Marketing for manufacturers: Some thoughts on thought leadership

This is the ultimate day of our editorial collection, Marketing for producers. In the second-last article, Tim Kannegieter writes about investing in leadership campaigns for your small business.
When I joined Circuitwise three years in the past my temporary was to boost consciousness of the enterprise and for prospects to recognise the superior worth of our electronics manufacturing companies. The homeowners felt the corporate was Australia’s finest stored secret and had been pissed off to see contract manufacturing alternatives going abroad or to rivals after we had not even been contacted to bid on the job. 
Something was wanted to make Circuitwise stand out from the group and encourage prospects to return to us. Significantly, the CEO didn’t need everybody calling, simply prospects with the best profile – corporations that had been severe concerning the top quality and reliability of their units, typically well-established corporations that would recognise the worth of our companies. For Circuitwise, this meant mid-tier corporations manufacturing merchandise for use in industries like mining, medical, aerospace and the like.
It was clear from this temporary that I wanted an inbound advertising technique – the place individuals contact us, reasonably than the opposite method round. I made a decision to create a content material advertising marketing campaign that attracted the eye of the proper of individuals and channel this content material to locations the place it will be seen. The proper type of individuals may very well be direct prospects, influencers, or referral companions. 
The major problem was getting seen. My content material needed to lower by the plethora of data accessible and it needed to impress individuals sufficient to make them wish to contact us.The resolution I adopted was to focus on what is named thought leadership. Thought leadership is a course of that influences by the facility of an expressed thought. It goes past regular content material advertising to take a “place” on no matter topic you’re speaking about, a place that’s thought-provoking and memorable, with the purpose of beginning conversations and constructing a relationship.
I first seen this working as a journalist within the engineering business. I bear in mind seeing articles from a consulting agency known as Aurecon with evocative titles similar to “The unavoidable fact about avoiding loss of life”. McKinsey & Company was one other chief in thought leadership with articles like “The 4 world forces breaking all of the developments”. In thought leadership, catchy headlines transcend click-bait to ship concepts and content material that seize and maintain the eye of the viewers and that is the place the laborious work begins. 
The thought leadership method I’ve developed is two-fold. Firstly, discover your fertile floor – which is on the intersection of your area of experience, your goal market wants and the core drivers of change in your business. For Circuitwise’s first marketing campaign, we’ve targeted on MedTech manufacturing, the necessity for high quality techniques to ship compliance to the important thing market driver of accelerating regulation. It’s no coincidence that this intersection neatly describes certainly one of Circuitwise’s key strategic markets as nicely. 
The second a part of my thought leadership mannequin is to seek out a number of positions alongside a multi-dimensional spectrum of uniqueness, time and angle. If your message is about how quantum computing goes to vary your business then you’re most likely excessive on the individuality spectrum. If you discuss how an business can be totally different in 10 years’ time you’re on the future finish of the time spectrum. If you are taking a principled stand on a extremely emotive challenge, then you’re at one finish of the attitudinal spectrum. The reverse finish of those spectrums can be to champion the necessity for one thing commonsense (logic), about an unusual however necessary factor (low uniqueness), to be completed urgently (now within the time spectrum), maybe as a result of commonsense isn’t widespread apply. 
A key level for producers, both B2B or direct to customers, is that you simply don’t essentially must have one thing really distinctive or earth-shatteringly wonderful to be seen as a frontrunner. For instance, Dove was extremely profitable with its Campaign for Real Beauty with the message that every one girls are stunning and their distinctive variations needs to be celebrated. This is hardly a singular message however they got here to personal it and lead the messaging. 
The consequence for Dove was reportedly a 9% soar in gross sales over the primary quarter of the marketing campaign and a doubling of gross sales from $2.5 billion to $5 billion over ten years. The product they had been pushing was cleaning soap. Let me repeat that – cleaning soap. If your product is even marginally extra refined than cleaning soap there’s a good probability you could find one thing to be a frontrunner on as nicely.
Coming up with leadership positions is each an artwork and a reproducible course of. It helps when you have individuals in your thought leadership marketing campaign who’re each deeply educated throughout the subject material, the issues of the business you’re concentrating on and are good at communication. However, typically, it’s a crew effort utilizing conventional brainstorming methods to generate plenty of concepts, zero in on those you suppose can be only, then refining them into clear messaging. You can all the time rent an excellent journalist or marketer that can assist you out with authoring content material. 
In my case, I used to be an engineering journalist for over 15 years so got here to Circuitwise with communication abilities and complementary information. However, what labored nicely was bouncing concepts off our CEO Serena Ross who’s each educated about electronics manufacturing and keen about a number of matters within the business. 
For instance, when the Covid-19 pandemic first struck we shortly started a marketing campaign across the significance of reshoring manufacturing within the context of provide chain vulnerability and constructing sovereign functionality. As this was a subject of curiosity to political leaders, we gained the eye of assistants to ministers at a federal degree. 
Another apparent subject for us was the function of girls in manufacturing, as Serena is among the few feminine CEOs in our business. More just lately we’ve been talking up concerning the crippling impression of chip shortages on manufacturing. However, the principle focus of our thought leadership has been round the principle matters of high quality compliance for MedTech. 
We have aimed to generate one important new leadership place each quarter or so. Usually, the preliminary article is an in-depth long-form article that’s distributed to media and we then hyperlink to it through LinkedIn. From that, we will repurpose the core content material in a number of methods, together with webinars, weblog posts focusing on particular elements of the leadership place, infographics summarising the principle message and so on. 
True thought leadership is an costly train, because it normally includes appreciable analysis to supply the depth of information required to be spectacular and sufficient crafting of the messages to be really useful. So, in advertising phrases, it must be thought of in comparable phrases to branding. No one invests in branding anticipating a flood of speedy leads and the identical is the case for thought leadership. 
Rather the concept of thought leadership is to help your model, organisationally, and that of your leaders. Ultimately, being seen as a frontrunner within the area will increase your pricing energy and helps break freed from the aggressive race to the underside. 
There are a couple of cardinal guidelines in thought leadership. First, by no means promote your services or products. The purpose is to promote with out “promoting”. The second is to share your information, unreservedly. If individuals get the sense you’re simply giving a couple of tit-bits and you need to signal as much as get the remaining, the connection is damaged earlier than it even begins.
The digital loop of thought leadership is the extra you share, the extra individuals will wish to discuss to you, to share their very own thoughts, on alternatives and challenges. That is the perfect end result – invites to talk and conversations with individuals in your business gaining information of their wants and constructing belief. Certainly, we’ve been profitable on this regard with Serena Ross now recurrently requested to current at conferences and panels on matters associated to manufacturing. 
Elon Musk (AFP/Getty Images/J Lampen)
The biggest residing instance of thought leadership in manufacturing right this moment must be Elon Musk, who’s a frontrunner in a number of industries – “we is not going to cease till each automobile is electrical”. He has a expertise for taking provocative positions on an enormous vary of matters, amassing a Twitter following of practically 59 million. His tweets have been identified to maneuver and form whole markets.
Most massive producers now personal their very own publishing channels to make sure their thought leadership reaches their viewers, together with magazines, podcasts, webinar collection and even conferences. Have a have a look at corporations like Siemens, General Electric and Caterpillar, as examples. 
At Circuitwise, we primarily use LinkedIn as our key communication platform for each the corporate and the CEO. However, we additionally co-founded and sponsor the NSW Active MedTech Community as a method of making our personal viewers, with over 30 webinars delivered on matters complementary to the goal of our thought leadership marketing campaign, most of them hosted on my own.
For small and medium-sized producers which will view such ambitions as unrealistic, I’d recommend beginning small. Aim so as to add the occasional thought leadership piece in amongst your different advertising actions. You will discover these items generate their very own momentum, as they are often repurposed so simply. 
Featured image: Serena Ross speaking to media (provided)
Dr Tim Kannegieter is the advertising supervisor for Circuitwise Electronics Manufacturing and Genesys Electronics Design. He is the coordinator of the NSW Active MedTech Community and beforehand ran the Applied Internet of Things Engineering Community of Engineers Australia. He has 15 years’ expertise modifying quite a lot of B2B technical publications. He has a PhD in Knowledge Management (KM) and beforehand ran KM packages for the New Zealand Defense Force and the most important meals producer in NZ, Fonterra. He can also be main the institution of a start-up Genesys Medical Devices.
Jack Mallen-Cooper is a Senior Consultant at Whyte Public Relations
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