Jan 22, 2021

2021: top manufacturer marketing strategy considerations

4 min
NBS identifies its top considerations for manufacturer marketing strategies in 2021...

2020 was an ever-changing landscape for businesses across the country. In the world of marketing, businesses were required to be more reactive than proactive, and switch tactics from offline to online. 

NBS, the construction technology platform provider, which gives a digital route to market for professionals who supply to the construction industry via manufacturing marketing, recently held a webinar with a panel of marketing experts. In the webinar, the panellists discussed which strategies and activities manufacturers should look to include in their 2021 marketing plans. 

This article focuses on the key talking points and recommendations for how the industry can move forward despite the current unpredictability of the manufacturing landscape. 

Online and on-demand 

The global pandemic has caused plenty of disruption for manufacturers – especially in relation to expos and trade shows where businesses normally showcase their products and services. 

From this, there’s been a greater shift towards digital channels over traditional print and face-to-face methods. One of the switches to a digital-first approach has been the introduction, or increased use, of webinars. 

Izy Herrera, Marketing Manager at NBS, spoke about using the resource normally set aside for physical events to host more online discussions. Izzy said: “If we look back at March and our marketing plan, we adapted it quite considerably to focus more on online activities.

“We were already doing two webinars a month. One for specifiers and one for manufacturers. We worked out that we could move the resource normally used for events and put that into delivering at least one webinar a week. Sometimes we were delivering two a week.

“I think it’s worked well for us. Some people took a step back and some people took a step forward. For us, it was an opportunity to try something new.” 

The added beauty of hosting a webinar is that it can be recorded and subsequently posted online as part of an on-demand webinar library that people can watch at their own leisure.  

SEO – a key thing to focus on

For manufacturing marketers who want to improve their online presence, focusing on search engine optimisation (SEO) is key. Even as far back as 2015, Google research showed that 89 per cent of B2B researchers use the internet during the research process — highlighting the importance of a strong online presence. 

Optimising your website for search engines is important when it comes to driving organic traffic. This can come in the form of technical SEO, off-site content like articles that link back to your website, and on-site content including blog posts or FAQs. 

NBS’s Source platform is also an industry-specific tool that can help manufacturers with their SEO activity.  

Visual success through video

Just behind parent company Google, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. The platform processes more than 3 billion searches a month, 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute and is bigger than AOL, Ask, Bing and Yahoo as a search engine.

For manufacturers, this provides a unique opportunity to showcase your products on a much larger scale. Videos can be flexible in what they are designed to achieve. When it comes to captivating your audience, there’s everything from ‘how-to’ videos to animations that can work as visual content. 

A way to learn new skills

As pointed out throughout the marketing masterclass, the pandemic has been a catalyst for change and opportunity. If you’re a manufacturer who’s keen to understand more about digital marketing, but you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of training resources available. 

Chris Coulson, Communications Director at Mediaworks, recommends checking out Google’s Digital Garage, where you’ll find a wide range of free courses. There’s also HubSpot, which has free resources you can access to learn new skills. 

Mediaworks has seen success in providing digital marketing education with its 10-hour short course in partnership with York St. John University. 

Looking ahead to 2021

Digital awareness played a big part in reactive strategies in 2020, and the need to be reactive may well continue into 2021. Uncertainties still exist around the pandemic and Brexit, so a mix of short-term and long-term strategies could pay dividends in the New Year and beyond. 

The panel unanimously agreed that 2021 will be another year of change, so deliverables and key performance indicators (KPIs) will be focused on the ability to adapt, collaborate and ultimately thrive. 

The panel for the webinar included:

  • Lee Jones – Head of Marketing Solutions, NBS 
  • Jo Wilmot – PR Director, The Think Tank
  • Izzy Herrera – Marketing Manager, NBS
  • Cathy Barlow – Managing Director, Smith Goodfellow
  • Chris Coulson – Communications Director, Mediaworks 
  • Kay Porter – Managing Director, Smart Marketing Works

If you would like to watch the webinar in full and hear all the thoughts of the expert panel, sign up to the webinar on-demand now. 

For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.

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May 12, 2021

Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers

2 min
57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support smart manufacturing digitalisation

With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.

While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.

“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.

“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”

Change Management

Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.

“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.

Technology and People

While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.

“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.

Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.

Discover Gartner's Five Best Practices for Post COVID-19 Innovation' in manufacturing.

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