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There are dozens of live manufacturing industry and trade events held every year. Manufacturers participate in both industry specific trade events, association events, and recruitment events. Whether you have 5 people stop by your booth, or 100 people attend, providing real-time follow-up will result in increased engagement.  For many manufacturers, it's difficult to remember each conversation and deliver relevant content to that attendee, days after the event occurred.  This is especially challenging for manufacturers of large equipment who will typically go on road shows in which customers can test-drive the equipment or actually see it in action.


A tradeshow should be viewed as a longitudinal program, and not a one-off campaign.  The program should drive awareness of the manufacturer's event attendance, invite prospects, customers, channel partners, and prospective partners to join them, and deliver segmented and personalized post-event follow-up communications.  The live event campaign should be as automated as possible and engagement by the contact should trigger communication delivery. 


By providing real-time event follow-up you can organically grow your prospective database, increase engagement, and ultimately generate new revenue.  It's important to nurture event relationships by providing relevant content in the weeks following the event.  Offering valuable content and providing an opportunity to opt-in or out of such communications is a best practice.


Lastly it's important not to neglect those who could not attend the event.  Offering digital content from the event, like video of speakers and presentations, as well as the post-event nurture content, can result in new opportunity for the manufacturer.


Below are steps to framework your end-to-end tradeshow program. ASR_pic1.jpg


Define you objective

Identify the goal of your tradeshow.  Be specific.  "Driving awareness" or "launching a new product" are not measurable.  Clearly defined KPIs will align your organization, guide decision making, and allow the company to determine the true success of an event.  You may state your goal as "talk with 10 industry analysts", "identify 15 new potential channel partners", or "generate 50 new sample opportunities".


Plan ahead

Avoid the tradeshow scramble.  Manufacturers invest buko bucks into events.  Ensure you've committed the same investment with strategy and creative.  Using your defined KPIs agree upon messaging, theme, and booth and travel logistics. As yourself how you'll standout and why someone would want to stop by your booth. 


You'll also want to identify which channels you'll leverage before, during, and after the event.  My advice is to test all available options.  Use mailers, emails, hypersites, social media, and the phone. But also make sure you have processes in place to capture analytics against all channels.  Understand what works and what doesn't.

Where applicable, engage your channel through the process.  Brief them on the event, KPIs, and how the lead flow and assignment will function.  Set expectations with your partners on what you expect from them as well.


Segment your audience


Segment the list into 5 audiences.  The audience will include event attendees (if you receive access to that information), customers that would benefit from the event content, prospects that have engaged with previous content and that would benefit from the event content, partners who would benefit from the event content, and prospective partners that have engaged with previous content and that would benefit from the event content.


Assign each audience segment to a personalized program path.  Content for the assets should be customized for each list.  A 6th list will also be developed post-event for those contacts that do not attend.


Drive Awareness

Because manufacturers attend road shows hosted at multiple locations, it?s imperative that details of the specific show (date, location, equipment tested) are captured and referenced in the materials.  Include communications like ?Save the Date? to generate awareness by providing information on the purpose of the event and logistics.


Invitations with messaging focused on "Join Us" and "What You'll learn" will provide information on the event, what the attendee will learn,  justification for attending the event, and the value the attendee will gain.  This may contain a link to a registration form.


Build in several event registration reminders containing event details and logistics.


Work It


Get out behind the booth and into the isles.  Walk the floor, strike up conversations, don?t pitch product, and ask lots of questions. Once someone does approach your booth, don?t overwhelm them.  Work out beforehand who will approach, who will hand-off, and who will demo. 


Utilize technology to optimize real-time follow-up.  Companies like RelationshipOne have a solution that facilitates this.  Using a third party business card scanning app such as 'World Card' they email the VCS file directly from the application to a special email address that R1 provides. The information then gets added to your marketing automation system, and an email with a link to another form gets immediately sent to you. You click that, and can then use that form to collect further data on the Prospect. Because it's all hosted in your marketing automation system you are free to change the processing steps, form questions, follow-up, and frankly anything you can think of, to customize it differently for each show you attend.


Use this real-time data capture to funnel opportunities into the appropriate follow-up campaign.  You can immediately add contacts into your sample/trial campaign, prospective partners could be added into your channel partner recruitment campaign, and disengaged partners could be added into a channel partner engagement campaign. manufacturing expo los angeles convention center.jpg


After the Event


Debrief and conduct an After Action Review.  Have each person who aided in the program provide 3 sustains and 3 improves.  This may include select channel partners as well.  Pull and review the metrics and discuss how they compared to the defined KPIs.  How did they compare with previous event benchmarks?  What were questions commonly asked on the floor?  What approaches resonated?  What product requests were made?


Use the information to develop a post-event report communicated to all stakeholders.  Define successes and opportunities for improvement.  Provide information on analytics, leads and lead follow-up, and recommendations for future events.


What steps would you add to this framework?

Marketing today can be overwhelming.  Digital marketing, multichannel marketing, social media, and big data are terms that leave many manufacturers wondering where to start.  Because the complexity and magnitude of work can require extensive resources, many manufacturers are reaching out to agencies to assist in their communication and customer experience initiatives.


I contacted 2 agencies, MarketOne an integrated demand generation service consultant and provider, and Wilson Advertising, a digital and creative service provider, to collect some best practices on extending your agency investment.  I also spoke with Don Gushurst, at Molex, and an agency customer.



How do agencies educate you about both their objective, as well as their products, sales process, and target audience?  Has any method stood out as particularly effective?


Wilson Advertising: Objectives are best defined through the creative brief.  That objective will only be as good as what's written.  Most product information is obtained websites and brochures.  It's best when we can engage if a product expert. I like to see the facilities, especially in manufacturing, to start.  Sales processes are usually explained by a sales manager in a sales type interview. They're rarely documented which is fine. I can document.  Sometimes target audiences are documented, others define through an interview.  A combination of documentation and interview is the best.


Do you and the customer develop data benchmarks and performance expectations upfront?  If so, how do you determine those metrics?


MarketOne:  In some cases yes, but generally we are working with customers who don't have any idea what the baseline is because they've never used any type of Lead Reporting before. For Lead Scoring, we will take into account current Marketing Qualified Leads, Sales Accepted Leads, and Closed Leads, then continue to monitor for up to 12 months after implementation to view where optimizations need to be made. For the majority of our out of the box reporting services, we use 30 ... 60 ... 90 day increments post project implementation. For data specifically we offer three levels of Data Cleansing where we do discovery into a client's data warehouse, and then utilize our internal tools or Tele Operations team, depending on the level of Data Cleansing to ensure the accuracy.




A common concern when working with an agency is that project duration and cost can exceed what was estimated.  How do you control project time and cost, without forsaking project quality?


MarketOne:  I would say that's a fair concern and in my experience both as a customer and a vendor, the majority of customers don't understand how long certain projects take when done right. The way we get around it is by giving a transparent look into timelines, and clear SOWs that state what we are including in the project and dates associated with milestones on when the project can be expected for completion. We then present that to the client for approval, so they are a part of the decision. This also gets back to my previous email in stating maturity levels that vary between various clients. Those Marketing Organizations that are more mature will have the resources to invest in a partner to augment their marketing business objectives or add additional resources to their team.


Wilson AdvertisingWe use a pretty detailed Statement of Works and try to stick to them, but eat a lot of time to stay under projections and still hit quality expectations. Quality and client win in the end. Most agencies do I think. Especially in design (nobody cares about copy). Scope creep is still a bigger concern with the more technical type solutions.


Agencies promise to maximize a company's return on investment.  How do you see most companies calculating ROI?  Revenue?  Leads?  -- this would probably tie back into the benchmarking and performance metrics.


MarketOne:  Every company is going to say "We will maximize a company's return on investment," it's a tired line that truthfully is false half the time. What I mean by that is not every project can be measured in hard dollars, revenue, or leads. In a lot of cases we partner with clients on a Managed Services agreement where we are an extension of their marketing team. This is hard to quantify in hard ROI, but it allows Marketing Teams to be more agile but allowing us to do work in an expected timeframe at a high quality of delivery (emails, landing pages, forms, campaigns, reporting).  We do look at how many leads are being created before we consult with them on a Lead Management engagement. We then look at 30 ... 60 ... 90 days out and see how many more leads can be tracked and the improvement of the MQLs and SALs generating revenue in the marketing funnel. We aid some enterprise companies on designing and executing Lead Nurture Campaigns in a very short time frame. The value to this is hard to put into dollars, but if a company is able to get out more programs in a year due to our help, we will help them generate more MQLs which can be translated into hard dollars.


Wilson AdvertisingI don't see enough here of people tying to revenue like you'd expect, especially since data is available. There isn't as much of a push to test as there should be. People either don't allow the time or think "we want to go with what we think is the best", without really knowing.


Molex: The manufacturer should measure the ROI on the various media channels the agency selects for promoting its brand, whether it be public relations, print media or website development. Agencies today should include the capability to use analytics to assist the manufacturer in developing key performance dashboards for improving their ability to reach their targeted audience.



Manufacturers desire a collaborative experience when working with agencies.  How do you ensure their voice is heard and incorporated into the final product?


MarketOne:  One of the main priorities we make when engaging with a customer in any industry is to get to know their business so we can better guide them on how to get where they want to go. A large part of this education comes from knowledge transfer and introduction meetings where our clients explain their business, whether most of their business is done direct, or with channel partners. This gives us an added layer of transparency and understanding into their business model, allowing us to make better recommendations for their business.


Wilson Advertising:  We utilize meetings, feedback and project check-ins. These are typically handled by an account executive and are then wrapped into a presentation that they share with the group.


Any final advice?


MarketOne:  Consider the maturity of your marketing team and the amount of budget you have to spend. Are you a baseline user - either new to using digital marketing or marketing automation or have limited resources to be able to invest in anything more than initial deployment, training and some out of the box digital marketing services?  Are you mature in your understanding of digital and multichannel marketing and looking to take your performance to the next level?  Do you have a large marketing team and/or are global? Do you have a multitude of Marketing Initiatives being run by different teams: Social, Digital Marketing, Website, Data Cleansing, and sometimes Tele Operations?  Understanding your marketing maturity will allow you to better communicate and collaborate with agencies.


Wilson Advertising: Provide a clear objective (singular), explain why you want this. explain the audience motivations, provide a framework, outline expectations, provide access to relevant materials, and be open with room to explore.  Don't have preconceived ideas of exactly what you want, if you do, just give it to a designer to execute provide extraneous material.  Oh, and offering what they don't like and why can be helpful as another do.


Molex: The relationship must be based on a collective passion for the manufacturer's brand to the extent where the agency is a key contributor to the manufacturer's marketing strategy that is centered on brand stewardship and demand generation.


Thank you to the strategy team at Wilson Advertising, Eric Butterwick, Demand Generation Program Manager at MarketOne, and Don Gushurst, Direct Global Marketing Operations Services at Molex for contributing to this piece.

I'm not going to spend any time arguing the merits of content marketing.  By now we should all recognize the imperative role content marketing should play in our business strategies.  However, for the last few years, content marketing best practices have centered on the cool and innovative tactics traditionally executed by B2C and tech companies. 


But in the last year other industries have started to play content catch-up.  And now, it appears these companies are upping the ante on content marketing.  Below are 3 case studies pulled from the financial services, manufacturing, and life sciences industries.


T.Rowe Price is positively brilliant with their "College Savings Chillout" program

Why is this program brilliant?  First of all, T.Rowe Price taps into emotion.  The anxiety of saving for college is a very relatable and stress-inducing feeling.  They capture this experience perfectly.  T.Rowe Price also tells a story.  Actually, they have parents tell their freakout story, and they use imagery to do this.  It's not just the videos that capture your attention, they have each storyteller sketch a picture of their freakout moment.  T.Rowe Price doesn't just communicate a problem, they provide a solution.  And the solution is not a product, it's a children's book called "Everybody Freaks Out!".  Well, it's a book about college savings formatted as a children's book.  They take a very complicated and overwhelming experience and boil it down to a humorous and digestible offer.  Lastly, they've developed a program rather than a campaign.  Their program extends across all digital channels like websites, social media, and advertising and all proceeds from the "Everybody Freaks Out!" go to Junior Achievement.


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Caterpillar's "Stack" video makes Manufacturing exciting

If you haven't watched it yet you have to check out it.  How do you make large industrial equipment fun?  You make that industrial equipment play a game of Jenga.  5 machines compete to stack massive wooden blocks without toppling them over.  Caterpillar has conquered the boring and outdated stigma manufacturing tends to carry.  This video demonstrates that these massive machines are agile and strong.  The video is also a testament to the manufacturing industry's emergence as a forward thinking and evolutionary industry.  And, like the T.Rowe Price example, this video is a piece of a larger program extending over many months and across multiple marketing channels.


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Optum cracks into the c-suite

Optum has achieved what many organizations struggle with, they have successfully engaged with the C-Suite.  When launching their new Accountable Care Solution they revamped their content marketing efforts.  By identifying and mapping their content journey, Optum has connected, and engaged, with key decision makers by delivering the information they're most interested in.  And they've done this using a smart form strategy.  By developing a unified content journey existing of 6 pieces, Optum established themselves as a trusted advisor in the arena of health reform.  Optum also focused their content efforts.  They targeted their content on organizations that were chosen by Medicare to participate in its Pioneer ACO pilot and its Medicare Shared Savings Program.  These efforts resulted in a 700% improvement in sales accepted leads.

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Which content marketing case study from above do you find most effective?

The Eloqua App Cloud allows you to extend your marketing automation beyond the basics.  But identifying which apps to leverage can be overwhelming.  Below are a list of Eloqua Apps utilized by manufacturers.

Zift Channel Partner Support: One manufacturer uses Zift to automatically notify partners of marketing qualified leads that they can then accept or reject. They also enable leads to be automatically marketed to by the partners, and automatically passed to their partners sales CRM solution with the disposition of those leads routed back into their Eloqua system


MarketOne Telecloud Solution: Rockwell is using Eloqua to segment their target universe into customers and prospects.  Customers are being sent emails in a nurturing program focusing on one product area and the associated business pains and prospects have a different nurture program focusing on a different product and set of business pains.  Scoring is set up in each program.  High scoring customers are sent through the MarketOne Telecloud connector into one calling queue while high scoring prospects are sent into a different queue.  MarketOne callers are working through a script customized for each contact type and solution area, probing for business pain, level of interest in Rockwell?s offering, any competitors engaged, and next steps.  Answers to the calling script questions are entered into the MarketOne Telecloud connector front end and returned into a data card in the Eloqua database.


Lead Capture Apps:  Companies like ZUANT and atEvent allow you to close the loop on your events.  Manufacturers like Mercury Systems use the Lead Capture App to scan visitors at their booth.  Contacts are scanned, entered into Eloqua and their CRM, assigned to the appropriate rep for follow-up, sent a thank you email, and sent to a custom event page ? all before the visitor leaves the booth.


Adobe Connect:  Thermo Fisher uses the AdobeConnect App for quality control. By creating a single host account for power users, the power user team can now check each others work and make changes on the fly.  It?s also improved the experiences for webinar attendees by eliminating the risk of human error, and removing a manual process, because all contacts must be on the Adobe list.


Bizo: Avid uses AdFocus with Bizo to target prospects with display ads based on their digital body language, nurture anonymous visitors to their site with display ads to drive more known contacts into Eloqua, add display to email nurture programs to reach the people who do not open emails, and re-engage opt-outs through display ads.


Webinar Apps:  NXP Semiconductors integrates Gotowebinar with their data cleansing system, their extranet and sample store, and their data warehouse.  This integration has resulted in a 40% cost savings in their fulfillment process and a 90% reduction in fulfillment lead time.  Other great webinar apps include ReadyTalk  ON24 and WebEx.

SnapApp:  A number of manufacturers  (Dupont, Atmel, EMC, Rockwell) use SnapApp to drive leads and push prospects through the funnel as well as to engage their partners, current customers and employees.  Rockwell Automation uses SnapApp to publish a range of interactive content.  For example:  A photo gallery engaged customers by asking them to upload an image of the oldest piece of Rockwell machinery they could find in their warehouse.  An assessment about factory and equipment automation guided prospects to information about the benefits of software on the factory floor.  Surveys and knowledge tests before and after various industry and trade events drove booth traffic and provided opportunities to engage before, during and after events.  Meanwhile, all of the data collected in response to surveys, assessments, etc. is captured and appended to contacts in Eloqua to provide insights for future marketing and outreach efforts.


Which Eloqua Apps would you add to the list?

9-WALA+ManufacturingPartners.jpgGiven the subscription economy trend in manufacturing, and the dependence manufacturers have on partners to drive revenue, there is an increased pressure to focus on relationship selling.  Most manufacturers depend on channel partners for 20% to 100% of their sales volumeAnd the emphasis on relationships extends beyond the sale and into partner journey. You must engage throughout the journey.


Below are 6 best practices to drive channel partner engagement.


  1. Better leverage product registrations.  Manufacturers and channel partners want to capture information about their customer to better develop the customer relationship.  This information can also allow manufacturers to deliver or receive incentives.  It's important that you work with your channel partners to collect this data.  To collect this information, and deliver additional value, you should consider automating a product registration campaign.
  2. Automate welcome campaigns to your channel partners.  The objective of a partner welcome campaign is to drive channel engagement through nurturing and onboarding.  The campaign should leverage educational content, product launches, and other manufacturer driven marketing initiatives.  Incorporate satisfaction surveys into your campaign to better understand the effectiveness of your channel partner program.  The campaign journey and content delivery should be determined by the engagement of each contact.
  3. Introduce an advocacy program.  Advocacy programs, like those supported by Influitive, allow you to identify existing channel advocates, enhance relationships, obtain feedback on products and services, and identify future opportunities.  Consider incorporating an advocacy program into your partner marketing strategy. You could even have a program specifically for end users, and one specifically for channel partners
  4. Deliver content based on partner behavior.  Manufacturers understand that the best way to engage with their partners is by providing useful content.  Content can include blogs, technical documentation, photographs, instructional videos, and customer testimonials.  It's necessary for a company to understand their brand message, and develop and share content that aligns with that message.  But even a content library brimming with innovation is useless if the content is not delivered to the right person, at the right time in their journey.  Allow the Digital Body Language of the partner to dictate which content they receive, and when. Dell perfected their customer experience using this best practice and increased click through rates 3X.
  5. Use analytics as a barometer for existing engagement, and as a tool for uncovering new engagement opportunities.  In order to enhance revenue and profit, Manufacturers must uncover new opportunities through contact acquisition and targeted promotions.  Identify trends in content effectiveness, partner success, and geographic opportunity.  Include engagement data into your persona development.  Use this analytic output to guide your decision making.  This information can also be used when deciding how to convert unknown visitors, where to invest with channel partners, and what products provide the greatest opportunity for revenue.
  6. Enable your channel.  Become easier to do business with externally.  Provide sales tools that allow your partners to deliver timely and relevant communications.  Develop scoring models that focus partner efforts where they're needed most.  Create 2-way transparency so partners can identify revenue opportunities and respond to the needs of the user, and so you can better understand the return on your partner investments.


By implementing these engagement best practices into your channel partner strategies you can feel confident that your partners will engage throughout the journey and your funnel will remain full. 

8-images.jpgManufacturing often gets a bad rap for being outdated, blue collar, and technologically challenged.  But when you walk through the doors of Balluff, and into their open floor plan with clean lines and white walls, that misconception flies out their large scenic window.  But it's not just the building that bucks that manufacturing stereotype, it's also Balluff's approach to technology.  Balluff was an early adopter of marketing automation technology.  Not just when compared to other manufacturers, but an Eloqua customer since 2007, Balluff was a very early marketing automation adopter compared across all industries.  I had the opportunity to spend the day with them and learn about some of their most successful projects, and greatest lessons learned.  As they explained "We had leads, but we couldn't give them away".  Through the following practices, they've fixed that problem.


1.  Traceability Program:  Balluff manufacturers a myriad of products, but when selling their system level products the sales cycle can extend 14-16 months.  A campaign that extends only 3 months will not provide the educational nurturing required to sustain the sales cycle.  Balluff invested a great deal of planning and resources into developing their traceability program.  This was such a focus of the organization that it was written into the business objectives for last fiscal year.  By leveraging content developed by their internal experts, white papers, and their blog, Balluff developed a campaign that meets the requirements of those customers considering system level purchases.


2.  Personalized Newsletters:  Balluff's sales force was the face of the organization.  Customers and partners were reliant on their reps for information.  Balluff was challenged with capturing the digital body language of their customers, while still allowing the sales reps to own those relationships.  By developing a personalized newsletter, Balluff solved this problem.  Using dynamic images and dynamic content, each rep has the ability to customize a templated newsletter with their picture, messaging, and signature.  And because that newsletter comes directly from the sales rep, when a customer replies to the email, the sales rep receives that response.  Marketing now captures the analytics necessary for nurturing and segmentation, and the sales rep has another opportunity to grow the relationship.


3.  Policy and Internal Governance:  A lesson learned early on for Balluff was the need for written policies and governance.  In the past, Balluff had to battle with individuals wanting to purchase lists or buying their own email distribution subscriptions.  To eradicate this issue, Balluff documented policies and governance around list purchase, data usage, email cadence, and distribution.  By documenting these policies in writing, all employees are aware of the policies, and when an issue arises, they can quickly point to the document.


4.  Code Red Distributor Program:  Like most manufacturers, Balluff relies on their channel for revenue.  In order to support their channel network, and bring them into the marketing fold, they developed their Code Red Distributor Program.  Through the development of channel assets, like microsites and emails, Balluff can manage their channel activities within the same instance as their direct customers, but still segment appropriately.


5.  Opportunity Outside of Traditional Digital Communications:  Balluff utilizes marketing communication channels like trade shows and events, digital and print advertising, and gated content.  But they also recognized the opportunity to leverage another communication source, their technical support team.  Customer support calls are logged into a database.  The marketing team then segments that data and sends a follow-up email with a link to a survey form.  That survey data is captured against the contact record.  By capturing this information, Balluff can further segment and personalize communications to improve the customer experience.


Through continuous testing and analysis, Balluff continues to uncover communication opportunities that enhance the customer experience, align internal departments, and grow revenue.


To learn more about some of the other successes Balluff has had, check their Markie nomination for Extraordinary Email.

Up-selling and cross-selling is a natural fit for manufacturers.  With multiple product and service offerings, growing revenue within an existing customer, or channel partner, is often an effective way to ultimately grow the business. But research indicates that the ability to cross-sell or up-sell products or services declines sharply 90 days after the initial purchase.


To effectively leverage up-sell and cross opportunities, companies must build on existing relationships with customers, channel partners, and known contacts.  But to build those relationships and communicate the right offer at the right time you must understand your customers' purchasing behavior. You must also pay attention to those who did not purchase.


In order to optimize this 90 day period, manufacturers must build a relationship with their customers, incent their channel partners to provide customer registration information, and respond to known contacts that abandon the eCommerce process.


Manufacturers successful at these tactics are leveraging post-acquisition Customer Lifecycle Management tools and processes to nurture customers towards cross-sells and up-sells, education and service offerings, and maintenance contracts. 


By implementing an automated up-sell or cross-sell campaign, you can better communicate value to your customer, as well as deliver 1:1 personalized communications and offers based on digital body language and previous purchase history.  Below are best practices to implement in your up-sell and cross-sell campaigns.


  1. Don't product push.  Campaign communications should follow the 1:3 rule.  There should only be one sales focused communication for every 3 communications delivered.  The other 2 communications should contain thought leadership content relevant to the contact's digital body language and purchase history.
  2. Improve form data usage. Use opt-in data, or already existing registration form submissions, to capture nominal, product, reseller, and purchase information as well as intended usage.
  3. Provide educational content.  Deliver educational content relative to topics of interest based on the contact's digital body language and purchase history.  As an example, one customer journey may focus on maintenance and upkeep of Product A.  One journey may focus on getting more out of Product A by using the product in various ways. One journey may focus on Tips and Tricks for using Product A. 
  4. Optimize the graphic design of communications.  In the sidebar of the email, include catalyst options that are dependent upon digital body language and purchase history, promoting consulting & education services, maintenance contracts & services, or new/used parts/attachments/equipment complimentary to Product A. 
  5. Become a thought leader.  Deliver thought leadership content relative to topics of interest based on the contact's digital body language and purchase history.  As an example, one journey may focus on industry trends for Sub-Vertical A. One journey may focus on safety and efficiency processes.  One journey may focus on sustainability and innovation within manufacturing.
  6. Consider advanced segmentation.  Segmentation of customers should be based on product ownership, purchase information, and intended use.  If contacts were captured during product registration then segmentation should also include requests for (opt-in) information about a particular product (not directly sales related) and/or notifications of offers and promotions (sales related).   
  7. Recognize the opportunity in digital advertising.  With advancements in display advertising you can now target up-sell and cross-sell ads based on the predefined segments outlined above, as well as target based on eCommerce abandonment.  And you can display these ads wherever they travel online.  This offers a great opportunity to re-engage with your customers outside of traditional email.


By automating your communications you can better leverage all digital marketing channels, offer relevant content and promotions, and harness the opportunity found in the first 90-day window of the customer lifecycle.

Sampling and trialing can be a manufacturer's most effective marketing tool, but it can also be a very expensive activity. In some industries it is an essential part of the buying process.  According to the Promotion Marketing Association's Sampling and Demonstration Council, 83% of consumers agreed that experiencing a product or seeing it demonstrated live increases their comfort level when purchasing.  Manufacturers, who offer product samples and trials on their website or at trade events, should ensure that the product trial experience is a positive one for the customer to maximize the likeliness of a sale. By automating a sampling or trial campaign you can enhance the customer experience. 6-sampling1.JPG

The focus of a sample or trial campaign is to drive registration and participation in sample or trial offers.  This campaign should provide sample/trial offers through several inbound and outbound communications.  With advances in targeted display ads, digital advertising is an excellent tool for driving sample and trial interest.  The campaign should also contain an educational nurturing path.  Remember that content should contain personalized messaging relative to the contact's digital body language.  The campaign communications should also follow the 1:3 rule. There should only be one sales focused communication for every 3 communications delivered.  The other 2 communications should contain thought leadership content relevant to the contact's digital body language and purchase history. 


Optimize the sample/trial registration form.  Capture contact, account and delivery information, product information (version, packaging), buying horizon and date needed by, projected application (where and how the product will be used and in what quantities), and performance requirements.  This form should use progressive profiling. Contact information already captured in the contact record, or stored within CRM, should not be queried.  It's recommended that this form either link to a subscription form, or contain the subscription form as part of the sample/trial registration.  The subscription form should offer options for receiving various communications like monthly newsletters, educational material, and special offers.  It should also provide preferences for when communications are received (specific days of the week), and frequency (weekly, monthly, quarterly).  Capturing information on device preference is also recommended.  Understanding how the contact consumes information (PC, tablet, mobile) will provide insight into how best to optimize content creation and delivery.

Nurture and educate the user throughout the sample/trial period.  Don't forget to send a confirmation of the delivery of the sample/trial. There should be contact information available in case the sample/trial was not received.  Educational content delivered throughout the trial period should provide information on studies, results, and "how to" information.  Content should also provide information on advances in innovation and trends relative to the industry or product.  At the conclusion of the trial period, provide a feedback form to collect information on both the product and the process.

Lastly, don't neglect the campaign data and insight garnered from a contact's digital body language.  Sampling/trial data will demonstrate the effectiveness, or ineffectiveness of the sample/trial process.  This analysis will allow manufacturers to better employ the sample/trial registration process, drive more meaningful engagement, and understand the return on their sample/trial investment.

Most manufacturers depend on channel partners for anywhere between 20%-100% of their sales volume.  Given that volume, channel partner engagement becomes as critical as customer engagement.  Manufacturers need to understand when their channel partners are engaging and what return they're receiving.  Manufacturers are also challenged to remain top of mind with partners.  They must educate and enable their channel partner base. But first, they need to recruit that solid partner base. In short, manufacturers need to create targeted recruitment campaigns to deliver new channel partners.


Below are 7 tactics to enhance your channel partner recruitment efforts.


  1. Emphasize the "What's in it for you".  Basic? Yes, but often forgotten.  Because enablement and support are key to a successful partnership, a manufacturer must demonstrate its dedication to enabling partners. Many channel partners resell for multiple manufacturers so manufacturers must demonstrate differentiation.  Manufacturers must be easy to do business with.  This message needs to be communicated. 
  2. Stress brand and message ownership.  There are often discrepancies amongst manufacturers and channel partners about who owns the brand and the relationship with the customer. Manufacturers must communicate the empowerment of the channel partner.  Demonstrating a commitment to a shared vision is key.
  3. Identify the tangible benefits to the partner.  These are benefits the channel partner receives when joining the partner program.  This can include anything from percentage of revenue earned, to 5-sam.inside.jpgincentives, technology access, brand recognition, additional training, thought leadership, and certifications. 
  4. Don't underestimate the power of a form.  Channel partner registration forms should capture contact information as well as partner program interest.  If they converted to the form, there's interest.  Be selective about what you ask.  Ask for information that will further the relationship.
  5. Consider digital advertising.  With advancements in digital advertising you can become very targeted in your messaging to a selected audience.  For example, you could target an audience that consists of potential channel partners that reside in the Midwest and have previously navigated to your "Partners" webpage.  Activity against the digital ad can then drive a potential channel partner into an automated channel partner recruitment campaign. 
  6. Understand the costs.  Develop benchmark data around the cost of acquiring a partner as well as your partner attrition rate.  Consider advertising expenses, sales related expenses, expenses per opportunity and the revenue delivered by each partner channel.
  7. Identify revenue potential or opportunity in each geographic region.  Evaluate the territory or region, the number of partners in each, as well as the number of customers and the market potential.  Looks at previous revenue generated, and the percentage of increase or decrease in territory revenue over 12 months.


Adding these tactics to your channel partner recruitment strategy can result in a great return on your recruitment efforts, and ultimately revenue generated.

Manufacturers and channel partners alike want to capture information about their customer to better develop the customer relationship.  This information can also allow manufacturers to deliver incentives (manufacturer to channel) or receive incentives (channel from manufacturer).  By capturing this data both manufacturers and partners can report on product registration, usage, cost, and engagement. Manufacturers must also be able to obtain and use key information about its customers, like who they are, their purchase history, and their intended use of the product.  Without this information it's very difficult for a manufacturer to grow business within its existing customer base.  It's also important that manufacturers work with the channel partners to collect this data.  Manufacturers must also be able to segment customers based on product ownership, purchase information, intended use as well as customer preference for receiving information and updates about a particular product , and notification of offers and promotions. 


To collect this information, and deliver additional value, manufacturers should consider automating a product registration campaign. The focus of a product registration campaign is to encourage the registration of a product by either the customer, or the channel partner selling to the customer.  The content of the campaign should extend beyond the "register now" message, and should communicate the additional value the partner or customer will receive by registering. 


A target audience for this type of campaign can include contacts from your CRM system, customers generated from an eCommerce purchase, and contacts provided by a channel partner.  You may also want to consider capturing the SKU upon purchase.  SKU will initially be captured in a system outside of Eloqua.  Because purchase history will be captured, it should be placed in a Custom Data Object in order to map multiple purchases to one contact.

Outbound communications should deliver information on learning how to get more out of the purchased product, industry news, and incentives.  Incorporating targeted digital advertisements to those who have not yet registered is another tactic to drive product registrations.

The registration form should use progressive profiling.  Contact information already captured in the contact record, or stored within CRM, should not be queried.  Capture nominal information ( i.e. contact name, company), product information (i.e. model, version, serial number), reseller information (i.e. location, channel), purchase information (i.e. price paid, referring source), intended usage, and communication preferences.

Through this campaign the manufacturer will obtain key information to better understand the buyer, segment and deliver 1:1 communications, and develop brand loyalty. Information obtained within this campaign can also be used in a future up-sell and cross-sell campaigns.

Learn Avid has successfully leveraged product registration communications.

There's an outdated, and incorrect, stereotype of the Manufacturing industry.  Long gone are the days of smokestacks and dirty shop floors.  Walk into most manufacturing facilities and you'll discover high tech innovation.  And along with the innovation found along the supply chain you'll also discover advancements in how manufacturers engage with their customers and partners.  Manufacturers recognize that with the evolution of the subscription economy, customer satisfaction and relationship development is very important.  Social media provides an excellent opportunity to engage with customers, prospects, partners, and thought leaders. Social media also allows for manufacturing partners and customers to engage with each other.  It provides a community development platform. Many manufacturers are now leveraging this platform.

Effective social media requires commitment to a brand, content, and social strategy.  Manufacturers understand that the best way to engage with their audience is by providing useful content.  AGCO uses Facebook to bring a human element to the company.  They use lots of employee photos and promote their involvement in the community.  They even ran a t-shirt design contest and launched a  "Caption This" campaign with photos of their equipment.  AGCO has people and customers ask them questions on Twitter, such as where to find distributors and products, and they always respond.  AGCO drives huge engagement across their posts. They've really developed a community of farmers and those that work in their industry.  Likes on Facebook posts reach into the 500s.  Facebook posts are always shared, with an average 5-15 shares per post.  Twitter content usually commands 3-5 retweets.


Not only are manufacturers utilizing social media, but the manufacturing audience is engaging on social media. Avid does an outstanding job engaging with their followers on Facebook.  They post content that starts discussions and allows followers to interact with each other. Avid's Facebook posts have fun pictures of people using their equipment.  Fun "sexy" pictures are part of their image.  They also have Instagram and Pinterest accounts for this reason.  There are lots of interactions in the comments and great responses to conversations from the Avid folks.  "Likes" can reach the 100s and shares reach into the teens.  Reweets average 3-13.  Their content is focused on "how to" and leveraging the pros (thought leaders) that use their equipment.  It's outstanding.

In the manufacturing industry no social media channel should be ignored.  Videos and photos engage best on Facebook and Google+. Twitter is a great source for not just publishing content, but for curating content that can be leveraged across the other channels.  LinkedIn is a great channel for engaging with existing employees and stepping up recruiting efforts.  Schneider Electric has a great LinkedIn strategy around driving engagement and conversations.  They don't use a traditional company page, but a group page to drive conversations.  Their videos are also environmentally focused which draw a strong passionate community.


Manufacturers that post questions, query for audience participation and input, and respond to the posts of their followers have significantly higher engagement.  Manufacturing social tactics are developing advocates, communities, and potential opportunity.

Successful manufacturers have long used innovation and technology to improve products and processes. But I think this will change.  As the industry begins to recalibrate, I think success in the industry will be defined by those manufacturers who use technology and innovation to better service their customers.  Those are the manufacturers who will truly deliver value.  But given the increased complexity of channel marketing, you have to wonder how companies will keep the customer at the center of their efforts.


The New Buyer

Manufacturers are recognizing that relationship selling alone just won't cut it.  Buyers do significant amounts of homework and research via the Internet. Customers now look for suppliers, references, and pricing online and usually well before you even knew you were being considered.  Your web content must contain useful and accessible information and your communications must deliver a personal 1:1 message. Retool.jpg

And it's not just the buyer's journey you have to satisfy.  With the rise of the subscription economy in manufacturing, companies need to develop a customer-centric focus to generate additional revenue.  So how can manufacturers use innovation and technology to better meet the needs of their customers?


Personalized 1:1 Marketing

Marketing Automation provides a solution that facilitates frequent and personal communication with the customer.  It also aligns well with manufacturing best practices like Six Sigma. Marketing communications are improved because you can now see which content is most effective with each individual customer.  Through an automated testing and approval process, errors are reduced.  By building out communication workflows, marketing processes are streamlined.  Marketing Automation also delivers a supply chain of information that provides customer and business insight.  You can now evaluate a customer's Digital Body Language, lead flow, opportunity conversion, and revenue tied to marketing efforts.


Marketing Data Model

Those manufacturers that truly want to be customer obsessed should also consider building out a data model that contains buying behavior.  Capture information like inventory, purchase history, frequency of purchase, quantities of assets, partners they buy from, and average delivery time per partner and per asset.  Based on this data model, you can create dashboards that demonstrate trends in purchase, such as time of year and geography, opportunities for up-sells and add-ons, and sales cycle duration.  Use this information to proactively engage with relevant content at the right time.


By leveraging these tools you can now reduce complexity, eliminate the guesswork, and focus on servicing your customers.