Manufacturing has been one of the few industries to quickly and successfully adapt to the digital era. And, by all indications, the industry isn’t slowing down in its adept use of digital tools. According to a recent PwC survey, 72% of manufacturers say they’re planning to dramatically increase their overall level of digitization and expect to be ranked as “digitally advanced” by 2020.
This is a smart approach. Increased digital competency means manufacturers can swiftly react to market forces, coordinate efforts more easily and drive more pipeline and business.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve investigated the key areas manufacturers need to focus on to improve their digital efforts. These suggestions focus on using digital tools, such as webinars, to build better relationships with partners and distributors.
We’ve also surveyed our manufacturing clients to see how they’re using webinars in their digital efforts, and what successes they’re seeing. You can read what they have to say in our report, “ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report: Manufacturing Trends,” or check out our infographic at the end of this blog post for high-level takeaways.
So, how exactly can manufacturers improve their digital game? Here’s a brief recap of what we’ve found:
Build Better Relationships Faster
Manufacturers have to contend with a massive ecosystem. Partners, clients, distributors and more need the latest information to act on, understand trends and connect with new potential clients.
To coordinate all of these disparate elements, manufacturers are increasingly turning to digital tools. This is a wise decision. By using digital distribution tools, manufacturers can — at any point in the supply chain — provide critical partners with the latest information they need to take an appropriate or corrective action.
But these newfound digital abilities do more than just share information. They also open new business opportunities. Tesla, for example, is famous for using its digital channels to sell directly to consumers, bypassing car dealerships entirely. But these tools can also enhance relationships across a broad spectrum of partners.
Move Distributor Relationships From Tactical to Strategic
Distributors are a critical link in the manufacturing process. But the manufacturer-distributor relationship is a complicated one, at best. Manufacturers are increasingly turning to Amazon Business to distribute their wares, putting smaller distributors at a disadvantage.
While Amazon Business may be convenient for manufacturers, ignoring smaller distributors is a strategic mistake. Manufacturers would do well to view the distributor relationship as a strategic one where all parties can benefit by creating and nurturing revenue streams with a two-way conversation.
To transform this transactional relationship into a strategic one, manufacturers can use webinars to provide distributors with a reliable forum with the latest information. Webinars also provide distributors with the opportunity to ask questions, get clarity and provide a two-way knowledge transfer.
Fuel Pipeline With Educational Opportunities
Manufacturers need to fundamentally reassess how they market online. According to recent research by Content Marketing Institute, a slim majority of manufacturers (51%) say they prioritize promotional messaging over an audience’s informational needs when creating marketing content.
This is a backward approach. Modern marketing content must be made in the service of a well-defined audience. Manufacturers would do well to create and maintain educational content, or outright courses, for clients and prospects.
Doing so will help accelerate the overall buyer’s journey. Creating educational content for clients keeps customers informed of the latest trends and methods, builds brand trust and, finally, creates a community that engages with a manufacturer that has earned their loyalty. A successful engagement program, like those facilitated by Procore and Jackson Systems, generates pipeline and fuels recurring revenue.
Check out the infographic below to see how manufacturers are using webinars to improve their business and check out our report, “ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report: Manufacturing Trends.”