For this edition of Ask an Expert, we spoke with Steve Melito, Senior Solutions Specialist for FuzeHub, which now provides Marketing Services. You may know Steve as the “Solutions Program Guy” who has answered many of your calls over the years, but he plays many roles at FuzeHub, including internal communications and working on paid marketing projects such as creating website content. Steve has a 25-year background in marketing and technical writing and is the owner of Thunderbolt Business Services, which specializes in marketing for manufacturing and technology companies.
How has the pandemic changed how manufacturers need to think about marketing?
I don’t think COVID changed things as much as it accelerated existing trends. Before there was a pandemic there were very compelling reasons to spend less money going to trade shows and more money on digital marketing. Then COVID forced companies to stop going to in-person events because all of them were canceled. That made companies that were reluctant to change think about what else they could do. They really needed a way to reach their target market. It used to be that they’d fly somewhere, pay for a hotel, booth setup and show fees, collect a bunch of business cards and have some conversations and then go back to the office and follow up. Some trade shows are back, of course, but manufacturers are questioning whether it is even worth going to them when you can make your website a lead generation machine.
So, companies are investing more in their website, in their digital presence, and properly so. But you have to follow best practices. You can’t just have a website and expect people to show up. Your site has to be search engine optimized and optimized for usability. It must provide the right kind of information that people want when they want it and how they want it. It is no longer even just about written content, but are you going to do video and if so, how fancy are you going to get? Are you going to think about podcasts? Are you going to do infographics? If you are going to do written content, you really have to think about how you want to provide it. It is not enough to just write something and post it and say, “OK, world. It is here. Come find it.” You have to think about how you are going to distribute it. You have to begin building email lists and use social media wisely. If you are a manufacturer you have to use LinkedIn because that is where the decision makers are. Plus, sometimes manufacturers need broader help with things like branding and a messaging audit. FuzeHub can do all of these things for you as part of a paid project.
Manufacturers are struggling to find workers. Should potential employers be marketing to job seekers?
Yes! Companies with workforce challenges should be doing some marketing in this area because where are the job seekers? They’re searching the web! They aren’t checking the help wanted section of the local newspaper anymore. So, does your company show any of its personality? Maybe it is sharing some pictures from the company picnic. Or maybe it is highlighting individual contributions of regular people. If you can do that, it’s pure gold. Some companies do a great job at it: “Here is Joe. He has been a machinist for 25 years and this is what he does. We are super grateful he’s here. No one else is as good at maintaining an injection mold as Joe.” Companies that show they value their people are also more likely to keep them, and workforce retention is certainly a related challenge these days.
What are some of the biggest mistakes manufacturers make in marketing themselves?
One of the most common pitfalls is only talking about yourself and your company. It can’t just be “me, me, me, what we do, and why we’re the best.” You have to understand the needs of your ideal customer. It is also important to make business decisions and do some analysis before you get into the marketing phase. People these days are all hyped up and saying things like “We have to get into medical.” OK. Great. It’s a huge market but what can you specifically do in the medical market? No marketer is going to solve that problem for you. You have to solve it at the highest level of your organization and provide clear direction to the marketer. Tell them “We can do these types of products and here are the types of companies we want to go after.” Then them work their magic.
Another mistake is failing to provide evidence that you solve problems. That can be case studies; they are just the best. And then there is the use of “marketing speak”—the words are all in the right place and make sense grammatically but don’t really tell anybody anything. Engineers don’t want language like “state of the art” or “cutting edge.” Here’s what’s on their mind: “Tell me the specs. Who have you worked with before? Show me the proof.”
You have to know your audience. You have to be credible. Offer the proof. Don’t just talk about yourself. Those are all really big things.
Any other advice?
I often hear “Why can’t I just write it myself?” It is not that you are a bad writer, but you have other things to do and there is an opportunity cost, to start with. If you are asking your sales team to write marketing copy, they are not making sales calls and they aren’t selling. I wouldn’t use my salespeople that way. And the executives, the founders of the company, they have the best intentions, but they are going a mile a minute and won’t be able to commit to producing content on a regular basis. If you want to outsource that, come and talk to us at FuzeHub, because you may not need to have that talent on your team full time.
What other marketing services should manufacturers come to FuzeHub for?
We can provide an SEO audit of your website to see how well you are ranking on Google and other search engines. If you are doing paid advertising through Google Ads, we can do an analysis to make sure you are getting the most bang for the buck. We can revamp your website. We can help you with a persona analysis to define that ideal customer. We can help you figure out the key attributes of your ideal buyer and that is a first step because then you will create your content to talk to that person. We can help you with social media and with email campaigns, too.
I think in short, if you have ever looked at FuzeHub’s own marketing and said, “I would like to do some of that for my own company”, you can – thanks to the paid services we now provide. We have an all-star marketing team, full of a lot of deep experience in marketing for manufacturers.
Tell us about InFUZEd.
Once a month on a Monday, FuzeHub will offer online sessions that provide manufacturers with an opportunity to learn from and engage with a marketing expert. They can ask questions and get answers. The idea is you are going to go back to infuse your own marketing efforts with what you’ve learned from us. These sessions are free and open to any New York State manufacturer. You just have to register.