The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have tragic consequences, not only on public health but many industrial and manufacturing sectors. While it may be instinctive to make comparisons to the Great Recession, this dynamic is different from an economic perspective.
The pandemic is more of a Black Swan event than a typical recession. A Black Swan event is an extremely rare event with severe consequences. One example is the Black Monday single-day stock decline of 28% in 1987. The 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 is another.
To a certain extent we’re dealing with the semantics. But the proper context is that a recession is based on weaknesses in the economy and results in a smaller economic pie. While Black Swan events have short-term economic consequences, they are not based on economic conditions. Black Swan events, however, often bring long-term opportunities. But it is important to know how to find them.
Manufacturing Rebound is Underway But Will Be Uneven
One of the ways the current economic uncertainty is different in manufacturing from the Great Recession is in the quick, but uneven rebound. U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders totaled $373.7 million in September 2020, an increase of 26.4% from August 2020, and the highest monthly total of the year.
With shifting demand as a result of changes in how we live, work and learn, it’s probably no surprise to see these manufacturing sectors leading the rebound:
- Packaging, whether it’s for e-commerce or safety-minded single-use products.
- Food, beverage, and tobacco companies.
- Medical disposables, which includes ramping up for COVID-19 vaccine productions.
The global supply chain is being reorganized more regionally, which is most evident in the reshaping of the personal protective equipment ( PPE) sector. Price may not be as much of an obstacle for a supplier if an OEM is priorities sourcing in North America or a region such as the Midwest. Manufacturers and suppliers face continued uncertainty over the next two years and will continue to seek to reduce risk.
Scouting for Opportunities Begins With Market Research
Manufacturing opportunities can be found where operational capabilities meet potential prospects’ needs. One approach manufacturers often underestimate is identifying a common ground using the business development strategy of scouting. That’s because market research is a key component of scouting, and many industrials have long avoided market research and relied on their existing networks built through sales and trade shows.
Scouting can provide a payoff at earlier stages of emerging and changing markets, provided a manufacturer understands how their capabilities might be put to use in those markets. Industrial marketers can begin a scouting process by determining questions to qualify leads before they build a list of prospects for outreach. Correctly targeting sectors and understanding their buying process also is essential.
Stakeholders Do Not See Returning to Previous Marketing Tactics
Odds are that your 2020 marketing budget was not a good starting point for your 2021 plan. Too much has changed, starting with the cancellation of trade shows and an expansion of online research for an unsettled buying process. But you should not be starting from scratch. Clear trends have emerged in the industrial sales and marketing arena. Here are what we view as five trends you do not want to miss. We’ll offer up a short list:
- Digital advertising is on the rise.
- B2B digital sales and e-commerce are here to stay.
- Manufacturing content marketing is maturing.
Perhaps of most significance, stakeholders in the manufacturing sales and marketing areas are not eager to return to previous tactics. Some 89% of those who are developing new digital selling models are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to retain them after the pandemic ends.
If you haven’t already done so, update your online marketing presence to emphasize your strengths and solutions you offer. Prospects are still searching for how to resolve their pain points and achieve higher efficiencies. Capitalize on the power of video to show off your products. Use testimonials to show you are a safe solution.
Companies with a strong online message will continue to have an advantage, even when trade shows re-emerge. Marketers who learn how to scout for prime prospects will see more opportunities as well.
To get more perspectives like this on what it takes to make marketing the strength of your business, visit our insights page.
MAKE MARKETING THE STRENGTH OF YOUR BUSINESS
We can help you develop strategies for winning more business during uncertain times.