Lead generation for manufacturers made easy

July 11, 2024

Times have changed, and it is getting harder and harder to find prospects. Most business emails filter any unknown email into the spam folder, and most staff with titles including purchase, sourcing, supply chain, and generally any manager and director level will not pick up their phones. These are huge challenges, as the old-school approaches stop working.

Nowadays, even the once most busy trade shows are seeing fewer visitors, especially decision-makers. So the question is, where do decision-makers get their potential suppliers from?

The answer is simple: a large, ever-increasing percentage of supplier searches has shifted to online resources.

Whether we, the manufacturers, like it or not, business is awarded to companies that are being seen. Outbound sales are still incredibly important and effective in securing new business. There are new ways to prospect and approach those prospects. However, in this article, we will look at inbound leads. These are usually easier to turn into sales and, depending on the execution, can drastically decrease the CAC (cost of acquiring a customer).

Luckily, the digital landscape has matured enough to weed out shady marketing tactics, especially in the B2B area.

Let’s look at the basics that every manufacturer can implement easily. More detailed strategies will be shared in future articles.

Set up a domain and website for manufacturers

(Skip if you have done this already)

The first step is to buy a domain, preferably one that sounds like your business name or an abbreviation. If you already have a domain for your emails, you could use that one for the website as well. Use websites such as “godaddy.com” and “namescheap.com”; they are easy to use and provide good service. My favorite is “namescheap.com” because their support team is composed of real people and they are available 24/7.

If you want to protect yourself against unwanted BEC (business email compromise), which is a common scam costing our industry billions, buy several other domains that could be used to look like your business.

For example, if your business name is “iManufacture.com,” then I would recommend buying domains like “LManufacture.com” or others that can easily be mistaken for your original domains. The cost is usually minimal, but it saves against imposters.

I am saying this because I have seen similar cases happening and large sums of money wandering to Africa/Asia due to this fraud.

Build a website

This isn’t something new, and most manufacturers are likely to already have a website. For most SMEs, this does not need a rocket scientist to get done. Let’s look at the bare minimum, which requires little effort yet has a large impact.

Building a website is a matter of hours; it does not require much expertise. For smaller manufacturers, an intern can probably set something up that is reliable enough. Once you have bought a domain, the domain service company usually offers hosting as well. For example, on “namescheap.com,” you can buy hosting and set up a website within minutes, idiot-proof.

The easiest way is to install WordPress on your website; this can usually already be selected at the host (in this case, namescheap.com).

Once you have installed WordPress, you can start to select a theme and create pages. There are several good tutorials on how to do this step on YouTube. Therefore, I will not go into details here; it is pretty standard no matter which industry you are in.

Outlining the bare minimum

This is where things become more individual. To start, I advise you to add the bare minimum. Make pages for:

  • About Us
  • What We Do
  • Factory/Production Facility
  • Contact Us

These are pages that every company should have. They will give visitors a good idea of what your company is about and what it can do.

Start collecting content

To populate those pages with content, you need to get it first. For that, I recommend you take as many pictures as you can. You should have pictures of the following:

  • Managing staff, important positions (use nice-looking profile shots; they do not have to look too stiff. It depends on which industry you are working in)
  • Factory: Take pictures of your most important areas in the factory
  • Production
  • Quality control
  • Warehouse
  • Office
  • Outside of your factory
  • Products: Take good pictures of your final products. For small products, I recommend buying a photobooth. For bigger products, you can also ask a photographer to get you some nice pictures.

Most importantly, you should have pictures of the products that you are trying to sell.

Build trust with your prospects

This is an important point when creating your business. You need the prospect to feel comfortable with your business. Since at this point you are not talking with them in person, they only have your website to look at. This will build their opinion on your legitimacy as a manufacturer.

Use real photos of staff

Connecting a business to the faces of real people is incredibly important. This is how you build trust in an easy way. Let’s be honest, nobody likes websites that are anonymous, without any real persons attached to them.

I recommend using profile pictures of your upper management and sales team. For the sales team, you should attach their emails and phone numbers as well. Some prospects like to take the lead and contact directly.

Show that your factory is real

Whether you have a small production in some hall or a real factory, you need to convey to the prospect that the production is existing. There are way too many agents out there who want to pocket some money for just being in the middle. While this situation can work well with reputable agents, it can also quickly become a disaster. Especially when things get technical and you constantly have a middleman complicating things.

As mentioned earlier, take good pictures of key areas. Most prospects want to see your capacity and ability to control quality. So I would focus on those areas the most. Take your team, clean up the factory, and take some good pictures.

You don’t have to show what you don’t want to show.

Provide a machine list

Let them know what machines you use, which brand they are, and how old they are. This does not apply to everyone. I would only show those if they are worth showing off. Mention key facts that might be interesting for potential customers, such as precision, automation, robots,...

Lots of old equipment from not-so-good brands is probably not worth mentioning here.

Be transparent in your process

A lot of prospects would like to know how it is to work with you. While many manufacturing companies have rather similar processes within a niche, there can be differences. Also, there are prospects who do not know much about how manufacturing companies work internally; they are just trying to find companies that can make their products within their specs and budget.

customer process injection molding

This is an example of a process in the plastics industry. You should have something similar so that they know what to expect.

Show off certificates

Show off and upload any certificates that you have about your production, products, or management. There are lots of larger companies that will filter you out if certain certificates are not available.

I.e. IATF16949 for automotive production, ISO 9001 for general manufacturing or ISO 13485 for medical devices.

Show product photos

Take good pictures of products that you have already built. Take as many pictures as you can to showcase your abilities. This is probably the most important information that you will convey. If you have produced something that the prospect is looking for, in its specifics, this will increase your chance to win their attention.

You don’t need to hire a professional product photographer for most products. Buy a photobooth for around $200-300 and use a decent phone camera. This, coupled with a little retouching in photoshop, should do the job.

Lead the prospect to the CTA

CTA stands for Call to Action. You should have a call to action on every page. These should lead to a contact form or phone number. This is where you want to have your prospects once they validate your business and are ready for the next step.

Once they fill out the contact form, you have a warm lead and just need to reply to them. But how can you increase the chance that they will contact you?

CTA button contact

Make the CTA obvious

Use a contrasting color to catch their attention. Make it a button that they cannot miss. Your aim is to warm them up and prepare them to trigger contact via your website.

Have a contact form that shows you know the industry

Instead of just having a name, company, and email, you should try to include some additional information that conveys that you know the prospect's industry. This doesn’t only help the prospect to gain trust, but also helps your internal quoting team to understand the requirements better.

I.e. If you are selling CNC laser engraving as a service, you would like to ask for some additional information. This not only sorts out tire-kickers but also helps your internal team handle those requests better.

  • Country/State
  • Required service (if you have several to offer)
  • Information about the service, such as
    • Material wish
    • Size
    • Hardness
    • Etc., whatever fits your niche
  • Notes where the prospect can write a small text to help understand what they are looking for
  • Optionally, an option to upload files. This can help your sales team prepare before contacting the prospect. It usually helps to increase conversion. Also, once they upload something, it shows that they have a real need/interest.

Response time is everything

Try to set up the contact form so that it will send you an SMS, WhatsApp message, or email as soon as somebody submits the form.

The response time you need to engage with the hot lead determines your rate of success. The longer you wait to get into a conversation, the colder the lead will get.

Even sending a quick email that you have received their message, or giving them a quick phone call, will work wonders. Try to make it look like a human has written that email.

Another advantage that we have already mentioned in the previous chapter is to be able to receive as much industry specific information as possible. This will help to come up with a quote much faster. Nothing is better than receiving a solid and accurate quote within a short time.
As you can imagine, you are not the only one that the prospect is contacting.
However, if you are the first one that provides a quote and invites you for a meeting, you have stepped up against your competition right away. This can win you the order, even if your competitors might have a lower price.