Marketing as the Growth Driver in Manufacturing


Written by Dr. Debbie Qaqish

April 20, 2017

Smart solutions across production lines, operations, supply chains, and technology integrations represent manufacturing innovations designed to reduce costs and drive growth. In a highly digitized world, the next round of innovation and growth will come from a totally new source. It will come from your ability to engage with customers and your ability to acquire and keep precious customers.

So, where will innovation and growth come from? Not sales!

This innovation and growth will not come from sales. In fact, the sales organization is more challenged than ever before. Today’s customers and prospects are no longer reliant on the sales team for information – they can get what they need in a few clicks. Especially in the B2B world, customers are 70% of the way through their buying journey before sales even has an inkling that a customer is looking around.

So, where will innovation and growth come from? Yes, marketing!

The solution lies within your marketing department. To explore this proposition, I recently hosted a panel of marketing pioneers from the manufacturing sector. Kelly Kelly Dickson, Global Revenue Marketing Operations Leader, Commscope; Peter Bell, Manufacturing Industry, Marketo; and Bryan Gassler, Director of Global Marketing Communications, Xylem joined us to discuss three key areas in which marketing drives innovation and growth:

  1. Manage and deliver an excellent customer experience
  2. Drive sales and marketing alignment to capture leads
  3. How marketing needs to change to deliver value

Manage and deliver an excellent customer experience

I loved this quote from Kelly Dickson – “Do not assume you know your customer!” This piece of advice sets the stage for pivoting from being a product centric company to a customer centric company. Xylem made this pivot. Bryan shared with us how Xylem flipped their communications from great products to educating their customers on how to use Xylem products and services. The focus on this new messaging was to help customers make an impact on their business and be able to do their jobs better and more efficiently by using Xylem solutions. As a result of this pivot, “this gave us a competitive edge and took pricing out of the equation”, said Bryan. Pretty powerful stuff, especially in an age of commoditization.

Peter Bell also provided a perspective on this topic – “You need to tell your story consistently and make sure that all of your customers, internal key stakeholders and your entire supply chain tells the same story!” As the channel continues to be swarmed by new products and new companies, their loyalty continues to slip away. Initiating consistent messaging that goes directly to the end customer, to influencers, to the channel, to your sales and product teams is the heart of a pivot to customer centricity.

Commscope also made the pivot. Kelly lead the initiative to create personas and a preference center that allows prospects and customers to take charge of what and how they want to be communicated to. This was a game changer as click-through rates sky rocketed to 15% and unsubscribes went to zero.

Drive sales and marketing alignment to capture leads

“Our evolution in the relationship with sales has blossomed. The sales team looks to us to drive leads that will help them hit their growth targets. We are also called on to close gaps in sales targets with strategic campaigns that create immediate demand for our products. We are hunters” said Bryan. Wow! This is the essence of sales and marketing collaboration to drive leads and to drive growth.

Peter commented that “the ability to communicate credible data in a structured way is key to aligning with sales.” Sales has used data and structure for years to communicate and by marketing taking the same approach, marketing earns new respect. Peter added that the use of ABM or account-based marketing has also had a positive impact on the sales and marketing revenue relationship. ABM is really more of a strategy that provides the structure for sales and marketing to work together on generating leads and business from a set of target accounts. “Sitting around with sales and discussing specific accounts, verticals and leads creates a great working relationship with sales” said Peter.

Finally, measurement and transparency are key to building the sales and marketing relationship. Kelly talks about their journey to measure what matters and she describes how what they measured changed over time. “Since our first year, we have measured marketing influence on pipeline and closed-won. This year, we added marketing sourced by looking at who did marketing bring to the database. We analyzed how it moved from lead to qualified opportunity to closed-won. If we tried to tell that story in the early days, sales would not have believed it.”

How marketing needs to change to deliver value

Our panelists were very firm on their answers to this question. The majority of answers had to do with embracing change, accountability and experimentation. “Biggest thing is to be prepared for change.” “Time to embrace the left brain and the right brain and be prepared to be accountable.” “Try new things and fail fast and fail forward!”

There were also practical examples of change. Two that were most pertinent were taking a different approach to trade shows and measurement. Peter said, “The tried and true formula for trade shows is breaking down and is no longer valid.” As marketing becomes a revenue center responsible for ROI on all their efforts, all marketing activities are up for review. Where is the best place to spend marketing dollars so a return occurs? Going to trade shows is expensive and if no business results from this investment, it needs to be stopped or at least curtailed. This is exactly what happened at Commscope. “I loved the year that we took the data and showed sales which trade shows worked and which did not – they could not refute the data!” said Kelly.

Perhaps the most important change for marketing to make is to measure and report what matters – pipeline and revenue. No one cares about your opens or click-throughs. Peter said “The simple act of measuring begins a big change in marketing.” Measuring and reporting on metrics that matter in a transparent matter helps marketing gain credibility in the business. So does being able to predict future impact. Bryan said “We can already predict the quantity of leads and now we are working on being able to predict our impact on pipeline and closed business.


This webinar was chock-full of advice for any marketer feeling the pressure to impact revenue and show ROI. All of the advice is enabled by smart technologies like marketing automation platforms. Change occurs as a result of integrating people, process and technology driven by a customer centric strategy and enabled with great technology. I won’t promise you this is easy – it isn’t. But it is rewarding and it is the future of marketing. It is the way that marketing gains both a seat and a voice at the table.

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Marketing Innovation Drives Growth in Manufacturing

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