This year, I’ve been engaged to conduct market research focusing on the mind-set and preferences of buyers—that is, what the folks you want to talk to are really looking for when they need to find businesses like yours to help them out.
It’s been an amazing ride. The customers that I’ve worked with are unique in their needs for this information, but the results scream for you to provide specific info about your business that you may be ignoring. You need to know this to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing and messaging strategies.
The following aren’t some pie-in-the-sky consultant hooey. What I’m sharing with you are actual, from-the-horses-mouth quotes and concerns from buyers—large and small—that define what you should be saying on your Web sites, and the information you should be providing there. If you’re not, pay attention.
Your information is incomplete. Buyers I’ve spoken to this year say your websites don’t tell them what they really need to know. It’s frustrating to them when they conduct searches to locate new suppliers and find insufficient info about what you do, who you’ve done it for, and how stable your business is. Knowing the history and stability of your business is very important to them.
Product and business information are equally important. What you’ve made for others is important for buyers to know, but so is the general health of your business. Providing as much info as possible about economic health, stability and dependability will distinguish you as a preferred source.
Search engines are—meh. The majority of the buyers I’ve engaged this year say they use search engines like Google to find custom manufacturers because “it’s there.” Few value the quality of the returns that general search engines provide them. If I’m advising you, and I am, I highly recommend you focus instead on industry or application-specific sites that serve the markets you’re interested in.
Your contact information is more important than you may think. I was shocked to find that something as common as contact info for a supplier was so important in this day and age, but it is. Evidently, buyers are discovering that suppliers like you aren’t giving them the connections they need to determine that you’re the right fit for what they need. Instead of providing a general contact number or email address for your company, consider giving access to your knowledge centers, such as applications engineering, product development, operations, management and ownership. They want to engage people in your organization.
This leads to the next important point: Lose the recorded greeting. If you still have a human answering your phone, good for you. But if, like many of us, you established automated answering systems to save money in the downturn, you may want to reconsider. Buyers point to this as one of the most frustrating roadblocks to doing business with you. Use your website and your phone answering protocols to engage customers and prospects quickly and efficiently with the knowledge nodes of your company. This is important, they say, regardless of the size of the company or shop.
Your business and how you run it is extremely important. You must consider presenting information about your business that you would never have thought to before. Buyers, when assessing the value of a supplier, are compelled to find those that are stable, dependable and experienced. Think long and hard about using your website to present, not just your application and technical prowess, but also any info you’re comfortable with. Provide a business review, a list of previous customers, or a fiscal health assessment for any buyer that finds you online. Is it uncomfortable? Yep. Will it get you more attention and distinguish you from your competitors? Absolutely, according to the buyers I’ve spoken to this year.
You may be happy with what you have for business these days, and that’s great, or you may be looking for new business. Regardless, understanding the mind-set of buyers can only help you when you adjust your marketing communications or website strategies.