19 November 2010
Online marketing strategy for manufacturing companies
Dinesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO, IndiaMART.com
Internet is fast taking over as an attractive proposition for businesses across sectors, led primarily by the cost-effectiveness of promotional solutions provided by the online medium.
The growth of the space has led to a thought process which is somewhat of a one-size-fits-all regardless of the type of business. However, a generic strategy used for consumer facing brands for manufacturing companies may not be suitable when it comes to marketing their products online.
There are two key aspects that need to be considered while devising an online marketing strategy for manufacturing enterprises. First, we need to segregate basis target audience and second, their goals which they want to achieve through online marketing. For instance, a manufacturer like Dell uses the online platform for selling to consumers rather than large corporate customers. Their marketing activities done on the internet revolve around this audience. On the other hand, for large corporate sales Dell follows a different approach.
At IndiaMART.com, we see a general trend of manufacturing companies starting to use the online medium for "Sales Leads" for their products. To ensure that these companies receive business queries from across the globe, we drive their online marketing initiatives through our marketplace IndiaMART.com and provide holistic business promotion solutions.
For an effective online marketing strategy for a manufacturer, here are my recommendations:
a) Registration at B2B Marketplaces: Leveraging services of an online B2B marketplace opens up numerous doors of opportunities. It offers both options for registration - free and paid. The latter offers additional features to enhance business prospects. To gain maximum exposure, manufacturing companies should register at as many online B2B marketplaces as possible and be visible to buyers visiting from across the globe.
b) Build a Website: A website that covers complete product and company information along with client testimonials has become a prerequisite for manufacturers looking for web presence. Updating the product catalogue and other latest happenings such as trade fair participation at non-local locations at regular intervals is also essential to keep the buyer's and visitor's interest. The company must also be prompt in replying to business queries from buyers be it over email or phone.
c) Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and others: Engage a specialised company which can undertake SEO activities for your company. Also, the manufacturing firms should register themselves at Google Local, Google Maps and similar services across all search engines, both minor and major.
d) Email Marketing: Get a database of your target audiences from a reliable source and send mailers using a service that gives detailed statistics on its rate, click through etc. These mailers can include special offers, et al and allow you to touch base with several prospective business partners at one go.
e) Build Trust: Post registering at B2B marketplaces, you can capitalise on mechanisms which bridge the trust gap associated with the online medium and enhance your credibility. For instance, IndiaMART.com has a business verification service 'Trust Seal' which the members can avail and then meet the reliability requirements sought by buyers.
e) Social Media Marketing: A powerful tool to spread the word about your company and increase networking possibilities, social media, today, holds immense potential. A few things that should be considered to enhance online experience for the customers (existing and prospective) are:
• Send regular update messages to connections in your LinkedIn network;
• Update about your company and products at various blogs where discussions related to your products are going on. For example, Yahoo Answers is one such site where you can actively participate with your product/company updates;
• Upload product pictures on photo sharing sites like Flickr, et al;
• Put up product videos on all video sharing sites such as YouTube, among others;
• Place company presentations and documents on document sharing sites such as SlideShare, Scribd, etc.
While these are various options of online marketing, manufacturing companies should judiciously choose a strategy that best suits their business. Depending on their budget, target market and objectives, these enterprises should invest in options that would allow them to derive the requisite mileage.