Our last Cambridge HUG - HubSpot Users Group - of 2017 took place on 7th December, and as usual we were happy to bring together like-minded marketers in the local area to listen and discuss all things new and interesting in our world.
For the occasion, we were fortunate to have Neil Sharp of JJS Manufacturing to speak to us about his company's experience with inbound marketing over the past four years. And it was fascinating to learn about where the business had started from in terms of marketing and how they have successfully embedded a winning inbound strategy today.
Group Marketing Manager Neil - who has been working in the electronics manufacturing services industry for around 19 years (though you really wouldn't think it to look at his youthful countenance, or at least that's what he told me to say!) - highlighted a number of stand out areas of importance for him when embarking on an inbound journey as a manufacturer.
One "game-changer" as Neil put it, was the realisation of just how crucial it was for the company to truly understand their buyer personas and how to reach them. For JJS, this meant building an awareness of not only who these people are, but also what triggers induced them to consider buying and when, who the other decision-makers are that might influence their choices, and where they source their information, when needed.
A second key element for Neil was buy-in at a senior level and across the company; he highlighted the importance of involving all departments in the inbound strategy - buyer personas, eBooks, blog writing and the use of social media - having champions in every area from Technology to Quality to the shop floor, ensured that there was a consistency of message and commitment to the effort required, especially in terms of content.
It was around content writing that Neil had some really useful hints and tips for our audience, especially in terms of the perennial issue of coming up with new ideas and topics on which to write.
He advised folks not to think too hard about it, for as he pointed out: "There will ideas in your business, everywhere you look... some of the most apparently "boring" topics are often worth their weight in blogging gold."
And Neil is exactly right. If you're struggling for your next post theme, think about the issues that are sitting on your desk right now and how dealing with them might be useful to your readers; what are others in your industry talking about that you might have an opinion on; have you visited a customer or supplier recently - what were you talking to them about? At JJS, they regularly mine for blogging topics at "listening days", where staff are invited to feedback on specific issues internally, or else, where they are looking at process improvement. And they have also established a content club, whereby they invite people from a cross-section of departments to brainstorm and flesh out content ideas.
If that hasn't given you enough fuel for idea generation, here are 24 more ways to turn your manufacturing day-to-day into great content.
Lastly, Neil found that a new definition of the relationship between Sales and Marketing was critical: internally, JJS arrived at a mutual understanding of what the "ideal customer" looks like, clarity as to where and how handover from marketing to sales comes, a re-alignment of the expectations between the two teams, and finally, a regular review of this new Sales and Marketing agreement.
So, these are some of the key takeaways from Neil's "view from the inbound coal-face", as it were - a perspective on how a well-defined manufacturing marketing strategy, shared by all in the company, can reap rewards.
Hope you can join us for our next Cambridge HUG on 22nd March, when we'll look at the content promotion strategies you should be using today and how inbound marketing works across verticals in a niche industry. Book your place today.
Editor's note: This post appeared on Equinet's "What we're talking about" Passle page on 14th December 2017 - it has been re-worked and amended for the purpose of this blog post.