Targeted marketing of fabrication production capabilities can be the key to differentiated growth.

In 1993, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers introduced a new concept that became the foundation for many of today’s marketing programs.

Their book, “The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer At A Time,” has become a classic reference for personalized marketing and sales. One industry expert summarized the book as a “unique perspective on the fundamental, structural changes that technology is already bringing to the real world of business competition.”

It has taken more than a few years, but today, a highly developed integration of several technologies offers manufacturers the ability to grab hold of the growth potential that Peppers and Rogers promised 30 years ago.

We shouldn’t be surprised by technology evolution. Marketing and sales technologies like customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, and smarter databases for companies and contacts are available to manufacturers that understand how important they are to lead profiling, lead generation, and lead qualification processes.

These technologies didn’t exist 30 years ago, and neither did some of today’s manufacturing production technology. Automated materials handling and multifunction production platforms were nascent in the ‘90s too. Today, a contract manufacturer can integrate these maturing technologies into a highly automated plant. That’s been the promise of Industry 4.0. And as we have seen with marketing tech, promises become realities over time.

What would your world look like if you matched personalized, highly targeted marketing with highly developed production capabilities?

Leveraging the Production Technologies You Know

Every manufacturer looks at ways of creating competitive differentiation. It’s good to be different. Differentiation is the key driver behind revenue and profit growth.

Your investments in production technology are driven by your need to offer quality, cost, scale, or competency advantages. One could say that these investments are “table stakes” required to maintain your market position. Every year, you budget capital to replace and maintain your production platforms as part of your overall operational excellence initiatives. The continual evolution of production technologies means that equipment upgrades are ongoing. And the pace of production technology evolution continues as equipment vendors upgrade their products to maintain their own competitiveness.

While investments in production tech can be beneficial, market factors limit the effectiveness of capital investments in production technology:

  • Every production technology can be available to every potential buyer with enough capital to purchase it. This levels the competitive playing field.
  • As production equipment prices decline (think low-cost fiber lasers from overseas), that affordability attracts new entrants to the manufacturing industry.

The question is, if you and your competitors can acquire the same production technologies, how will your business be different?

Leveraging the Marketing Technologies You Should Know

One way to set your company apart from other manufacturers is with targeted, personal marketing. Today, you have access to contact databases, marketing automation platforms that track the performance of marketing investments, CRM platforms to monitor and manage the sales pipeline and existing customer relationships, and digital marketing to promote your business. And search engine optimization and pay-per-click programs can boost your website’s performance.

Many manufacturers don’t think about marketing. They don’t understand its potential benefits and are unwilling to invest beyond the minimum. Some still confuse sales and marketing. So, those manufacturers who pay attention to marketing tend to outperform the overall market. And those that combine high-performing production technologies with relevant marketing technologies create a truly unique opportunity to generate revenues and profits.

A Road Map for Merging Technologies

As you go through this integration process, you won’t be able to do (or afford) everything you want. Technology will continue to mature and change, and you’ll want to use early successes to help find future investments. So, you’ll need a business and technology road map to guide you (see Figure 1). Road maps are visual projections of the major steps or initiatives that drive both your production and your marketing investments. Their visual nature helps you communicate these priorities to your organization and enables your staff to see how their personal priorities, whether production or marketing, are part of your overall business priorities.

When designing your specific road map, think about what your technology road map for production and marketing does today and what it could do if you augmented it. Then follow these best-practice steps:

  1. Identify and prioritize your opportunities based on revenue and margin contribution to your business. You can construct and evaluate P&Ls for each market you serve today. Identify your best historic growth markets and those that generate your profits.
  2. Connect business/marketing processes and production processes. This involves selecting the marketing programs that will drive new business most effectively, based on your understanding of specific market needs for your in-house production capabilities. If you don’t know what comprises your target market priorities, secondary research can be useful, and primary research via interviews is an excellent resource.
  3. Apply the appropriate technology to your first priorities from step 1. This step involves selecting the go-to-market programs that fit your customer acquisition costs and revenue pipeline goals.
  4. Test and evaluate, then refine based on customer validation. No marketing program should ever be considered a “silver bullet,” and campaign testing helps you understand what type of qualified leads you should expect from each program. Two important factors are establishing marketing metrics and understanding industry benchmarks.
  5. Set discrete financial objectives for each investment. Effective marketers understand that projecting and tracking results is necessary for their role. It’s time to try something else when campaigns don’t work or peter out.
  6. Measure payback and move on to your next priority. An effective go-to-market approach tests several alternatives. Once you understand what works best to generate qualified leads, shift more of your marketing investment into it from programs that are not performing as well.

This original article with a case study for Contract Fabricator was published in The Fabricator. You can read the full article here.

You may also read the PDF of this article here.