May 20, 2016 / best practices, continuous improvement, customer satisfaction metrics, customer service, strategic planning
For most machine shops, marketing and branding are not top priorities. However, in today’s competitive market, industrial manufacturers are starting to see that creating a company brand or message can be an important part of the business strategy.
According to a report from Lippincott, more and more industrial companies are seeing strong brand management as a key for standing out from competitors and expanding into adjacent markets. “Leading industrials are starting to practice many of the elements of B2B branding, from identifying the key audiences for their messages to ensuring that their approaches to branding align with their business strategies,” the consultant firm states.
Of course, hiring a firm to develop a cutting-edge marketing campaign is likely not in your shop’s budget; however, you may want to consider developing a unique selling proposition (USP). As this article from Thomasnet.com explains, a strong USP, also known as a value statement, clearly articulates why a customer should buy from you instead of a competitor. The goal of this type of messaging is to attract customers on an emotional level that goes beyond cost.
“Without a compelling message, nothing about a shop stands out,” the article explains. “And when nothing about a job shop stands out as better than the others, it’s basically a commodity that can only compete on price.”
Ask yourself: What is unique about your company and its values? How do your services translate those values? Most importantly, how are you communicating this message to your customers? The answers to these questions can provide a good starting point for developing your company’s USP.
As stated in the Thomasnet article, an effective USP should meet the following criteria:
- Clear and concise: You shouldn’t make customers guess what you mean. Don’t be too clever; be direct and straightforward.
- Adaptable: A selling proposition will need to take many forms, depending upon whether it is being used in digital advertising, inbound marketing, videos, or traditional print, radio, and television advertisements. Therefore, make sure it is flexible and malleable enough to be used across mediums.
- Distinctive: Your statement should be specific to your organization, so don’t borrow language from other companies—especially your competitors. If it sounds rehashed, it won’t resonate with your customers.
- True: You want to set attainable and realistic expectations with your prospects, so never promise them more than you can deliver and don’t stretch the truth. If you can’t make good on your proposition, or if you can’t validate your claims, then don’t put it in writing. Find another message instead.
|A unique selling proposition (USP) can also be a good ruler to which you can measure your supply chain relationships. If a supply partner doesn’t help you fulfill your USP—or share similar principles—perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship. As explained in the eBook, Five Performance Boosting Best Practices for Your Industrial Metal-Cutting Organization, your supply chain should an enabler of your business strategy.|
What does this look like in practice? D&J Technologies, a machine shop featured here in a LENOX white paper, lists the following USP on its website:
“Combining unparalleled quality, on-time shipping, and excellent communication, D & J Tech exists to make the manufacturing process effortless.”
Below are two more examples, as listed in the Thomasnet article:
- “Zero defects, guaranteed, thanks to our proprietary monitoring equipment.”
- “The only ISO 9001:2008 certified supplier in the tri-county area able to vapor polish parts over 24” in diameter.”
These are just a few examples. At the end of the day, all managers should periodically ask the question: Why do customers choose to do business with us? Taking the time to turn the answer into a clear, concise, and marketable message could be a lot more valuable than you realize.
For more information on developing a USP, you can download a free worksheet here, or check out this article from Fabricating & Metalworking, which provides more than 20 tools to help you build your organization’s brand story.