The final installment of our predictions for what lies ahead ahead comes from Ann Barlow, who has been named “woman of the year” by PR News and “forever influential” on two separate occasions by the highly acclaimed San Francisco Business Times.
With creds like those, how could she possibly be wrong?
Here are Ann’s predictions for the industrial manufacturing field:
Digital transformation & internal communications
Manufacturers of all sizes are undergoing a digital transformation. The speed with which they need to create new products (i.e., electronics and defense frequently update products versus pipe valves or office furniture, which are on a slower cycle) in many ways will set the pace for how quickly adoption needs to happen. Regardless, nearly everyone we talk with in manufacturing talks about the greatest barrier to adoption is employee willingness to do so. The adoption rate is often complicated by multiple generations and cultures, all of which creates a tremendous need for effective employee engagement and connection. With all of the tools and channels available to communicators, we have a unique opportunity to drive change.
Industrial marketers tell us that for the first time in 2016, they began to evolve from brochures and brochureware websites into building programs around customer experience. They are beginning to use
insights to develop strategies and messaging, and then testing the channels that will be most effective in reaching them.
But corporate brand still matters
Even as marketers implement more sophisticated approaches to drive sales, brand still matters. They need to tell a brand story in ways that will engage employees and prospective employees and shareholders, and in many cases customers as well, since many are finding opportunities to sell as a unified organization rather than individual companies. The latter is often the approach that industrials, frequently a mosaic of acquired companies, haven taken historically.
Mobile becomes more critical
For B2B industrial companies, adopting a mobile strategy is no longer a “nice-to-have” or I’ll “add-it-to-next-year’s-list” kind of initiative. According to Google, more searches are performed on mobile devices than desktop computers, which probably comes as no surprise if you’re reading this on a mobile now. B2B companies will need to smarten up their mobile marketing strategies tout suite to ensure users can access their content on their mobile devices and have a seamless – and meaningful – brand experience. And, even more simply, remain relevant and competitive in the years ahead.
Show me the ROI! B2B companies will start to examine more closely what marketing programs are having a real bottom-line impact and which ones need a lift. And instead of one-off measurement programs that look at, say, just media placement (quality and quantity, share of voice and tonality), they’ll start to measure, analyze and report on the full mix of integrated marketing activities including but not limited to: media and social, website, paid digital, internal communications and engagement, and CRM and direct marketing. A holistic measurement program that is defined and created at the beginning of an engagement – and reviewed at various intervals – is not just smart business, it’s essential business.
Leading into the July 4th weekend, this column will make a point of examining each, and every, prediction made this week to see if anyone got anything right.
Until then Repman, and the entire Repman production crew, wish you and yours a happy holiday season.