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Manufacturing Information Technology and Inbound Marketing

Wikipedia defines manufacturing as the “production of goods for use or sale using labor and machines, tools, chemical and biological processing, or formulation.”

As it can have major ripple effects, both positive and negative, throughout national and global markets, manufacturing is a very closely monitored industry.

The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) sees manufacturing information technology quite simply as the “tools that enable production of all manufactured goods.”

Now granted this is a broad definition that will apply to dozens of segments of the manufacturing industry, but often includes:

  • Software

  • Material Removal

  • Material Forming

  • Additive Processes

  • Workholding

  • Tooling

  • Material Handling

  • Automated Systems 

Pain Points Addressed by Manufacturing Information Technology

The AMT, through its MTConnect Institute, is promoting the need for hardware and software that better exchanges information between: 

  • Manufacturing equipment

  • Analytics software

  • Monitoring software 

The critical need for better integration and the resulting value is the focus of automation specialists such as RoviSys that look to tie together data from:

  • Manufacturing plants

  • Corporate offices

  • Production locations 

Research from Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks market research company, found that “leveraging (manufacturing) information technology to improve the way they (manufacturers) work is closely related to top performance.” The research looked at the evolution of points of competitive differentiation for the manufacturing industry from the 1960s through the present such as:

  • Deming

  • Lean

  • Six Sigma

  • Operational Excellent 

And the Aberdeen Group report concluded that “the Best-in-Class are more likely to use these technologies to update business processes and feed data back into operations as new best practices emerge.” 

Other common motivations driving the adoption of manufacturing information technology include:

  • Cost control/cost reduction

  • Adding new capabilities

  • Process improvement

  • Regulatory compliance

Hot Areas of Demand Within Manufacturing Information Technology

Some of the most popular categories of manufacturing information technology in high-demand include:

  • 3D Printing

  • Automation

  • Big Data

  • Business Intelligence (BI)

  • Cloud Computing

  • Computer Aided Design (CAD)

  • Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)

  • Computer Numerical Control (CNC)

  • Direct Numerical Control (DNC)

  • Electronic Batch Reporting (EBR)

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

  • Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS)

  • Internet of Things (IoT)

  • Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)

  • Material Requirements Planning (MRP)

  • Predictive Maintenance Technology

  • Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

  • Programmable Logic Control (PLC)

  • Nanotechnology

  • Numerical Control (NC)

  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

  • Robotics

  • Sensors

  • Wireless Communications

By reviewing the Product Locator tool for the MTConnect Institute, you’ll be able to see how various manufacturing information technology providers are positioning theirs:

Challenges for “Old School”, Interruption-Based Marketing of Manufacturing Information Technology

Manufacturing as an industry has been around for centuries -- traceable back to the 1760s through the 1840s -- the age of the industrial revolution.

Modern manufacturing, which more closely resembles the definition of what we know of as the manufacturing industry today, dates back to around the 1960s -- as profiled in the above-referenced Aberdeen Group research.

So to say manufacturing has been around for a while is quite an understatement.

If you were heading up marketing for a manufacturing information technology company, even as recently as 10 years ago, your tactical awareness-building plans would’ve likely included:

  • Exhibiting and speaking at trade shows

  • Advertising in trade magazines

  • Making lots of cold calls

  • Sending out lots of direct mail

And while many of those “old school” marketing channels do still to a certain degree work, they are becoming much less effective over time. Why do you ask?

Because people, including manufacturer’s IT decisions makers, don’t buy products and services the way they used to.

The widespread adoption of mobile computing, cloud computing, search engines, and social media have been an enormous game-changer.

Think about:

  • When was the last time you made a major purchase decision, by solely relying on a conversation with a salesperson?

  • Would you make any major purchase decision anymore without first consulting a search engine or your social media contacts?

  • How many offline conferences and trade shows have you attended during the past 12 months? How many online conferences and webinars have you attended during this same time period?

  • Do you get most of the information that you need to keep up with your industry from printed newspapers and magazines? Or their online equivalent that you access from your smartphone, tablet, notebook, or desktop?

  • When was the last time you even noticed, let alone clicked on, an untargeted banner ad?

  • When was the last time you answered a phone call without first checking caller ID?

  • How timely and relevant is the postal mail that you get at work and at home? Do you actively try to phase out many of these paper-based relics?

  • When was the last time you watched a TV show on your DVR without skipping the commercials?

  • Do you know anyone who’s subscribed to a satellite music service, streaming music service, or series of relevant podcasts explicitly to slam the door on excessive commercials and interruption marketing?

Look the world has changed. Consumers got fed up with all the interruption-based marketing and semi-worthless intermediaries. And the technology empowered them to take back control.

And it doesn’t matter for your decision makers whether this “revolt” started at home or in the workplace. The net effect is the same. Old school interruption-based marketing is on the decline.

Did you know that 57% of the typical B2B sales cycle is over before a potential client contacts any vendor? (Source: CEB on “Why Solution Selling No Longer Works”)

So, if your company isn’t in that consideration set, your company is either:

(a) not considered at all, or

(b) only contacted at the last minute for a time-wasting “bid” -- because your company is merely seen as an easily interchangeable commodity broker

How Inbound Marketing Attracts Potential Clients for Manufacturing Information Technology and Accelerates the Sales Cycle

With dozens of different segments and micro-segments of the manufacturing industry, and potentially a dozen or more areas of strong demand for manufacturing information technology, how do you reach potential clients?

The message is simple: Your company needs a strong, authoritative, presence in that 57% of the typical B2B sales cycle happens before decision makers contact any vendors. And inbound marketing is the best way for your company to be found and engage with potential clients at the right time.

Entire industries, such as phone books, newspapers, and magazines, have been disrupted by social media and mobile devices.

And with instant gratification squarely on the mind of decision makers, the salesperson is no longer the gatekeeper and educator he or she once was for marketing IT to manufacturers.

With almost 60% of the typical B2B sales cycle over before a potential client even reaches out to any vendor’s sales department, your firm has to reach leads much earlier on in the sales process.

To do this most effectively, inbound marketing is the way to go, so your firm can:

  • Attract the right visitors to its website

  • Convert visitors to leads

  • Close sales with new clients

  • Delight clients for long-term retention

Learn more about how your manufacturing technology company can use proven inbound marketing services to find clients, retain clients, and grow.

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