Have you heard the phrase, “Make hay while the sun shines?” In Sales & Marketing that phrase can be translated to “leverage a marketing opportunity while it is fresh” -- because every opportunity comes with an expiration date.
To take advantage of an opportunity, your first step is to pay attention whenever an opportunity occurs. It is likely you have more marketing opportunities than you may realize.
Opportunities tend to look like everyday business.
If your manufacturing operation gains ISO certification, you can only credibly issue a press release during the first three months of that accomplishment -- or wait until the next renewal.
After that period, you are limited to listing the certification on your website, periodic social media reminders, and a footer at the bottom of your customer email -- without seeming hopelessly out of touch with the pace of modern business. What did you lose? Possible print press coverage to their readership base, at least one social media post, and an announcement on your website home page -- maybe even a direct mail announcement to customers. Because over time, announcing you have achieved certification loses any excitement it may have had.
If you have promoted three people internally in the last month, it could be noted in the internal newsletter or posted to the lunchroom bulletin board. Or, at a time when manufacturers are challenged to find talented young workers, this opportunity could be leveraged with additional exposure and information. Post it internally -- making sure to mention any referral opportunity programs you have for filling those open positions and/or a list of benefits.
Do a spotlight feature for each employee on LinkedIn and Facebook. Write a press release for the local paper; send it to the local college placement office and remind them you are always looking to hire skilled and capable people. Post a blog on the company website -- including a management note about the percent of internal promotions versus external hires for new opportunities, or brief anecdotes about management staff who have grown with the company (or even those holding leadership positions elsewhere.) Amend your radio advertising to include phrasing about the internal opportunities and company growth. Equip HR with talking points for the next job fair.
If you install new equipment, images of the machinery coming in the door or its first production run, plus announcing the installation with a press release or website announcement would outshine the majority of other manufacturers with similar equipment.
But, by harnessing pre-delivery and post-delivery excitement, you could easily double or quadruple the exposure opportunities. You could have had employees mentioning the new equipment and how it will serve customers, on social media or in a blog or podcast long before the delivery. Adding in post-production stories to your website, social media and possibly even advertising -- first customer served from the new equipment, a brief case study on how the quicker turnaround helped a customer meet a deadline, etc. -- could increase the exposure even more!
The most common obstacle to leveraging marketing opportunities is the weight of everyday activities, and the lack of time to think about how to communicate the opportunity. One way to combat the time crunch and to take advantage of any development is to create a “leverage framework” of questions to be asked about any potential opportunity.
- Who would we tell about this development or change?
- Why would it be important to them?
- How would this information improve either their view of our business, or their own work?
- What are some of the ways we could showcase the information?
- Who has the authority (or permission) to talk about this?
- Do we need to make talking points for them?
If creating a framework seems daunting, starting to leverage opportunities into marketing content could be as simple as one question. What kind of marketing effort could we make with this information? (That’s what my boss asks me.) In 10 minutes, I can usually think of five ways to leverage most news into content opportunities. I’ve yet to be in a room with a sales or business development professional who cannot think of at least as many.
Waiting for the “right time” to plan how to leverage marketing opportunities does not work in your favor. Time only runs one way and the demands on your time are not likely to go away. Taking five minutes when you first hear about an opportunity could be invaluable to your marketing efforts.
Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Manager at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.