Social media still remains a mystery to many manufacturers and industrial companies even though there is an abundance of evidence of its success in general B2B marketing. Many engineers, specifiers, users and buyers of industrial products regularly use social media in their personal lives but work-related usage is limited among this audience.
I’ve read a few articles and blog posts about how some manufacturers are using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to listen, engage and market to their customers. However, these have been from other industrial marketing consultants like me.
I needed to find some real-world examples of manufacturers using social media effectively. And I don’t mean multinational behemoths that have deep pockets and can afford to experiment with marketing strategies. What about family owned and operated machine shops, fabricators and smaller manufacturers?
Videos play a key role in manufacturing marketing
Probably the most common use of social media is videos on YouTube. I found quite a few small manufacturers that offer precision CNC machining and fabrication services to large OEMs in a variety of industries.
Some of these manufacturers have been around for 60-70 years and are now run by a second or third generation family member. These people have readily embraced video marketing, YouTube and social media.
Granted, many of these videos focus on equipment and capabilities but they do make a strong business case for the OEM buyer. They may not get a huge number of views or go viral like the Old Spice Man videos but the key is that their target audience views them, however small that may be.
They are very effective in highlighting the manufacturer’s continuous investment in sophisticated equipment, ability to handle exotic alloys and materials and adherence to audited global quality standards.
It is not just about investing in the latest machine tools. The owners of these small manufacturing companies have to think outside the box and understand the principles of lean manufacturing in order to deliver complex machined parts to OEMs quicker and at a competitive price in order to keep manufacturing here in the U.S. instead of going to an offshore supplier.
It takes a lot of creative thinking to use all this sophisticated technology efficiently in order to deliver a machining solution that their customers will buy on a regular basis but their competitors cannot easily duplicate. Many of these manufacturers offer complete turnkey solutions for manufactured and assembled products and offer value added services like engineering, supply chain management, and logistics.
Sometimes they partner with other industrial companies located nearby to offer services that they cannot complete in house. Building end-to-end relationships leads to a more predictable stream of repeat business.
These are very important considerations in differentiating one shop from another in an industry that is highly fragmented and extremely competitive with constant price pressures from offshore suppliers.
On YouTube, I found a video from CARR Machine & Tool Company that takes a refreshingly different approach to differentiate the company by putting the focus squarely on the customer. They have a compelling story to tell and their video stood out from the ones I found from other CNC machining companies.
I first read about this company in a blog post from Kinaxis. President Jim Carr has a very progressive view on using social media. He believes “Social media will be leading the way in ways that small and larger corporations reach out to a new customer base.” They actively use YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
I would like to hear from you about other small manufacturers that are using social media in their industrial marketing.