Todd Hockenberry started his career over 20 years ago developing adhesive and plastic technology as well as providing technical support to customers at an inner door liner company in the automobile industry. Since then he’s worked for various companies in the manufacturing industry generating demand and finding new customers. Three years ago he started a manufacturing marketing firm called Top Line Results in Orlando, Fla., to help industrial companies grow. Here, Hockenberry has a few tips on how manufacturers can use simple marketing to help increase sales. Read how composite manufacturers are using these tips in the May/June issue of Composites Manufacturing available now.
How has the industrial marketplace changed in the last few years?
The way customers are buying has been the biggest change and many companies have not responded. The marketplace has changed drastically in so many ways – technology and productivity improvements, global competition, changing demographics, regulation changes etc. One of the things that has not changed enough is the way manufacturing companies market themselves. Many companies do not understand or appreciate marketing and why it is so critical for reaching new audiences and expanding market opportunities. Often they think they can throw a few sales people on the road and they will just somehow find new business. That’s an over simplification of course, but it gives you a picture of the type of marketing I’m trying to help companies move away from.
How can composite manufacturers respond to the changing marketplace?
There is a trend toward what I call “inbound marketing” which is being driven by buyers and the way they consume information, solve problems, and build strategic partnerships. Buyers want salespeople to have a different skill level and they what you to be there when they need you. Buyers want to find you when they are ready, not have a sales team constantly asking them for orders. They need manufacturers to market to them the way they want and need them to – by being a source of expertise and answers when they are required, not when you want to shout them out to them.
What are some of the common trends you see in the marketplace?
In general, I see a very positive future for manufacturing companies in the U.S., with trends showing companies are moving back to building many things here is the U.S. Some of our clients are small manufacturers here in the U.S. that now use inbound marketing strategies to attract business from all over the world at a cost that is far lower than traditional media marketing. If you make great stuff you can be found by the people that need it.