Brexit, economic uncertainty and Industry 4.0 are all challenges facing the UK’s manufacturing industry… but now is not the time to hide, it’s the time to make your mark.
By Helen Duncan, managing director of FIG
Brexit and economic uncertainty
First the sobering part. According to the Office for National Statistics, the first quarter of 2018 saw the UK economy deliver its poorest performance for five years, with manufacturing growth slowing to 0.2%. The UK Trade Policy Observatory reported in February that versions of Brexit under consideration could cut British exports by a third in some manufacturing sectors.
Manufacturers have been through tough economic times before and many will batten down the hatches, cut costs and ride through it. But Brexit offers opportunities as well as threats and companies need to consider their routes to market and lines of communication.
Companies need a plan of action and clear messaging to reach out and engage with the target market. If the threat of losing markets is real there needs to be a marketing plan to support the business objectives of breaking into new ones.
Embracing Industry 4.0
The benefits of embracing Industry 4.0 are widely written about, with the potential to reduce costs, increase productivity and customer satisfaction, as well as reduce time to market. Investing in these new technologies can be great for business but manufacturers need to invest in marketing and PR to communicate these benefits to realise a ROI: being able to increase productivity is only a benefit if you have the business to keep the machines moving; reducing manpower and costs needs careful communication to avoid a PR crisis; reducing lead times needs shouting about, before your competitors do it first.
Now is the time for manufacturers to differentiate themselves from the competition and demonstrate exactly why they’re better than the rest, and the way to achieve that is by investing in a sustained programme of targeted marketing and PR. No longer the preserve of the biggest players, robust marketing can cost-effectively help manufacturers launch new products, break into new markets, increase market share and grow.
Having worked with manufacturers for over 15 years, such as Matlock transport equipment manufacturer Bartco UK, I know sometimes there is a reluctance to see marketing as an investment. But even if Brexit and Industry 4.0 is not affecting your business, I would encourage you to answer the following questions. If you answer “no” to any of them, you need to bring in the marketing professionals.
- Do we have a distinctive brand that clearly communicates to our customers why to buy from us rather than our competitors?
- Does our website reflect our offering clearly, engaging potential customers?
- Do we run effective email marketing campaigns generating warm leads for our sales team?
- Does our social media engage with our customers and lead conversations in our industry?
- Can you read about our company in the publications that our customers read, giving us the endorsement of the titles they trust?
- When we exhibit at trade shows, do we draw visitors to our stand, creating leads and growing our reputation?
Marketing is not just about weathering the economic storm and coming out on top, it’s about helping you to remain there.
Based in Glossop, Derbyshire, FIG specialises in supporting manufacturing companies. Last year, it was named the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Best Northern Agency. For further details, please visit www.fig.agency
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