If prospects aren’t opening their doors when your salespeople knock, how can you bring buyers to your door instead? Here are 8 tips to help you generate more right-fit leads and nurture deals through long and complex sales cycles.
Despite the huge increase in sophistication of the services they offer, the way Contract Manufacturing Organisations (CMOs) position themselves and communicate with their market has not changed much in the last 20 years. But research shows cold-calling, print advertising, and unsolicited email blasts just aren’t cutting it anymore. Manufacturing customers are shunning the hard sell and looking to buy in more consultative ways.
So, here are eight tips to help you flip from an ‘interruptive’ to an ‘inbound marketing' mindset, and support your buyers through the long and complex manufacturing sales cycle.
1. Understand who your ideal customer is
Before you decide on any marketing strategy or tactics, you need to establish who your 'ideal customer profile' (ICP) actually is. In other words, the kind of business you want and need to sell to. Without an ICP you can waste time and money chasing leads that simply won’t help your business grow.
To work out what kind of company you need to sell to and how your product needs to be differentiated, you should ask some fundamental questions:
- What kind of deals are the most profitable and sustainable for you?
- What type of business will bring these deals to you?
- What size is that company likely to be?
- What sector will they operate in?
- Where will they be located?
- What are their main operational and commercial challenges?
- What specific needs do they have that only your business can answer?
2. Create detailed buyer personas - and speak to them
Understand your ‘buyer personas', the people who you will ultimately sell to. Define them as people rather than simply job roles. Understand what makes them tick and you'll understand the best way to talk to them:
- How old are they?
- Are they male or female?
- What’s their educational background
- What are their professional pain points?
- What are their professional aspirations, hopes and fears?
- What will professional success look like to them?
If you can work out what motivates your buyers and keeps them awake at night, you’ll have the key to capturing their attention in all the marketing you create.
But don’t just take our word for it. Research shows that 71% of companies that exceed their revenue and lead goals have documented buyer personas. High-performing companies are also 2.3 times more likely to research the drivers of their personas than their competitors.
3. Be there throughout the buyer’s journey
When planning your marketing strategy, you need to understand your buyer's journey in intimate detail.
Where do your buyers go for information and advice? What publications, websites and experts do they consult? What digital channels, industry news, social media platforms, and podcasts do they trust and consume? What questions do they ask through Google? What questions do they ask your salespeople?
If you understand this, you can plan to ‘be there for them in different ways, as your prospects shift between awareness of their problem, consideration of solutions and their final decision-making process.
Your targeted, digital content should be there to support and guide them at precisely the right moment in their buyer’s journey. It should be there to greet them as they:
- Scroll social
- Search for answers on Google
- Research service details on-line
- Select a podcast
- Open their email inbox
- Visit and revisit your website
And in a hundred other ways.
4. Create the content your customers crave
The top factor influencing buying decisions is easy access to relevant content that speaks directly to their needs.
What do your buyers need to know that no one else is telling them? When and how can they access that information most easily from you?
Your marketing strategy should address your customers’ business challenges with uniquely helpful content at critical stages of their business cycle. In short, you should adopt a media mindset.
Think like a media brand
Power your strategy by thinking like a media brand. Plan your content to educate, inform and delight your buyer persona, rather than sell to them:
- Identify key themes and topic areas of interest to your buyers on their journey toward you.
- Build a mix of helpful content: Create educational and informative material (‘Why’ and How-to Guides), industry news, infographics, social messaging, FAQs, case studies and whitepapers. Tell a compelling brand story across your digital real estate.
- Speak to your customers in a voice they recognise: tell your stories from your prospects’ point of view and make their pain points your focus. Make your prospects the hero of your story.
- Reflect how they choose to consume information: Use video, social, podcast, blogging, short and long-form written content. Slice and dice it. Repurpose and reuse it across platforms to reinforce your key messages.
- Optimise your website content and structure for SEO. But don’t write and create content for Google to rank, create content and organise it to be found and used by the people you want to engage with.
Get this right, and prospects will naturally gravitate to your brand, bringing the right traffic to your website and ultimately, your sales pipeline.
5. Ensure your sales and marketing team work together
The whole point of your marketing efforts should be to deliver qualified leads to your sales team.
And you won’t be able to achieve this unless your sales and marketing team are aligned and working together.
- Agree on your lead scoring criteria so everyone knows what the right ‘customer fit’ looks like.
- Agree when MQLs (marketing qualified leads) should become SQLs (sales qualified leads).
- Use the right CRM software to efficiently push the right leads through the sales cycle
- Ensure your lead nurturing is automated and consistent.
Your sales and marketing teams need to share insight regularly. Sales should feedback to marketing about successes and failures, so the buyers’ journey can be tweaked and optimised. And Sales can fuel marketing with content ideas too. Marketing needs to share insight and validate ideas with their sales teams.
6. Automate your marketing to nurture leads
No one likes being ‘sold to’, bombarded with cold calls and chased by salespeople for months. And what’s more, it’s expensive to service this kind of intensive one-on-one activity across a long and complex sales cycle. Research shows that B2B clients want to self-serve as much as possible as they explore their options. They want to gain confidence in your brand before hearing directly from your sales team.
So, use automation more effectively. Lever chatbots, personalised email, social media messaging, blogging, and further content offerings (audio, video, whitepapers) to establish trust and guide next steps. Automate customer service, data collection, lead scoring and prospect nurturing to help prospects access the content they need when they need it. Use smart content to tailor what buyers see based on previous visits and interactions. Ensure smart CTAs (calls to action) progress leads through the sales cycle in a logical and 'human' way.
Once your leads are fully qualified and ready to talk, you can hand them on to your sales team. You’ll have the information you need to have meaningful conversations with them, and they’ll be more knowledgeable about your solutions, receptive and better primed for your message.
7. Measure your marketing
Too often, businesses set up marketing campaigns and let them run without ever analysing their success. Ensure all your activity is designed with measurability in mind. If you have SMART goals for every campaign you run, you’ll be able to monitor and compare your successes and failures. With these metrics in place, you can experiment with new marketing messages, techniques and technology, constantly iterating and improving as you go.
8. Share your purpose
Building a brand and creating marketing messages that resonate requires a deep understanding of what your customers want and value from a manufacturing partner.
Right now, pressure is bearing down on manufacturers to innovate greener solutions, reuse and recycle, and value engineer for greater efficiencies. Forward-thinking CMOs are responding to profound existential challenges by building for repairability, servitisation and sustainability.
Meanwhile, medical device CMOs have been leading the Covid self-testing charge, helping develop and value engineer IVD devices that changed the course of the pandemic. These self-testing technologies will spearhead a new era of access to health care data and preventive medicine. With these and other innovations, CMOs are bringing cheaper med-tech within reach of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. That’s really something to shout about.
Businesses can and should use these credentials to differentiate their brand and underpin their marketing messages. An authentic and powerful sense of purpose in the world is a big reason for your customers and prospects to believe in you and your services.
Conclusion: How to become the brand your customers can’t do without
Successful CMO marketing is about much more than choosing a logo, a few catchy straplines, sending out emails and hitting the phones. It’s about becoming a constant and dependable presence in the lives of existing clients and future customers.
Focus your efforts on becoming an authentic and authoritative voice in your sector through marketing. Make your brand the place where your customers and potential customers come for information, insight and support. Achieve that, and you’ll start organically generating and nurturing right-fit leads, in a way you’ll never manage by hammering on doors expecting to be let in.