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Current EAB member Kelly Kasner breaks down ways to market your shop without breaking the bank.

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the expression, ‘Times, they are a-changin.’” However, I believe they were referring to pop culture or politics rather than to industry or business. For the manufacturing industry, particularly mold building, this expression is spot-on, not only from a technological perspective but also from ownership, operations, human resources and sales/marketing.

Growing up in my family’s moldmaking business, my father wore many hats. One hat that he seldom wore in the early years was his marketing and sales one. He already had many solid connections in the automotive injection molding industry, a genuine reputation and a lot of work right in our backyard. He personally delivered every mold and attended the sample run to keep relationships intact. He would make a phone call or drop by to take a customer to lunch now and then, but business cards and handshakes were the extent of business development marketing.

Enter Y2K, internet, social media, global competition and China. Then fast forward to today. Times are changing.

Right now is an excellent time to view sales and marketing as a business investment rather than an expense and then develop a strategy that works for you—and reflects you. The best sales/marketing strategy boils down to advertising, which is all about taking a space for promotion because your customers will never know you if they cannot find you. The three major areas of space to invest resources are your website, social media and culture. Here are a few tips:

  • If your website has only a homepage, lacks visual representation and is not mobile-responsive, it is time to update with short videos and images of your capabilities, processes and people. Infographics are also a good target for the eyes.
  • Create a LinkedIn page, and venture into Instagram and Twitter. Create interest and direct people to your website. Ask your customers and key suppliers for success stories to share.
  • Consider hiring a professional, look to your internal team for a motivated individual or approach a local high school or community college as a class project for IT web development and video/photography. These are all great ways to expose the next generation to manufacturing.
  • Promote your culture by sharing stories of your team serving the community, working with mentors, interns or apprenticeships, supporting local groups, holding company social activities or participating in trade associations.
  • When demonstrating capabilities, tailor your message to your customer base.
  • Don't forget the value of direct email messaging by you, hired talent, a contract representative or a lead generation firm.

Make a small or large investment (mental and financial) and try something different. Marketing could be the next best thing in your toolbox to strengthen your business.

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