Putting digital to work for manufacturers

May 13, 2016 | Amazing Innovation: How technology is changing the manufacturing landscape Michael Bird, President, Spindustry Digital, mbird@iowaabi.org

Digital technology, including websites, email, texting, social and mobile devices, has changed marketing for today’s manufacturer. However, not everyone has taken advantage. Concepts like lean manufacturing on the plant floor needed to be taken care of first, but it is time to bring this same kind of lean thinking to partners, employees and customers.

Manufacturers developed sales channels long ago that are continually nurtured. Marketing to new customers isn’t a focus; if it is done, many use techniques that are 30 years old. For example, according to Content Marketing Institute, “85% [of manufacturers] use paid print/offline promotion, but only 34% say it’s effective, while search engine marketing (SEM) gets a much higher grade in terms of effectiveness (52% vs. 34%).”

Manufacturers need to grow but must do things more efficiently in the face of global competition. Companies need to develop relationships with the end consumer, in addition to dealers, and let go of other ancient assumptions. Digital allows operation with a different ability to scale.

When companies looked at expanding in the past, the amount of information available was limited, the time to market was long, print catalogs were a must and there was no feedback once something went to market. Trade shows ruled the land. Now, manufacturers can digitally ask for input, demonstrate ideas via video and get feedback from dealers and consumers quickly.

It is time for manufacturers to evaluate these self- imposed rules and revisit dreams from years ago. The ability to simply give something a try and measure success via digital is much easier.

Overwhelming? What’s one thing a manufacturer can start with today? A Google AdWords program can be used to do market research, reach consumers efficiently and deliver real sales vs. only brand recognition.

For more thoughts on digital technology in manufacturing, visit the Manufacturing section of our blog at http://info.spindustry.com/blog/topic/manufacturing.