Manufacturer Marketing: Why Manufacturers Need Their Own Digital Marketing Strategy

It’s a common challenge facing marketers at manufacturers: how do I balance my marketing efforts with those of the retailers selling my products? Do I need to advertise on my own, or will the retailer’s marketing be sufficient? What are the best approaches for navigating these complex relationships?

These questions are important ones to answer for any marketer who has traditionally relied heavily on retailers, brokers, or any channel partners when it comes to online advertising.

Lever Interactive has excelled in showing profitable and scalable growth in digital with our manufacturing clients. We get it, we’ve been working with manufacturers and similarly-structured clients for over 12 years now. We have a great deal of empathy and respect for how important these businesses’ partnerships are with their retailers and brokers.

But one of the great things with digital is there is always an opportunity! Through advancements in digital marketing technology and with some creative strategic thinking, we have been able to help many clients with complex business situations successfully and profitably put their brand first and execute their own digital advertising strategies, without jeopardizing their valuable business partnerships.

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3 Reasons to Move Forward with Your Own Digital Marketing Strategy

Why is moving forward with your own digital marketing strategy the right decision? Here are the 3 of the most important reasons:

1. Retailers also have relationships with your competitors

No matter how solid the relationship you may have with your retailers, they still have strong relationships with other brands too. Most likely some of those are your main competitors. And at the end of the day, they have their own interest in mind first. If the retailer’s strategy determines your competitor’s product is going to get them the sale, guess who wins the eyeballs of that consumer.

2. Consumers are researching more than ever

In today’s digital- and mobile-first world, consumers are researching brands before buying more than ever before, and expectations when they engage with a brand are higher than ever before. Consumers demand relevant, valuable and timely information, and they respond to advertising that is transparent and trustworthy.

It is critical to protect your brand online and be certain you are messaging your brand correctly, providing value to your consumers, and ensuring you are appearing – not your competitors – when consumers are looking for your brand.

To be able to do this involves an in-depth digital advertising strategy that is built on your data and an comprehensive understanding of your consumer. Leaving something this critical to your retailers is a major gamble.

3. Controlling the message

If a brand isn’t growing and moving, its most likely dying. The latest news, updates, offers, products, messaging, etc from your brand need to be findable online for your consumers – while it is still the latest. Retailers have a lot going on and their sales matter first. Are you certain they are able to keep up with your business’ updates? Are your retailers currently showcasing your most up to date messaging, offers or products?

Getting Started

1. Set goals

First, determine if this is something you have the resources and capabilities to take on in-house – or – find a partner like Lever Interactive that specializes in this, so you can spend your time on your business.

You also need to clearly identify and communicate what your goals are for your own digital marketing strategy. Are you looking to start selling direct through ecommerce, or are you looking to grow an incentives program, or build brand awareness? The best digital marketing strategies are built with a goals-first framework. Clearly defining what your business goals and objectives are will determine your strategy – AND starts building alignment with your retailers.

2. Communicate your goals with your retailers

The second step is always maintaining clear and open communication with your retailers on what your goals and objectives are.

3. Align your goals with their strategies

And third, through that communication, align with your retailers on areas of “right to play” to avoid competition and cost inflation.

Are you only looking to promote one product line and have the retailer stop selling that product? Are you going to sell on Amazon only and our retailer owns Google Shopping? Should the retailer not be bidding on your brand terms?

A great retail partner is one that will work through these logistics with you to benefit both parties.

Real-Life Approaches

What are some innovative digital marketing tactics we’ve run in these situations?

Controlling the message

We already touched on this briefly, but we always take ownership of our clients’ brand strategies first. Across all channels from paid search, SEO, social, video – owning top positioning and controlling the message for our clients’ brands is priority. We find innovative ways to ensure we never provide any competitor the opportunity to profit on your business’ consumer demand.

Utilizing our clients’ 1st party data across channels and devices

These are consumers who have connected with your brand directly, not your retailer’s customers. Lever Interactive has the ability to incorporate our clients’ CRM data into all digital marketing strategies across search, display, and social. And – with consumer privacy in mind – we can also share these lists with retailers to exclude these consumers from their ads.

Launching co-op shopping campaigns

For our manufacturing clients that do not yet have ecommerce capabilities, we can launch co-op shopping campaigns where you can share the cost of Shopping advertising with your retailers to drive sales. For example, let’s say Retailer X is one of your authorized dealers selling your products through online Shopping campaigns. Working with Lever, we can partner with Retailer X on your behalf to share the cost of any clicks on your promoted products. This ensures your products receive priority positioning, with up-to-date offers and messaging, in your consumers search results, driving sales of your brand over your competitors.

Establishing “swim lanes”

We also look to establish product/search term/seasonality/etc “swim lanes” with retailers regarding when, where and how you will be advertising your brand and products. We then develop cross-channel digital marketing campaigns targeting those swim lanes and ensuring retailers are not playing in those spaces.

This is just an overview of some of the strategies your business can implement to start effectively growing your brand through digital marketing. Lever Interactive would be more than happy to discuss your business’ unique situation in further detail and provide a custom strategy that works for your business. Contact us to find out more.

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