When it comes to marketing, manufacturers often fall into the trap of focusing on their products: spec sheets, product brochures and the like. Obviously, product marketing has an important place in your arsenal—people need to know what you sell—but it shouldn’t be your only ammunition.
So what is there to market if you’re not talking about your products? In 2013, 87% of Research and Development by U.S. companies was conducted by manufacturers. That tells us that manufacturing companies spend a lot of time innovating. So why not spend a little time marketing innovation as part of your business? You may be thinking, “Our business isn’t innovative,” but innovation in manufacturing doesn’t always have to mean bringing ground-breaking, radical ideas to market. That’s always something to strive for, but manufacturers can also be innovative in small ways.
Here are a few ideas for how to innovate incrementally, and how to market your innovative efforts:
- Start by implementing a streamlined process for gathering, evaluating and developing innovative ideas. Market that process on your web site, in a white paper, a newsletter, etc.
- Look inward for inspiration—innovative ideas can come from employees at all levels in the company, from the front line to the board room.
- Make your vendors part of your innovation team—consider hosting (and, of course, promoting!) a round table discussion at a trade show.
- Make your customers part of your innovation team, too—talk to a “brain trust” of your non-competing customers to find common pain points you might be able to alleviate.
All these small steps can lead to a business-wide culture of innovation, so that when that ground-breaking, radical idea DOES come around, you’ll be even more prepared as a company to bring it to market.