategy. Digital manufacturing marketing is in its growth stage and increasing, alongside AI, robotics, and The Internet of Things.

It is recommended that a content plan is implemented which demonstrates your expertise and knowledge and that is relevant to your target buyer persona. It should include, for example:

  • Articles and insights
  • White papers
  • Webinars
  • Buyer and comparison guides
  • Case studies
  • Video content e.g. product videos
  • Infographics
  • Brochures and specification sheets

Electronics manufacturer, muRata, is a great example of a company who are excelling with their manufacturing marketing content. Their website demonstrates many of the above content formats.

Electronics marketing digital experience

Content should focus on a pain point common to your target audience, followed by a lead nurturing and scoring program where applicable and provide high-quality leads. Video tours of your depot, shop floor, and manufacturing process are recommended.

In order to measure the quality of your visits, make sure that you are tracking your lead conversion rate, cost per lead, dwell time measures such as your bounce rate and the time spent on your site, as well as your social shares, comments, and likes.

Convert more high-value manufacturing customers

This stage of the RACE Framework in manufacturing marketing relates to increasing conversion to sale. The activities and outcomes that you should create include:

  • Lead nurturing and retargeting for prospect nurturing
  • Web personalization
  • Assisted selling such as Livechat
  • A mobile marketing review and optimization plan
  • Conversion rate optimization

You should be monitoring and measuring the conversion rates of online leads to offline sales, as well as the online-originated lead average order value.

As you can see from the customer lifecycle below - paid, owned, and earned media have a great part to play in reaching customers and encouraging interaction. However, it's your customers' digital experiences that can tip them over the edge to making their first purchases.

RACE framework lifecycle

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Can your Manufacturing business compete online?

With so much competition, you need to stand out. Use the RACE Growth Process to win more customers

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Manufacturing marketing to curate engagement

The Engage stage of RACE in manufacturing marketing includes building and nurturing a long-term relationship with your customers to increase their loyalty.

This is through methods such as website content, your social media channels, e-mail marketing, and direct interactions with the objective of increasing their lifetime value. To effectively manage engagement you should implement the following:

  • A customer welcome contact plan
  • A customer service plan
  • A customer e-mail communications plan
  • A social media plan

To measure the success of your Engage marketing activities, you should be measuring your customer’s activities and satisfaction, and their contribution to repeat sales. Monitor customer lifetime value to establish how many repeat purchases you are delivering in your different product categories and how this is contributing to their five-year lifetime value.

Keep a close eye on satisfaction levels as those who are satisfied will be loyal and will recommend you to others.

Many manufacturers will rely on their personal networks rather than digital marketing for engagement. Change, particularly in this industry, is likely to be challenging. If this is the case, you can use traditional alongside digital methods in your manufacturing marketing.

Focus on personalization with, for example, face-to-face contact supported and nurtured by digital marketing.

Manufacturing marketing strategy tools and solutions to increase leads and sales

Looking to optimize your digital marketing? We've got templates, guides, and quick wins to help you develop your manufacturing marketing to win more customers. All our resources are integrated across the RACE Framework so you can confidently and quickly adapt and prioritize key marketing channels and journeys that get you results.

Join 1000's of marketing professionals planning, managing, and optimizing their marketing strategies with our support. Whether you're a startup, SME, or global enterprise, take your next steps to grow your business with the RACE Framework.

Can your Manufacturing business compete online?

With so much competition, you need to stand out. Use the RACE Growth Process to win more customers

Get Started Today

Author's avatar

By Sarah Lindley

Thanks to Sarah Lindley for sharing their advice and opinion in this post. Sarah, Managing Director at The Yorkshire Marketing Agency, is an award-winning Chartered Marketer. Sarah holds over 10 years’ experience in implementing results-driven marketing and communications strategies, plans and campaigns. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

This blog post has been tagged with:

Digital marketing for manufacturing industries and brands

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