If you’re an engineering, manufacturing, or industrial business, then read on! If you want to know how to avoid the most common marketing mistakes, stop being the industry’s best kept secret, and tell the world about your skills, capabilities, and products and services, then read on as David Roberts and Carl Jarvis give you the tips, tactics, and strategies, which work today.
Carl: I studied and became -- basically working on special purpose machines and press tool design. So, I was in the drawing office and then went into the projects department. After that I started to get more interested in the commercial side of things. So, I decided I wanted to go more into a sales role but using my engineering background. So, I became a proposals engineer and then into internal sales, external sales, then into sales management, and then ended up working with a large American Corporation towards the end of the 90s, $10 billion dollar turnover and stuff. And essentially, I went back to university just part time in the mid-1990s and I did a Business and Finance Degree. And part of that was a marketing major. I really started to get interested in the way that you could apply marketing to my sales work. Because in the sales area, I was working with special purpose machine builders, particularly I was selling a lot of pneumatics and hydraulics equipment. So, I was working with their system designers in terms of what kind of products they needed for their machines.
I did a lot of work in the potteries during the 90s because that was when I was going through a transition period of moving into automation, because there was a lot of competition from the Far East. So, they were looking to, automate the machines more and there’s a lot of pneumatics and hydraulics needed for that. But then essentially, I really wanted to develop what I learned in marketing. So, I did a lot of private study and read and studied some of the best marketing guys in the world. I went on their courses, read their books, and all that kind of stuff. And then in 1999, I decided to go into private practice as a marketing specialist and worked with SMEs. That’s what I wanted to do. I really wanted to work with helping SME manufacturers and businesses in general, but particularly manufacturers because of my background to help them to really develop their businesses in that respect.
Dave: Why was it that you wanted to take marketing to these SMEs?
Carl: Well, I think it was two things, really. In my book, Marketing for Manufacturers which I wrote in 2017, what I recognised was that engineering companies and manufacturers were not taking marketing seriously enough. So, because they weren’t taking it seriously enough, they weren’t investing in it.
So, essentially, what I saw is I’m going to these manufacturers, and in essence, they were making world-class products. You know, they had world class products, they had world class engineers, they had specialist skills and all these kinds of things. And essentially, what they were just lacking was exposure - getting that out into the marketplace so that others would be able to find out about them. And the classic saying is, oh, we’re the best kept secret in the market, you know. Well, essentially, what can we do about that? Let’s get you out into the marketplace so that more and more people can see what you’re about and what value that you can bring and your expertise.
David: Okay. So, digital can work for any company, but in this case, we’re really talking about engineering companies to get their world class operations and products and expertise out there, especially digitally.
Carl: See, the thing is as well, is that what I tend to find is that there’s a lot of value in these engineering and manufacturing companies that you could mine and tap into. So, essentially, like what you’re saying there, if you get a customer giving you a quick video testimonial saying how great you are and how much they enjoy working with you, and what good products you’ve got, then you can capture that on your iPhone, you can then upload it to your YouTube.
David: Or your website, for example.
Carl: Or your website or whatever. And then all of a sudden, is then broadcast to the world. And if you think about it, that wasn’t available to people 20 years ago.
David: What we want to do with this podcast is we want to encourage this sector, especially, to rethink their marketing approach. And especially look at digital marketing as a real asset and a profit channel for their business going forward, an easier way of finding customers. And coming from an engineering background, as you do, where there’s a history of lack of investment in marketing -- it’s very much -- engineering is almost like a closed shop, in a way.
You’ve got very big turnover companies being built on existing customers throughout the years, their network of contacts, word of mouth, etc. So, for them, why invest in marketing, when the work’s coming to me anyway? The challenge of course, with that is that network and those people are either leaving the industry selling their companies, passing it on to new people who may not want to do business with you. They want to look at doing business elsewhere. Why don’t we get all the quotes in now? Because they’ve got no relationship with you. So, bit by bit, their usual routes to market are shrinking.
Carl: I think two things are happening now. The first one is when you’re operating within a region or within an area or a sector, there’s like a fixed gene pool that I call it of contacts that you’ve got, and people that can recommend you. So, of course, you’ve got that, but that’s now atrophying, that’s shrinking. People are retiring or selling the business up.
Then you’ve got the other side of the coin, which is, and I talked about it in the book, is that change itself is changing. So, if you go back, you did your apprenticeship in the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, a lot of what you learned then essentially, would carry you through your career. Whereas, of course, what’s happening today is kids that are actually starting an apprenticeship, five years later, what they actually learned at the start, is now actually changed. So, it’s out of date, within that learning zone, as it were, let alone the career and everything that follows. So, I think what’s happening now is that’s been transferred to the marketing space, as it were, which is being fuelled by the digital marketing revolution.
And for me, what’s happening is that the change that’s happening is now exponential, from a marketing perspective, what you can do with digital marketing, the technology behind it, the platforms that are available, and all the rest of it. So, of course, what people don’t realise is that gap is widening at an accelerated rate between the old word of mouth, you know, we know everyone in this industry. We know everyone you need to know, compared to the actual changes taking place. Which is actually going up now at a rate that’s almost like no one imaginable in the last 10 years.
David: But I don’t blame these business owners for falling out of love, or not investing in marketing because over the years, they would have heard people saying things like, I can get you on the top of Google.
And they would have. Some company owners or, and leaders listening to this podcast, would say, “well, yeah. We’ve tried SEO, we’ve tried this, we tried that. We tried that with this company and none of it has worked. So, why should we throw good money after that?” That’s what they’re screaming at us right now.
Carl: I think what’s interesting about that is that one of the top five reasons for business failure is poor and inconsistent marketing. And what tends to happen is they fall into the trap of just doing things in a fragmented way. So, they’ll try something with a website and that doesn’t work. So, they’ll try something with a new brochure, or they’ll try something with an exhibition stand, and they’ll just do it once. And what can happen then is you fall into this false bias, that marketing itself doesn’t work. Whereas what it was, was just poor implementation. And I mean, that in terms of the fragmented nature of what you have done.
David: Either by the owner or somebody they’ve trusted to come in and grow their marketing for them and they’ve been disappointed by that.
Carl: Absolutely. So, I completely understand why they’re feeling -- marketing, we tried that, that doesn’t work, you know. So, I think for me, it is then about looking at saying, well, okay, then. What we need to do, we need to look at our marketing in a holistic context. And also, we need to put an asset, because marketing is an asset, on the business. Particularly with the automation that you can get nowadays through digital marketing, to be able to say, okay, then we need this superior, consistent marketing, because that’s what’s going to make the difference rather than poor and inconsistent marketing.
David: Absolutely and very cost effectively, really, compared to the cost of sometimes salesmen. How many times I’ve heard companies say I’m going to recruit salesmen. They’ve got them two years; have paid salary and they haven’t brought in what they should bring in. Or they bring in a salesperson that has his list of contacts. The only challenge is that when he goes or she, they take those contacts with them to the next one. So, they can build their own consistent channel of predictable inquiries, like you’re talking about. How much better would that be for the business? But in order to do that, they’ve got to stop mixing up marketing and sales.
Carl: Sales, that’s a sort of marketing with a few bells in it.
David: What they want is leads that they can convert.
David: Yes. Sales function is when you got somebody to convert that lead into a customer. You need the two working side by side. Unfortunately, in so many engineering and manufacturing companies they just want leads without really investing in the marketing. But what they’re not getting, in my view, and this is where I’m going to get a bit opinionated, word of mouth is marketing.
Carl: So, I think as you say, that’s one of the classics I tend to find. You see, I’ll go into a company and I’ll say, oh, I’m the sales director, but I do the marketing as well. Or they’re sales and marketing director. But they don’t understand marketing, they’ve got no experience in it.
Carl: And they certainly haven’t got anything in the digital space. And I think that it’s kind of an unfair position to put someone in, really. They don’t quite know where to put this hot potato called marketing, so we’ll just throw it in at the sales manager or the salesperson, or essentially somebody that’s fairly junior in the organisation. But I think what’s classic then, as well, is that at the end of the day, a lot of them say to me, if you put me in front of the right kind of prospect, I can definitely make a sale.
You know, we’ve got great product, we’ve got great expertise, we’ve got great engineers, we know our stuff, we’ve been doing it for years, we can sell somebody. But the missing link is putting them in front of that qualified prospect. And that’s where great marketing makes the difference. Because, to a certain extent, that’s absolutely true. You know they can sell; they can sell the pants off what they do. But because they have got no one to sit in front of to convey that message, they’re struggling with their sales.
David: I see this time after time where an inquiry comes in, someone answers the phone, they answer the question, they put the phone down. They don’t ask any details of who it was that rang when they are likely to purchase a product like that, can they call them back, can you provide them with additional information, just so that they can stay in touch with them. This is a future sale potentially. And they’ve gone forever. And it’s the same with their website.
They’ve gotten traffic coming to it. They’ve got no strategy to get them to call them other than the telephone number on the contact page. So, they’ve lost faith with the website because the web designer said this is going to get them business. Some companies are on their fourth, fifth website, and they still haven’t seen much business from it.
Would you ask the marketing apprentice in the corner to show one of your top customers around your 200-grand machine? That’s what you do with your website when you don’t invest the right time. and the right expertise in it.
Carl: See, the thing is that it’s the strategy around the website. That’s really important. And also, the thing for me is asking the right question. So, what a lot of manufacturers do is they ask a question about the wrong answer. So, give you an example. So, they’ll ring up a website company, and they’ll say, do you do websites? And the company will answer with complete integrity, yes, we do. Right? And they’ll say, “Okay, so how much are they? Well, there’s the starter pack that’s a thousand, there’s the intermediate 2,000, and there’s the top one for 4,000”, should we say, yeah. And they’ll say, “oh, we’ll go for the 2,000 pounds one.”
But that’s the answer to the wrong question. So, what they really should be doing is, we’ve been thinking about increasing our customers, we want more customers, right? And we’ve considered that maybe your website could help us to achieve that goal. Could you come and show us how a website could help us to achieve that goal? Because that’s the outcome that they’re trying to pursue, not a website.
But because they asked the wrong question, before they knew it, there were off down a track, which just took them miles away from where they actually were intending to get to as in terms of an outcome or a result. And by then, they’ve done it. It hasn’t worked. And they’ve gone, yeah, we spent 2,000 quid on that website two years ago, absolutely nothing from it. And they’re caught in that trap again, of marketing doesn’t work, website -- oh, digital doesn’t work for us.
David: So, it takes people like you, yes, and I to first educate our engineering companies, etc, on why they should be investing in marketing. Let’s just really centre on this for a moment. One of the biggest reasons for you and I doing this podcast is because this is a sector that is slowly suffering from a lack of inquiries and there are a lot of companies out there and a lack of growth and shrinking profit margin. And one of the biggest reasons is because they don’t invest in marketing.
Carl: The only reason I’m doing this is ultimately I want to educate those business owners that have a manufacturing company, have an engineering company, I want to get them to start thinking about this in a different context. And also inspire them to want to say, you know what, we should do something about our marketing because it is going to be the linchpin, the catalyst to the future development and growth of our business. Yeah.
David: Well, we’ve seen it with manufacturers that we work with and engineers that it has done that. But they are world class. And what I want them to be is world class leaders in a business going forward by adjusting and having an open mind as to how they can take their company forward in this information age. Because as you talked about change earlier, the world is changing, business is changing, and it’s changing at the rate of knots.
Carl: And sometimes you can be very insular. You’re very sort of insular within your own business and within your own circle of influence. Just like, you know, when you go spend time with your kids or your grandkids, and they’re clicking away on their iPad and you going, “Oh, my God. What’s all this about?”
David: And also, for me, it’s about digital is about adoption. It’s about understanding. One of the things the pandemic has done is there’s going to be a lot of people listening who have never heard the word Zoom before 12 months ago.
So, that’s a great example of using technology in your business, yeah, to keep your business going forward. The other reason for this though, Carl, once again, to try and be helpful is that old adage of working on in any business, isn’t it?
Carl: Production goes up, so you get busier and busier and busier, and you get to a point where you think to yourself, you’ll be better off stopping some of the marketing and sales stuff. We’ve got enough work on. So, that goes along for a little while and yeah, things are good. Plenty of work. And then the work starts to drop off, and you start falling into this abyss, and you start going, “oh, my gosh we’ve just lost a few orders. We’ve just lost a big customer, client or whatever, or a big project has just completed. Oh, my gosh, we better get back into doing some sales. Get on those phones, everybody.”
So, all of a sudden, there’s this urgency. But of course, what happens is you fall into this, what I call the valley of death, whereby the sales and the marketing activities that you start, when you’re on that kind of decline, as it were, has a lag time. So, until that lag time’s past and you started to pick things up, and you picked up a few extra customers, or you picked a few more projects up. Then of course, what’s going to happen then is you can have this chicken or feathers, you know, and then you’re wondering, “oh my gosh, you know, how are we going to fill this capacity? How are we going to fill this production?”
David: And of course, that’s the biggest reason why a lot of companies especially in this industry go out of business because of what I call the cash gap. Because they do the work and sometimes, they have to work 30, 60, 90 days. Sometimes 120 and beyond. That’s very typical in this industry, before they get the money in. But of course, they’ve paid for the materials, they’ve paid for the labour. They’ve done all those upfront costs. And now they wait for the money to come in. So, they’ve got to survive. And that’s how they get into the valley of the death. Whereas if they had a predictable, sustainable way of bringing the next job on stream, they would be getting paid on a regular basis.
Carl: And you create that consistency back to that consistency again. But you’ve got to be doing marketing, when you’re absolutely rammed, when you’ve got no more capacity left, because -- and you’ve got to continually, consistently keep that marketing going so that you flatten those curves a bit more as far as we’d say. And essentially, you have a momentum so that you’re always sort of like, filling those gaps. I’ll tell you the classic as well. I’ve been looking at another company -- another manufacturing company, just a few weeks ago. And we’ve looked at the turnover by customers, and it transpires that three of their customers are 67% of their revenues. That’s real vulnerability, real vulnerability. If they lose one of those customers, they’re dead in the water.
So, really, if you’re working on your business, one, you’ve identified that as a massive vulnerability. And then secondly, you then start to work on plans of how we’re going to mitigate that, how we’re going to bring new customers on board that’s going to get that down because ideally, what you’d want is 10 customers at 10% each and 20 customers at five percent each. Because then if you lose a customer, it’s a nagging inconvenience, but it’s not going to sink the ship. And I think that again is another classic where people need to be working on that particular strategic issue, not caught up in the -- what you might call the operational sales which is the day to day quoting of the next job.
And you see if you get that consistency as well, then you can move beyond the sense of uncertainty. You know, everyday coming in, oh, what’s going to happen this weekend? Are we going to have enough work? Have I got enough business to fill that capacity? I’ve gotten that new machine on board, all these kinds of things. Rather than a sense of that regularly, there’s new leads coming in, they’re well qualified. And in a sense, you’re getting into that space then of really feeling much more certain about the future of your business. And I’ll tell you what, that’s a much nicer place to be in than that uncertainty of are we going to make payroll next month, you know?
David: Now, I must say that what we’re trying to do is stay away from jargon and keep deep into specifics and what’s best, SEO or the latest shiny object. We’re specifically avoiding that for this particular subject because it’s not about that. Yes. If you sit down with someone who knows what they’re doing in this space, they will strategically point you in the right direction. Yes. And what we want to give the listeners today is an overview of the challenges that manufacturers and precision engineers and engineering companies face. And give them a ray of sunshine, a ray of hope that it doesn’t have to be like this for anyone who’s not investing in digital. Digital can work. Marketing can work. But especially digital, because it’s so cost effective now for any business. It’s not about how big your budget is. Obviously, you need a budget. But you can, on a very modest budget, compete in the digital space. Rather than sitting back and letting somebody come into that space because you’re not fulfilling it, which I’m seeing more and more.
A lot of business owners are saying, “well, I’ve never noticed this company before. I’ve never noticed this before”. And it’s because, let’s be honest, you can set your business up on an iPhone now. One of the most inventive things I’ve heard of is a company in Germany, I know we got challenges with Brexit now and all, but they’ll overcome that, I’m sure. They’re a company in Germany and they’ve got all their manufacturing processes there, but they’ve got four salespeople in the UK. And what these salespeople are doing is going around, yes, taking -- got a website, it looks local, etc. So, they’re selling like any local person, or a resident UK would, but of course, the goods are coming from Germany. The product’s coming from Germany. And you can do that with digital, because people are finding them on the website, etc. and you can operate.
But the nice thing is, say years ago, you sold just Belgian buns, and you opened a cake shop and you just sold Belgian buns. Well, that’s from a market perspective, you’re very restricted, and you just sell Belgian buns. So, that can be very restrictive. Well, all of a sudden, now, if you’ve got a niche product, you can open a shop to the world. So, all of a sudden, that niche is now scalable, on a level that you couldn’t imagine years ago. So, what you’re able to do now is you’re able to expose this specialist, product, service, whatever it is that you’ve got out to this national, international market space. And of course, digital allows you to do that. So that all of a sudden, you can start pulling in customers from all over the place. But of course, that has the counter issue, which is now your competitors are exposed to that space, but you’re not exposed to it because you’re not engaging in marketing, particularly digital marketing.
So, all of a sudden, you’re being affected by that issue, because I’ve got a classic case, which is you can’t stop being affected by the internet now. It doesn’t matter how hard you try; it has built a wall around whatever it is. You can’t stop that effect. So, what was your domain, as it were 20 years ago, is not the case anymore because of that -- It’s not only the international, or it’s the national and the international exposure, but it’s the ease of that exposure. Someone can just click on a YouTube video, can watch or listen to a podcast, watch a video, read a blog post, have a tour of your factory from the comfort of their chair, particularly with all that’s been happening with COVID. And so, the fact that you can get all of that internal stuff out into the external space is just so powerful today that you can’t ignore it. Well, the classic for me is Netflix and Blockbusters.
Blockbusters were a video and DVD rental business. But of course, what was classic is that all of a sudden, the internet was starting to develop, and streaming was starting to unfold and all the rest of it. And there’s this absolute powerhouse that could have easily adopted the new digital delivery mechanism, as it were. But they didn’t because they saw themselves as video people and DVD rentals. And I think one of the classics on that as well, is that they used to make a lot of money out of late returns, so of course, there is no such thing as late returns when it’s done digitally. But Netflix recognised where that space was going. Obviously, initially, they did this thing where you paid a monthly subscription. And they’d send you DVDs in the post. But of course, they were just building a customer base ready for when the streaming element was going to become what you might call operationally practical in terms of like download speeds and all those kinds of things. And there’s Blockbusters shrinking and shrinking and shrinking. They didn’t want to let go of their, you know, late fees. Because that’s good money. But where are they now? Dead. And where’s Netflix? Absolutely huge.
David: And the worst element of that is Netflix went to them and said, hey, why don’t we combine forces? And they turned that down. So, what we’re saying is, please don’t just see us as trying to be smart after the fact. We really are trying to be helpful.
What’s really important is, let’s say for example, the COVID that’s accelerated that by another five years in the last 12 months. So, as you say, the proliferation of Amazon and online purchasing, it’s made even the coffee shops set up a website with an ordering system so you can order your cakes and your coffee on there for delivery. So, that has absolutely pushed that forward by, again, five years in digital space is an exponential change.
David: Now, I want to be clear, okay. I don’t see the market disappearing now for a lot of these manufacturing precision engineering companies at all. What we’re talking about is being relevant in this information age, being able to win new business in this information age. And being able to look after their customers in this information age and keep their customers. That’s what we’re talking about. Because early adoption or adopting to digital and what it can do for your business is what we would 100% recommend. Because if you open your eyes and look around you, you’ll see that it’s having a massive effect. What would you say about strategic development?
Carl: Well, I’ve got this image that I use when I’m doing talks, and that is I’ve got a photograph of someone looking through a telescope and another photograph of someone looking down a microscope and the question I ask is, which method did you use to arrive at your current strategy? Were you using the telescope or were you using the microscope? And of course, a lot of people chuckle and laugh because they go, the microscope, you know? So, what’s the microscope? That’s right -- what’s in front of you, right there, two steps ahead. So, of course, that’s what I call tactical thinking. So, what are we going to do tomorrow? What are we going to do next week, next month? Let’s get these websites sorted out, let’s get this brochure done, let’s book that exhibition stand. And essentially, what they need to do, they need to pick up the telescope, and have a look through the telescope. And look and think about that as their strategy from that perspective. In fact, both has its place. But of course, the way I see this is there’s too much emphasis from the telescope.
So, what’s a telescope? Well, a telescope is actually thinking through your business, thinking through your market, thinking through your ideal customers. Who are your ideal customers? Who are your ideal customers of the future? Where could they be? Where could you engage with them? And thinking through those, like simple questions about what is our area of excellence? What is our unique selling proposition? And what could it be in the future? So, a lot of the times, it’s asking some of those basic questions that you’ve probably never even considered for several years. But of course, why do you need to think about strategy? Well, strategy is important, because of rapid change, because what you were doing five years ago, 10 years ago, like we were talking about the Blockbusters and everything, might not be relevant in five years’ time.
So, rather than get to five years’ time and go, “Oh, shoot,”! It’s good to be thinking about this now and thinking, where’s this heading? Where’s this going? Where’s our new markets? Where’s our new, particularly, if you want to go into a new sector or something, or where could this product be applied in different spaces? So, one of the things that’s important is to sit down and I ask some of those really important questions like, who’s my ideal customer? You know, where’s the ideal customer? Where are they going to be in the future? What could that ideal customer be relative to our skill sets and our experience and expertise? And so, if you just take the time to ask those kinds of questions -- one of my favourites is the fact that I always say, tell me what you sell. And they’ll say, oh, we sell this, that and the other. And I’ll say, no, tell me what you really sell. What does the customer really buy? Not what you think they buy. Because they don’t necessarily buy what you think they buy. Or sometimes in a lot of cases, what you think they’re buying is not what they’re really buying, if you get what I’m saying. So, if you take the time to drill down -- Sometimes these questions are so simple and you think, well, that’s fairly obvious. But as you dig into those, it starts to get you to really think.
David: It does. And I’m going to use an analogy. I was on a bike ride with a few friends, yes. And the three of them are women, yes. And one woman was talking about that she’s hoping to get to Spain, but she needs some new luggage. And her mate said to her, “Well, all you need is your bikini.” And I thought that was brilliant because that just fits into what you’re saying. Most people are going just to get on the beach, and get that sometime beach experience, it’s not the plane ride.
David: But I hope that fits in because that’s what you’re buying, isn’t it? It’s the experience. It’s the experience at the end of it. What will it give to them? So, we got strategic development. Now, there’s just another point I want to make on that. Because once you’ve thought about it, then you’ve got to formalise a plan. “What do you mean, plan? That’s far too complicated, I don’t need a plan, it’s all in my head. The only time we create a plan is when we need to talk to the bank manager. As soon as he’s given us the money that’s in the bin.” But the point is, is that goals that are written down get achieved. That’s the point. And it doesn’t need to be as thick as a Bible to have a good strategic plan that you can implement in your business. And for anyone that’s interested, they can get in touch with us, and we can really simplify that process for them. Because I think that what puts people off sometime is the thought of this big elephant in the room that they try and take it on all at once. Whereas we take it on a bit at a time, it’s a lot easier to deal with.
David: Now, the phone rings, we get all excited because our marketing is working, an inquiry has come in.
This is it. This is what we’ve been waiting for. They answer the phone. “Hello? Yes, we do do such and such and such. Yes, and ABC company is the best at doing such and such and such. Okay. Well, thank you for your inquiry. Bye-bye.” And they’ve gone. Or worse, they’ve got an Excel sheet. So, where’s the problem there?
Carl: It’s about sort of capturing those details, isn’t it? And really, I suppose, preparing yourself for what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it, what sort of process you’re going to follow. Funnily enough, I was working with a company where we recorded the phone calls. And there was a few phone calls on there where they’d ring in and somebody answered the phone and said, “hello, I want to find out some information about X, Y, Z. Oh, that’s Bill who looks after that, but he’s at lunch at the moment. Can you phone back this afternoon” -- put the phone down. So, you know, capturing that information and having a process in that is just like so important.
David: You need to have a follow up process!
Carl: Absolutely. Follow up is the classic. So, they’ll do a stand, and they’ll have lots of people come to the stand, and then they’ll take those leads back to the office. And no one gets around to ringing them back. So, for me a follow up is so important. And I think what ties into that as well, is speaking to customers, getting back to customers, not waiting. There’s this one company I was working with, and I was talking to their sales and marketing director, and I was just saying, so, you know, do you regularly contact your customers? Do you give them a phone call and see how they’re doing? They go, no they’ll give us a ring when they want something.
I tell you what I want to get across as well is that what I love about what we’re doing together, myself and JDR is the measuring and management, right. So, at the end of the day, manufacturers are great at measuring and managing from an operational point of view. So, you understand how many products an hour this machine will make, what the scrap level should be expected to be? You know, what the production scheduling should be, where the material handling is, where’s the product in the machine shop, at any one time, or in the factory, those kinds of things. So, they’re great at measuring and managing those kinds of things. But of course, from a sales and marketing point of view, if you’ve got great digital marketing, and great technology in place in that sense, and I don’t mean expensive. I just mean well thought through, then you can measure and manage that lead generation, just in the same way as you’d measure and manage your raw materials coming in because all leads are is just raw materials coming in through the door. And of course, what’s the first thing you do with raw materials? You then sort that out into where is it going to go, what level of qualities, all those kinds of things. So, you’re doing exactly the same as you do with your manufacturing and your products that you do with digital. And I think, ultimately, if you can measure and manage that lead generation aspect, that’s so important, and to make sure you don’t miss anything as well that comes in through the door.
David: And you’ve just explained beautifully why somebody would read this and think, oh, I have got to budget for this. But that’s because we don’t create budgets a lot for marketing in manufacturing precision engineers, they typically don’t do that. But what you’ve just described is, why you don’t need a big budget. We can explain and help someone realise that they can invest X amount to creating an investment vehicle to get their marketing working for them.
Carl: Absolutely. When I was writing the book, I did some research because I’m a chartered member of the Institute of Marketing. And essentially, what they were talking about from a marketing budgets point of view, is all this research that they’ve done, and they allowed me -- they gave me permission to put some of these figures into my book. But essentially, an SME manufacturer should be investing between five and 10% of their annual revenues in marketing. Now, when I go into most companies, they’re investing 0.5% of revenues into marketing. But essentially, you should be considering those kinds of investments. Now, a really good well-structured digital marketing strategy can come well within that investment. And secondly, as well because it’s tax deductible anyway, relative to your business, then at some level, it’s going to pay back. And so, I think essentially, it is then about looking at that and thinking to ourselves, yes, we need to allocate that because marketing is not an afterthought.
Marketing is not something you do when you’ve spent on everything else. It’s part of a very important strategic mix of investments that you make right across your company, both operationally, machine, staffing, all those kinds of things. I think where people fall into is that they think that’s just an afterthought. It’s just something you do if you’ve got a bit leftover, instead of thinking of it as almost a mandatory aspect of your investment. And not only that, but when you’re looking down, you’re in your budget for the year as it were, you should -- if you’re going to shave something off your marketing, well, you should be shaving something off somewhere else to make sure you’ve still got something left relative to those ratios in terms of what your marketing investment should be and it’s not marketing costs. It’s marketing investment in the future of your business.
David: Yeah. And what I would say to that is is 100% . Any business school, any business degree would tell you that’s what you do. But typically, most business owners don’t do that. Or they don’t want to hear it. And they might say, well, you might say that anyway. But once again, I’m going to bring in the analogy of big business against small business. You don’t see a big company like Apple not having investment in marketing. They invest millions into all kinds of marketing, brand marketing, direct marketing, all sorts of marketing, year in, year out. So, it’s not a case of us saying it. Just look around at what the best businesses do.
Carl: One of the great definitions I heard was off a guy named Brian Tracy. And he says that, if you boil down marketing, marketing’s ultimate role is to make sales unnecessary. So, if you get the right marketing in place, then in a sense, what do you need sales for? Let’s give you a great example. So, Apple launched a new iPhone, the latest iPhone, whatever it is, and they’ve got people camping outside, on the day of the launch, or the night of the launch, ready to go in and buy their iPhone. Now, how much training does that person need to sell that iPhone? How much sales training do they need? All they got to be is a bouncer to kick customers out. That’s right, yeah. Because the marketing is so good that there’s almost, you know, it’s just cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching. So, obviously, I think that’s a great definition, perhaps you’ll never get to that place other than if you’re Apple. But that thought process is if you can get their marketing so good that almost back to what you said earlier, the sales process is just a conversion process, then that’s where you want to ultimately be.
Image source: Unsplash