What’s in Your Manufacturing Toolbox?
BY CHRISTINE TORRES
Published November 05, 2020
A poor craftsman blames his tools, as this old expression goes. Those words still ring true today. Without the right marketing tools, most projects likely won’t be done right or on time. There are tools out there to help keep tasks managed and organized to give the company the pomp and circumstance it deserves. Social media maven Ruby Rusine of Social Success Marketing was the host of this week’s #USAMfgHour on Twitter, and she shared valuable tools that can help manufacturers in marketing.
Manufacturers are busy and need tools ready at the helm for brand awareness, product releases, and more. Why is it important to know what you need before searching for a tool?
“Probably like everyone else here, I'm far too booked up and busy to be searching for something unless I know what I need before starting,” said Aviate Creative.
“You have to know what you need now and, in the future,” said Chenango Valley Technologies. “If you get something that does not allow you to grow into it, you will be back on the market and spending money again.”
“Not all tools are the same,” said DSI/Dynamatic. “If I have a Phillips head screw, I know I need a Phillips screwdriver. If I didn't know I needed that, I might waste my time with other screwdrivers that don't fit.”
“If you are searching before you know what you need, the only real way to find the tool you need is by stumbling across it, which is not an efficient way of doing it,” said Obsidian Manufacturing.
“The 'why' may change the 'how',” said author and speaker Dondi Scumaci. “Seems like clarity around the why allows you to evaluate the features in a more tailored way.”
"If you don't know where you are going, how do you know you have arrived when you get there?” said Nigel Packer of Pelatis Online. “If you are planning a journey you would get out a roadmap and plot your route"
“Understanding the need will help a business make sure they don't purchase a higher-level service option or more powerful tool than they actually require,” said NJMEP.org.
It is a huge time saver to have the correct tools that are just right for the specific need, according to Rusine. “It helps the search for the RIGHT tool easier and faster. And we want easy and fast, don't we? There are a lot of tools that we could choose from,” she said. “Without a clear understanding of the features we need (vs. want), we could end up chasing one shiny tool after the next. Or waste our time sitting in discovery & demo meetings.”
Powerful Marketing Tools
What is your favorite manufacturing tool and how does it help your company?
“It is not a manufacturing tool per se, but LinkedIn Sales Navigator is our favorite as it allows us to connect with other B2B companies,” said CVT. “A close second is our @zohocrm. Very easy to use.”
“A favorite tool would have to be our wood and metal lathe, but now with some research, we are in the market for a 3D printer, which will cast our molds at a higher output,” said Blackwidow Valve. “So, if anybody's selling printers, LOL, we might be interested.”
“As a #chemical #distributor our fave part of #mfg is the #chemist and #chemistry involved in #chemicalengineering,” said Dar-Tech.
“I am not an expert on this one, but have you checked DCSC Inc.’s manufacturing automation?,” Rusine asked. “Also, research showed me other ones like JobBOSS, SAP ERP, and Fishbowl.”
Project management is an important aspect of marketing, general management, and so much more. It helps set expectations, budgets, and delivery times. When it comes to project management and communication: What system and tools do you have in place to manage team projects/tasks & communication? What do you like about it? How has it helped your team?
“We need an ERP system soon, but we are not ready for it yet,” said CVT. “Mainly email and document storage on our server.”
“We use good ol' fashioned soup cans and string. Just kidding,” said Dynamatic. “The tool I cannot divulge does both project/task tracking and communication. It's easy to use, keeps EVERYTHING in one place, and helps everyone manage what's going on day-to-day.”
“On the strictly marketing side of the company, we like to brainstorm and organize our marketing projects through simple Google sheets or docs,” said Obsidian. “We also are a big user of Adobe and the Creative Cloud.”
“We use a shared excel sheet for each engineer to document what task they've done, who they did it for, & how long it took,” said Crescent Software. “Each week we have meetings to discuss what has been completed & what needs to be done. It's very efficient for us and helps keep track of work.”
“Our department uses Project Manager for Word Press to keep track of projects and communication,” said DuraTech.
“We use Jira/Trello. It helps us stay aligned across a number of functions and departments,” said Snaptron.
“We've used SmartSheet project management tools,” Scumaci said. “Pretty intuitive, sharable. Good displays to see the calendar, timelines, and action.”
“I use Plutio for project & workplace management and to track communications including chats and messages, conception to completion of tasks, time management, and more,” said Rusine. “I like it that I can see things in ONE place. It is our digital office hub. We use a lot of other tools but that is where we “gather.” When managing projects, I find email cumbersome and it could fall through the cracks. Also, it is easy for anyone to get lost in the paper trail.”
“I am trying to use Asana more regularly - it is very intuitive, visual and user friendly,” said Gail Robertson of GailNow. “Basic plan is free and it reduces emails and allows for tracking back through a project.”
“Tools I know that are comparable to what I use: Asana, Trello, Monday, Shift, and many more,” said Rusine.
From product management, the conversation then switched to tools for lead generation. Regardless of whether you have low- or high-ticket products/services, what do you use to get leads in the new norm? What's working for you?
“We have just started using Debut Video Software for our Sales team to develop short videos and screenshot videos to send to prospects and customers,” said DuraTech. “A few of our Reps have started using it and LOVE it. Customer/Prospect response has been positive and allowed us to get an appointment. Easy to use. We record quotes and orders and product demos-gets sales faces out there if we are not allowed in buildings due to COVID-19.”
According to a few manufacturers such as CVT and SCTools, the best method of connecting is LinkedIn Sales Navigator. “By far, the best money I have ever spent,” said CVT. Dynamatic said they are interested in utilizing LinkedIn for leads soon.
“We use a mix of ‘new school’ and ‘old school’ techniques,” said Obsidian. “Our websites, our social media channels, along with a mix of cold calls to old customers, referrals, etc. helps us with leads among other avenues.”
The growth in leads Rusine said she is gaining from this year are through:
- SEO-ready contents - our inbound inquiries are on the rise.
- Social media
- This chat
- Website CTAs
“I used to do IRL networking and I also led a local meetup, but it just didn’t give me the ROI that I was looking for,” she said. “After giving it some time, I gave it up. I know that others swear by it to be working - but not for me.”
By 2022, according to Cisco, 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be from videos; 15 times more than it was in 2017. When it comes to videos and animation or gifs, why do you use it? What's your favorite tool? What do you like about it?
Several manufacturers said they use Canva as an easy tool for basic and quick animations.
“We're mostly using Adobe products,” said Obsidian. “Higher learning curve but gives the best results when used at full potential! Although, Adobe Spark does give a really easy way to create graphics, web pages, etc.!”
“The learning curve is a drawback but once someone has those skills, a person can create some high-quality digital content,” said NJMEP. “We don't animate but for video, we use Adobe Premiere Pro. We use a bunch of programs from the Adobe Creative Cloud as well. Premiere is powerful and has all the features we really need. Adobe's CC has almost every program we need for digital content.”
“I am using a few animated software to put videos together, Premiere Rush and Spark Post are my favorites,” said SCTools.
“Adobe Premiere Rush is a good option for beginner video editors,” said Snaptron.
According to Rusine, most internet users rely on product videos to help in their decision process. Animated contents are more fun, engaging, and captivating.
Videos can be used for:
- Company storytelling
- Product Tutorials
- Short quotes from your blogs
- Product/Service Promos
- Customer testimonials
- Client interviews
- Product demos
- Social media engagement
Tools/apps that you can use:
- Computer camera
- Imgplay to create memes, gifs & videos
- PowerPoint - incl GIF
- eCamm (Mac only)
Rusine then went on to cover the importance of graphic images. On Twitter, she said, if you want brand exposure, include images because tweets with images are retweeted more 150% times more compared to those without it. Some popular graphic image tools are:
- Adobe Spark (also for video)
- Google's free image tools
- Dark room
“With our super short attention span, a visual image helps capture attention. Text posts are boring! PLUS an image adds vibrancy - and context to a post, especially when the photo is relevant,” said Rusine. “For my team, we repurpose evergreen, long-form contents into short bites by using social media graphics. This method gives it more life and gets the attention of those who love visual images more than texts. Keywords: Faster. Better. More. Per science, the human brain processes images 60,000 times FASTER than texts. Plus, we tend to retain information BETTER when a post comes with a relevant image; the key here is relevant images to be MORE memorable.”
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.