Marketing could be improved, say manufacturers

Managers of manufacturing companies say there is room for improvement in their marketing activities, according to a recent survey.

Commissioned by Birmingham-based Cognition Agency, the survey showed 74% of companies using online advertising, 67% with a social media presence, and 65% taking advantage of online content.

Despite this, 52% of companies said they thought marketing could possibly be improved.

Current marketing strategy is outdated

Nearly one in three, 27%, of manufacturing companies cited their marketing activities as being outdated, while for 20%, marketing was not a priority at all. However, the lack of a dedicated team came out as one of biggest challenges for 33% of manufacturing businesses, particularly for small businesses with only 1-9 employees.

In addition, 30% of companies predicted artificial intelligence will have the biggest impact on the manufacturing industry.

Dr Peter Hughes, managing director at Cognition, said: "While companies in the manufacturing industry are catching on to the importance of digital channels, it is clear from the results of our survey that marketing is behind the times and in need of manpower to implement marketing strategy effectively.

"Many manufacturing businesses are aware that their marketing efforts need a refresh - but for most, this gets pushed to the bottom of the to do list as more pressing matters take over.

"Surprisingly, only 9% of businesses think marketing automation will have an impact. We believe it will - and for the better too. Through automation, manufacturers can be empowered to analyse the effectiveness of their campaigns in great detail and look at what is working and what isn't so that tactics can be adapted in real-time to ensure accurate return on investment."

Measure for measure

The survey also uncovered some interesting insights into how businesses measure the success of their marketing activity. 66% measure success on return on investment only in part while just 26% of companies quantify its success on this metric alone.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one channel that is significantly less popular is pay-per-click (PPC) and, to a lesser extent, paid social, potentially linked to its expense. Only 22% of all companies surveyed utilise PPC but for companies with an average annual marketing budget of more than £1 million, this figure increased to 67%, demonstrating the confusion in small businesses over how to maximise PPC's return on investment.

And, despite the rise of digital media, traditional marketing channels such as print remain extremely popular for most manufacturing businesses, and is even deemed the most effective marketing method for companies with 50-99 employees. But Hughes adds, much of this is "habit driven." More specifically, 88% of companies in Yorkshire and the Humber use the channel.

When filtering through the results by location, the survey reflected some geographic-related differences. For businesses in the West Midlands, print was rated the most effective marketing channel for 33% of companies while online content is adopted most in London - 90% of businesses use it in its overall marketing strategy.

Meanwhile, 27% of companies in the North West do not use any form of marketing at all.

Although budget remains a challenge, 60% of companies with 1-9 employees have seen a marketing budget increase in the past five years, as have 86% of those with an average annual marketing budget of £300,00 - £500,000.

Hughes added: "Print remains an effective marketing channel in manufacturing - yet the benefits of PPC and paid social aren't being explored, particularly within smaller businesses where the marketing budget is limited.

"However, as artificial intelligence continues to grow rapidly, manufacturing businesses can use those advances in technology potentially perceived as a threat to help their marketing efforts.

"Businesses should be more willing to invest in bringing their marketing into the 21st century by using the most efficient methods, to them, to deliver quality results."

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