We know that creating and implementing effective B2B marketing and communications campaigns requires a deep understanding of not only your business but the industry as a whole. Our associates bring decades of combined relevant experience and a passion for complex industries to our roster of best-in-class B2B organizations. Mark Berry, senior vice president, shares his perspectives below on how Fahlgren Mortine helps clients succeed in industrial and manufacturing verticals.
How many years of experience do you have working in B2B marketing and communications?
I’ve worked with clients in building products, industrial, manufacturing and technology segments since I first joined the agency more than 15 years ago. Prior to Fahlgren Mortine, I spent eight years at a large non-profit research and development organization that also worked with a lot of manufacturing companies.
What are some market trends that you expect will most impact industrial and manufacturing clients in the coming years?
I think issues related to the supply chain will continue at least through 2023, so we’re working with clients to help them plan their communications and messaging on how they’re trying to minimize the impact of these disruptions. The next step for many of these companies will be building more resiliency and diversification into their supply chains. Part of this will be sourcing more critical components regionally and potentially shifting capabilities to produce more necessary parts internally. As this unfolds, our job as an agency will be to work with clients to build communications that can effectively explain these changes to customers to maintain trust and transparency during these unusual circumstances.
Automation in this space will continue, so we can expect to see more reliance on IT services. I also expect the industry will embrace more artificial intelligence and machine learning applications that can enable smart supply chain management and potentially address issues related to labor shortages.
How can companies maximize their marketing communications budget and demonstrate ROI?
I am a big believer that the best place to start is with a clear understanding of the customer mindset, which should serve as a solid foundation to build a content strategy that addresses relevant issues and trends. And to make the amplification of this content more effective, it’s important to focus on backend factors like SEO to make sure it’s easily searchable. Relevant, compelling content can be leveraged in a number of ways, including earned and owned media, speaking opportunities, content syndication, and other low-cost promotional tools. That up-front investment in customer intelligence and content can drive a lot of economical campaign elements.
What is a past campaign or program you believe best showcases the agency’s talent in delivering results for clients in this area?
One of our clients, a global provider of polymers, makes the key ingredient for paint protection film (PPF), and the value chain is set up in a way that the client provides that ingredient to the film processor, who produces the film and then sells that to the PPF brand owner. Our client wanted to build relationships that were nonexistent with the PPF brand owner and make them aware that the ingredients used in the film impact their performance characteristics. The client also wanted to communicate how, by working with them, the PPF brand owner can innovate and tailor the ingredients to provide the specific characteristics they’re seeking and streamline a process that has traditionally been very segmented.
To open a communication channel that was previously nonexistent, we worked with the client and recommended they tell a story that demonstrated more value for the brand owner. Through a series of content briefs, we walked through all the ways the client could provide value to these brand owners if they were willing to open the lines of communication. Since its launch, the campaign has been successful in starting conversations with these PPF brand owners, and we hope to build on this program to formalize those connections and deepen these relationships.
What have you observed as cornerstones of the most successful client-agency relationships?
I have always said that Fahlgren Mortine’s superpower has been its commitment to developing a deep understanding of our clients’ businesses that goes beyond what is typically expected of an agency. We have people on staff with extensive experience working with manufacturing companies in both agency and in-house environments. I think having a foundational knowledge of the challenges and the issues these companies deal with is an impactful differentiator for us. Our longest and most successful B2B client relationships can be traced to the fact that we conducted meaningful research into their businesses, industries and competitors and developed content and programs that reflected those efforts.
Another benefit is that we push clients to approach communications from the perspective of their audiences. I think we do a good job externalizing how they talk about themselves in the industry, shifting from “what we do” to “what we do for the customer.” They want to talk about this great thing they’ve created for the market, but they don’t always focus on the problems they solve for customers. We help them figure this out and embed that customer-first way of thinking in the communications strategy.