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Manufacturing Marketing: Digital Marketing Can Set US Manufacturing Companies Apart

This is a guest blog post from Chad Campbell, Client Development Associate at . Thomasholmes had the pleasure to come across this great firm at the Tradeshow we attended last month, Eastec, in West Springfield, MA. This blog is about Chad's observances around the adoption and use of digital marketing by manufacturers. Make sure you check out the next week as we will continue this thought as a personal Case Study of what Thomasholmes has done in our own digital marketing, what we have learned, and how it could help other businesses in the manufacturing space.

DISCLOSURE: Thomasholmes is not a SilverTech client, but we see mutual benefit and value to the manufacturing community by talking about the strategies and techniques that have brought their clients and Thomasholmes value through digital marketing.)

I recently attended  in West Springfield Mass. The global B2B manufacturing expo features a wide variety of manufacturing technologies, from abrasives and adhesives to transfer machines and wire forming equipment. Unlike most expositions I have been to, Eastec is a little different: The dress code is relaxed, there is carnival-style food and you can buy ice-cold beer (the writer of this blog does not condone any consumption of adult beverages while working).

Digital lead generation

Last month I wrote about the . Over the past few months I had been talking with many manufacturers throughout the country who fit the description I wrote about. However, of the approximately 40 manufacturing representatives I spoke with at Eastec, a vast majority embraced digital marketing as a lead generating and sales necessity.

I asked these four questions:

  • Do you find your website is a good lead generation and sales tool?
    • 80% said absolutely or strongly expressed their belief that it was
  • Are you doing any search engine marketing?
    • 40% said yes
  • If you have a CRM are you integrating it with your digital and offline marketing campaigns?
    • 70% or so said they had no idea
    • The rest said yes or they wish they were
  • Do you use Google Analytics or some other tool to track the visitors to your website?
    • 75% said yes

So why was there such a disparity between the companies I spoke with at Eastec vs. other conversations I’d been having?  It took me a little while, but I figured it out, I think.

First I need to back up and tell you about something I noticed at Eastec. The companies that weren’t embracing digital were predominantly based in Europe. I then looked back at who I had talked to in the past. And what I found was that although they were not all based in Europe, many were at least doing a large amount of business in the EU. Is there a cultural difference between US and EU manufacturers (and their customers) when it comes to doing business on the web?

Economics is a factor. With most of the EU in a debt crisis, companies are contracting and cutting costs. Meanwhile the US has had slow, consistent growth over the last five years and even though some would say this has been a jobless recovery, US companies are stronger financially. Wall Street and investors are looking at record profits over the last six months. Regardless, there is a disparity between the  when it comes to digital marketing.

The difference

According to Gartner’s study, “,”marketers have seen an on average 28 percent decrease in advertising costs, with 50 percent of corporations outsourcing their marketing efforts by using agencies or other external providers. Digital marketing is such a valuable tool as it is quantifiable, and reduces marginal costs, resulting in higher returns on investment. With the push to relocate manufacturing to the United States, digital marketing provides a perfect opportunity for corporations to further cut costs and grow revenue. The Eastec conference illustrated this shift in marketing efforts, and proved the digital age isn’t going away anytime soon.

More than anything else I really enjoyed Eastec. I met great people who were more than happy to talk with me about their business and their experience. From the guys at and  to people like Brian Basiliere from  who schooled me on a few basics about modern manufacturing software, they made some time for this digital marketing strategist. This is why I love the American manufacturing community.

Looking forward

There seems to be a positive outlook on the economy and the direction that US manufacturing is headed. The quality of our products, combined with the skill of the workforce, is creating new opportunities to compete globally. The feeling that I got from the people at Eastec was that they are in a good position to grow and expand if things continued on a positive path. The key to that growth is the new global economy, based in the digital world. Those that embrace it give themselves the opportunity to thrive; those that don’t are destined to fail.

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