Industrial Marketing Newsletter

“Your Voice in the Marketplace”

September 2011

 

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How Industrial PR is keeping up with marketing trends – the rise of blogging and social media in the industrial market place.

 

How things have changed in the past few years! When I started in industrial PR some 30 years ago we wrote a short piece and sent it with a black and white photo to perhaps a dozen journals – who may perhaps find space for it amongst their longer features crafted by the editor/s themselves. There were few journals printing in colour and no specifically “product” journals as we later came to know them.

 

Then along came colour and product focus journals, then a couple of recessions and the advent of the internet – the changing role of editors and rise of Google.  Latterly of course we have seen the ascendancy of Social Media – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube etc  etc and wondered how appropriate is all this mainstream chatteratii stuff to us engineers and our engineer customers?

 

As a PR agency very much involved in the industrial market place we have carefully monitored these trends – we were one of the first to put our clients’ stories on the Internet and so to drag them kicking and screaming into what they now acknowledge to be their main source of qualified enquiries.

 

So please excuse a sense of déjà vu around blogging and social media – we have monitored client webprofiles for 2 years and seen these channels rise in importance for industrial B2B companies, so that recently, now confident of our own understanding and ability, we once again sought to take clients down a new path – this time I am delighted to say they were prepared to follow almost instantly. Not that these clients had a poor presence on the net – far from it given the success of our many years of PR on their behalf – but they could see and indeed have found, that they could get an even better profile with blogging and social media, thus capitalising on their present success – leveraging their growth and to some extent “future-proofing” themselves for the next time the markets take a dive. 

 

I am pleased to report that their faith was well placed as results to date can testify. The early adopters have been and gone, the B2C companies have integrated all their  internet media - now is the time for industry to get involved – although if you haven’t even got your PR sorted perhaps that would be a good place to start first!

 

How small companies are competing successfully and punching above their weight.

 

Small company equals small resources – especially small budgets - so the internet has been a godsend to small businesses who can have a similar presence on the net to the large corporates – all it takes is some understanding and commitment.  A bit like being at an exhibition where only shell scheme stands are available – the internet is a great leveller and those that stand out do so because of how well they present themselves not because of how much money they throw at the “problem”.

 

Which raises and interesting point – what exactly is “the problem”? – and how are small companies addressing it effectively? Essentially the problem is to find, meet, inform and engage customers - and then to make their buying experience as satisfying as possible so that they will come back.

 

So – how to be effective on a budget – well the most successful small companies I know leverage their understanding to make the most of the most cost effective activities.

 

They recognise that they must have an attractive and easy to use website – it is as expensive to produce a rubbish site as a good one – the difference is the thought that goes into it and the quality of the content. A good site will be full of useful information that is easy to find – presented in an attractive way.

 

But there is limited point in a website unless you promote it – so what are the key promotional activities?

 

·         Directory entries (free if you do it yourself)

·         PR – giving 3rd party links (free if you do it yourself)

·         Blogging (set up hosting is low cost – ongoing posts are free if you do them yourself)

·         Social media (free again if you do it yourself)

·         E-mail marketing (again blog updates and newsletters can be free or at least very low cost if you do them yourself)

·         Advertising – enhanced entries, pay per click, buttons and banners (all cost – but you have spent very little so far so you can afford these)

·         Exhibitions – niche exhibitions can be low cost and very effective – a one day show is quick and easy for one person to do and you are pretty much certain to meet the right kind of people. (Again these cost – but your budget is hardy strained and there are not many really good ones so you can pick the one that focuses best on your market place and be sure to do at least one a year)

·         That just leaves the Sales function – which is pretty core to any company.

 

So that is an awful lot of work for a small company – which is where we can come in and do it for you. The chances are that most of your competitors will be doing very little of these and we can put a package together that is appropriate to your business and won’t involve a corporate mega-budget.

 

 

How to make Social Media work in our marketplace

 

Time and time again, I hear the same story from businesses. We tried Social Media (SM) a while back, but it didn’t work for us. What they mean is, they realised they needed to be on Facebook and Twitter, so they got the youngest member of staff to set up their profile and they duly tweeted and updated frequently for a couple of weeks. The boss logged on and noticed that only 2 people were following them, so what’s the point in continuing? Their foray into SM then abruptly ended.

 

So where did they go wrong? It isn’t just about advertising your business; you need to be much more subtle than that. Social media works well when you give stuff away – maybe nothing tangible, but giving information freely that will help your clients goes down incredibly well. Think about what your customers are interested in and what will help them. The fact that your newly launched Widget A has just won a design award is great (for you) but your customer may prefer to know how Widget A can help them to streamline their production and reduce downtime. They may also be interested in that ninja trick you discovered to ensure that Widget A connects to Thingummy B which ensures a watertight seal. Believe it or not, they will probably also be interested in the internal charity raffle that you’ve just had resulting in a £250 donation to your chosen charity of the month. 

 

So, I wonder if you’ve dabbled with Social Media in the past for your business? If you have, maybe some tips on how to build your following would be good?

 

1.             Put your SM buttons and links on your website and blog.

2.             Add your SM links to your email signature and all other electronic media

                such as newsletters – invite people to follow you or become a fan.

3.             Add your SM links to all printed media – headed paper, compliment slips, business cards etc.

4.             Invite your Twitter followers to follow you on Facebook and vice versa. If you’re on LinkedIn, make sure all of your SM links are on your profile page.

5.             Create a blog site or add a blog page to your website and update it regularly with content that’s interesting and engaging.

6.             Search out people who may be interested in your product and follow them.

7.             Communicate with your followers – retweet often as this validates them and warms them to you.

 

The main problem is that it takes time. I’ve heard it said that Social Media is like the grout between tiles, where the tiles represent all your other business activities. Throughout your day you need to be checking in to see what’s going on and finding opportunities to engage with your customers and prospects. This doesn’t need to take long, but a consistent and persistent approach is key.

 



 

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