It was the December outing for our Cambridge HUG - HubSpot Users Group - last week, where we bring together like-minded marketers in our local area to listen and discuss all things new and interesting in our world.
On this occasion, we were fortunate to have Neil Sharp of JJS Manufacturing to speak to us about his company's experience with inbound marketing over the past four years. And it was fascinating to learn of where the business started out and how they have successfully embedded a winning inbound strategy today.
Group Marketing Manager Neil - who has been working in the electronics manufacturing services industry for around 19 years (though you really wouldn't think it to look at his youthful countenance, or at least that's what he told me to say!) - highlighted a number of stand out areas of importance for him when embarking on an inbound journey as a manufacturer.
One "game-changer" as Neil put it, was the realisation of just how crucial it was for the company to truly understand their buyer personas and how to reach them. For JJS, this meant building an awareness of not only who these people are, but also what triggers induced them to consider buying and when, who the other decision-makers are that might influence their choices, and where they source their information, when needed.
A second key element for Neil was buy-in at a senior level and across the company; he highlighted the importance of involving all departments in the inbound strategy - buyer personas, eBooks, blog writing and the use of social media - having champions in every area from Technology to Quality to the shop floor, ensured that there was a consistency of message and commitment to the effort required, especially in terms of content.
And lastly, Neil found that a new definition of the relationship between Sales and Marketing was critical: internally, JJS arrived at a mutual understanding of what the "ideal customer" looks like, clarity as to where and how handover from marketing to sales comes, a re-alignment of the expectations between the two teams, and finally, a regular review of this new Sales and Marketing agreement.
So, there are some of the key takeaways from Neil's "view from the inbound coal-face", as it were - a perspective on how a well-defined manufacturing marketing strategy, shared by all in the company, can reap rewards.
To be able to create content that resonates with your customers, it is essential you first understand who your customers are. Buyer personas are representations of your target customers based on real-world information and educated guesses. Their likes, dislikes, habits, behaviours, motivations and concerns, as well as their job function, where they spend time online, decision criteria, and more. Even if you only manufacture one product, you are still likely to have more than one persona. For example, the marketing or purchasing department is likely to be researching on the C-suites behalf, and both groups may have an influence on the final decision. If you have a complex and varied product offering, you may have several personas that represent the different verticals you sell into. If your sales process relies on distributors, you may consider developing personas for both the distributors and the end customers.