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Generate and Nurture Leads Using Online Marketing

By: Frank Russo

Frank Russo is chief executive officer, Fabricating Partners, Inc., developers of the cloud-based sourcing marketplace Fabricating.com, exclusively for American-made custom parts; 201/345-5229.

Sunday, June 01, 2014
 

Manufacturers look at more than just price when rethinking production locations and supply-chain options. They also consider total cost of manufacturing, including time to market, minimizing inventories, product differentiation and supply-chain response. These factors, coupled with abundant, low-cost U.S. energy, indicate that manufacturing and sourcing in the United States makes good economic sense for foreign and U.S. businesses.

Repeated surveys by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), MIT Supply Chain Forum, Deloitte and others consistently show a sizable and growing percentage of companies deciding to reshore at least some of their production and sourcing. According to BCG, the share of executives planning to reshore or considering reshoring climbed to 54 percent in 2014, compared to 37 percent in 2012.

Drive New Business with Online Marketing ThreadReasons companies are expanding U.S. sourcing:

• Leaner supply chains as production moves closer to customers.

• Greater ability to adapt supply chains due to variable demand.

• Manufacturing in close proximity to engineering sparks greater innovation.

• U.S. manufacturing saves on transportation costs to North American consumers.

• U.S. manufacturers are held to a higher standard of safety and quality control.

• Many U.S. consumers prefer American-made products.

Capturing New Leads

As reshoring and foreign investment gain momentum and companies expand their U.S. supplier network, metalformers must position themselves to take advantage. Here are five steps to generate leads and position your company to land new business opportunities.

1) e-sourcing—Connecting with Buyers and Finding Qualified Leads

Finding qualified leads and showcasing your business capabilities are fundamental to growth and success. The expanding need for accurate U.S. sourcing is significant and e-sourcing is a key ingredient to empowering purchasing professionals and suppliers through connectivity.

By accessing the power of an e-sourcing system, manufacturers can gain exposure and find qualified leads, to create, expand and diversify the customer base.

Consider Adam Nowak, a start-up business owner and supplier who first tried e-sourcing because he had to “wear many hats.” He says:

“One of the challenges I face is taking the time to market my business. E-sourcing (using Fabricating.com) enables potential new customers to see what my company has to offer, and it gives us an advantage over our competitors who have to employ full-time sales forces.”

Here’s how it works:

• Register online and create a company profile visible to buyers.

• Include a description of capabilities, facility and work samples so that your business can be matched via a supplier discovery system to buyers looking for your qualifications.

• Gain access to live RFQ opportunities from qualified buyers looking for U.S. suppliers with your capabilities.

• Respond, communicate and collaborate with buyers, access RFQ requirements and dimensional details, and manage the bidding process.

2) Build Solid Relationships

Customer relationships drive your business. A good customer will become an advocate for your company, and positive recommendations from satisfied customers can go a long way to gaining more jobs and new customers, and building a good business reputation.

Follow these steps to stay engaged and forge strong customer relationships:

• Communication is key—periodically touch base with customers and potential customers.

• Provide good customer service throughout your organization to create repeat customers who will in turn become leading proponents for your business.

• Evaluate your delivery capabilities and ensure your customers receive on-time deliveries of correct orders.

• Gather and monitor feedback and measure customer satisfaction—this can alert you to ongoing or potential problems of which you may not be aware.

To communicate a strong, consistent message to customers, create a value proposition that explains why a customer should buy your product, and that will convince a potential customer that your business will add more value and better solve a problem than the competition. Your ideal value proposition should appeal to your customers’ strongest decision-making motivation.

Target customers that best fit your services and capabilities, and communicate your value proposition in all of your relationship-building efforts with current and potential customers.

3) Build Your Network

Your network should include business associates, existing and potential customers, professional acquaintances and association members. Staying engaged with your customer base and meeting new potential clients is paramount to the growth and success of your business.

To forge strategic partnerships and build your network:

• Exhibit at tradeshows to showcase your business and network with existing and potential customers.

• Attend additional tradeshows and conferences to gain valuable visibility.

• When attending events, make a list of customers and potential customers you would like to connect with, and reach out ahead of time to make arrangements to meet with them.

After a networking opportunity, don’t forget to follow-up and provide any promised information and material describing your business.

4) Be Open to New Technology and Methods

Companies reshore because they find that when manufacturing is located near engineering, many times they can improve design, productivity, quality and time-to-market. Ways to stay on the cutting edge of new technology:

• Attend programs on emerging technology to keep up on recent product introductions, methods and processes.

• Explore technical sessions on troubleshooting and quality control.

• Sign up for industry newsletters to keep informed on what’s happening in your industry.

• Join your industry trade association to stay informed about upcoming events, presentations and seminars.

5) Embrace Online Marketing

Using digital media promotion can enhance your follow-up efforts and keep you communicating with customers and potential customers.

Follow these guidelines to promote your business using online marketing:

• Gather and create a list of e-mail contacts of customers, potential customers and business associates.

• Send out a company e-newsletter every four to six weeks to distribute relevant information about your business and to deliver your focused message.

• Use social-media outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to build brand awareness and keep your customers and potential new customers engaged.

• Remember, social media is only effective if you engage with followers, so post regularly and join in the conversation.

Finally, digital marketing should not be a sales pitch but an ongoing stream of valuable information and tips to drive customer action and create brand trust and loyalty. Aim to deliver a clear, informative and consistent message; build a community of followers; turn potential customers into customers; and turn current customers into brand advocates. MF

 

See also: Fabricating Partners, Inc.

Related Enterprise Zones: Management

 


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