Marketing for Manufacturers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Marketing for Manufacturers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Marketing for Manufacturers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

For manufacturers, there’s always a new challenge coming up on the conveyor belt.

Challenges like: Will my product launch on time? Is it the latest version? What are my product’s weaknesses, and how can I get rid of them in the next version?

When you spend so much money and time getting the product right, it’s no surprise that marketing slips down the priority chain. It’s why you might still be relying on the ‘old ways’ of marketing - brochures, trade show appearances and ads in trade magazines – but in today’s digital era these are no longer enough.

Here’s the hard truth: if you stick to the ‘tried and true’ marketing strategies and fail to consider new marketing strategies, you might be left behind. Why?

Because the manufacturing marketing landscape has changed beyond all recognition.

Today’s buyer can Google everything they need to know about a product before your company even crosses their radar. Rising competition, tech disruption and the growth of digital mean that only those that market their products effectively will consistently generate the sales that they need and grab the biggest share in their market.

Long story short: if you aren’t paying attention to your marketing and the potential of new platforms, you are missing an opportunity

But your competitors aren’t.

They’re working out what their target audiences read. The challenges they struggle with every day. How to sell their product to match their customer pain point. How to hit the right people with the right message, on the right platforms, at the right time – and as a result they are the ones scoring the most sales and becoming the frontrunners in your field.

So what can you do to redress the balance, start targeting the right audience and create a marketing strategy that actually achieves results? To demonstrate, we’re here to show you the three types of marketing in manufacturing. The Good. The Bad. And last but not least, The Ugly.

Let’s start with The Good

Good marketing stems from what your prospective customer needs, not what your product can do.

Rather than focusing on what’s so great about your product, good marketing ties those benefits to customer pain points. The challenges they experience every day, or the things that are missing from the products they currently use. The things that get them to stop and say ‘hey, this company gets it’.

Good marketing is about figuring out who your prospective customer is – their pain points, difficulties, desires, wants and needs. Once you know this, you can hit them with the right message, on the right platform, at the right time.

The Good: Zano Controls marketing strategy lights up the room

Marketing for Manufacturers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

When Nutcracker first met Zano it had good products and aspirations – but limited brand awareness was holding the LED dimming manufacturer back.

Zano’s brand and some crucial USPs separates their products from the competition – that’s why electricians ask for them and wholesalers sell them. The CEO at Zano is brave and ambitious with how he wants his business presented and most importantly of all he wanted to market it differently.

Fast forward a few years, and Zano has seen a website relaunch, an intensive email marketing strategy, and a complete overhaul of sales collateral, social media and PR. The impact has been immense. In the words of their biggest customer, “it is an incredible story, Zano have gone from zero to hero”.

Zano has since been awarded Best Marketing Manufacturer at a large industry event. Household names have watched what they are doing and have copied them. The result? Accelerated sales, killer brand awareness and a loyal customer base.

Lesson Learned: If businesses have the drive and ambition, they shouldn’t hide that under a bushel. Striving to do marketing differently is what sets you apart from the rest – but to do that, you need to identify how their product’s USPs can tie in with your customer pain point.

The Good: Little Moons’ social media is out of this world

Marketing for Manufacturers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Here’s a challenge: visit Little Moons’ Instagram page and try not to smile. There’s mochi balls as traffic lights. Mochi balls as hot air balloons. Mochi balls as little birds sitting in a nest. If it exists, Little Moons have probably found a way to recreate it with their award-winning rice-flour coated ice cream.

The brand knows how to use social media effectively and is reaping the rewards. In February this year, sales of Little Moons increased by a ridiculous 700% after Tik Tok users began film themselves buying the product at Tesco – the brand has more than 250k followers on Tik Tok and is moving from strength to strength, all because it realised the right demographic for their product and potential of the platform for showcasing food content while reaching their ideal customer base.

Lesson learned: Not all manufacturers have a product this Insta-friendly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use social media to engage your customers with something inventive, fun or that makes them think. Remember that at the end of the day, you are selling to people, not computers.

Building a solid social media brand takes time. But if you have a product USP that speaks to people and a solid social media strategy, you can expand your reach to new audiences, establish yourself as being truly different in your field and ultimately increase sales.

The Good: Big Wipes makes their brand the hero

Marketing for Manufacturers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

From hilarious videos to insightful demos and blog content, Big Wipes’ storytelling wipes the floor with its competitors. Just take a look at Big Wipes: The Musical, an entertaining spectacle with kids demonstrating big wipes being used by tradesmen to deal with all kinds of splashes and spills. The company has even hired a Global Brands Creator to help them make the brand their hero and it shows.

Lesson learned: You are more than just ‘Company Selling Product X’. Place your brand/storytelling at the heart of everything and your target audience will see you as more authentic and trustworthy – but most of all, you will be more memorable.

As we discuss in our ultimate guide to storytelling, research shows that messages delivered as stories can be up to 22 times more memorable than just facts.

The Good: Syncbox takes an omni-channel approach to marketing

Backed by Deborah Meaden on Dragon’s Den, Syncbox has reportedly achieved a net worth of over £1 million in a very short space of time, with its simple yet elegant hidden socket solution.

How has the business achieved this? By adopting an omni-channel approach to marketing that gives potential customers several ways to interact with the company, from case studies to informative brochures to social media.

Lesson learned: The most effective marketing campaigns aren’t just on one platform, but several. There’s no point gating info about your product. Instead, create content that can be shared across all kinds of mediums (social, email, PR and so on) so you can expand your reach and hit customers at different touchpoints. After all, what’s the point of marketing if only a few people see it?

We’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating. When your product is a simple one, make sure you answer the crucial question: how does it solve your customer’s problem? The whole reason Meaden invested in Syncbox in the first place was because she had seen the need for it while doing her own refurbishments.

The Good: Brompton Bicycle adapts marketing to stay relevant

Brompton has been in the saddle for some time, but it’s never stopped adapting its marketing strategy to stay relevant. The business partnered up with Team GB to supply dozens of bikes for athletes to use at events during Olympics season. It’s also teamed up with 13 globally known musical artists to design a unique Brompton Bike that would be sold to raise money for live music crews affected by Covid-19.

Lesson learned: Brompton is a big business with a big marketing budget. That’s not the point. The point is that even if your core product hasn’t changed, your marketing needs to keep up with the times.

Businesses that bleat out the same message again and again just end up running in place. Instead, explore the current issues, trends and upcoming events that your target audience are talking about, and tie your product in. The result? More engagement, more clickthroughs and more leads.

Now let’s move on to The Bad

Bad marketing is dull. Derivative. Lacking wit or originality. It has no purpose. It doesn’t address your customer’s pain points, it uses the wrong channels, and it makes us roll our eyes so hard they threaten to leave their sockets.

Most of all, bad marketing is boring. Who wants to read a badly written advert shouting about how great a manufacturer is? Nobody.

Bad marketing is a missed opportunity. You might have one of the best products on the market, but if you don’t market to the right people in the right way, you’ll end up:

  • Falling behind competitors
  • Not generating leads
  • Failing to capture an audience or capture the wrong audience
  • Not getting enough people to your website
  • Finding it harder to retain leads

The Bad: Lasnek fails to capitalise on marketing opportunity

We’re sure nothing is factually incorrect in this brochure from steel cable management system supplier Lasnek – but the way its presented really grinds our gears. A page of info all about the company, before launching straight into product specs, with little explanation of why the potential customer should care.

This is an example of marketing that doesn’t do enough to grab your attention – it doesn’t mention your customer pain points, it doesn’t explain what your product does differently to its competitors, and more than anything, it’s boring.

Lesson learned: Make it clear you understand your customer’s problems

Look at what your target audience is saying. Speak to them directly. Identify the problems they struggle with every day, and then make those pain points the cornerstone of your marketing.

Simply telling people how great you are is not enough to grab a potential customer’s attention. Instead, you need to focus on them and their needs in your online content – otherwise, there’s nothing to separate your brand from anyone else in your field.

Last but not least… there’s The Ugly

Offensive. Off-message. Tactless or down-wright insulting. We’re talking about every copywriter who doesn’t write for Nutcracker, of course.

Just kidding. We’re talking Ugly marketing.

Ugly marketing can damage your brand reputation, alienate your audience and undo any of the good work you’ve done before.

But most of all, ugly marketing doesn’t solve your problem – that you have a great product but are missing an opportunity by not marketing it effectively. Avoid at all costs.

The Ugly: Ford’s distasteful car ad alienates women

What’s the best way to advertise the size of a new car? The answer is definitely not showing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi giggling in the front seat at several tied up and gagged women in the boot, as Ford once did in an unaired advert for the Ford Figo.

What does marketing like this say about the company? In a world where violence against women is increasingly being called out, this advert falls flat. Not only that, but it makes zero sense for a car business that often targets families and younger people, many of whom are women, with a misogynistic joke.

This doesn’t just alienate female consumers, but also female employees – why on Earth would they want to work for a company that portrays them this way?

Lesson Learned: Marketing needs to be eye-catching, but not offensive.

There’s a line that needs to be drawn between being bold and being too extreme. To stay on the right side of the line, you need to truly understand your customers, what they are interested in, and then tell your story in an engaging way.

Don’t think about your marketing in a vacuum - always examine the wider context. An extreme idea isn’t worth it if it’s going to detract from the purpose you want to achieve with your marketing.

Which brings us to the ultimate question. How can manufacturers identify the purpose for their marketing? And what steps can they take to revamp their marketing so it targets customers' pain points effectively?

How to build an effective manufacturing marketing strategy

Step 1: Analyse your existing data

Before you do anything, take a step back and look at your existing marketing data. What resources have you been using? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Which tactics have proven the most successful and why? Is it the right data?

For too long, some manufacturers have been stuck in the past when it comes to marketing – the only way to move forward is to look at the current market, where your product fits into it – and most importantly the person who will be buying it.

Step 2: Build your buyer persona

Buyers aren’t robots – they have thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes. You need to establish a picture of who your target audience is before you can start selling to them.

When you have your buyer persona – made up of customer demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations and goals – you’ll be able to refine your understanding of customer needs, giving you the solid foundation for developing a strategic marketing plan that gets results.

Step 3: Define your marketing objective

Once you have your buyer persona in place, you need to establish your objective with your marketing.

Are you looking to generate a certain number of leads? Do you want to raise awareness of your brand, or enter a new market? Or are you trying to get a certain number of monthly subscriptions?

Only when you have this objective can you build the strongest possible marketing strategy.

Step 4: Create your marketing strategy with clear targets

Perhaps you want to focus on publishing industry blogs that make your more trustworthy, or ramp up email marketing so that you can keep pushing yourself to the top of your prospective client’s inbox and generate marketing leads.

Whatever it is, you need a cohesive marketing approach with clearly established targets and KPIs. And if something isn’t working, that’s when it’s time to take a step, analyse what’s working and what isn’t, and take a different approach.

Alternatively, you can work with an award-winning marketing agency who really understand how to market manufacturing products, build brands and increase sales.

You’ve seen The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. And then… there’s Nutcracker

Marketing for Manufacturers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

As a manufacturer, you are in an extremely competitive field. But manufacturers can no longer rely on old, worn-out marketing strategies that don’t pay attention to their customer’s needs. You need marketing that pays attention to everyday challenges your customers face, and explains how your product can help solve them.

Nutcracker understands that keeping the plates spinning is tough. We’ve worked with manufacturers before – we know the landscape, the challenges and how to help your business overcome them.

Which is why we become part of your team, getting under the skin of your products and services and working to understand your customer’s pain points. Then, we’ll build a cohesive marketing strategy spanning content, social media, design, lead generation and PR.

Want to find out how you can manufacture a marketing strategy that pushes you to the forefront of your field? Book a consultation with Nutcracker today at

Charlotte Delaney | Head of Content
Charlotte Delaney

Head of Content