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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Mar 30, 2017 10 min read

Why Inbound Marketing Works Better For Manufacturing Companies

Strategy, Planning, Patience And Perseverance Are Already In Their DNA

Inbound Marketing for Manufacturing CompaniesIt’s interesting that when you look at all the inbound marketing going on, a lot of it is focused on fast-moving companies like startups, software firms, SaaS companies and high-growth entrepreneurial firms. But when we look at our portfolio of clients, we see the most significant successes coming from our old-line, non-sexy manufacturing and industrial companies. Why?

As the resident inbound scientist here, I started to look into what the common denominators were across these companies, the successes they were seeing, why they were seeing those successes, and what the differences were between these companies and their engagements.

The findings were very interesting. Here’s what I learned about why inbound marketing for manufacturing companies appears to work so well.

Manufacturing Businesses Are Mature

Whether the companies are producing labels, welding equipment, safety products or rail systems, most of these businesses have been around for a long time. They’re successful businesses looking for ways to keep up with the changing buyer behavior of their customers. They’ve seen a slow and steady degrading of the marketing tactics they used to use and now are looking for more innovative approaches to marketing and sales.

They’re not changing their businesses, but they are interested in telling their story differently, providing more self-service information to prospects in active sales cycles and taking a more proactive, data-driven approach to sales and marketing. 

Because their businesses are mature, there’s a lot of certainty around who they’re selling to, what pains those people have and how these steadfast businesses solve those challenges. After all, they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years, in some cases.

When we come along, we’re simply adapting their sales and marketing strategy to fit their existing businesses. They have the success stories required to help their prospects feel safe; we simply repackage that content and deliver it in a way that matches today’s buyers. More electronic conversations, better website experiences, ongoing lead nurturing and new educational content options all help to produce results for these businesses.

Just ask our long-time client Miller Welding how they feel about inbound when it produced an opportunity worth over $1 million. To hear the entire story about Miller Welding, click here to read their success story.  

Leadership Is Patient

Inbound Marketing Agency For Manufacturing CompaniesThese companies all have a consistent approach to leadership. They’re patient. They understand that good marketing takes time. Perhaps this is because they’re used to making big investments in machinery that take years to pay off. Perhaps it’s because they then have to manage those assets effectively to ensure they produce the gains and impact that caused them to make the initial investment. They look at marketing with the same long-term perspective.

Inbound requires (more like demands) this long-term perspective. As I’ve mentioned many times, you can’t try inbound marketing for a few months to see if it works. You can’t try inbound at a starter level of investment to see if it works. You can’t try inbound by paying partial attention to it while you do three or four other things at the same time. You should either go all-in or not at all.

It appears to me, from my conversations with the leaders of these companies, that they use long-term thinking when it comes to their attempts to innovate both marketing and sales at their companies.

They Follow The Guidance Of Trusted Advisors

A lot of the manufacturing company leaders I’ve spoken with are also very comfortable identifying areas of their business where they are not experts and bringing in people smarter than them, trusting those people and following their advice. They view us as partners.

Some of the other types of companies we’ve worked with view us as a vendors simply here to do a job. That perspective opens the door for a lot of second-guessing, wasted cycles and slower-to-perform programs. If you want to add an inbound channel to your company, the fastest way to do so is to hire someone who has done it hundreds of times before and then get out of their way.

Easier said than done, of course. But when we look at the best-performing engagements, that “we hired you to do this, we’re going to follow your advice” thinking is at the core of each engagement.

Manufacturing Companies Streamline Internal Processes

Manufacturing Inbound MarketingManufacturers know the value of a streamlined process. They know that the more efficient they are, the more money they make. They’re sensitive to process and limiting wasted cycles. This aligns nicely with our agency, but it aligns well with inbound too. The fewer wasted cycles, the faster we get to publish assets, adjust and improve performance.

In a lot of our research, the engagements with manufacturing companies ran smoother with less rework because these leaders trusted us, but also because they knew that the back and forth was going to be counterproductive. They wanted to work with us to streamline the production, review, approval and optimization processes inherent to inbound programs.

The result of this is we moved through planning faster, produced assets more efficiently, created lead-generating tools earlier in the engagement and, as a result, produced results sooner. Over time, those results grew faster because of our ability to act quickly.  

They Invest At Appropriate Levels

This could be more about their comfort with investing in large and expensive machines, this could be about expectations around the ROI from those investments or it could simply be that they’ve been investing appropriately in marketing all along and now are just switching away from more traditional tactics to more inbound tactics. Regardless of the reason, the fact is manufacturing clients are willing to invest at the appropriate levels to deliver on their business goals.

In most cases, these companies are also not planning to double revenue in 12 months. They’re looking for a consistent and regular 20% to 40% growth year over year, and at their sizes (most of these companies are not small) they are aware of the investment required to maintain their revenue levels and grow those at reasonable clips.

Investing the right amount in marketing enables your internal team or your external agency team to do everything necessary to grow your business, as opposed to coming in on a discount plan and then each month talking about tactics that you’d like to do but can’t fit into the budget. If you have aggressive goals, invest accordingly in marketing.

Our research isn’t statistically valid; a lot of what I’m sharing here are observations from working with a variety of companies, company leadership and CEOs over the course of the last 14 years. There are a lot of generalizations here, so no need to send me an email about your company and how it’s not like the ones here. I’m admitting this is observational only.

However, the consistencies are too numerous to be considered pure luck. There are legitimate reasons why these stable, financially responsible, historically successful companies are seeing serious results from their move to inbound marketing. More significantly, you can take lessons from these successes that will have a dramatic impact on your ability to generate leads, hit your revenue targets and grow your company through the application of inbound marketing.

Square 2 Marketing – Innovating Marketing And Sales To Match Today’s Buyer Behavior!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.