Discover which marketing tactics are most important for job shops and small fabricators to implement
By Kaylee Swearingen, Marketing Manager at Mazak Optonics Corp.
Marketing is any interaction that a customer has with your brand. These interactions, or touch points, are entry points into your sales funnel. Marketing is involved through all stages of business and is a critical aspect to any company, even fabrication job shops. With new tactics and strategies coming out every year, it is hard to keep up with what is most impactful for fabricators.
Whether you are a brand-new company and just getting started, or perhaps you have been around for years but have pushed marketing to the wayside. No matter where your company is it at it is necessary to have some basic marketing tactics in place. These three marketing basics can help your fabrication shop gain a solid marketing base, so you can focus on the engineering ahead. A go-to-market strategy, a digital presence and sales integration are my marketing must-haves for all job shops and small fabricators.
During college, I was given the analogy that a strategy is the road map and the tactics used are the modes of transportation that get your goal or destination. A go-to-market (GTM) strategy acts as the road map for your business. You can apply this plan to new services, re-launching your company or moving into a new market. Your GTM strategy needs to have enough information to be valuable yet flexible enough to be updated as your company grows and changes.
A GTM strategy is important to clarify why you are selling your product or service, who you are selling it to, where you are positioned in the market place, how you are acquiring customers and which marketing strategy and tactics you will use. By working through a GTM strategy it also makes you focus on your customers’ needs and expectations, which is necessary to continue earning their business.
Here are the key points you need to address in your GTM strategy.
What problem does your product or service solve? How do you know that your users need your product or service? What trends are happening in the fabrication industry? What products, services or equipment are unique to your job shop? How do these offerings reinforce your positioning in the market?
Who are you selling your products or services to? Growth, geographic location, existing client base are all examples of important considerations that should go into selecting markets. Secondary research on market size, growth and dynamics should be considered as well.
How do you want your fabrication shop to be seen in comparison to your competitors? Are you a fabricator who does specialty work for a specific industry, are you offering the quickest turn around, do you have the highest precision, are you the low-price alternative? All these positions fit differently into the market. Create a value proposition which is answers “Why should I buy from you?” Your value proposition is what sets you apart from the competition and makes you unique.
Who do you plan to sell your fabricator products and service to? How do you plan to acquire these customers? These can be broken down into smaller segments such as: customers who are likely to buy from you, customers who are not likely to buy from you and a group for the customers in-between. This could also be based off companies who are within a geographical distance radius to your job shop.
Your marketing strategy should be built around making your company’s expertise visible to your target audience in a way that addresses their pain points. Make sure you are picking marketing tactics that your target audience uses. If your customers read magazines, are you placing ads or supplying articles to those publications? If your audience is companies in the Rockford, Illinois area, do you have geolocation Google Ads set up for within a 50-mile radius with specific keywords that would be used when they are looking for fabricated products or services?
By focusing on these five questions, you’ll be able to have a concentrated road map for your fabrication shop. There are many other points you could add to your GTM strategy. These are just the five basics to get you focused on what matters.
Now in 2019, it is absolutely necessary for your fabrication company to have a digital presence. The internet has a larger reach than any other form of advertising. Online search is one of the most common ways for potential customers to find you. People search online for your products and services before they even contact you.
Internet-based resources are also accessible all day, every day. This allows information to be available whenever it is convenient for your customers. This means on a Saturday a potential customer won’t have to wait until 8am on Monday to have their basic questions answered. Customers will be able to just look on your website to see your capabilities or see your hours of operation from your Google Places account or see your previously produced products from your Facebook posts.
The center of your company’s digital presence is your website. It is your company’s most important digital touch point. A website is also the hub for all your other digital touch points, everything will link back to your website. By having a website, you are increasing your company’s visibility, credibility and accessibility.
Having a website establishes that your fab shop is operational and professional. Your company website informs people that you are established in the market and you have products and service that can be quoted now. It also helps leave a positive first impression, provided that your website is attractive.
Being simple and easy to follow are essential components to the functionality of your website. Your website needs to say who you are, what your products or services are, and how to contact you. Later down the road you can add a section for testimonials or previously completed work, which can help increase your job shop’s credibility.
There are additional digital marketing tactics that you can do in conjunction with a website to maximize your company’s visibility. Here are a few additional digital options to consider:
- Social media
Social media has become increasingly more popular for customers to engage with companies. Facebook and LinkedIn are likely the most relevant platforms for your job shop. By having these social media accounts, people can see what your company does on a regular basis if you are consistently posting. People can also reach out to you through your social media with questions or ask for quotes.
- Digital Business Accounts
Additional online platforms you might want to claim are Yelp and Google Places. Each of these have free versions for businesses that help build credibility. With Yelp, people can read and write reviews which helps customers see what it is like working with you and also helps build your company’s credibility. Google Places helps people find you digitally through an online search and helps them find your physical location by linking to Google Maps. These platforms also help your job shop to appear in a Google search.
Eblasts or mass-distribution emails is a tactic you can use to keep your current and target customers to update on your company. You can send eblasts at a variety of different frequencies, but make sure that the content is relevant, trackable and has links that drive readers to your website. These eblast can share information on any new products or new services that you are now offering. It could be a quarterly update about your fab shop and your employees. It could also be used to market any new advanced equipment that increases your fabrication capabilities.
- Pay-per-clicks Ads
The last method I recommend to small fabricators looking to increase their digital presence is pay-per-click (PPC) ads. This tactic does require money, but the budget is up to you. PPC ads appear in the search results pages and can be a highly effective way to drive traffic to your website and increase your company’s visibility for people who are looking for your product or service. By using the proper keywords and budget, you can get your ads into your target customer’s search results. Google Ads can allow for advanced targeting which helps keep your ads in front of the proper audience.
Having a digital presence is crucial in today’s market place. Even if you can’t purchase your products or service online, people are still looking for you. Websites are essential to any business and should be a top priority if you do not have one. With the addition of an overall digital presence, it will help increase your company’s visibility, credibility and engagement with existing and target customers.
Without sales your business is dead. You can create anything you want, but if you aren’t selling it, your business will go nowhere. Knowing how to generate and track sales is vital for your business to survive and grow. Since you created your GTM strategy, you know who you want to sell to, but how are you going to sell your products and services?
How are you connecting with your potential and existing customers? Do you already have an “in” to where you are trying to sell? Are you connected to someone who has a contact at where you are trying to sell to? If you don’t have either, you’ll need to introduce yourself.
By sending an introductory email or letter to a target customer is a basic way to introduce yourself, your company and your products and services. While this is quick and easy, it can be effective. But your customers want to do business with a company and with people that they can trust. It is not easy to build trust based off one email. Making a personal connection with someone and physically going to their place of business and taking them out to lunch will likely go further than your introductory email.
If someone calls to inquire about your products or services, who answers these calls and quotes the jobs? When someone wants to purchase your products or services, how do they do so? Having this process in place will save you time and creates a professional impression for your new customer.
Now you have a process in place for getting a sale, but your job is not over yet. Once a job is completed, how are you following up after the sale? This is an opportunity for you to build customer loyalty and to create a trusting relationship. Happy customers will order again, and after-sales-service is a way to create future sales and increase word-of-mouth.
In addition to after-sales-service, frequency of contact is important for existing customers and the ones you want to acquire. Depending on the business, you may want to visit these customers monthly, quarterly, or a couple times per year. By frequently checking in, you’ll grow to be at the top of your customers’ minds when a new project arises. It is also guaranteed that if you are not connecting with your customers on a regular basis, one of your competitors is.
Sales is necessary for survival. Make sure you have a plan in place that allows you to capitalize on these new and continued opportunities.
Time to get to it!
Now that you have how-to-guide of these marketing basics, it is time to put them into action! Maybe you don’t have the bandwidth or expertise to accomplish all these marketing items. If you need further assistance, marketing consultants can help get your company up to speed with the necessary and advanced marketing tactics to help grow your business.