The most recognized brands in the world spend billions of dollars every year on their marketing efforts. You can imagine that they’re not executing by chance without a plan; they know exactly what those dollars will bring them in return. These companies view marketing as a matter of survival, not theory.
On the flip side, some companies believe marketing is not necessary to incorporate into a business plan because business is growing and everyone’s staying busy, so why bother with the expense and hassle? This is the wrong mindset.
Somewhere in the middle is where manufacturers need to position their marketing strategy. Marketing is like food, sustained nourishment that navigates your business to meet growth objectives and keeps you there. Ongoing marketing secures your company’s future.
Teresa Schell, president/owner of Vive (a marketing firm exclusively for the plastics industry), recently spoke at the Plastics News Executive Forum on the topic of marketing. She illustrated results of an online survey from plastic processors throughout the United States that evaluated the dedication (or lack of) their companies invest toward marketing initiatives.
An interesting discovery from the survey was the lack of unique differentiators that plastic processors are using to position themselves in the marketplace. Too many companies highlight customer service, high quality parts or 100 percent on-time delivery as a selling point that sets them apart from other plastic processors. Unfortunately, these are not differentiators but a given. Without a clearly defined differentiator, there is no branding, which ultimately leads to no increased profitability.
Since the manufacturing process is similar among each business, a unique focus could be on the company’s innovation or commitment to new technology that allows production to hit the market sooner. Not all manufacturers maintain the same speed of technology infusion on their operational floor.
In the survey, most plastic processors rated their company a four (with a top score of five) for sales and marketing alignment. The two departments must speak the same message, be in sync with what an ideal customer looks like and measure frequently to make necessary changes to the marketing plan. Many companies utilize one champion with the title, Sales and Marketing, but clearly these two responsibilities and objectives are different enough to warrant the roles of two people working together on the same goal.
The survey also revealed that tradeshow exposure continues to be a concentrated area of marketing dollars. The most commonly attended and exhibited tradeshows are MD&M, PackExpo and NPE. The approach to building brand awareness to a targeted audience is proven with a formal tradeshow strategy, often times with a positive return on investment. However, tradeshow ROI does not have to be measured on just new sales, but by the effectiveness of announcing a new capability or the outreach of communication via social media channels.
A marketing strategy will successfully promote and grow your business. A robust marketing plan will help you answer key questions about your business: How will you position your company in the marketplace? How will you differentiate from your competitors? How will you reach your customers? What are your sales goals? Awareness to marketing strategies should be aligned with business goals. Continuous attention, much like continuous food nourishment, toward marketing will help manufacturers strengthen their brand identity and bottom line.