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Monday, October 24, 2016

The Evolution of B2B Marketing and How it has Changed Sales

Guest Blogger: Jason Plavic
Digital Marketing Strategist, Advance Ohio
In the past ten years or so, we have seen a shift in how B2B buying decisions happen, who the decision makers are in the process, and where these decision makers are getting their information.

Traditionally, marketing was always a linear path - people saw an ad, they were interested in the product, so they went to the store and bought it. What’s changed, is now customers are finding the information on their own. It is now the marketer’s job to pull that audience in by creating a personalized experience that resonates with the potential customers. The path to purchase is no longer linear - it is a collection of moments that influence a customer to purchase your product.

There’s no question that everyone is online these days, including B2B audiences. Buyers are more empowered than ever before: B2B buyers review an average of 10.4 sources on average for any buying situation. More costly or complex purchases require more research and content review. Customers are educated and informed, and are looking for vendors who understand their pain points and are knowledgeable in the industry.

Cold calling and traditional marketing strategies are not as effective in our digital world. Here’s a scary statistic for traditional marketing: 90% of B2B decision makers don't respond to cold sales outreach and only 1% of cold calls convert into appointments. These days, customers are much more comfortable doing research on their own and coming to a conclusion on who they want to do business with based on their research.

These changes in the B2B path to purchase have drastically affected the sales process. Instead of sales people approaching potential customers, buyers are now coming straight to sales people with all the information they need in hand to make a purchase. Customers are being influenced from many different touchpoints, including websites, social media, and mobile, and are becoming more educated in the process. In fact, most customers are already 57% of the way down the path to a decision before performing an action on a website.

This highlights the importance for manufacturing marketers to find ways to reach their audiences through a variety of methods and to be in every place that the audience is searching for a solution.

Below are four of the most important tactics that every B2B marketer needs to add to their strategy:

Content Marketing: Content can be used to nurture customers in every step of their path to purchase - from building awareness of the brand, to improving visibility, to creating loyalty. In fact, content marketing generates three times more leads and is 62% cheaper than traditional marketing.

Great content is more than just good writing. The content on websites, blogs, social media, and emails need to be relevant and engaging to both potential clients, as well as the search engines to capture all prospects. Content encompasses everything from written, to visual, to video, and the type of content companies should produce will depend on audiences. The fact of the matter is that 88% of B2B marketers are using content marketing, and those who aren’t using it to its full advantage will fall short to the competition.

Search Engine Optimization: Internet searches bring more people to company websites than all other digital channels combined. In fact, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. To understand SEO, there needs to be an understanding of how search engines work. Search engines like Google and Bing use complex, proprietary algorithms to determine which websites are most relevant to the words that users type into a search box.

Social Media: While social media has long been a platform for B2C, there are many benefits for B2B businesses to utilize social media as well. In fact, cultivating business relationships on social media could be a key to success in the manufacturing industry.  Social media should be used to fuel the marketing fire by delivering all the created content to the masses. Out of all the networks, LinkedIn should be a priority for manufacturing marketers – 80% of social media B2B leads are generated through LinkedIn.

Data: Manufacturers know the importance of data - they’ve  been collecting and analyzing machine data for decades, long before marketing turned to data. In manufacturing, data is used to improve process, production, and distribution - so why wouldn’t it make sense to use and analyze data on the marketing side of manufacturing as well? Data is important to marketing because numbers tell the truth. Good data allows marketers to identify accounts with similar needs and tailor a specific strategy to follow, which makes reaching customer that much easier. Here’s some numbers not to ignore: two-thirds of engaged data-driven marketers are seeing new customers as a result of data-driven initiatives. Not convinced? When data-driven marketing is done correctly, it can have an average ROI of 224%.

As buyer trends shift more towards digital, it’s time for manufacturers to not just dip their toes into the digital world, but to dive in and embrace a digitally-driven marketing strategy that will distinguish them from the competition. Ready to dive in? If you are interested in learning more about how to develop a personalized strategy to fit your company needs, contact Jason Plavic, Advance Ohio’s B2B Marketing Strategist.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Most Unpredictable Election Ever: Results, Reactions and Next Steps

As the dust begins to settle from the 2016 elections, PMA will host an exclusive members-only webinar on Thursday, November 10 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern to help make sense of it all, allowing you to hear "what's next?" directly from Washington insiders right after the election.

Your advocacy team in Washington, D.C. will review the election results, which races mattered most in Congress, which communications messaging worked the best and how the results affect manufacturing in America. Congress and the new Administration may tackle EPA, OSHA and NLRB regulations, take on tax reform and provide health care relief.

Don't miss your chance to hear it first, directly from Washington, on how the elections will impact your business and the year ahead.

To register for this webinar, visit

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why metalforming? Why not!

If you are under 40 and have chosen a career in manufacturing, I am sure you have been asked the question – “Why?”  We know that manufacturing is an exciting industry full of opportunities for creativity, continually changing technology and a place where you can make a real impact.  However, it is not viewed as a glamourous job.  Everyone values high-tech jobs and thinks that Google and Apple are the only place to be.

Every gen-xer and millennial loves technology. What would we do without all of our gadgets.  You stamp, form and roll the parts and pieces for all of the creature comforts we take for granted.  When someone asks why you work in manufacturing, have them take out their cell phone.  In their hand they hold the connection to everything they find important.  It connects them to family and friends and serves as a diary, a scrapbook and a personal assistant.  Explain that you made that!  Or maybe you made or assembled parts to the truck that delivered it.  You may not be personally involved in making an iPhone, but you or someone just like you helped make it happen.

The first time I visited a metalforming company, I saw a small part being bent and shaped.  It seemed insignificant.  My tour guide explained that the part is the small clip that holds my dishwasher closed.  I went home that evening and examined all of my appliances looking for parts that metalforming companies can make.  Amazing!  They are everywhere.  I realized then, that I appreciated metalformers more than I realized.  I don’t want to wash dishes, I want to close that door and push a button.  That small clip is not insignificant at all; it means a lot to me and everyone else who doesn’t enjoy washing dishes.

Why manufacturing?  Why metalforming?  I say, “why not?”  The next time someone asks you “why,” invite them on a tour.  By the time they leave your facility, they will say “why not” and maybe even go home and examine their appliances.

Are you tired of explaining manufacturing?  Join PMA and the next generation of manufacturing leaders at FABTECH on November 16 for a discussion and presentation on Manufacturing Rebranded: How You Can Change the Conversation and Change The World.  For more information, see the event page

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bringing Training Local

Everyone is talking about a skilled workforce.  But why invest in training? Let me count the reasons!  Here are the top three:

– Ensuring that your staff is fully trained on the most up-to-date safety procedures is vital to reducing injuries.  When your staff operates safely, it protects both the employees and your company.
– Training keeps your business ahead of the curve.  When you invest in training your staff on the current trends in your industry, it keeps your business on the forefront of technology and keeps you competitive.
– Study after study has proven that investing in your employees keeps them engaged and happy.  This will reduce turnover and make sure that you maintain a high-quality and highly skilled workforce. 

PMA districts are excellent, cost-effective resources for training.  They bring in local industry professionals and leading national experts to lead half- and full-day training seminars for everyone from the plant-floor operator to the C-suite executive.  By leveraging your local PMA district for training, you also can connect with other professionals in your industry, learn best practices and help solve your most pressing issues.

Multi-day, out-of-town seminars have their place, but be sure to supplement traditional training opportunities with local, lower-cost options offered by your local PMA district.  You may be surprised what you learn.  Check out the options in your area by visiting

Sources: Indigo HR, The Hawk Group, Business Insider

Monday, August 8, 2016

What Do We Mean By Bench Strength?

About Guest Blogger, Matt Roberts: Matt is an Associate at MelCap Partners, LLC, a middle market investment banking firm, where he focuses on M&A transactions. MelCap Partners helps companies in the following three areas: M&A advisory, capital raising (equity or debt), and other advisory work such as valuations or feasibility studies. Prior to MelCap, he spent several years in management consulting and accounting roles.

At MelCap Partners, we are a specialized investment banking firm that advises business owners in mergers and acquisition transactions. Over the next couple months, we would like to dive into some business issues that can have an impact on an M&A transaction. Below we’ll explore management bench strength, how it affects value, and things to consider before selling a business.

What Do We Mean By Bench Strength?

In an M&A transaction, especially in the lower middle market ($10—$250 million in sales), the strength of the management team will influence a buyer’s risk analysis of the company. Analyzing management’s strength and the owner’s importance helps a buyer understand the capabilities (or lack thereof) of the management team, and help the buyer assess if the company is a quality acquisition target. The make-up of the management team can have a significant effect on the outcome of a sale transaction and a managerial succession plan is something that all owners should think about before pursuing a successful transaction.

Three Things to Consider Before Selling Your Business 

1. Timeline 

How much longer do you want to run your company? Planning now will allow you to successfully transition and either build a management team or find a buyer that can assist with the growth of the business.

2. Bandwidth

What does your current management team look like? Are there capabilities that you want to add or replace before selling? Are there competencies or duties that you have and your management team lacks?

3. Buyers 

It is important to consider what type of buyer would be optimal for your business. If you want to exit the business without a management team, a strategic buyer in your industry or a financial buyer with operational partners might be a great fit.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Machine Learning is Revolutionizing Manufacturing

A common theme we have been discussing over the last few months is that every manufacturer, no matter the size, has the potential to integrate smart manufacturing tech into their shop floor and increase their competitive edge in the evolving market. New data is rapidly being released on just how much smart tech is revolutionizing our industry, and we want to keep you updated. Here are some of the new statistics that are currently exciting us:

Big changes for client management. One of the most significant transitions happening outside the shop floor is in the sales side of manufacturing. No longer will “relationship management” be a common term – instead, we are moving to “relationship intelligence.” The encouragement of this new technological capability is not to eliminate the sales team, however; groups like SalesforceIQ who are spearheading these initiatives simply want to create a way to strategize best tactics and keep customer priorities at the forefront.

Increased production capacity while lowering material consumption rates. Recent data from General Electric shows that IoT on the shop floor can bring production capacity up by 20% and lower consumption rates by 4%. Since smart systems are designed to learn, understand, and predict on all scale sizes from individual machines to entire plants, we could find these rates increasing even further over time.

The Manufacturing-as-a-Service model. The trend of rapidly made, highly customized products is becoming more and more of a reality. When your machines are learning as they work, templates for customized products can be saved and revisited without needing to reinvent the wheel every time a similar order comes through. The idea that small orders of unique products will waste time and money is one that has already lost its footing in our industry.

To read more of the latest developments in the Industrial Internet of Things and see how these technologies could help your company, check out this article from Louis Columbus. Every day, new applications for smart manufacturing are found and used to revolutionize our industry. See what you can do to get involved!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Pros and Cons of Local Sourcing

Guest Blogger
Kelly Barner, Editor, Buyers Meeting Point 
Think globally, act locally. – Paul McCartney
…except when to do so causes more harm than good. – Kelly Barner

As consumers of goods and services, we are constantly bombarded with feel good messages about the companies we buy from. Green production, sustainability, and local sourcing: it is easy to take for granted that these programs are in everyone’s best interests. After all, why wouldn’t we want the companies we patronize to keep the bigger picture in mind and take every opportunity to do a little bit of good in the process of making a profit?

Business to business operations have to take a different kind of approach to such initiatives as their immediate customers are usually more motivated by efficiency and innovation than socially-oriented programs. Procurement and purchasing professionals play a unique role in B2B local sourcing; we have to outline the pros and cons and help the rest of the company decide when these programs are advantageous for all parties involved and when the fit just isn’t right.

Pros of Local Sourcing

  • Convenience: There is no question that having a supplier down the road - as opposed to across the country - opens the door to new kinds of information exchange and collaboration. Meetings can be casual and frequent, and have the opportunity to foster the type of interactions that breed creativity and innovation. 
  • Public relations boost: If your company’s product or service can be consumed by local companies, hiring another firm in the community to join the supply chain will no doubt provide a positive boost to your local reputation. Employees and their family/friends will no doubt return the favor with loyalty of their own.
  • Response time/turnaround: The speed of business is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. When a supplier is down the street rather than across the country, deliveries can be made faster and problems can be resolved in short order. In addition, there are no time zone differences to be navigated and travel fees are reduced to a minimum.

Cons of Local Sourcing

  • Breaking up is hard to do: Nothing is forever – not even contracts entered into with the best of intentions. What if your company makes the decision not to renew a contract with a locally based company? Depending on the relative size of both companies, and how much business is at stake for each party, the negative PR associated with ending the relationship could easily outweigh any positive gains from the original award.
  • What’s the ROI? Many companies invest in local sourcing programs primarily for the sake of supporting the community, but they have the secondary benefit of supporting small to medium sized or diversity businesses. These companies are rarely the most cost effective option, even when the introduce innovative new ideas. Companies looking to be able to document the ROI associated with local sourcing must be prepared to balance quantitative incremental costs with far more subjective benefits. 
  • Dependency: Again, assuming the buy side company is larger than the local supplier, there could be downside for them as well. The contract could create conflict by making it awkward for the local supplier to do business with competitors – something that we all know happens, we’re just not usually brought face to face with it. The imbalance may also cause the supplier to prioritize the feedback and ‘wants’ of their large local customer disproportionately, hurting their overall appeal to the market.

Clearly, any local sourcing program must be approached with careful forethought rather than altruistic assumptions. This is an opportunity for procurement to play a key role – not only as the point of communication between their company and the local supplier, but between the groups in the company that have differing perspectives on the program as a whole.

Buyers Meeting Point is a supporting partner of Sourcing Solutions™. Sourcing Solutions brings together buyers and suppliers of fabricated metal parts, metal stampings, tooling & dies, assemblies and more to make valuable connections, face-to-face. The 2016 program will take place on September 29 in Indianapolis, Indiana. To learn more, visit

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