The world of marketing has changed so dramatically in the past few years that it’s difficult for companies to decide what to invest in. However confusing it may seem, industry leaders are finding ways to effec- tively market themselves using the right tips, tools and measures. One of the biggest things they’ve learned is that the megaphone technique isn’t working—and it’s time to start using magnets.

Megaphones and magnets

Todd Hockenberry, owner of industrial marketing consulting firm Top Line Results in Orlando, Fla., describes the problem with current manufacturing marketing strategies as a result of “a change in buying patterns and information gathering, which hasn’t yet trickled down to enough of the manufacturing industry.” Hockenberry spent most of his life working for manufacturing companies; he even started his career developing plastic and adhesive technology for automobile doors. He suggests that manufacturers need to sell marketplace expertise by offering specific solutions to customers online.

Until approximately five years ago, companies could sneak-by with sending product brochures in the mail to new clients and get a response back. Hockenberry refers to this type of marketing as the old “megaphone” method. He explains that print and other cold-call marketing techniques are known as “outbound strategies,” or broadcasting sales pitches to customers. In today’s market Hockenberry suggests that manufacturers practice a new marketing strategy called “inbound marketing” or drawing attention to your company by addressing customer needs.

“Buyers want to find you when they’re ready, not have your sales team bothering them and asking for orders,” says Hockenberry. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from manufacturers, ‘If we get in front of the customer, we close the sale.” Getting in front of customers is marketing not sales, and simply throwing an outside sales guy at a new customer isn’t enough anymore.”

According to Hockenberry, inbound marketing is an effective and simple way to communicate a company’s message to new customers. He believes the world needs composite manufacturers and the most effective way to market the industry is to publish more information for customers to understand material applications. “The world needs your creativity, your ideas, your products, your solutions. Create a magnet to yourself through marketing and you will never need the megaphone again.”

The inbound marketing strategy

The basic function of inbound marketing is to understand the message your company sends out in the digital marketplace. To put the size of this new marketplace into perspective, according to a Miniwatts Marketing Group study, as of December 31, 2011, there were 2.3 billion people worldwide using the Internet.