Grow Your Top Line Through Marketing and Innovation

Think about this scenario: You are a contract manufacturing company that has been in operation for 20+ years offering your customers the great quality and customer service, at a low price. You have a long list of customers that seem more than content with the services and capabilities that you provide. You were able to survive the Great Recession of 2008-2009 with minimal losses to your customer base; however, over the past 2-3 years, sales have been declining, and some of your trusted markets (like oil and gas) haven’t been as lucrative as before. You know you need to do something new to produce the results you want, but where do you start?

Start with marketing and innovation.

According to the late Peter Drucker, “The purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two and only two basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” Think about it from another perspective, no one in the market knows how good your product or service is until after the sale, so before they buy, they only know how good your marketing is.

Any competitor can copy what you do (legally from a business structure, services, and capabilities perspective) – except for how you communicate. Communication is marketing because it is a way to make people interested in you, and only you can tell your unique story.

Stories are power, so start with these questions:

  • What are your core values, and what does your company stand for?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • What is your proven process?
  • What promises do you make to your customers, and how can you prove it?

Once you have defined appropriate messaging, let’s start finding more customers. There are only two ways to grow: one is by doing more with your existing customers, and the other lies in finding new customers. In the past, your company might have taken a shotgun approach towards new clientele, one in which you wanted to do business with anyone you could remotely sell to. Well, those days are over – it’s time to take a focused, efficient rifle approach towards finding new customers.

We start this approach by clearly defining your target market. Who are your ideal customers? You might already have a customer or two that you love doing business with and you wish you had 10 more of them. Let’s analyze these ideal customers by looking at 3 specific characteristics: Geographic, Demographic, and Psychographic.

  • Geographic Characteristics – Where are they? (Example: 100 mile radius around Northeast Ohio)
  • Demographic Characteristics – What are they? (Example: design engineers in tier 1 or tier 2 hydraulic valve manufacturing industry operating in companies larger than $10M)
  • Psychographic Characteristics – What do they think, need, or appreciate? (Example: design engineers in the hydraulic valve industry belong to A, B, and C associations; read A, B, and C trade publications; and look for specs and video reviews on Google or YouTube)

Knowing your target market is only half the battle – developing and executing on a target list of prospects is what will land you the sale. At MAGNET, we refer to this target list as the Most Valuable Prospect list, or MVPs.

In order to being building a substantial MVP list, begin by looking at current internal prospect lists, vet out prospects that meet the characteristics previously discussed. Other ways of building this list include generating referrals from existing clients, reading trade publications, purchasing lists, and social networking.

The second way (discussed earlier) that you can grow your business is by doing more with existing clients, which can be done with something known as “customer intimacy”. In his book Dealing with Darwin, Geoffrey Moore discusses two types of innovations that can help our contract manufacturers become more intimate with their customers: marketing innovation and experiential innovation.

Marketing Innovation – Creating a different interaction with your customers.
How can you interact with your customers differently? How can you outsell your competitors rather than out servicing them? There are several answers to these questions but the most relevant to discuss is your website. It’s time to convert your website from an online brochure, into a lead-generation machine! Make your website interactive and rich with content and information that will educate and keep the attention of visitors.

Experiential Innovation – The real value of your services is based on the experience of what you offer rather than on any specific feature or benefit.
How can you create a better buying experience for your customers? How can you change the way customers experience your company? For instance, I bet you meet somewhat regularly with your top customers. How can you improve these meeting experiences? Do you know what they like to eat or drink? If they enjoy drinking Diet Pepsi during meetings, make sure to have a few ice cold Diet Pepsi’s ready to go. Something small like this goes a long way.

Let’s Recap – Growing your Top Line through Marketing and Innovation requires the following:

  • Communication: Have a story to tell; know your core identity and messaging
  • Define your Target Market: Understand the characteristics of an ideal customer
  • Develop a Most Valuable Prospect List: This approach is more focused and efficient
  • Customer Intimacy – Become more intimate with your existing customers

Want to find out more about growing your top line and expanding your business? Contact Linda Barita at 216.391.7766 or email linda.barita@magnetwork.org to schedule an appointment with our Growth Advisory Team!

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Posted by Sam Wasylyshyn in Sales and Marketing

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