Simple Brand Management for Manufacturers
BY CHRISTINE TORRES
Published July 23, 2020
If someone were to ask you what your company does, could you answer succinctly? Does your company actively command its brand presence or is it more of a gentle whisper? Brand management identifies a company’s core message and values for its customers. For this week’s #USAMfgHour chat on Twitter, Rebecca Hart, marketing manager at Dynamatic, manufacturer of eddy current drives, brakes and controls, shares tips to help manufacturers, and those that support manufacturing, break away from the struggles of navigating brand asset management.
Brand management can be tricky but not hard for manufacturers to improve, change, or grow. It takes diligent effort and time. However, it only takes a few impressions for people to remember a manufacturing brand, and building an audience is important, according to Hart. Start by knowing what your company does.
“When you do a lot, it can be a complicated answer,” she said. Manufacturers “keep the world in motion, at variable speeds.”
“This has presented to be a business challenge for us as we cater to both our B2C and B2B markets (consumer & wholesale businesses),” said Ideaman Magnets, manufacturer of 3-D molded rubber magnets. “We often struggle with the BEST way to convey that. For promotional purposes, we say, ‘Your Custom 3D Magnet Supplier.’”
Hart said an answer to knowing more about what direction a company can go with its brand management is based upon who makes up the audience. We’re living in a digital world, so manufacturing needs to step up its digital game. Social media involvement, heavy or light, is important, she said.
“I am a one-person business, and it’s tough sometimes to keep up with the social media,” said Marie Moser of East Pointe Search Group, a manufacturing direct-hire solution.
“We would like to be more active, but without sales, all else fails,” said Dan Bigger of Chenango Valley Technologies. “We do not have someone managing just social or marketing. I do both along with sales. I post and engage as much as I am able.”
“We have been using all of our platforms more actively and are proud to see we have been seeing consistent growth, even if it's small,” said Ideaman. “The most challenging thing so far is utilizing target market insights.”
However, those insights can be some of the most crucial bits of info that can inform a business of what works and what needs to change, according to Hart and Ruby Rusine, a social media professional at Social Success Marketing. With multiple platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it can be quite a bit to keep track of for the bustling manufacturing industry, Hart said.
“It's tough, but it's also important to keep a strong online presence - especially in social media - despite the current atmosphere,” Hart said.
Part of being active and engaging a manufacturing brand on social media requires innovative ways to express a brand that appeals to the audience there. For example, Cleveland Deburring, a leader in deburring, chamfering, and powdered metal deburring, is active on several social channels and maintains a blog to help educate potential customers and customers alike.
“My activity revolves around information, sharing, educating, and pose questions for the purpose of interacting with others,” said Felix Nater, a security consultant for Nater Associates. Oftentimes, it is that bit of thought leadership that gets people to inquire a bit more about workplace violence prevention strategies. “Users I engage with are talking about how little of a focus on #workplaceviolenceprevention at their workplaces. That surprises me,” Nater said.
“We have changed our strategy due to COVID-19, from visiting customers the conventional way to eCommerce and Social Media involvement,” said SCTools, a cutting tool solutions provider. This strategy change has thrown the company into the social realm and it’s more active than ever. This activity gets social chats and real-life conversations going about a manufacturer and its brand.
“My focus was obviously to drive awareness, but I had been zoned in on engagement and it was improving,” said Jennifer Wegman, a marketing professional, and social influencer. “Our rates were up, as were our inquiries and orders. So, engagement is always a goal for me no matter what.”
“We've found that electrical engineering and electrical safety are big in our industry,” said Zero Surge, an electrical and electronics manufacturer. “Although, we've found success in curating interesting content in the fields of renewable energy, electric vehicles, and generator tips.”
“From keeping our name out here we've been able to get a few write-ups in industry mags that we wouldn't have received otherwise,” said Cleveland Deburring.
“We get a lot of "info" questions and respond quickly,” said Nick Rivers of Obsidian Manufacturing, an OEM manufacturer.
“We are working to get more user-generated content (UGC), from our end-user customers (EUC), in exchange, we will feature them in SM, and provide an incentive on their next purchase via discounts,” said SCTools.
When manufacturers get feedback via social media platforms, it's generally not about products specifically, but any feedback is a chance to let people know what products a company is selling, Hart said. “How are you utilizing the feedback you receive on social media to shape your business or product?”
“For the most part, social media serves as a promotional platform for our brands,” said Ed Miller, president of ProTapes, a tape manufacturer. “But we do get the occasional suggestion from our customers for a new size or color, which we always welcome.”
“Using negative feedback to help you improve and grow is a very healthy and smart,” said Paul Kiesche, president of Aviate Creative, a manufacturing marketing agency. “It's also a great way to know what to speak to in your marketing.”
“I was shocked by how successful (Instagram and Facebook) were for the company,” said Wegman. “You wouldn't think that would be the case, but I was pleasantly surprised. But, yes you need to be where your audience is.”
Anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing can join in on a new conversation each week on Twitter using the hashtag #USAMfgHour. The chat starts at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time/2 p.m. Eastern. Share positive blog posts, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.