How can manufacturers get the best from a marketing agency?

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Public relations and digital marketing are not a one-size-fits-all service. What works for one industry may be a world away from another. That’s why it’s so important for manufacturers to partner with an agency that understands their sector.

The emergence of manufacturing digital marketing

With the disruption of Industry 4.0 and generational handovers, manufacturing firms are investing considerably more in digital marketing. Historically, the industry relied on personal relationships to build companies from the ground up, but now we face the following challenges:

  • Increased competition from global suppliers
  • More intense product scrutiny due to technology
  • Changing market conditions, for example, Brexit.

A strong marketing and PR agency will have specialist knowledge of your sector, understanding changing trends and offering creative ideas. If you’re looking to partner with an agency, keep these things in mind:

Do they know their CNC from their TPM?

If your agency team can’t understand your product, they can’t market it. When you’re having those initial conversations to select an agency to support your business, look for evidence that the team understands the manufacturing sector. Do they have case studies of work with other manufacturers? Are they willing to put you in touch with their clients to help you find out whether they’re the right fit for your business?

One red flag is an agency that sends you an instant, generic proposal. We’ve seen this happen time and again with our manufacturing clients, who received cut-and-paste pitches without demonstrating specific knowledge of your industry or business.

Beyond the brief

An agency partnership isn’t just a service – it’s a relationship. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 55% of manufacturing marketers felt the biggest challenge was ‘overcoming the traditional marketing-and-sales mindset’.

You know your business, your supply chain and your customers. The right agency will bring ideas to help you reach the people who matter with the right messages. They will also suggest opportunities to work with other industry connections. A great indicator of a long-term relationship is an agency that is willing to connect their clients or share their contacts.

The best agencies will go above and beyond to help you because they can – not because they’ll get something out of it.

Meet the account team

We cannot stress this one enough. It’s so important to build relationships with the people who’ll be working on your account – not just a business development manager who’ll disappear after signing the contract. Request a meeting with the account manager.

Make sure they understand your goals

Depending on your marketing knowledge or your business aspirations, your goals will vary. You might want a deep-dive report each month into your online versus your offline performance. Alternatively, you might not be interested in bells and whistles – just the bottom line.

Make it clear from the get-go what you want to achieve, and ensure your agency can deliver. Establish how you will measure success: are you measuring likes and follows or is your agency keen to look beyond these metrics at the journeys people take once they have engaged with you.

Test the water

If you’re not ready to commit to a 12-month contract, is there an initial project you could use to test the water? A new product launch, a recruitment drive, or help to create a PR and digital strategy and plan for your business? That way, you’ll get a feel for the agency’s processes and client management. Once you feel comfortable, you can start planning long-term campaigns.

Nearly two-thirds of B2B industries are outsourcing to agencies. Give your teams time to focus on your operations and trust the experts.

We have been working with manufacturing and engineering businesses for over 30 years. From floorcoverings to food ingredients manufacturers, find out more about our work here.

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