Andrea Rodney is a dynamic, self-taught, self-motivated businesswoman who helped Hone-All Precision in Bedfordshire to extraordinary success, part of which can be attributed to the transformation of the company’s marketing strategy. Andrea joined the company at the age of 21 and 18 years later is a director of the company. Here Andrea tells us why manufacturing businesses should not shy away from marketing themselves.
For many years, Engineering and Manufacturing has suffered from a poor image. It seems that the media insist on continuously showing images of the old guy in overalls standing at his bench with a file in his hand whose length of service was judged by the length of the fingers he had left.
But the question is: how do we help ourselves in this?
Few companies within our industry ever covet press coverage or publish press releases or case studies shouting about the technological or process advancements they’ve made, the efficiencies achieved or even something as simple as a new machine being delivered.
Even fewer have a strong corporate image with memorable company logos which create an overall brand resulting in facilities with a themed colour scheme, matching corporate work wear, uniform documentation combined with an effective website to ensure the brand is seen externally by a national or international audience.
Within smaller companies in our industry, many are owner-managed or are run by excellent engineers who have never been involved in sales and marketing activity – they know how to make the parts, but not how to play the game!
As companies, regardless of size or speciality, we need to show just what we do and how well we do it. We need to look as good as we are. And we need to let people know about it. We are always told to focus on the 4 Ps – people, place, process and product – but without the 5th P – profile – it’s irrelevant as nobody knows just how good we are.
And so as an industry, we need to look to the brands we remember and ask ourselves what made them memorable? Then we apply that to our own businesses, however small and with whatever budget we have available to us.
It costs nothing to come up with an eye catching logo, to ensure this brand continues across all levels and throughout all functions of the business; and to ensure that when the telephone is answered, it is always in the same, bright, professional, bubbly and courteous manner. It costs nothing to ensure the facilities are clean, tidy and create a great first impression. And to ask people what they thought during their visit and act upon their feedback.
For those potential customers that cannot come for a visit there may be a small investment required to ensure that you can create a website that follows the same principles as your people, place, product and processes.
Once this is in place, it costs nothing to ensure your website is listed on all the free listings pages available, of which there are hundreds. Each entry moves your site up the rankings of search engines such as Google.
Advertising within trade magazines Services & Capacity listings is usually exceedingly cost-effective – less than a few hundred pounds for the entire year. But having a consistent presence raises awareness of your company and reinforces the brand each time it is seen.
Also, once these entries are placed, the magazines are usually much happier to include press releases and case studies from you which are placed free of charge and yet again tell your story, reinforce your brand and raise confidence in the continuity of your company and the services you provide.
The press releases can then be forwarded to your customers on a regular basis keeping them informed of your successes, investments and developments. Again, this costs nothing but offers a massive boost to reinforcing your image and keeping you at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
The benefits of these simple steps are that your company – which may well be exceptionally professional – is also perceived to be so. Not just by those that know you, but more importantly, by those that don’t.
You can build a brand and a profile for the minimum of investment and simply by playing the game you can tell the world about your fantastic people, about your safe and efficient facility, about the quality of your product and the effectiveness of your processes – all through one simple profile.
The greater hope with this is if more of us get this right, the less companies there will be for the media to use in order to portray manufacturing as an antiquated, outdated industry with little technology or progression for the youth of today. We have more chance of showing CNC machinery, sharing stories of technological advancements, highlighting companies consistently investing in continuous improvement and reinforcing the fact that manufacturing is the best and safest way of balancing our economy and therefore deserves the recognition and support of everyone – the media, the Government, the country and those within it that don’t shout loudly enough about their contribution to the most exciting and innovative industry in the world.