2020 was a tough year for manufacturers. Teams have had to pivot away from trade shows and traditional in-person sales methods. Sales people have had to reimagine what it looks like to meet with their customers, and stay top-of-mind for potential buyers.
Though it’s hard to replicate the environment of an in-person trade show or meeting, there are steps manufacturers can take to stay top of mind, provide value for their customers and reinforce their brand. A strategic public relations plan is an important tool to get in front of the audiences you can no longer meet in person.
Don’t Sell, Provide Value
Modern customers are bombarded with marketing messages at every turn– even in what is seemingly a narrative article or an interview. Manufacturers need to cut through the haze and provide actual value to their customers and readers through their stories.
The stories you share need to offer your customers and readers information, education, or tips that will help them accomplish something. This means that you will be positioning yourself and your brand as a thought leader in your industry. You won’t be saying “buy my products,” but by providing value, you are building trust. Customers will remember your name and the value you provided when they are making purchasing decisions.
You won’t be saying “buy my products,” but by providing value, you are building trust. Customers will remember your name and the value you provided when they are making purchasing decisions.
It may sound difficult to reimagine this fusion of sales and marketing — but we truly don’t know when we will return to “normalcy.” 2020 has permanently impacted how we all do business. The sooner you’re able to strategically adjust, the better off your efforts will be.
What Kind of Stories Do Manufacturers Pitch?
There are two approaches to pitching stories. One approach showcases your industry expertise. These are typically pitched to industry publications. These are the stories readers will look to, in placements they trust for valuable information.
The other is community stories that will impact your direct community – literally the place where you live and work. These stories focus on how you give back to your community.
Learn more: PR for Manufacturers
Learn more: Navigating Media Relations as a Manufacturer
Tap Into, and Align With Sales
To make your public relations efforts really strategic, turn to your sales team. They have had to pivot and completely reimagine their sales strategy for 2021. Take a look at the messages your sales team is prioritizing, and get a list of their most common questions – then develop a corresponding editorial that provides the answer.
Take a look at the messages your sales team is prioritizing, and get a list of their most common questions – then develop a corresponding editorial that provides the answer.
For example, if you sell landscaping products, and your sales team is concentrating on pushing cutting and pruning equipment for quarter one, start thinking about stories that can add value for that specific customer segment.
You might pitch a story about how to maintain native shrubbery, how to properly clean and store landscaping equipment, or considerations when designing our outdoor spaces.
By teaching or informing your audience about something related to your product, you’re slowly reinforcing your brand as a leader in your industry, and aiding your sales team in their efforts to push that particular product family.
Public Relations As an Arm of Your Brand Strategy
The great thing about a solid brand strategy is that all of your public relations efforts are reinforcing your brand promise to customers over time. Your entire audience, and brand reputation, benefit from you taking the time to build a public relations strategy.
Manufacturing customers need to build complete trust in your brand as an authoritative voice in your industry, as well as building trust in your products and services before making large investments. Consistent messaging and demonstrating value will keep you top of mind and reinforce that trust. When it comes time to make purchasing decisions, they’re going to have a clear choice.
Not only does a public relations strategy keep you top of mind (and top choice) for customers, it also makes a big impact in your recruitment efforts. Manufacturing recruitment is incredibly competitive. Having a solid PR strategy will be a great tool in supporting your talent acquisition plan.
If you are consistently giving back to your community, and sharing those stories strategically with local publications and outlets, people will take notice– specifically people looking for quality companies to grow their career in. Pair that with building your stage as an industry leader and high-quality talent is going to start seeking positions in your company.
Lost In The Haze?
Prioritizing public relations may be a big shift for your sales and marketing teams. If you’re wondering how to better reinforce your brand through public relations content, or how to build a PR strategy, find a time to connect with our team today.