Hannah Fuller – of graphic design and marketing agency, Oyster Studios – argues that manufacturing and engineering firms are lagging behind in embracing the benefits of marketing and design.
Marketing and design are a hot topic of conversation lately. It seems they are finally being recognised for their importance in driving businesses forward.
Even the educational term STEM (science; technology; engineering, and maths) has had an ‘A’ added for art – creating STEAM.
This just shows how our whole society is moving towards embracing the arts, arming young adults with a new perspective as they move into the business world.
Historically, it seems that technical manufacturing and engineering companies lag behind the curve in embracing marketing and design within their business plans.
True, many of the large corporations are beginning to take a strong approach but SMEs tell us they struggle to implement an effective strategy.
Often these business functions are seen as a cost, rather than an investment and are also often more readily associated with more creative or B2C companies.
Why? From my experience working within these industries there seems to be confusion surrounding what marketing and design can really offer.
- Art and the future of modern manufacturing
- Design for life, not just manufacturing
- Autodesk University 2014: Adding value through impact design
There is a clear perception that they are purely promotional, coupled with the fact that marketing is a pro-active activity and many companies are too busy fire-fighting day-to-day workloads to allocate the time it needs to be successful.
The reality is that marketing and design are core business functions that manufacturing and engineering companies can ill afford to ignore.
If approached from a holistic and strategic point of view they can transform a company – even more so when your key differentiators can be technical and difficult to communicate.
In the ever-changing world of technology with innovations around every corner, no business can afford to be left behind.
Marketing and design as an ethos
It is our belief that marketing and design should be embedded into every part of a business in order to drive innovation and create a company view centered on the customers’ needs and motivations.
Effective marketing touches every aspect of a company’s operation from production or service delivery, through to processes and staff engagement; all of which ultimately add to the customer experience provided and define an organisations brand.
Design and marketing can be used to differentiate your business from competitors; increase revenue; communicate your goals and objectives, and drive innovation, while simultaneously inspiring your workforce and increasing their engagement and efficiency.
They also help to position the company, communicating the right message to the customers on every level – from first impression of the corporate identity to the tone of voice of the messaging; all helping to build brand recognition and loyalty in the market place.
We have all seen the examples of where this has worked spectacularly. Apple and its crusade to incorporate design and functionality has achieved unbelievable success but this can work equally well for smaller businesses – everyone has to start somewhere after all.
Small changes can have a big impact, from producing clear vibrant business collateral that communicates your message effectively, to a staff engagement campaign that drives motivation and inspires your workers to deliver exceptional service.
The key is to approach marketing and design as you would any other business element – strategically.
Research your market, customers and competitors and set out clear and achievable objectives, only then should you move on to the promotional side or the marketing mix.
What does this all mean for the bottom line?
Having worked with leading organisations in the manufacturing and engineering sectors, we know first-hand the results that can be achieved through effective marketing and design.
Return on investment is fundamental to every business, and the key to achieving it lies in setting out the aims of each project or activity you run, ensuring you understand what a successful result looks like.
We have run campaigns for companies that have seen customer responses far exceed expectation due to the tailored nature of the activity. A strategic and informed approach will take your marketing from ad-hoc with un-quantified value, to planned, targeted and effective.
For forward thinking companies there is a real opportunity today to stand out from the crowd and start to reap the benefits of taking design and marketing to the heart of your business.