Should Manufacturers Think More Like Pharmaceutical Companies When it Comes to Marketing?

8970947 - illuminated light bulb in a row of dim ones concept for creativity, innovation and solutionWhen you think about the types of companies you typically see ads for, manufacturing firms don’t typically come to mind. That’s because, historically, manufacturing companies haven’t invested a great deal in traditional marketing. They tend to be focused more on business-to-business (B2B) sales, than business-to-consumer (B2C). Their business focus has typically been on achieving operational efficiencies to drive down costs and increase profits. They set themselves apart from competitors by providing higher quality, faster turnaround or lower cost, and they haven’t typically spent much time thinking about the end user consumers of their products.

“Traditionally manufacturers have had little use for marketing, preferring one-on-one relationships and allowing product quality to speak for itself,” writes Claire Bushey in an article for Crain’s Chicago Business. “A Deloitte survey of marketing officers in August found that manufacturers’ marketing spend equaled 3 percent of revenues. Education companies spent nearly 19 percent, consumer services spent 17 percent and health care spent 6 percent. Only mining, construction and energy spent less.”

But Bushey’s reporting suggests that this is all changing. The new reality facing manufacturers is that their B2B customers have more flexibility than ever. These customers aren’t overly concerned with vendor loyalty. What are they concerned about? Their bottom lines and the ability to pass value on to their own customers.

Bushey writes that faster production cycles and consumer demand for customization mean that manufacturers have had to think more about the end users of their products as opposed to simply thinking about their immediate B2B customers.

Another factor influencing the growing interest in marketing among manufacturers is the increasing representation of younger employees and owners among the ranks of manufacturing company decision makers. While older generations might have had to have their arms twisted to even create a website, Millennials are social media savvy and see marketing as just another necessity of any business.

We’ve always maintained that any business can benefit from a solid marketing strategy. Marketing, remember, isn’t synonymous with advertising. A well-planned marketing strategy finds the right balance between product, price, place and promotion (which encompasses advertising) to best meet the need of both customers, and end users.

For manufacturers, that strategy may increasingly incorporate advertising targeted not at their B2B market—but at consumer end users. In doing so, they may wish to take a page from the playbook of pharmaceutical companies that moved in this direction several years ago to drive patient demand for branded medications.


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Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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