As a manufacturer, you mostly sell to business buyers. These customers are increasingly paying attention to the overall customer experience each company provides. Nearly 90 percent of B2B customers believe that customer experience matters as much as products and services do.
Long gone are the days when the maker of the best mousetrap had consumers beating a path to their doorstep. Yes, producing top quality products still does matter. However, it’s not the only thing customers care about. Providing exceptional customer experiences is the only way businesses can set themselves apart from the competition.
Innovation: What’s it?
Few terms have been the subject of more confusion and misinterpretation as innovation. Most people view innovation as ideation. They conceptualize it as a never-before-thought-of idea that suddenly transforms an entire industry. Well, original thinking is an integral part of innovation. But innovation entails a lot more than just pioneering thinking.
According to Lisa Caldwell of EY, ideation forms only 5 percent of most innovation strategies. And as Caldwell says, innovation isn’t “the whole story.” What makes or breaks innovation is execution. Being a pioneer is great. But if you won’t “activate” your novel idea, it’ll come to naught.
As a 21st-century manufacturer, you must understand that innovation extends beyond invention and production. Innovation has also become critical in marketing and many other aspects of the manufacturing process. Manufacturing marketers must embrace innovation and leverage it to the max. That’s the only way they can give their company a competitive advantage.
4 Ways Manufacturing Marketers Drive Innovation
1: Conducting Market Research
Marketers have a critical role to play in “cracking the code” of an ever-evolving marketplace. They must conduct research that gathers different types of data that drive intelligent decision-making. They must continually carry out market surveys while using data analytics tools to analyze the data so obtained.
Websites and social media have become critical marketing tools. And marketers wouldn’t have learned this fact if they weren’t continually conducting surveys and researching. They’ve realized that they must keep changing tact so they can make the most of these changes.
In the past, people would call a company and discuss about a product or service with a sales rep. But things are changing. Customers are increasingly researching products and services online before calling companies. Thanks to research, marketers have learned of this development. That’s why they’re devising new, innovative ways of engaging prospects. And that takes us to our next point….
2: Creating Great Content for Digital Marketing
In the past, marketing entailed creating TV and newspaper ads. That still happens today. However, there seems to be a shift to a whole new way of marketing. Digital marketing slowly but surely continues to replace traditional marketing.
So, marketers are inventing ways of displaying advertising across a multiplicity of channels. A piece of content that sees amazing performance on Facebook won’t necessarily perform that well on LinkedIn. And a blog post that compels people to comment or share might not see much engagement on Instagram. With this in mind, manufacturing marketers are developing customer-centric, platform-specific content.
Nearly 70 percent of business buyers these days would rather spend hours researching deals online than consult a sales rep. They’re reading product descriptions published on corporate websites. They’re also visiting company profiles in places such as LinkedIn. And they’re following manufacturers on social media.
For that reason, every manufacturing business should invest a considerable amount of resources in content creation. They also must make sure to hire competent marketing talent. They need marketing creatives who’ve grasped the mechanics of effective digital marketing. Such professionals know how to create highly valuable content that helps people solve problems on their own.
3: Helping Scale Digital Experiences
According to Salesforce, business buyers today exhibit expectations that are similar to those observed in the “for personal use” buyers. They prefer doing business with companies that provide Amazon-like customer experiences. In other words, they expect exceptional buying experiences.
Seasoned marketers should help you deliver such experiences. They should help you give your customers the “wow experience.” As result, you’ll see long-term loyalty from your customers. And your revenues will grow significantly over the long-term.
Manufacturing marketers pay particular attention to purchases data. They analyze it on an ongoing basis, discovering innovation-packed insights in the process. Accurate and properly analyzed data are the ingredients of world-class personalized experiences.
AI can help you automate your customer service, and it’s an idea whose time has come. But many companies are now leveraging AI. So, how will you differentiate yourself from them? It’s by mixing these emerging technologies with exceptional “provided by real people” customer service.
4: Leveraging Connected Product Data
The Internet of Things is dramatically changing the landscape of competition. In the past, manufacturers relied on heavily mechanical processes that brought to mind images of grime and dirt. Then, computers and IT came on the scene and started transforming entire industries. That evolution is still ongoing.
Today, IT does way more than merely supporting manufacturing or just being part of the overall process. IT is now pretty much part and parcel of the products themselves. Consumers these days own a multiplicity of smart, connected products, thanks to IoT.
These connected products crank out massive amounts of product usage data each day. And these data are redefining competition in myriads of ways. Manufacturing marketers drill down into these data, uncovering lots of critical insights.
It’s these insights that help manufacturers improve product design, production processes, marketing strategies, and after-sale service. Companies are also using the data to automate personalized product renewal, replacement, replenishment, and servicing of existing products.
How Manufacturers Help Drive Innovation: Final Thoughts
In 21st-century manufacturing, making superior quality products is no longer enough. Companies must continually design and execute innovative marketing strategies if they want to stay ahead of the competition.
Luckily, there’s more customer and product data than there’s ever been in the history of manufacturing. By constantly collecting and analyzing the data, manufacturing marketers can help their companies provide exceptional customer experiences. Automating and personalizing customer service is a great way to create such experiences.
The inverse also applies. As the customer becomes more empowered, organizations with poor customer experiences will find themselves low on sales in the next quota. It’s up to management and top executives to take up the massive undertaking that is setting up unique and memorable real time customer experiences.
To make the process smoother, make use of CRM tools like Veloxy Engage and Veloxy Mobile. These will help companies make the most out of Salesforce by keeping track of customer activities, needs, behavior patterns, expectations and forecasts that will help improve the overall experience of your services.