‘Customer centricity’ in Manufacturing starts with marketing

Over the last several decades, the evolution of manufacturing companies – whether discrete, process, or automotive – has been focused on internal, process-based improvements. Methodologies such as Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing and Kanban have enabled manufacturers to drive significant operational efficiencies.

However, given the quick advance of connected technologies throughout the industry, evolution is moving from the production floor squarely into the hands of the customer. Consider the following statistics from the Salesforce special report, “Revolutionizing Customer Service in Manufacturing” .

  • 86 percent of manufacturing executives say customer experience is a key differentiator
  • 71 percent of manufacturing services teams are focused on deeper customer relationships
  • 63 percent say they’ve increased focus on personalized service interactions over the last year

At Horizontal Integration, we believe that the marketing department has the most to gain – and lose – as manufacturers narrow their gaze on the customer.

Most manufacturing marketers see their roles as traditional B2B marketers, where they focus keeping distributors, resellers, and partners happy. However, in the age of the “connected customer” Marketers must evolve their model into more of a “B2B2C” model, nurturing and growing an ongoing relationship with customers who use their product.

Daunting task, no doubt. For marketers looking to make this shift, we have a few tips to get you moving toward becoming a “B2B2C” marketing organization.

1.) Email can’t be your only channel

Email has rightly earned its reputation as the workhorse of digital marketing. But, it shouldn’t be your only option.

Marketing to people who aren’t always sitting at a computer? Reach them via SMS, where open rates are well over 90% and can inspire immediate interaction. Are your customers scrolling their social media and the web while waiting in line or sitting at their child’s basketball practice? Make visits to your website more useful by personalizing your pages. Try hitting them with a digital ad on Facebook. Testing will quickly lead you to the right channel for each individual customer.

By clinging to email marketing exclusively, you’re completely missing a large audience.

2.) Focus on the Customer Journey

Once you’ve added channel options beyond just email, you can begin to focus on your customer’s journey throughout the buying process. Your customers are leaving “digital fingerprints” at every interaction with your product – from research to consideration to purchase to service phases, there’s a mountain of data being created along the way.

Savvy manufacturing marketers will be able to pick up data at each of the points in this journey – such as lead scoring through the sales process – and use them to better tune their marketing messages and channel selection to create relevant and meaningful messages that nudge the customer forward with your product.

3.) Don’t forget about Sales and Service departments!

Sales. Service. Marketing. Different goals, different agendas, different departments, and different outcomes.

If these three departments are totally disparate at your company, you’re not alone. In fact, with many of the manufacturers that we work with, leaders of these teams never even talk to each other.

Marketers looking to make big gains with their customers should immediately begin building bridges to these teams. They have tremendous amounts of data prior (sales) and post-purchase (service) that tell an amazing story about your customer. Sales and service can help build out the core data set about your customer – a critical component in your quest to personalize your relationship with your customers.

4.) Look to existing internal systems for troves of customer data
As mentioned above, manufacturers have spent decades focusing on improving internal processes. This has created a myriad of internal technology systems aimed at improving processes, such as ERP, supply chain management, logistics and Human Resources systems.

This data often sits in silos and is lacks meaning without appropriate context.

A marketer looking to bring their customers into sharper focus will dive deep into these caverns of data to find meaningful data points and turn them into meaningful experiences.

5.) Take your technology seriously
Shifting to a B2B2C model will require marketers to revisit their marketing technology stack.

Email-centric marketing tools such as Eloqua, Marketo, Mailchimp and Constant Contact are fine tool for classic “B2B” marketing technology (see point #1 above). However, in most cases, they will not give you the horsepower, data scalability and the omni-channel capabilities that you’ll need to score on the first four points mentioned in this post.

A shift to a “B2B2C” marketing model will likely require an upgrade to a high-end marketing platform, such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC).

The more complex your customer journeys become, the more data they will require. SFMC has the ability to handle heavy amounts of data from multiple in-points around your organization and sort it into a coherent data model that marketers can use to reach their customers across all channels.

Good luck on your journey marketers! While this may seem daunting, start with these five tips and you’ll be well on your way.

Click here to learn more about HI’s Salesforce practice.