The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 1 year ago

Fill Your Sales Funnel in 2021 w/ Joe Sullivan


In today's podcast, I break down a simple three-step framework for what a mid-sized B2B manufacturer should be doing to fill the sales funnel in 2021. This year, we still can't rely on trade shows or other in-person meetings.

Here's what I recommend you do instead:

  1. Focus on the right people from the right companies
  2. Create amazing content specifically for them
  3. Distribute that content consistently to as many of the right people as possible

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Step one, create focus on the right people from the right companies. Step to, create amazing content specifically for them. Step three, distribute that content with consistency in front of as many people in your total addressable market as possible. Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving mid size manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing Agency Gorilla Seventy six. So two thousand and twenty one is here, and just as much as probably everybody else out there, I'm ready to put two thousand and twenty in the rearview mirror. No need to elaborate on that point, so I'm going to skip the fluffy stuff and get right into the meat of it today, and what we're going to be doing here is breaking down a very simple three step framework for what we at Gorilla believe that a midsized need to be manufacturer should be doing to fill the sales funnel in two thousand and twenty one, which is turning out to be another year where trade shows and in person meetings will be largely sidelined, at least for the first half of the year, and we'll see what happens after that. But so let's get into it here. There there are three simple steps here, or at least I'm going to make them as simple as possible and I'm going to talk about what they are real quickly here and then we'll go into each one in more depth. So number one is focus, number two is create and number three is distribute. And here's what I mean by each of those at a very high level. So when I say focus, number one, simply stated, I'm talking about picking and audience segment and dialing in with a laser focus on that audience. So you want to look for one of the best, most profitable types of customers you serve and then specifically focus in on the most important buying process influencers inside of those types of companies. Maybe that means mechanical engineers or CNC machinists or plant managers or CFOs or some combination of these people, and inside of a specific type of company in a specific vertical or or geography. But regardless of what it means for you, it you know it's. This is about focusing, being intentionable, intentional about who you are going to target and then committing to that as opposed to trying to spread yourself. Then we'll talk more about that in depth, but number two is create. So you focused on an audience. Now what we're going to do is we're going to make amazing content assets that speak to the things that those specific people care about the most. We're talking about the...

...buying triggers that lead them into the buying process. I'm talking about the biggest challenges these people face and their jobs, talking about the questions they most commonly try to get answered during sales calls with your team. Regardless of what those things are, we want to create amazing content assets that showcase your expertise and help that person during their buying process. And then the third step here that will dial in on is distribute. So what we're talking about now is distributing these amazing content assets for a very specific person in front of as many of these people as possible. So strategically choosing what content distribution channels we use that will guarantee consumption by as much of your total addressable market inside of that audience as possible. So that's the framework. Now let's talk in more depth about what what each of these means and how to go about doing it. So let's start with number one. Focus. So we've consulted at guerrilla hundreds, literally hundreds of of mid size bb manufacturers throughout the course of our fourteen year existence, and I can count probably on one hand. It definitely to the number of these companies who have said we only serve one or two core audiences. Instead, what I'm hearing is well, we serve fifteen different verticals or different types of customers, and they're all really important. But you know, I think if we're honest with ourselves here, we all know that not all customers are created equal and if even if somehow they are, you can't win the marketing game without focusing in on one or two or maybe three of those segments and just being very intensible intentional about your marketing. With that audience. So one of the the most important pieces of advice I can give you here is make that decision as early as you can this year. Choose an audience and let's go hard at that type of customer. If you don't, you're just going to spread yourself then you're not going to have enough budget or manpower or combination of those two things to make a significant impact anywhere and, worse yet, your message is not going to resonate with anyone in particular and that's just going to position you as another interchangeable generalist as opposed to an organization that has deep expertise and can help a specific type of customer achieve what they're trying to achieve. So, you know, one last point on on this. Number one focus that I want to emphasize here is is that focusing your marketing effort does not mean that you are no longer serving all those other segments. I think this is the biggest piece of pushback I tend to get early on when I have these conversations with clients is that, you know, they say, well, we can't just zero in on these two segments because we've got all these other ones that are important too, and and I'm not saying those other ones aren't important. I'm just saying you can't channel your energy toward all of them simultaneously or you're going to get nowhere. So what it does mean is that for the next three or six months, or maybe even this year, you're going to commit your organization to winning business with a specific type of...

...customer via very intentional, dialed in marketing strategy that is for them. Okay, so enough on focus. Let's go to number two of three in this simple marketing framework, and that is create. So now that you're locked in on a very specific audience segment, what you're going to do here is create amazing content that speaks to the things that that type of person from that type of company actually cares about. So how do you figure out exactly what those things are? That's going to be probably one of the first questions to get answered here, right how do we know what this type of person cares about? I think the best things are a couple things you can do here. The best things you can do go talk to five or ten of your current customers who fit the profile that you're targeting, the types of customers that where you're finding yourself saying, Oh man, if we just replicate this type of customer, and have you know, three more of these types of companies are a hundred more, or whatever it looks like for you. You know who your best customers are and why. Let's go talk to them and let's learn things like, well, why did they choose you as opposed to when your competitors? What do they think in their mind sets, you apart from your competitors, that they didn't choose? What's your value proposition right? What? What problems have you helped them solve? In their words, not in your words. We can make assumptions about that, but hearing it directly from them can be a different story. What problems do they wish that you could help them solve? That maybe you're not and maybe you're not asking those questions, or maybe you are, but regardless, these are the things that you want to learn from them and these are the things that can feed the type of content you create to then go put in front of more companies who look like them. You know, the other thing I want you to do here is go talk to your sales team. If that's not you, some a lot of the listeners to this podcast are probably coming from a sales background. But if that's not you, then go talk to your sales team. What are the most common issues that they are hearing about regularly from these types of customers, these ideal customers that you're going to zero in and target with some focus this year? What are you they hearing from them? Biggest problems that these people are talking about? What are those buyers struggling with and what things are they trying to achieve? And during particularly consultative sales calls, what are the specific questions these people are asking time after time? It may be very specific product or service related questions, may be very technical things. But talk to your sales team and, you know, the other group to talk to, maybe, depending on what type of organization you are, are your engineers or your sales engineers, people who are having technical, you know, engineer to engineer convert stations with your audience. What are the things that they're talking about and can we develop some content topics around those things? So then the next thing you want to do is organize all these insights you're gathering from your customer interviews and from your internal conversations with their sales teams. Your engineers. Let's organize all this, maybe into a spreadsheet. That's what we like to do. We've got a tool on our website that I can link to in the show notes. But, you know, organize all these these different topics.

You figure out who are the subject matter experts at your company that would be the ones to provide the insights on these topics. And it doesn't mean they have to write about it or film a video about it. Maybe you can help facilitate that, or so somebody on your team in the marketing role can help facilitate that. But regardless, get those things down on paper, start organizing them, start thinking about which are the best ones, that the most compelling content ideas that you know you could create content around. You can produce this content in a number of different formats to it doesn't have to be a written piece or what you'd think about traditionally as a blog post or something. You can do it that way and it's a great way to do it if you have the ability to get, you know that those things down in words on paper and and develop really good written content. The other thing you could do is launch a recurring webinar series, maybe every other week or once a month, you have one of your subject matter experts or, to even better, to or three of them talking together in a very conversational way about these topics and then opening up a QA session with a live, hyper targeted audience, you know, that audience that you decided to focus on, of course, and step one. Other things you could do. You could bring in a videographer for two days or one day film your experts talking about these things while the camera rolls. Could somebody in your team interview them, or could you put two people together and chairs and have them sort of riff on a topic that you're constantly hearing about from your audience? Another way to do it would be start a podcast, like I'm doing right here. You know what are when you think about all these things that you're hearing in these sales calls and customer interviews, you can sit here and talk about them. I'm doing that right now. You know, I've had a number of conversations with people about where to channel their their spend their media budget, whether to hire an agency or do work internally. But a lot of companies have budget to spend, with trade shows going away and and how can you keep your pipeline full without it. Well, that's what I'm teaching in this conversation, right. So what's your version of that? How can you utilize a podcast as a medium or a Webinar as a medium to speak directly to your audience about these things that you know they care about? So those are four ways to do it. Blog, post, webinar series, bring in a videographer, start a podcast, regardless of how you do it. A concept I really like that we've talked about internally a lot with our strategy Ma Gorilla, is this idea of the netflixing, of be to be content or you know, you think about the way you get sucked in by a great TV show on Netflix or Amazon prime or Hulu or whereever you watch watch your shows these days, great content that's compelling, a really good show. You wind up binge watching it one episode after the next, right, and the next thing you know you've polished off a whole season in a weekend or two weekends or whatever. But the idea is you can have the same effect on your audience if the content that you create is compelling to them and speaks to the things that they care about in their job. This is the B to be the business version...

...of netflix content. So think of it that way. People consume this, caught this exact podcast you're listening to right now in this way. I have a lot of listeners who, you know, I hear from them very frequently saying, Hey, heard your episode last week with so and so and it was great and looking forward to the next one. Okay, you can do a podcast, you can do through written content that goes live every week and then is distributed through email or however. But think of that idea of it. How do you create compelling content in a consistent way, publishing with a regular cadence so people expect more's coming and the ready to consume it? All Right, so we've talked about steps one in two. One is focus, to is create all this amazing content it. Number three is distribute, and this is where so many companies miss the mark. We did an episode about content distribution not too long ago, a few months back. That goes into much more depth with this. But this, this step, I think, is where a lot of companies missed because they think of, you know, publishing content from an Indom marketing perspective where you publish content, you optimize it with some keywords if it's written, or optimize it for youtube if it's a video or whatever, and then you let it sit and you wait for people to show up and find it and and that should absolutely be part of your strategy. You know, I'm I'm an advocate of inbound and Seo and doing it right, but that's a long game, you know, it's you can't would just dive into that game and start winning, you know, a couple months into doing it. It's going to take your time and depending on how competitive your space is in the real world and online, it can be really difficult to see significant results quickly. And so there needs to be a component of taking this amazing content you're creating and then going directly at that audience you're focused on and delivering it to them directly. And there are a few ways to do that. There they're probably a lot of ways to do it, but I'm going to talk about a few of them. But really what it comes down to is make an asset that your audience is going to care about and then go get it in front of as many of those people as you possibly can so they can consume it, as opposed to letting it sit there collecting dust on your website or wherever you're publishing it. So well, let's talk about a two ways to distribute that content. One is is by email, and this is what probably many of you are used to doing. But if you think about it, what think about what you're existing database of a thousand people, or Tenzero or a hundred thousand is used to seeing from you in their inboxes? For most of you it's probably a company newsletter that's jam packed with First Person Pronouns. Lots of I me my we US are talking about the trade show you're going to be at and talking about, you know, the new new customer you just landed and the new project or working on, and the reality is most people are just going to sort of ignore it. They're going to breeze right by it. It's not helpful to them. It's talking about you and they care about themselves and their problems and goals, not you and yours, until they're in the process of actively vetting you for a p project or something that they need help with. So we need to...

...shift the mindset here. Create amazing content and use email to distribute it so that you're creating value in their inboxes every week or every other week, probably at the at a minimum, and when you're talking to you speaking to those problems they have in questions or trying to get answered, they're going to pay attention as opposed to just, you know, bragging about yourself. So think of yourself as a media source. Think of your favorite media sources where you you gather information and read about new developments and technologies and problems at other people like like you are trying to solve and how they they did it. Whether it's an online you know, it's a website at trade journal, if it's you know, who knows, anywhere you gather information, and even in your personal life, you know, if you're a reader of the New York Times or CNN or Fox News or wherever you gather information. Be that for your audience in your niche, and I'm not talking about breaking news, but I'm talking about deliver exceptional content that people are going to want to consume. Be that source, the best source possible for your specific niche, around your expertise and, instead of talking about yourself, provide helpful, resourceful insights okay, so that is email. So we're again. We're talking about step three here, which is distributing your content. Email is one way to distribute it. Be that media source, deliver content to them regularly via email. Another way to do it here, that is I'm becoming more and more of a fan of, is using the paid to social media channels. Bear with me here if this is sort of new to you or something that you know, you might might not think is going to make sense for your audience, but linked in and facebook are both really great sources to distribute this this content you're creating, but you're going to probably have to put some media budget behind it. So you know most most companies, what they do by default, as they use their company pages on Linkedin or facebook to talk about all this stuff you can buy from them and what new machinery they're touting and amazing their customer services and who won the company volleyball game at the company Picnic and stuff like this, and their followers are scrolling right past it for the most part. Like you'll get some engagement on that stuff, but it's this is not something that's helping you fill your funnel. Okay, so there is a place for that to broadcast company culture. Absolutely, I'm not saying there is not, but right now we're talking about business development and filling your funnel and that's not going to do it for you. So the other problem with using your company pages in on Linkedin and facebook is is probably about one percent of your total addressable markets even seeing these posts in the first place. So you know linked in and facebook they've got algorithms that you know are they're created to try to show content to people that people want to actually consume and to the right types of people. And so you've got to do here is move beyond just using these...

...channels organically posting through your company pages in particular. Building a personal personal brand is a great thing to do on Linkedin in particular, I think, but building an audience takes a lot of time. You know, if you've got five hundred connections on Linkedin or or, you know, three hundred followers or whatever, you're not going to reach much of your audience. That's that's the reality. You've got to have tens of thousands of people following. You need to be posting consistently, you need to be you need to be commenting on other people's things and all this stuff takes time and and it's so I guess what I'm advocating for here is not just using those organic social channels to try to, you know, spit out links to your new blog post through your personal linked in or your company linked in or facebook page. What I'm talking about here is putting some significant budget, probably a few thousand dollars a month minimum, behind promoting the amazing content that we talked about creating and step to where you're answering questions, you're solving problems, you're addressing buying triggers and whether that content takes on the form of video or written or audio, you can use facebook and linked in to say, you know, hey, hey, linkedin or facebook, show this content, this little video or this written piece of content. Show this to everybody with this job title, from this type of company, in this geographic region, with these interests. And now what you're doing is you is you're amplifying the reach in front of a very intentionally targeted audience to show that amazing content you're creating to as many as possible. So this can get fairly complex. I'm trying to keep it simple and not get into the weeds too much. But, you know, a few things I want to comment on here. You know, people push back on facebook. In the BDB world, your buyers are on facebook. Like a third of the world is on facebook. And so just because facebook tends to be a place for, you know, people to post family photos and vacation pictures and and you know, things like this, it's not a business focus network. Here's the reality. You know, you, your siblings, your children, your parents, they're probably on facebook and all those people are. Most of those people have jobs too, and and they, you know, they have a personal life and they have a work life. And just because they hop on facebook at ten PM while they're watching sports center or whatever, the local news, and they that's on the TV and they're sitting on the couch flipping through facebook, it does they're not in a business mindset. But it doesn't mean that when something scrolls across their feed that relates to an issue they were having today or a question that they were trying to get answered yesterday or last week, when that scrolls across their feet all of a sudden because you very intentionally targeted them, they're probably going to stop and they're going to watch it might be a forty five seconds video and then that happens again next week. They watch another video or see another article related to this problem, and...

...then another one a few days later. All of a sudden, what you're doing here is what we'd call building, no like trust with these people. You're you're building awareness by being in front of them consistent. You're delivering insights at matter for them. As and as they start to consume that content, all of a sudden you're starting to take on an expert position in their minds. And so it's this happening, with consistency, that is going to allow you to to make some impact. So I guess to to kind of summarize this particular this step number three of distribute. You've got all these amazing assets you're making in step two for a very intentional audience you created, and step one. Now we got to go get the stuff in front of people people. We need to stop with the trade the trade shows are going away. What I was going to say is we need to stop with the the print ads in the trade journals. Two thousand, five thousand a month I see companies spending on these print ads, sometimes even more, just because you've been doing it for the last twenty years and the stuff getting people nowhere. You know it. Very few people can say, you know, I spent this much in a print ad in a trade journal and I know that it returned this to me. Well, Linkedin or facebook will show you. It's going to show you data on what what percentage of people are consuming this content, what types of companies are consuming it, it's going to give you data on who's you know, how many people are clicking through and what happens on your website after those people click through. Like this, this starts to become very measurable and as you do it with consistency over time you're going to be able to tie some rl to it. So all right. So, in summary, step one, create focus on the right people from the right companies. Step to, create amazing content specifically for them. Step three, distribute that content with consistency in front of as many people in your total addressable market as possible. All right, so that is it. I am going to conclude by recommending that, if you're looking at your strategy for this year, still check out our industrial marketing roadmap page on our website. We do a strategy project with with new customers, where we're going to help you sort of look at all this stuff figure out the best way to get you from point a to point B via really the same strategy that I just described here. So if you want to chat, let's do it. CHECK OUT OUR Industrial Marketing Road Map and thank you for listening. We will catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy, you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for BTB manufacturers at Grilla seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for...

...listening. Until next time.

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